The old hallways, classrooms and theatre of Chilliwack’s former UFV campus will once again be alive with the sound of students.
A portion of what’s left of the buildings on site was bought by the Chilliwack School District in 2018 to be transformed into a new place to learn — an arts and technology high school.
And it’s almost time to throw open the doors and let the new students flood in. The first group, Grade 9 and 10 students, will be welcomed in September 2021.
Then in 2022, the school will include 9, 10 and 11. And in 2023, the school will have Grade 12s. By then, there will be about 700 students in the school, and those first Grade students will be ready to graduate as the very first class of Imagine High Integrated Arts and Technology School — the class of 2024.
The thought of welcoming all of those students, and their overflowing potential, into the school is an exciting one both Brooke Haller, the school’s principal, and Janet Carroll, the school’s program director.
Registration is opening on Nov. 16, and there has already been one virtual townhall for parents and students to learn more about the school. Two more townhalls are set for Nov. 4 at 12:30 p.m. and Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m. Registration to attend the online events is at the website, imagine.sd33.bc.ca.
The team has been taking advantage of a year without students to really develop a strong a space for learning, not just with physical upgrades but with collaborations. They have been visiting schools around the province that have innovative arts and technology programs within them, and have been picking their brains.
They have also been creating a list of “thought partners.” These are people who have been integral to arts and innovation in this city, including Ian Fenwick and Michael Cade.
“Everyone we can think of,” Carroll said, and they aren’t done with the partnership building. “We want kids’ voices, and we will be looking to get parents involved.”
The duo recently delivered a presentation to the school board, via Zoom, and shared their excitement with the new possibilities for students that will come from the school. And it’s not all about dancing or singing, they underlined.
“People tend to think it gets fluffy,” said Carroll. “But there is rigour in the arts.”
“They won’t be waiting to get into the real world before doing the work of the real world,” added Haller.
And the school isn’t just for the kind of kids that love a stage. It’s also for those who’ve never had a chance to express themselves. It’s for risk taking kids, ones who love problem solving and collaborating.
“This is really for students who enjoy hands-on collaborative processes,” said Carroll.
Technology students and art students are a great fit for collaboration, as they partner up to create together.
And just like any school, students will still graduate with a Dogwood diploma and the same standard curriculum will apply at the school.
“We can’t wait until students are everywhere in the building,” Haller said.
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