French poet, journalist and novelist Anatold France once said, “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is part of ourselves…”
This rings true to any students and teachers that will be affected by the coming changes next September, when Westview Ecole will officially be closed and Prince Rupert Secondary School will be repurposed into a middle school.
Last week the Prince Rupert Northern View sat down with Westview principal Andrée Michaud, and PRSS principal Sheila Wells to discuss what both schools are doing to help prepare their students for these changes, as well as how both schools are trying to stay positive about the coming events.
“It’s been an interesting year. I’m very proud with everybody’s reaction to the situation. Instead of looking backwards, and thinking ‘poor us’, we’ve all made a very big effort for the kids to say let’s look forward and let’s look at it as an experience and a new journey. That’s what has been keeping our sanity and keeping it positive for the kids,” explained Westview Principal Andrée Michaud, who has been the principal of the school for four years now, but has been employed at the school for 20 years.
“This has been my home.”
To help prepare younger students, who will be transferred to either Pineridge Elementary or Roosevelt Park Elementary, for the changes they will be seeing next school year, Westview, Pineridge and Roosevelt have been hosting liaison activities since the beginning of the school year to help ensure students are familiar with their new schools and peers. These activities included a number of fun events such as movie nights and craft nights, as well as inviting students from Pineridge and Roosevelt to the school’s annual Carnaval event held in January. Michaud mentioned that most of the events the school held were well attended, depending on what the events were.
“No matter how we feel as adults about the school or our second home closing, the kids are first and we need to support them. That’s why we have done so many activities…We are trying to be as prepared as possible,” said Michaud.
As for the older students currently being educated at Westview, and all other grade five to grade eight students in the district; they recently visited what will become Prince Rupert Middle School in order to become more acquainted to the school by partaking in a scavenger hunt. Additionally, Michaud and Ken Minette, who will become the administrators at PRMS, have visited each elementary school to talk to future middle school students, as well as holding information meetings for parents. Additionally, Michaud will be responsible for the French Immersion program at all three levels of schools.
“The students seem excited about the changes because they are taking lead from the adults. From the start of the school year in September, I told staff that [the changes] are about the kids not the adults. If we show the kids that it’s an exciting experience [they will follow our example]. If we show anxiety and are worrying, the kids will follow that,” Michaud said, adding, “We don’t want to create anxiety for the kids.”
Prince Rupert Secondary School Principal, Sheila Wells, who has been employed at the school for the past 33 years and has been principal for the last nine years, says although the changes are hard for her, she is trying to stay positive and look forward to the future.
“I’m looking forward to the year and what it brings, and seeing how the students react and how the strengths of the teachers meld. Hopefully we’ll have some better programs and better place for kids overall,” she said.
PRSS has been preparing students for the changes by holding joint course selection meetings, having each grade that will be attending CHSS this September go over to the school for grade assemblies, as well as visits through the school. There have also been joint high school events like NHL hockey game nights, where students can watch NHL games together in order to become more acquainted with one another. As well, the school has been hosting the usual events such as joint dances and a talent show.
“There have been mixed reactions. Some students are excited, and some teachers are excited, and others aren’t. I think any time there is change it’s hard on people. I think the kids will adjust the easiest; it will be harder on the adults to make the adjustments. It’s like I said to the graduating students in my address to them [at their commencement ceremony]; when one door closes, another one opens. I’m not saying there won’t be struggles and rough spots but if we keep an open mind to it in the long run it will be better for the kids. In the end I think this is what we needed to do,” explained Wells, who will become the Associate Principal at CHSS in September along side Sandy Jones who will be part-time
To commemorate PRSS’s final year as a high school, there will be an open house in the school’s main gym on June 15 starting at six p.m. until eight p.m. where members of the community can visit the school, view work on displays, purchase PRSS clothing and other memorabilia, as well as indulge in nostalgia and cake.