Royal Bay's Mitchell Whittla (11) and Parker Stewart go up for a block against North Island top seed Mark Isfeld Ice in round robin play at the Island AA senior boys Island championships last November at the Colwood school. Ravens teams may not yet be as well known as their counterparts at Belmont

Dispelling myths about sports at Royal Bay secondary

Few differences in programming between West Shore high schools

Kevin Harrington is hoping to dispel a few myths. The Royal Bay secondary athletic director says a common misconception is that his school features more arts-oriented programming, without offering traditional sports, while Belmont is the opposite.

Parents still ask why Royal Bay doesn’t have a compliment of sports programming. The former Belmont teacher tells them they do have athletic programs, some people just don’t know about it yet.

“We have all sports at Royal Bay … It’s still in people’s minds this is a fine arts school and Belmont is the athletics school, but we both have full compliments at both schools,” Harrington said. “We both have our speciality programs, but outside of that, we both offer everything you could want in fine arts courses and athletics and all the sports.”

Royal Bay hosts the Trades Awareness Skills and Knowledge (TASK) and culinary arts programs while, Belmont features French Immersion studies and the automotive department.

In terms of academies, Royal Bay offers soccer and dance. The two programs moved over from Belmont and will be joined by a lacrosse academy next year.

Belmont continues to have its hockey academy and will be installing rugby and softball/baseball academies for the upcoming academic year. Both schools also offer fine arts programming and have a theatre.

“The well-rounded student is what’s important,” Harrington said. “We have all sorts of academies. To take the opportunity that is there, to be active, it brings students together. The spirit of the school is sometimes through theatre and sometimes through gym. We’re hoping to develop the smaller-school feel and school spirit.”

In terms of differences between sports offerings, both schools offer soccer, volleyball, basketball and track and field, while only Belmont has a football team.

As for highlights, Royal Bay’s junior boys volleyball team won the Island Championships in their inaugural season, and their junior girls basketball team is currently ranked 14th in the province.

Royal Bay offers sports performance classes and credited courses on basketball, volleyball and lacrosse, all of which ran in the first semester with a full compliment of students. Some classes had wait lists due to high interest.

Harrington said all aspects of school programming are important, and both Belmont and Royal Bay offer great options for students. “If students are involved in athletics, fine arts, music, it allows them to connect to school, coaches, teachers and the school community (more) than if school is just the classroom setting,” he said. “It’s like any kind of program, it has students who get attached to it and if a student is connected to a school, they are more likely to be successful.”

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