NORTH SHORE'S NEW AGE: Adding class to North Shore education
Though new businesses and residents in recent years have started to take a closer look at calling North Kamloops home, the school district has been battling to keep students in the community.
For years, schools on the North Shore have been faced with declining enrollment.
There are some 500 students attending schools in South Kamloops who live on the north side of the river.
The North Shore also took the brunt of reconfiguration, as School District 73 closed five schools in the last few years.
Superintendent Terry Sullivan noted at least one reason for the migration, specifically to South Kamloops secondary.
Since South Kam has the most students, Sullivan said, it can offer a greater number of courses and choices to students.
The problem has forced the school district to come up with some unique ideas and solutions to keep kids in classes on the North Shore.
In the last few years, the district has offered several schools of excellence on the North Shore.
Bert Edwards is a science and technology school and the Big Little Science Centre is located in the former George Hilliard elementary.
An International Baccalaureate program is being pushed for NorKam secondary, along with a trades and technology program.
“We think the evidence shows if we can establish some of those programs on the North Shore, students will be attracted to them and that’s going to help us stabilize enrolment on the North Shore,” Sullivan said.
He added it’s critical for schools to reflect the community in which they are situated.
Kamloops-Thompson board of education chairwoman Denise Harper also considers the exodus of North Shore students a problem.
Though some students may be crossing the river for good reasons, she said there is a false perception about the North Shore.
“I see the whole culture of the North Shore changing,” she said.
Harper sees more new homes being built, older homes being renovated and younger families moving into the community, all leading to a revitalization of the North Shore.
She wants North Shore residents to consider the schools in their community as vibrant and leading edge.
Harper believes the IB and trades and technology programs proposed for NorKam are the types of initiatives that will help lead to a change in perception and keep students on the North Shore.