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REPORTING · 9th April 2014
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat City High (KCH) is moving into Mount Elizabeth Middle and Secondary School (MEMSS). On Friday, April 4th, letters were sent home to parents. The changes will be taking place in September. These conversations of what to do with the KCH School Program in Kitimat and its sister school in Hazelton have been going on prior to the creation of a Middle School.

According to School Board Chair, Art Erasmus, the decision is to give students access to opportunities they would not have at the current KCH location. At the moment, there are 45 registered students with 2.5 teachers.

“The two and a half teachers can’t provide them with some of the programs that the kids need, like Counseling, like some of them that get advanced far enough so they could take one or two regular senior courses, or they don’t have the skill of getting some of the Counselling some of the kids need. They will be able to access those by being in the bigger school but they’ll be doing their own program and they’ll probably have their own entrance to the building,” said Erasmus.

The students will have access to some senior’s courses and electives which are not available at KCH. This includes Physical Education and the Trades. Erasmus stated the big thing they needed was Counselling.

Erasmus explained money is not a factor in this move. There will be no money saved in the first year. However, down the line, the KCH Principal position will most likely be phased out when the KCH Principal’s Contract expires.

The day care will remain in place for now as it is a private function which is renting space from the School District. The board will determine what will happen to the Kitimat City High building in time. Erasmus pointed out there were two other schools which were closed, Roy Wilcox and Alexander. While he does not know what will happen to these schools in the long hall, he did say there was interest in purchasing Alexander by Kitimat Valley Institute.

“In the short term, nothing will happen to the building,” said Erasmus. He was not able to tell us the location KCH will be taking in the High School.

One of the reasons why KCH was put together was to help students which did not fit into the Mount Elizabeth program for one reason or another. We asked Erasmus if these students were taken into consideration

“It was set up as a separate program so the kids would not have to be in the classes so they have their own teachers and they have their own program and they have their own space. They will still have their own program and they will still have their own teachers and they will still have their own space except that it is in a bigger building that has lots of room for them. It will still be its own program,” said Erasmus.

According to Talon Dillabough, an enrolled student at KCH who is doing a college program: “People went to KCH to get away from MESS. You have people who go there due to anxiety, you have people who go there due to, they don’t like the environment at MESS, they might not get along with the staff at MESS, they might not get along with some of the students at MESS, there might be bullying problems. All of these factors come together to make KCH the school it is. By them putting KCH back into MESS, it’s counter productive. They are forcing students who purposely left MESS to go back to MESS for the sake of the trades, to make it easier to attend the trade program.”

He told us MEMSS is a15 minute walk from KCH.

Erasmus told us while 45 students are enrolled, only 15 show up to class.

There will be discussion in Kitimat on this, but the decision to move the students has been made. There will be consultation on how it works. The school board has talked to parents and community leaders.

“If it doesn’t work, we might have to go to Plan B, whatever plan B might turn out to be,” said Erasmus. He stated the professionals in the school district are saying it will work and it will provide the students with services that they cannot have while remote from MEMSS.

There will be more detail for the public at coming meetings of the school board. However, there has no conversation if the name of the school will change again to reflect these changes.

“We’re not used to drawing attention to the fact that some kids are struggling more than others. What we are trying to do is provide services to those kids which will make them as successful as they can be,” said Erasmus.

In the meantime, there is a petition appearing around the community to keep KCH from going to MEMSS.
Moving KCH to MESS
Comment by Paula MacGregor on 10th April 2014
This is a very scary idea for the kids, parents, teachers and staff involved in the alternate program. I have 2 sisters who work in the alternate education programs- in Kitimat and Fort St John, and this move will wreak havoc on these kids and their families. It is utter stupidity to try to force them all back into the environment they escaped from ... in order to provide more housing for out of town workers or to trim the budget. Unbelievable!!
Moving KCH to MESS
Comment by Susie Abreu on 9th April 2014
I am a parent of a student enrolled at KCH and I was definitely not notified by the school board prior to this happening. You say out of the 45 enrolled only 15 attend, well guess what, now none of them will attend. This was devastating news to our family. No one has a right to make a decision like this unless they have gone through the struggles some of these parents have gone through to get their children an education while at the same time giving them confidence in themselves to move forward in the future. This school is a miracle and it made me sick to my stomach when I heard the news. I think it really should be reconsidered.