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WMSC, high school promote Sports School

Athletes, families invited to the community

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When it comes to accommodating talent, few schools have done as much over the years as Whistler Secondary.

When the school year was divided into quarters, athletes were given the flexibility to take whole quarters off in order to focus full time on their sport. The program was later expanded to include students in the arts as well as athletics.

Even when the school changed to a semester system the program continued, with the students using computer labs to access the Cool School eLearning program on a flexible schedule. A teacher also works with the students to answer questions and to act as a liaison between the students and their parents, coaches, and other teachers.

According to school trustee Andrée Janyk, the Whistler Mountain Ski Club and Whistler Secondary are now actively promoting the program outside of the community.

"We’re trying to make it bigger," she said. "We’ve always called it the Whistler Secondary Sports School and used school programs but we want to promote it more. It’s an opportunity to attract students to our district, based on the excellence of our school, of the ski club, of the community, with an opportunity to train on the best mountains anywhere right in our backyard.

"This is the first time we’re making a big splash about it. We really feel we have a product here that’s very convenient for athletes and their families."

The Janyk family moved to Whistler from West Vancouver specifically for the sports school, with daughter Britt and son Michael going on to join the national team while also finishing high school on time with top grades.

While her own interest in the program is through the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, Janyk says the sports school accommodates all types of athletes as well as students in the arts. Most athletes are active in winter sports, like alpine and freestyle skiing and snowboarding, but other sports are represented as well.

"It makes more sense for the on-mountain sports to take advantage of this because the key time to train is during the day. Other sports, the athletes can train in the morning or in the evening, but sports like skiing need the day to be out on snow," said Janyk. Depending on how organized clubs are, kids in the ski club can train five or more days a week.

The Whistler Mountain Ski Club is actively promoting the school program through the B.C. Alpine website, with testimonials from Rob Boyd and Steve Podborski.

Some families may choose to move up to Whistler to enroll their children in the school, while others will find ways to billet their children with other families. In some cases families from the Lower Mainland have second homes in Whistler.

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