EDITORIAL: New schools community gems

Move to more community use of West Shore high schools makes good sense

A recent reminder that the West Shore’s two new high schools will be used in off hours and months by the greater community came as positive news. It’s a sign that the construction of the facilities will benefit more than just the students who attend them.

With the new Belmont and Royal Bay secondaries due to host youth-focused programs organized by West Shore Parks and Recreation, for example, and be used by community sports, cultural and educational groups, connections will be created that will strengthen the West Shore as a whole.

After all, the more you engage the community in a school, the more the school becomes engaged in the community, a scenario that can have a ripple effect down the road.

Not only will the community use allow for more people to be exposed to what the schools have to offer and the type of programs in which students are involved, it’s a good investment in security for these sparkling new facilities.

By having more people in and around the buildings in the evenings, on weekends and through the summer months, the incidence of vandalism will likely be lowered. The hope is that the community – students and otherwise – will take pride in what is being created with West Shore residents and families in mind and help ward off those who might look to cause damage.

While inviting the community to share in the new facilities is not an idea developed by the Sooke School District – the province mandated a few years back that all new schools dedicate approximately 15 per cent of space and usage time for community use – SD62 has embraced the concept and worked with outside agencies to facilitate such use.

Both Belmont and Royal Bay are shining examples of what can be accomplished when school designers put their heads together and determine the best learning environment for current and future students. We look forward to the days ahead when other members of the community get a chance to see up close what all the excitement is about.