KAMLOOPS — Wednesday was an orientation and team-building day for Grade 7 and 8 students new to Chase Secondary School.
The Grade 7 group is at the rural high school a year earlier than scheduled after parents and School District 73 approved the move to bump them from the elementary to secondary level starting this year.
"It's been interesting to be in a bigger school and changing classes," said Grade 7 student Persaius Hunter.
In April, following consultations with parents in Clearwater, Barriere and Chase, the Board of Education with School District 73 officially approved the move of Grade 7 students in Chase and Barriere to high school, while parents in Clearwater voted the proposal down.
After a busy first week, Chase Secondary School hosted a day filled with fun and games, as the students continue to get comfortable with their new school.
"We run them through eight different activities where they learn a little bit about the school, who they turn to in different situations, learn some mindfulness technics, do some team-building activities to bring the group tighter," said Chase Secondary School Principal Dave McDonald. "It's all about making them feel more connected to Chase Secondary."
More than a week into the new year, however, and many of the students say they're excited about being at a bigger school where it's not as structured as elementary.
"High school you get way more freedom," said Grade 7 student Cole Carlin. "A choice of either art, music, Shuswap, or French. I like it way better."
The addition of the Grade 7 students has significantly increased the size of the school.
"The hallways are a lot busier than they were before," said McDonald. "We've added roughly 50 new students to the building. Our population was up in the first place, so we went from 190 students to about 250-260."
The increase in student population means three more teachers at Chase Secondary this year, as well as more courses and programs in the future.
Peter Driessen, who had to take Physics 11 and other courses online last year due to a lack of students, says it will be great for the school to have more courses and programs offered, as well as more sports teams.
"When I was here in Grade 8, we didn't have a basketball team for the last few years. I was taking three online courses because the courses weren't offered because not enough people enrolled," he said. "So with the new kids, there's probably going to be a lot more courses and sports teams."
McDonald said he can see more classes being offered, but the first year of Grade 7 students will be a feeling-out process before more changes are made to the school.
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