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School briefs: Central Okanagan school program connects students with jobs

WHEELS transition to employment program seeking to expand

The WHEELS Transition to Employment Program is not resting on its successful laurels since its inception in 2013.

The program, supported by Central Okanagan Public Schools and the Community Living BC, assists youth and young adults with disabilities and diverse abilities with opportunities to learn skills and gain experiences to help make a successful transition to adulthood and finding employment.

WHEELS has the partnership of 25 employer stakeholders and community partners, but the program continues to seek new participants to bring into the job skills training initiative, Central Okanagan trustees were told at the board of education meeting Wednesday (Jan. 26).

Currently, the program has 24 participants enrolled, with 22 of them currently employed.

WHEELS reaches out to Grade 12 students through a Job Club entry program, then after graduation follows up with a January-June transition to paid employment followed by a September-December on-site job learning segments.

Kevin Kaardal, Central Okanagan Public Schools superintendent/CEO, applauded the impact of the program, led by district principal Michelle Kaupp and program manager/teacher Heather Whistle, and for continuing to explore new options to expand the program participation for students and employers.


Changes to the Okanagan Mission catchment areas and Westside catchment and French Immersion (FI) program were adopted by the board of education.

The changes were debated by all trustees at the Jan. 19 planning and facilities committee meeting after weeks of discussion and consultation with families affected.

In the Okanagan Mission, the most significant change is reopening the Bellevue Creek Elementary as a primary English and FI student Kindergarten-Grade 2 school, and École Dorothea Walker changed to a Grade 3-5 school.

On the Westside, once the new Westside Secondary School funding is approved to repurpose what is now the site of École George Pringle Elementary, FI students will be relocated to either Hudson Road or Glenrosa Elementary; Shannon Lake students will be shifted from Constable Neil Bruce Middle to Glenrosa Middle; secondary FI students will remain at École Kelowna Secondary until the new high school is built.

When these changes come into affect is dependent on the status of the new Westside Secondary. If funding is announced prior to Feb. 28, the changes come into play in the 2022-23, if after Feb. 28 then the changes will apply to the 2023-24 school term.

The ministry of education has stated the funding application for the new school is currently before the provincial treasury board. The new school have approval in principal from the ministry of education.


Parents are raising questions about how to find answers to concerns regarding the reopening of Bellevue Creek Elementary such as bus transportation.

Once a principal is appointed for the reopened school, parents can contact that person individually or as a group to seek answers to their concerns moving forward.

When the school opens, a new parent advisory committee will be struck.

But Bellevue Creek will follow the example set by the opening of H.S. Grenda Middle School in Lake Country, where parents were involved in resolving issues before that school’s PAC was formally put in place after school opened.


Fee increases were approved for several outdoor and sports academy initiatives at Mount Boucherie Secondary School.

The programs impacted are the baseball academy, fee increase from $130 to $202.85; soccer academy, fee increase from $200 to $252; and the outdoor recreation academy, fee increase from $250 to $304.

The fees for these programs have not changed in five years or longer, and are necessary to meet increasing transportation and equipment costs.


Rutland Secondary School has two course additions - Football 12 and Wellness 10.

The football program is open both to football players and also students interested in the coaching or administrative side of the sport, said trustee Wayne Broughton.

“This program recognizes and brings a sense of diversability for all students interested in participating,” added assistant superintendent Terry Beaudry.

“Students can participate and learn the dynamics and business end of football without having to actually engage on the field…which brings in all the elements of being inclusive in nature.”

The wellness course gives students an opportunity to learn about and understand internalized behaviour habits at school that impede individual success attainment.

The course will address emotional and social self awareness, self advocacy resilience and positive coping strategies, using a holistic approach to help students feel more connected to their school.


The 17th GaGa Ball Court in the Central Okanagan School District will be installed at Chief Tomat Elementary in West Kelowna.

The court kit was purchased by the Chief Tomat parent advisory council and is assembled by school district operations staff.


The school-based thrift store at École Kelowna Secondary School recently made a $1,000 donation to the Kelowna Gospel Mission.


The planning process for the 2022-23 school district budget will start at the upcoming Central Okanagan Parent Advisory Council meeting Monday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m., via Zoom.

The Zoom link for parents to participate is


Two upcoming Raising Digital Leaders webinars for parents/guardians will take place Feb. 1 for elementary schools and Feb. 3 for middle/secondary schools.

An email was distributed to all parents/guardians about the learning sessions Jan. 20.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan Board of Education adopts COVID vaccine mandate for staff

READ MORE: Westside French Immersion students remain at KSS for now

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Barry Gerding

About the Author: Barry Gerding

Senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years...
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