Newly sharpened pencils, unblemished erasers, fresh notebooks, spotless sneakers.
These are some of the back-to-school standards for children across the country as summer vacation comes to a close and classrooms open up for another year.
There’s a sense of normalcy about the start of this school year for West Shore high schools that simply wasn’t there this time last year, nor the year before.
Two years ago, it was the B.C. teachers’ strike that led to a less than conventional start to the scholastic year, with students not returning to the classroom until September was nearly complete.
It’s said that it takes 21 days to form a habit or get into a routine, meaning there wasn’t a sense of normalcy about school until well into October.
Last year, Royal Bay and Belmont staff and students had to get used to new buildings. At the latter school, an entire wing was incomplete and administrators were forced to scramble to find room for music, dance and shop programs. Royal Bay didn’t have quite as many issues, although finishing touches were still being done on the building. But it remained a stressful time for staff and students who were starting from scratch in a brand new environment.
Now, with both schools just about complete – some exterior work and touch-ups remain at Belmont – students and teachers can ease into the school year in a way that they haven’t been able to in some time. That’s excellent news, and a welcome change to the chaos of September over the last two years.
Still, we can’t help but wonder how long this sense of normalcy will last.
Royal Bay was reported to be over its 800-student capacity just about as soon as it opened its doors. Belmont, with a capacity of 1,200 students, is on track to have over 1,300 this fall.
Even without continued growth on the West Shore, this would be a concern. Given the area’s rapid development, it’s downright troubling. It’s only a matter of time before we catch up to the can that was kicked down the road and then it’ll be up to the Ministry to decide what to do with it once again.