I am writing this letter to oppose the potential reconfiguring of Summerland Middle School into a Kindergarten to Grade 7 elementary school.
The implications of this decision are enormous! It has taken literally thousands of hours and years of efforts to attain our present middle school teaching model.
Administrators from districts across the province marvel at what we do when they observe what goes on in our school.
To regard SMS as merely a building to put a new demographic into would be a complete disservice to middle school-aged students and a slap in the face to the dedicated staff who have made this building what it is today; a model, exemplary school.
Any adult, new Teacher On Call or new family entering our building immediately feels the positive energy, sees the inclusive nature and hears the respectful environment that we call SMS.
Middle school provides opportunities for students to test the waters for their interests in the exploratories (tech-ed, home-ec, drama, art and band) in a gentle, reinforcing manner that builds confidence and skills in areas they would not otherwise be able to experience and engage in.
People perhaps dismiss the middle school concept because they grew up with the K-7 and 8-12 model.
Times have changed and students have changed.
Middle school students do not want to be with the primary students — they are very often done with that environment and are ready to move on to a building with fellow students at the same developmental stage. It becomes a fresh start.
With the proposed changes, at the other end of the age spectrum is the Grade 8s moving into a building with 17- and 18-year-olds.
This presents a number of concerns such as anxiety, stress, or being influenced to take on agendas beyond their age of comprehension — dating, drinking, and unfavourable behaviours to name a few.
Time and time again, students from the high school return to SMS and praise teacher after teacher for their experience here.
Even though they are just kids, they sincerely appreciate and understand the value of the time, effort, patience and guidance that we have provided to them in preparation for high school.
To eliminate SMS will be an utter disgrace and complete disservice to the middle school-aged students of Summerland.