Imagine a school day where biology is taught within the native botany of local forests, where history lessons of First Nations peoples are embedded in the context of nature, and where physical education happens hiking mountain trails and kayaking ocean waters. It is a school day that connects what is happening in the classroom with the rich and varied wilderness that the North Shore is known for.
"With access to locations for canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, wilderness training, cycling, and development of outdoor skills within minutes of our schools in North Vancouver, providing an Outdoor Education Academy is a natural fit for our school district," said Arlene Martin, District Principal Enhanced Programs & Academies, North Vancouver School District.
Thus, a new Outdoor Education Academy will begin in September 2017. The one-year program is available to all grade ten students. Offered out of Sutherland Secondary, the academy will provide hands-on experiences that break down traditional boundaries between subject areas and offer interdisciplinary learning in science, math, humanities, language, and physical and health education. Students will learn curricular components in ways that are connected to real-life outdoor experiences, while also focusing on sustainability and personal leadership development.
Throughout the school-year, students will take part in a wide variety of outdoor endeavours that are both day trips and overnights stays. Activities will range from kayaking to camping, and will take place in locations spreading across North Vancouver and extending further along the west coast. Students will kayak in Deep Cove one day and the next they may venture out to hike the Juan de Fuca Trail.
"The opportunities available right here in our backyard are almost endless," said Mark Pearmain, in-coming Superintendent, North Vancouver School District. "We know that many students learn better when their learning takes place within an environment-based context. This new academy will provide unique, personalized, real-world experiences that engage students in deep, meaningful education."
Registration for the Outdoor Education Academy begins in January 2017. The cost is $2500 per student, which covers the costs of trips, activities, basic equipment and supplies. Grade nine students will be invited to apply for the academy in fall 2016 following an information meeting for students and families that will be held at Sutherland Secondary on Tuesday, September 27th at 7:00 pm. This new program exemplifies the North Vancouver School District's vision to provide world-class instruction and a rich diversity of engaging programs to inspire success for every student and bring communities together to learn, share and grow.