Academy hopefuls have received news that they will be able to get into NDSS this fall. FILE PHOTO

Space found at NDSS for lacrosse academy hopefuls

Nanaimo high school able to accommodate out-of-catchment requests for 2018-19

The Nanaimo District Secondary School Islanders will get new, out-of-catchment teammates after all.

Applicants who are out-of-catchment but live within the boundaries of the school district have all been accepted into the NDSS lacrosse academy, according to Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools.

“Obviously we were very happy,” said Desiree Harris, a parent who found out last week her son Jayden Thomas, 12, will get into the academy. “It had been quite a long process and it was actually quite a bit of anxiety going into the long weekend without having heard anything so we were quite relieved to hear first thing [July 3] that they had finally made a decision.”

Twenty-six out-of-catchment applicants were originally turned away from the school’s four sport academies.

The district had warned families earlier in the school year it may not be able to accommodate out-of-catchment or academy requests as it has in the past because of class-size and composition requirements and higher enrolment. At NDSS, no new out-of-catchment applicants were being accepted because the school was considered full.

Parents met with school district administration in May to ask questions and express concerns and staff said they’d look for solutions.

RELATED: NDSS full, out-of-catchment lacrosse players out of luck

RELATED: Parents, school district meet to discuss academy concerns at NDSS

Robyn Gray, district assistant superintendent, told the News Bulletin since June 15, the deadline to register for schools, she worked with secondary schools on the out-of-catchment process and how many students they could take, starting with siblings.

She didn’t have information on how many of the 26 applicants got in, because she said NDSS did that work, but the school district confirmed all in-district, out-of-catchment lacrosse applicants were accepted.

“We certainly heard the input that we received from our community and we tried to do our best to make it work for many of our families, but overall, we have to go through these processes,” Gray said. “We’re pleased we could support this endeavour through some immediate short-term solutions and that we look forward to looking at those long-term ones.”

Anne Cateaux, lacrosse academy parent, said she heard from eight families who’ve been accepted.

“What I discovered from this entire process is there’s a genuine, compassionate willingness to give us a forum, to hear what we had to say, to be thoughtful about what we were telling them, and then not just that they absorbed what we had to say, but of course then the next point is, is they took action,” she said.

Andrea Sanders, parent, said she cried and thanked NDSS principal Geoff Steel when she heard her son, Jake McInnes, will be accepted to the lacrosse academy. She said her son now has an opportunity to get a scholarship.

“[Steel] really just did give my son a whole new path to go down; he changed Jake’s future, he really did and I will forever be grateful to him for that.”

She remembers getting the letter that her son couldn’t get into NDSS, and asking another parent how they were going to take on the district before realizing they weren’t alone and had a whole lacrosse family behind them.

District staff plan to look at long-term solutions for academies next year.

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