Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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First Nations focus for new public school

Spencer Anderson / Daily News (Nanaimo)

A new public school opens this September with a special focus on pupils with First Nations backgrounds.

The one-classroom school, slated to be operated by Vancouver Island West School District, is a partnership with three other organizations, including the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, the Mid-Island Metis Nation and the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island.

About 20 students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be able to attend the new school, which will operate of the Boys and Girls Club's Fifth Street location in Nanaimo.

Aboriginal Centre executive director Chris Beaton said the school will welcome students from all backgrounds. But he said the curriculum will be delivered in a "culturally responsive way" for students of aboriginal heritage.

"Aboriginal culture will be infused from the start of the day until the end of the day," he said.

He said the learning model is also aimed at helping children learn according to their own needs. "When we have a 56 per cent graduation rate for our aboriginal students in this district, about 30 per cent below (the) provincial average, we think an option for those aboriginal students is one way to address that," he said.

Beaton said this will mark the first time a public school will be located in a Boys and Girls club, adding he hopes to expand into more classrooms over the coming years.

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