Courtenay school remembering fallen soldier March 9

Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School will have a special assembly Friday honouring the 10th anniversary of the school's renaming.

Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School will have a special assembly Friday honouring the 10th anniversary of the school’s renaming.The school was rededicated from Courtenay Junior Middle School in October 2001 in memory of Comox Valley peacekeeper Mark Isfeld, who was killed while on a peacekeeping mission in Croatia at the age of 31. A large group of special guests will attend the assembly, which starts at 11 a.m. in the school gymnasium and is expected to go for about an hour. Principal Bill Village said he hopes to encompass two important ideas into the assembly.”One is to pay tribute to a pretty impressive fellow that this school was named after,” said Village. To “take the opportunity to educate our students, and probably most of our staff, with some information they didn’t know about why (the school) was named what it was.”The other is to “acknowledge the, I think, really significant positive growth that this school has undergone.”In terms of paying tribute to Isfeld the man, some special guests include a significant representation from CFB Comox, members of the Mark R. Isfeld chapter of the Canadian Peacekeepers Association and Master Warrant Officer Shaun Wright, who will be flown out from Calgary and will speak at the assembly.Wright served alongside Isfeld, doing two tours of duty with him in Croatia, and spoke during the school’s renaming ceremony 10 years ago.Kelly, Isfeld’s widow, will come up from Washington State to attend as well.Edmonton author Phyllis Wheaton will also attend the assembly. She recently finished a book about the famous Izzy Doll, called In The Mood For Peace: The Story Of The Izzy Doll.Isfeld’s mother Carol, who has now passed on, knit the dolls for her son to give to children he met on peacekeeping missions. Other Canadians started making the dolls since then, and as of July, one million have been made.Meanwhile, Isfeld the school has changed greatly in the 10 years since it was renamed.   Firstly, it went from a middle school to a high school right around the time that it was renamed, and then about four years ago it was reconfigured from a Grade 9 to 12 to a Grade 8 to 12 school.Also, around this time the school catchment area was adjusted and a French immersion program was moved to it. Village said the number of students in this program is growing, and expects French immersion students to make up about 40 per cent of the school’s population by next year.”Because we draw French immersion kids from every corner of the school district, it’s a pretty interesting school,” explained Village. “It’s truly a district school in that regard.”While the number of students at the school has grown by hundreds of students in the last 10 years, it’s still considered relatively small with about 950 students this year, said Village.However, that doesn’t stop Isfeld students from excelling in areas like sports with the girls’ snowboarding team winning the provincial championship recently, and the school doing well on the latest round of exams.”Our students are achieving above provincial average in every exam that we’re writing here right now; that’s outstanding and (I’m) really proud of that,” said Village, adding that he could go on a “bragfest” about the school’s achievements.”I’m just so proud of these kids and this school; they’re just outstanding, and the staff as well obviously.”