Royal Bay secondary may be little more than a skeletal framework, but its future occupants are already planning out the school they envision heading into in September 2015.
Administrators are talking to students, staff and parents in preparation for the eventual move.
“We don’t have a history or a culture or a climate yet,” said future principal Windy Beadall. “We want the students to start getting jazzed about Royal Bay.”
“We’re a new school so we have to start from scratch building that culture and getting the kids on board,” said Mike Huck, vice-principal. “The Royal Bay wave has started.”
With the name decided, next up is the school’s mascot/team nickname. A discussion last week with Grade 10 Belmont students, the first class that will graduate from Royal Bay, led to many ideas including the Wranglers, Stingrays, Knights and, most popular so far, the Ravens.
Students at Dunsmuir middle school, the feeder school for Royal Bay, will also be included in the conversation.
At the first Parent Advisory Council meeting for the new school on April 7, an executive was elected and members volunteered for the School Planning Council. The council is responsible for many decisions which need to be made while the school is being built.
Part of moving forward is dispelling the myth that Royal Bay will be an arts-focused school and the new Belmont sports-focused, Beadall said. While the idea was thrown around in early planning stages, she said it will not be the case.
Each school may offer a few classes or activities the other doesn’t, but both will be comprehensive schools, offering a wide variety of arts and sports programs.
Unique to Royal Bay will be a teaching kitchen, allowing for college-prep culinary arts classes, and a 350-seat theatre, a highly-prized resource for its drama and music departments.
Sports teams will be offered based mostly on desire from the students. The football program will likely be carried on at Belmont, for example, but if enough Royal Bay students want to play, Beadall said, one will be started. There are already plans for basketball, field hockey and even pickleball, plus the school will likely be home to a soccer academy.
“It won’t be Royal Bay versus Belmont, unless we’re playing each other in sports,” she said.
Administrators at both schools hope to work together to come up with a class scheduling system that allows students to take a course at the other school if it’s not offered at their own.
“Ray (Miller, Belmont principal) and I will work very hard to make sure that both schools aren’t competing, but they’re helping each other,” Beadall said, “so that the students can feel like they’ve got opportunities in both schools.”
Establishing the school as a centre point of the community developing around it is also a primary focus for administrators as they move forward with planning. The school is intended for other uses by community groups and it’s hoped students will see other residents coming to use spaces in the school and feel a part of something bigger.
“Kids see that and they recognize it’s not just a place where they spend six hours a day going to math class and English class,” Huck said. “They have a voice in what’s happening in the community.”