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North Van School District floats rowing academy plan

July 12, 2019

by Jane Seyd, North Shore News

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North Shore students may have a chance to put their back into it after trustees endorsed the idea of a rowing academy. file photo Paul McGrath, North Shore News

The North Vancouver School District is dipping its oars into the concept of a new rowing academy for high school students.

Trustees endorsed the idea of a rowing academy at their final public meeting of the school year, targeting a start date of September 2020.

Assistant superintendent Chris Atkinson said the school district was first approached with the idea by the Deep Cove Rowing Club a year ago.

The rowing club would like to boost the involvement of local public school students in the sport, said Atkinson, noting the number of school district students enrolled in rowing programs has fallen in the past decade while interest among private school students has increased.

The proposed rowing academy would be open to a maximum of 25 students in grades 8 to 12 and would be based at Carson Graham during two or three afternoon time slots per week. The proposed cost of the academy is $1,700, plus a $300 recreation pass.

Students would be responsible for providing their own transportation between Carson Graham and Deep Cove.

Trustee Cyndi Gerlach asked why a rowing academy wouldn’t be based at Seycove or Windsor schools, which are geographically closer to Deep Cove.

Atkinson said that is primarily because the teacher sitting in the coxswain’s seat on the project, Shannon Van Baalen, a former varsity level rowing athlete and coach, is based at Carson Graham.

Staff noted if it goes ahead, the rowing academy will be the first of its kind in the Lower Mainland.