schools 

By Amy Fendley Both of Whistler’s public schools report that all is in good order and the year is off to a good start. Myrtle Philip Elementary School principal Bob Daly, says classrooms are full, but enrolment numbers are within the standards set by the school board’s collective agreement. "We projected just over 500 students, because at the end of last year there were 475," said Daly. "We moved a lot of kindergarten students to full-time, so our total — 467 enrolled in the English program and 46 enrolled in the Francophone program — is now 513. We’re crowded a little more than we thought we might be, but we’re coping pretty well with that." But Nancy Edwards says the enrolment numbers for the whole Howe Sound district are below the Education Ministry’s projections. "We are fairly significantly under what the ministry projected in terms of enrolment," said Edwards, secretary treasurer of School District 48. "But the numbers are right around the principals’ estimates. Final enrolment numbers will be made available at the end of September. "We’re still working through normal school start up, and the issue of there being enough room for kids in classrooms. We’ve had no problems that we don’t normally have to deal with the first few days of the school year." Myrtle Philip now has a total of five portable classrooms, up two since last year. The school moved all but two intermediate classes (Grades 4 to 6) to portables to ensure that primary students stay inside the school. The school also has three new teachers, including a part-time Francophone teacher, and a whole new collection of classroom technology. Several computers have been bought with $20,000 donated by the Father Daughter Dance Committee over the past two years. There is enough equipment, including a few donated second-hand computers, for every classroom which will allow students easy access to resources available through the Internet. For the second year in a row the Association of Whistler Realtors, through its Festival of Lights, has granted $3,000 to the school for the Artists in Residence program, a program dedicated to the fine arts. The school has yet to meet to discuss how the funds will be allocated. Daly says this year the school has a new emphasis on music. In an intensive music program headed by teachers Sadie Culliford and Alison Hunter, primary and intermediate students will be able to hone their musical abilities to scale. Meanwhile, Whistler Secondary has also met its enrolment goal, coming in almost exactly on target with 319 students, a total that principal Rick Smith says is about five to 10 over the estimate. "Last year we graduated a very large class and this year have inherited a small class from Myrtle Philip," said Smith. "We are at a typical percentage for a high school and are not really facing any difficult space requirements." Smith says there seems to be an increasing interest in the school’s Pathfinder Program, a computer-based program which allows students to complete secondary school courses and gain credits on their own time. "The program tracks, tests and allows students to go on to the next level," says Smith. "It’s good for students who have part-time jobs or athletic requirements. The program has been popular with many adults continuing education, but we didn’t expect much interest from students." Pathfinder is housed in the Whistler Secondary’s newest portable. The school’s new international student program welcomes six new students from Japan, Norway and Germany. "It’s a great cultural mix of students," says Smith. "And a nice change from the usual uni-cultural atmosphere."

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