Monday May 8, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Last updated 12:30 pm]
Political analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Recently The Village Initiative has been promoting The Youth Council of the Westshore (YCWS) across social media, giving them a boost. The youth group got funding from United Way South Vancouver Island to get rolling.
YCWS is a group of youth aiming is to make change for the betterment of youth in their community and schools.
“Our mission is to enrich the lives of youth in the Westshore. We will achieve this by coming up with ideas and collecting information from surveys to resolve real problems youth have,” the group states on their website.
The youth council will be entirely run by youth (with an adult facilitator at each meeting), and currently is searching for members. Applications will be accepted from any youth ages 11 to 17, although the council says it is geared toward the middle and early high school years.
West shore focus:
YCWS is mainly accepting youth in the Soooke School District (SD62) which includes Spencer Middle School, Dunsmuir Middle School, École John Stubbs Memorial School, Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School, Royal Bay Secondary School, and Belmont Secondary School.
With a focus on the west shore area (primarily Langford and Colwood) this list does not include schools in Sooke itself (Journey Middle School or Edward Milne Community School).
The overall district name of Sooke School District can be confusing at first. Schools are spread across a vast geographical footprint. SD62 has three ‘families of schools’: Belmont (for Langford schools), Royal Bay (for Colwood schools) and Milne’s Landing (for Sooke schools).
Once the provincial electoral area ridings split off the west shore from Sooke (boundary commission recommendations for the next provincial election in 2024), the schools will be further separated in terms of their base of community influence.
Consulting group supports this group:
The Village Initiative is a consulting group which has SD62 as one of its clients. Pulling together these students as a council is indirectly guided by this group, not entirely self-generated from within the student body.
That doesn’t make it any less effective or less meaningful, it just points to a different sense of community within the schools compared to years gone by.
Shift to district-led:
Unlike in the 1960s to 2010 or so, high schools in recent years have not for years seem not to have seen the emergence of in-school student councils. Instead, one or two reps from schools have been selected by SD62 administration to sit in on district-wide committee or board meetings.
High schools in SD62 do not have student newspapers, which one career counsellor teacher has said “creates a different culture”. Journalism is not offered as a course in any SD62 schools, though if English teachers which to offer a component in their Writing classes that has been seen to happen.
All of this speaks to fitting into a pre-determined system. Social-emotional learning which has gained a solid footprint in public education in the last 20 years or so, has emphasized almost a necessity to find one’s place in the network of learning as a way to find one’s place in a highly organized society. Those who don’t ‘fit’ are the ones who struggle, and the system wonders why what they call ‘mental health’ issues emerge.
The youth council says it aims to provide “opportunities for youth to raise awareness and important issues in the community, and share youth perspective and experiences with the SD62 board of education, as well as municipal and provincial government”. It’s a structured intake system.
Good works in the works:
Perhaps the broader-based youth council will help foster more authentic student involvement in the running of the schools they depend upon for a viable education but with the hand of district management guiding them.
With funding from the United Way they have a stable foundation upon which to start.
SD62 Superintendent Scott Stinson retiring at 2023 year-end (May 1, 2023)
Recent SD62 angst about student road safety begs review (April 29 2023)
Three provincial electoral areas for west shore (April 18, 2023)
===== ABOUT the WRITER and ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Mary P Brooke is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends as published daily at islandsocialtrends.ca.
She has been covering politics, business, education and communities through a socioeconomic lens since 2008 on south Vancouver Island (previously as West Shore Voice News, and before that both Sooke Voice News and MapleLine Magazine).
Ms Brooke followed and wrote extensively about the COVID pandemic during 2020-2022, and continues to follow the topic as new developments arise. She has covered board and committee meetings of Sooke School District 62 (SD62) in-depth since 2014; in 2022 Mary P Brooke ran as a trustee candidate in the SD62 Belmont Zone (Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Highlands).
In addition to her lifelong journalism contributions and publishing enterprise, Ms Brooke holds a health sciences B.Sc., a university Certificate in Public Relations, and an industry certificate in digital marketing.
Mary is the mother four now-adult children who attended SD61 and SD62 during these years of education transition. The shortfalls and challenges of public education were experienced and witnessed firsthand.