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Parkland High School Confidential: A way for Mr. Russell to share about the culture of Parkland.

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Parkland High School Confidential: A way for Mr. Russell to share about the culture of Parkland.
by Kal Russell - Tuesday, 22 February 2022, 9:35 AM

Parkland High School Confidential: Small School, Big Opportunities!

At Parkland Secondary, January and February are busy times. Assessment week is followed by a new semester, the Musical Theatre production, basketball playoffs and course selection time.  

So far, all have been successful. We were able to support many students with completing their semester one courses, and all students have timetables and new courses that will challenge them. The musical theatre wowed their online audience with their performance of Cinderella. The senior boys' basketball team finished the season strong and were a couple of points from a top-three finish in the cities, while the girls finished fourth at the Island tournament and were one win from earning a berth to the provincials.   

And course selection is on now. Grade 9-11 are trying to decide what pathway to take next year. Some students are looking at the challenging IB program. Some are looking at Trades options, while others are meeting with counsellors to ensure they have the right courses selected for their future post-secondary educational goals or career paths. At the same time, grade 8 students from North Saanich are deciding if they are coming to Parkland or moving to another high school.  

No question, we want those students coming to Parkland. We believe we have a great school. Students at Parkland achieve well academically, and we have the same pathways of academic offerings as the other secondary schools in town. Being a small school gives us a strong sense of community where the teachers and students know each other by name and have amazing relationships by graduation. Students here get a chance to participate in school life. Often students try other schools because of bigger programs and teams. Many return to Parkland when it is not what they expected or didn't get a spot on the team. We always encourage those students to return to us as we are their community. 

At our school, we have fewer students but lots of opportunities for those students that choose to come here. We need our student artists, athletes and scholars to make us stronger, and we are trying to convince North Saanich students that they can be successful and happy here.  

Five years ago, while I was at NSMS, I remember a group of grade 8 girls talking about where they were going to secondary school. "Anywhere, but Parkland." seemed to be the cool thing to say. One young lady was a little more outspoken. I could often hear her telling others, " Parkland has nothing to offer me." 

I am not sure if you have tried to convince a grade 8 student that they are wrong, but it seldom goes well. You have to show them their options and opportunities and hope they see the big picture. Fortunately for Parkland, this young lady and a couple of her friends changed their minds and decided to come to Parkland at the last minute. As John Mellencamp would say, they decided to be "educated in a small town."   

On the last day of the Musical Theatre production of Cinderella, I sat in an empty theatre and watched a magical performance. There was no proud parents or cheering audience (at least not live), but the students performed their hearts out, and at the end, they came out to take a bow. The pride of the accomplishments was still there. Covid might have taken away the crowd, but it didn't remove the group's sense of accomplishment. They beamed on stage, and afterwards, the senior students spoke from their hearts and cried.  

One of the students crying, thanking her classmates and teachers and encouraging future Parkland students to get involved in Parkland and Musical Theatre was our grade 8 students from five years ago who thought Parkland had nothing to offer her. 

At Parkland, you can "have yourself a ball in that same small town." John Mellencamp says it best, "Yeah, you can be yourself here in this small town” and the Parkland staff will help you be who you want to be.  

Parkland might be the right fit for many of our grade 8 North Saanich students. We have lots to offer and am confident that every student coming can find a place that they belong in our school whether it is in the classroom, the playing field, a club or just with a group of caring people.  

I thought I would end with the words of a grade 12 student who decided at the last minute to give Parkland a chance. Her words to her teachers and classmates came from her heart as she said, "you have made such a big impact on my life, and the last four years have been so memorable."  See the video at Musical Theatre Thank You - 2022

Pretty powerful words and just one example of the relationships students at Parkland make with their classmates and staff. Not a bad reason to come to Parkland!  

Not a bad reason to get involved in school life, no matter what grade you are in!  

Panther Pride!