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Debate greets Whistler Secondary staff’s support of a semester system



The conclusion by Whistler Secondary staff that the school needs to switch from the quarter system to the semester system has generated heated debate in the community.

Many of the parents of youths who take advantage of the elite sport program at the school support the current quarter system as it allows the athletes to leave school to compete and make up schooling later.

Under the quarter system students take two courses for about two and half months at a time. The year is broken into four quarters, offering four entry points for the year.

In the semester system more courses are taken each day over a longer period of time. The year is broken into two equal parts, each about 15-weeks long.

It would be almost impossible for youths competing nationally and internationally to keep up with their schoolwork on the semester system.

"If the school is run on the semester system without special provision being made, how will the students in the athletic program, the work experience program, children with special needs be accommodated," said Stephanie Sloan who was to make a plea to the Howe Sound School Board to keep the quarter system in place Wednesday night at the high school.

In her presentation Sloan said Rossland athletes often take an extra year or two to graduate and Vancouver athletes often move to Whistler to take advantage of the quarter system.

She also points to 55 families, which she said have moved to Whistler specifically to take advantage of the programs at the high school.

"This has represented $275,000 in revenue for the school district," said Sloan, who feels more community consultation is needed on the subject.

"If we do not have a delivery system to accommodate these athletes there is a real potential to loose them and severely retard future growth."

Parent Peter Browne echoed Sloan’s sentiments.

"If you take away that growth factor that the community has – these kids coming in from all over – and take that out of the equation you basically have a declining population because of other factors such as affordability and so on," said Browne.

He believes the quarter system allows Whistler to offer something no other school does.

"It has allowed Whistler to show off its uniqueness," said Browne.

"We are a mountain town and there are a lot of students who are engaged heavily in outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking. There have even been a couple of golfers who have gone through.

"It has allowed these people to come into the community and pursue their outside activities as well as maintaining a high academic standard.

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