Two elementary schools in Chilliwack will have new names for the 2021/2022 school year.
McCammon Traditional elementary is dropping the “Traditional” and F. G. Leary Fine Arts Elementary will have a name that better reflects its connection to the new arts and tech program at A.D. Rundle Middle School and the new high school, Imagine High.
At its meeting Tuesday (April 27,) the Chilliwack Board of Education unanimously approved the change from F.G. Leary Fine Arts Elementary to Leary Integrated Arts & Technology Elementary.
“Students in Grades 4 and 5 were interviewed about this proposed change and, after reviewing our updated curriculum path for next year, were happy to see this change and excited about some of the opportunities that they would have at our school,” according to a staff report included in the meeting’s agenda package.
A quote from an unnamed student: “I’m excited about all of the new things for next year and changing our name is part of that!”
Staff reported that 78 per cent of parents also were in favour of the name change, and even those not in favour offered feedback rather than a desire to keep the name unchanged.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea to adjust the name so that it reflects the focus of the school, while maintaining the connection to the school’s past,” according to a parent quoted.
During the meeting, Trustee Heather Maahs gave a bit of a history of the school’s name and the man it is named after. Staff pointed out that they had also consulted with the Leary family “and have their support to update the school name.”
F.G. Leary has been the only arts choice school in the district since 2005 and until recently, Grade 5 was the end of that. Now with the connection to A.D. Rundle and eventually Imagine High, that integrated arts and technology framework can be realized from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in Chilliwack.
The school name change at McCammon, was more about the “natural process of change that education moves through over time,” according to a staff report.
“Current McCammon Elementary staff feel the school values and beliefs, and the pedagogical underpinnings upon which the school operates today, are different from those that existed when the school became McCammon Traditional Elementary.”
The beginning of the process of dropping the “Traditional” dates back as far as 2018 when staff started having meetings about it.
Part of the traditional model involves students sitting in rows, raising hands to speak, and the wearing of uniforms. All three of those practices at the school have slowly been curbed, and staff reported that the name change was about “meeting children where they are at.”
Feedback was apparently split 50/50 among staff with many saying the liked it and many that did not. Feedback from parents and students was similar.
The school board approved the name change in a six-to-one vote with Trustee Barry Neufeld opposed.
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