Alta Lake School seeks temporary shelter 

French teacher asks council for help

The part-time French teacher at the Alta Lake School, known to some as Madame Frou-Frou, has asked council for a temporary school home.

Laurie Cooper proposed renting a portion of the Spruce Grove Community building for two years, beginning this September, until the Alta Lake School can find a more permanent place.

Ultimately, they would like to move into the original Alta Lake School, which was built in the 1950s, and preserve it as a historic site, re-establishing its function as an educational environment.

Their long-term dream is to be at the old schoolhouse in Chaplinville with 85 to 100 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8.

"We think it’s important for parents to have choices when it comes to education," said Cooper who came to Tuesday’s council meeting with a handful of supporters.

The Alta Lake School is growing from its humble beginnings when four families got together to look for an alternative education for their kids.

The school follows a Waldorf-inspired curriculum with a strong emphasis on the arts and the environment.

Waldorf education takes a holistic approach to teaching, focusing on the education of the whole child, including the head, hands, and heart.

This approach utilizes creative and artistic learning methods.

Cooper, who has two children in the school, predicts about 40 students will be enrolled in the September 2002 program, with classes from Kindergarten to Grade 5. There will be three full-time teachers and two part-time teachers.

The students to date represent families from the whole spectrum of the Whistler community. There are children of skiers, accountants and taxi drivers enrolled, among others.

Cooper said the Alta Lake School would pay $3,000 each month for the use of the Spruce Grove space and the municipality could rent the building out to other parties in the evenings, over the Christmas break and during the summer months.

The rent will be covered through fund-raising efforts, tuition fees and independent school grants.

If the Spruce Grove Community building is not a viable option, Cooper asked council to consider letting the school use temporary portables on the grounds of the building.

The school would need the portable space for about three years, if this option were chosen.

Councillor Ken Melamed expressed concern about council being in the position of having to evict the school from the site two years down the road.

Yet, he was positive that staff and council could find a solution.

There are more than 800 Waldorf schools in 40 countries at present. They began in 1918 in Germany.

Currently members of the Pemberton community are trying to start a Waldorf-inspired school in their area. There are plans for a similar school to open in Squamish.

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