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SD61 opens newcomer welcome centre for students

The centre officially opens Sept. 12
SD61 is set to open a new welcome centre to help newcomers settle into school in a new country. (Black Press Media file photo)

Newcomers entering SD61 schools will soon have a space dedicated to helping them settle into a new country and a new classroom.

The Greater Victoria School District is set to open a Welcome and Learning Centre at its Tolmie Board Office on Sept. 12. The new space will help newcomers with registration and offer educational programming or additional support to ease their transition into a neighbourhood school, according to a release.

Learning programs will be designed around the individual needs of the student. Other resources to be made available include counselling and language assessments.

“We want all newcomer students to feel supported as they transition into the public school system,” said board chair Ryan Painter. “We recognize that each student will have their own lived experience that will shape their perspective or impact their learning. We want to provide wrap-around supports so each student feels comfortable, ready to engage in their learning, and has a positive experience in the classroom.”

The district will be working alongside community organizations such as The Intercultural Association, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre, Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees, and the Ukrainian Cultural Centre Victoria.

“By creating a supportive and caring environment to help students adapt to a new culture, or in some instances a new language, we are aiming to reduce barriers in access to education,” said superintendent Deb Whitten. “We know the importance of having youth in our schools learning and developing social connections. Our goal is to ensure that newcomer students feel welcomed and that we have the proper strategy and supports in place at the school level to set them up for success.”

READ MORE: School board issues apology for 1900s segregation of Chinese students in Victoria

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