Sa-Hali Secondary Outdoor Learning Academy - A New Learning Opportunity in SD73

Posted On Thursday February 08, 2024

Story provided by Jonathan Brady, Principal and Greg Wagner, Teacher of Sa-Hali Secondary

On January 15, 2024, the Kamloops-Thompson Board of Education approved a new Outdoor Education Learning Academy at Sa-Hali Secondary School for Fall 2024.

“I got the idea for this Academy from participating in various leadership roles in the outdoors and seeing the transformative effect the natural environment can have on student learning and well-being. I also wanted to design an educational experience that would be accessible for all types of learners while maximizing the potential for experiential, practical, land and place-based education in the beautiful natural environment in and near Kamloops,” said Greg Wagner.

“When we presented the idea to our PAC and students and asked for their feedback, it was clear Mr. Wagner’s idea had a lot of merit,” explained Principal Jonathan Brady. “Our students and parents were in favour of the concept of four courses, taught together by the same teacher, leading to graduation. This was a similar approach to the DATA Academy currently housed at Valleyview Secondary.”

Mr. Brady emphasized, “68% of 405 Sa-Hali students who responded to a survey about the academy reported that they would be interested in enrolling in this academy. We felt that with such strong support to move forward, it was important to bring this to the Board of Education.”

The Academy would consist of the following BC Ministry of Education and Child Care Curriculum courses: Outdoor Education 12 (Physical Education and Health credit), Life Sciences 11/Environmental Sciences 12 (Science 12 credit), Career Life Connections 12 (Graduation requirement credit), Contemporary Indigenous Studies 12 (Indigenous Focused Graduation Requirement credit).

Assistant Superintendent Hamblett shared, “Through the Ministry-authorized courses, the teacher embeds outdoor experiences to provide a rich, place-based, inquiry-focused, active, experiential, and practical learning experience.”

Secwepemc knowledge, history and teachings, reconciliation, seasonal rhythms, conservation, ecology, and sustainable practices would provide the basis for all learning in the Academy. Examples of these learning activities could include trips to McQueen Lake or Lac Le Jeune.

Mr. Wagner added, “In addition to the course mentioned above work that would be completed, students can complete certifications. Food Safe and First on the Scene First Aid certifications would be earned by each student. Further certifications based on class desire and activities may include flat water canoeing, personal craft operators’ card, bear awareness and WHMIS. These certificates would add to students’ experience and help them be successful in their post-secondary journeys.”

Following graduation, students who participated in the Academy would have relevant experience that would help them succeed in their future studies, including the Bachelor of Natural Resource Sciences program, the Adventure Sport Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor of Tourism Management programs at Thompson Rivers University.

An academy focusing on outdoor education would allow students to access a wide variety of activities outside of the school and, therefore, free up classroom space when the students are not in the school. Additionally, the size of the Academy would be just one cohort of students for the semester with an average class size of approximately 25. Therefore, it is likely that the ability for students from other schools to access the Academy would be limited, but this is not unlike other academies in the District.

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