By Tiffany Edwards
A year after it first opened its doors to students, Salish Secondary will welcome its first graduating class of students.
The $55.2-million school opened with limited enrollment in September 2018, with 850 students ranging from Grade 8 to 11. A year later, the school is over-enrolled at 1,100 students, but not yet at the 1,500 capacity. It’s about 50 more students than staff were expecting to serve in 2019/20, but principal Sheila Hammond said they’ll still be comfortable.
With the population swelling, the priority becomes creating a sense of community, at least for Hammond.
“Community blocks” will divide the school into small groups of about 20 students each to encourage a sense of community, and to provide the opportunity for older students to mentor their younger cohort.
“We really want to start the year off with the students connecting with their community block mates and their teacher of that block,” said Hammond.
With this being the first year with a graduating class, Hammond said she will be speaking to the students about what legacy they want to leave as well.
“I really want them to develop (the legacy) for themselves rather than be influenced by me or parents, I want it to be their thing,” said Hammond.
As for other growing pains, there are no changes coming to help combat parking and transit woes expressed by students, parents and community members last year.
The school’s parking lot, designed by ICBC, needs to be driven according to the planned “flow.” Educating the community on how to follow that plan is crucial from the get-go, said Hammond.
Vehicles dropping off or picking up students have to access the parking lot from the driveway located off of 184 Street, south of the school. A map and diagram are available on the school’s website.
For those who take the bus to school, there are no new routes that will service the school. The closest drop off point for public transit will continue to be the 184th and Fraser Highway intersection south of the school, about a 10-minute walk.
There is no sidewalk on the east side of 184th Street — the side of the street that the school is located on. Students who take the bus must cross Fraser Highway — in some cases, cross it twice — to get to the sidewalks on the west side of the street. They are asked to walk north up 184th until they can safely cross the street once more in front of Salish Secondary.
Hammond said that safety has improvement for students walking to school over the last year, with lights and signage being added in, but she did advise students to always walk facing traffic between Fraser Hwy and 72 Ave to stay safe.