The sound of protest was heard this year from Rossland parents who were against the closure of their secondary school and sending grades 10-12 students down to Trail for education.
School District 20 (SD20) made the difficult decision of closing MacLean Elementary School, selling it to the Rossland French school for $1 million, and moving K-9 students into the former Rossland Secondary School (RSS) to save an estimated $265,000 on a dwindling budget based on enrolment that followed suit.
Fearful chatter was silenced when about 120 of Rossland’s senior students transitioned into their new school, commute and larger social circle with ease.
Like most of her peers, Grade 12 student Megan Heximer was disappointed that she had to spend her final year in a new school that wasn’t in her community and was no longer a walk from home.
“I mostly tried not to think about having to move there,” she admitted.
“Many Rossland kids weren’t looking forward to the move and I knew that a lot of the Crowe kids weren’t looking forward to having us down there so I wasn’t sure how well the transition would be for everyone.”
Heximer was also worried about what the teachers would be like. She was comfortable with the Rossland teachers she had grown to know over the years and didn’t know what to expect. But it didn’t take long to see that the teachers were dedicated, welcoming and accommodating, much like the other students.
“I don’t think I have changed,” she added. “I still wish I could be graduating in RSS, but the change was easier than I expected.”
Welcoming Rossland students was done with care, according to principal David DeRosa.
The Trail high school invited its new secondary students into the facility early, as it has always done with its new Grade 8s, to get a feel for the building prior to the start of the school year.
“A lot of reflection and planning went into the process and that’s always a positive,” added DeRosa.
By expanding on the same protocols followed to move Grade 8s in, the new students adjusted quickly.
Not to say that the new road ahead came without a few bumps, admitted superintendent of schools Greg Luterbach.
“The first few weeks were challenging as buses traversed through two major construction zones and we fine-tuned the route schedules,” he said. “We continue to monitor the routes, our service, number of riders and adjust as required.”
As the teens settled so did the chorus of upset parents.
The sound of music was back at Crowe with the return of its band class, which was revived with the addition of Rossland kids keen on music.
The Crowe Interact Club is combining its resources with the Rossland club, which is now closer than ever with senior students under the same roof, and is planning a trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to renovate a school and teach English to kids. This opportunity would not have shown itself without the combined efforts of the two groups.
The high school now looks to include some Rossland traditions and teachers, parents and students are working diligently to ensure this.
“We will continue to be sensitive and conscious of past traditions and the opportunity for new ones as we prepare for events like graduation,” said DeRosa. “I am hopeful that the initial anxiety that many Rossland students and parents were feeling prior to the transition has diminished and our collective energies are now focused on learning and the fun and excitement that go with it.”