Lakewood elementary Grade 6 student Sophie Guiney stands in front of a mural worked on by more than 400 students and staff. The mural is a legacy for ‘graduating’ students at the school which is celebrating its 20-year anniversary.

Lakewood elementary looks back while looking to the future

Mural project, student-led code of conduct part of marking of Langford school’s growth over past two decades

What a difference 20 years makes.

A little Langford school once populated by 200 students celebrates the end of its second decade with more than 400 students, a new mural, a new playground and a new student-driven code of conduct principal Bryan Johnson said would lead them into their 20th anniversary and beyond.

“We set out to use the knowledge of the Grade 5-6 (students) to create a new code of conduct for our school and capture kids’ language around what they think is important,” Johnson said. “It’s written by kids for kids, which is pretty unique because (most) are typically adult driven.”

The initiative started with an idea and grew with input from teachers, administration and staff getting ideas from students at an assembly and workshop.

The illustrated code of conduct uses the students language and is earmarked for mounting on the school wall the week of the anniversary, just in time to see the last Grade 6 students graduate from the school.

“It creates that sense of family in the school, anyone, whether child or adult, needs to feel they are part of something … when you have that already built into an institution then it creates a nice energy in the school,” said teacher Sue Panton. “It’s like it’s their building and we all speak the same language.”

Panton, a teacher at Lakewood for 18 years, watched the community grow quickly, starting with the building of Costco and then the Bear Mountain development that have contributed to a dramatic increase in the area’s population in a short period of time.

Five classrooms, 10 staff and more than 100 students were added to the school in 2011.

Grade 6 student Sophie Guiney will be among the final children in her grade to graduate from the school she has called home for three years.

She said the inclusion she felt being a part of the school’s process has been important to her.

“It makes me feel responsible. I feel trusted because I get to do what most students don’t get the opportunity to do,” the 11-year-old said. “I respect the code of conduct and I don’t want to disobey the rules. I want to follow the rules because I want to be a good student.”

A large, three-panel mural, created in part by every student and every teacher in the school alongside artist Renee Sala, will be officially unveiled June 17, when events also include the digging up of a time capsule and the celebration of playground additions funded in part by the City of Langford.

“I was excited to see it up because the (mural tiles) are all so unique and different. I find it cool I can leave it behind with me and all the next students get to see it,” said Guiney, who painted a sun and a strawberry representing healthy living on her tile. “It makes you feel special to leave  piece of me behind so there is something to remember me by when I leave the school.”

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