There’s an old saying: You can never go home again.
The re-opening of Cedar Community Secondary School became a lot harder for trustees to justify last week, after Nanaimo school district revealed that only 200 students intend to enrol next fall. That’s a tiny high school population, and it’s less than half the facility’s capacity.
The lack of interest in re-enrolling at Cedar is understandable. A year ago, students and their families were forced to choose between John Barsby or Ladysmith secondary. Moving schools is tough for a teen, but the kids managed it, made friends and made the best of things. Is it any wonder that there would be a hesitancy, now, to relocate again and start over? And keep in mind, this is after just one full school year. It stands to reason that by next fall, students might be even more entrenched at their current schools.
Reopening Cedar was very much a pet project of a majority of school trustees from the start; for all intents and purposes, it’s the fulfillment of a campaign promise, one that was supported by voters. But district-wide, it’s creating an increasingly obvious double standard. It’s creating hypocrisy. Our well-meaning trustees are re-opening a sparsely populated school that will be riddled with programming gaps, and at the same time they’re considering closing schools in other parts of the city, suggesting it’s the only way to maintain programs for pupils there.
The school board chairman maintains Cedar will re-open, whatever its enrolment. We hope the school district is able to come up with creative ways to offer the courses students need for their post-secondary aspirations. What about electives? What about extracurriculars? Will there be enough students to field sports teams?
What we do know is that people in Cedar are getting their school back. We just hope it’s the school they remember, the one they want, and the one that’s best for the kids.