Although the B.C. teachers’ dispute is now settled, some graduating students are concerned the two-week delay in starting the school year will have lingering effects.
“Going into scholarship preparation, it kind of puts you in a setback, because now you have to struggle to get your classes,” said Candace Hamilton, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School.
“I feel like the whole year’s been kind of shuffled back for me and it’s a lot more stressful than it should be.”
Hamilton, a high-level softball player, is hoping to land an athletic scholarship for university next year and is worried she’ll be at a disadvantage against peers in other provinces whose final years of high school started as scheduled.
Despite losing two weeks, the B.C. government has declared the 2014-15 school year will not be lengthened, nor will time be added to school days, to make up for lost time.
Brett Needham is worried Princess Margaret staff will now have no choice but to cut back on popular extra-curricular activities in order to squeeze in enough instructional time.
“I think this year’s going to be a lot more rushed trying to get everything together. Maggie is a really spirited school and we do a lot of fun, school things, and I feel like we’re not going to be able to do as much of that,” she said.
Needham, 17, is also concerned the compressed school year will prompt some post-secondary institutions to take a pass on students such as herself, but a spokesman for Okanagan branch of the University of the B.C. said the province’s students have nothing to fear.
“British Columbia comprises UBC’s largest applicant pool and we will ensure that B.C. high school applicants are not disadvantaged by the later school start,” Paul Marck said via email.
“Generally, we make admissions decisions for B.C. high school applicants based on grades submitted to us in March. We anticipate that if reporting periods change, it will only be by a few weeks and that will be taken into account.”
Sharol Papp doesn’t have to worry about any of that for another decade or so.
Her daughter, Paige Johnston, began Grade 2 this week at Carmi Elementary, and the mom doesn’t feel the teachers’ strike has unduly impacted her seven-year-old’s education.
“They missed two weeks in June, but normally the last two weeks in June is field trips and there’re really nothing going on,” Papp said.
“And the first two weeks in the fall are usually getting reviews, meeting friends, sorting out classrooms. So it hasn’t been much of a problem for us.”
Meanwhile, the Insurance Corporation of B.C. urged parents to go over traffic safety rules with their children before sending them off to school and ensure they have safe routes to and from class.
ICBC also encouraged drivers to respect the 30 km/h school zone speed limits now in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days when class is in session. Each year, one child pedestrian is killed and 30 more are injured in crashes throughout the Southern Interior, according to ICBC.