Superintendent Tom Demeo updated the board of education on a number of things such as new Hornby Island school plans, a recent science fair at Vanier and the coronavirus situation. Comox Valley Record file photo

Comox Valley Schools preps for student environment conference

Event will bring in students from neighbouring district on Vancouver Island

School District 71 is preparing for its Climate Action Conference on Feb. 13 at the Florence Filberg Centre.

Assistant superintendent Geoff Manning provided a brief overview for school trustees at the Jan. 28 school board meeting. The event is bringing in students from neighbouring districts on Vancouver Island.

“We’ve invited Parksville-Qualicum, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Campbell River,” he said.

These districts expect to send more than 100 students from grades 8 to 12 as well as some visiting teachers and administrators – this is in addition to at least 100 students from School District 71 who are taking part.

“The event is going to showcase three local speakers,” said Manning.

The event is being arranged by Serina Allison, the district’s environmental and outdoor learning teacher. The speakers will also include Dr. Elin Kelsey, who speaks about being positive in times of climate change and taking positive action.

“There’s a lot of anxiety and angst out there around this topic, but she offers hope, optimism and strong communications, so we’re looking forward to that,” Manning told the board.

The event is happening the day before a related professional development day for teachers linked to initiatives to get students involved with their environment.

“This is an incredible opportunity for that to happen,” Manning said.

Hornby Island school

Superintendent Tom Demeo updated board of education members on progress for the new Hornby Island school, saying that there has been second meeting of the design committee.

“It’s going to be a great building,” he said. “I know they’re excited.”

Science fair

Superintendent Tom Demeo raved about a recent science fair at Vanier Secondary, noting that students in the science program have the option to create a final project or write a final exam.

“This is happening in all of our schools,” he said.

Demeo cited examples such as one student who made homemade soaps and conditioners, explaining the process she used to make them, or another student who has been studying hallucinogens and their effects who discussed reasons why these drugs are being used medicinally now to help PTSD victims.

“It was quite a range in what they were presenting and the knowledge they had,” Demeo said. “And every one of the students appreciated that opportunity.”

Coronavirus update

At the January board meeting, superintendent Tom Demeo talked about the coronavirus and any potential risk to students.

“We remain in contact with our local health officer,” he said.

Demeo noted the district will share bulletin information with schools and its website, though the risk remains low.

“It’s in a monitor stage at this point in time,” he said.

No new international students have arrived from China since the outbreak. As well, Demeo said there are no international trips planned in the near future, though there is one for students in May, so they will have to continue to monitor the situation and any travel warnings.

“We’ll have to deal with that as it comes,” he said.

Latest district retirements

At the Jan. 28 school board meeting, the board of education received the latest retirement notices. Teacher Myrna Boorman from Georges P. Vanier Secondary School retired Jan. 24 after 26 years of service with the district, while educational assistant Dianne Christensen of Royston Elementary School will retire effective March 30 after 25 years of service with the district.

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