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Van Horne deserves reprieve - Metro US

Van Horne deserves reprieve

The news comes, as it always does, in a letter home.

My son’s school is on the “operationally small list.” (His class has 27 students, so go figure.)
He’s in Grade 6, and moving on, so I won’t be fighting.

I’ve seen this movie before: There will be show trials of public hearings, parents will try to do something, but something will never matter. The school will close.

But nearby William Van Horne High School. That school deserves a fight.

It’s located in the Northwest, not far from the U of C. It teaches the learning disabled, the deaf, and kids who want skills training.

Yes, it’s small. Just a few hundred students, so students get individual attention.

Van Horne has an impassioned student in Terri Wright, 18. She came to WVH with her deaf brother after both failed at a regular junior high.

Wright travels from Copperfield far in the southeast. Because it’s worth it.

The CBE position is that it’s best that WVH students go back to the mainstream schools, and do specialized programs there. Wright has seen that. She’s lived it. Students don’t want to go back to big schools, they didn’t feel accepted there.

For her part, Wright is almost done. She’s hoping to attend Bow Valley College. But she hadn’t given up on the others:

“What is going to happen to the deaf and disabled?” she asks. “Are you just going to push them along in high school and treat them like they can’t accomplish anything in life?”

Because she knows how that feels.

Our school boards rely on city statistics showing school age kids are set to decline the closer you are to the city core. So families will live in the ’burbs and keep on driving.

Sadly, this is directly contradictory to that Calgary’s hundreds-pages-long plan to densify the inner city. You can’t blame the school boards for cutting costs. You can, however, blame “the system” where their decisions go unchecked, and there’s a lack of incentive to make schools community infrastructure.

What if they could be multi-use, and have daycares and seniors programming all in one?

We imagined Calgary. We didn’t imagine boldly enough. The province has the power to mandate planning and school board change. It should use it.

– Janice Paskey teaches at Mount Royal University and is a volunteer with Westwood Hockey.

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