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To: Trustees, Dave Hutchinson, Chad Lintott & Deb Marshall (via email on October 25th)

I am writing to express my profound disappointment in the decision to close Cedar High School. Prior to moving to Nanaimo we carefully researched the schools in the areas that we were considering moving to and we chose Cedar very intentionally. Given my experience and research as a Child and Youth Care practitioner and educator I was fully aware of the benefits of a smaller school, in comparison to other schools, and location within a rural community, which is why we chose Cedar. Children, and people for that matter, learn best in the context of relationships and Cedar given the smaller school size creates a context for strong relationships between students, staff and parents. Given the choice I would choose a smaller school that aims to create a climate where all students experience a sense of belonging, over larger schools that aim to offer more and more choice. Bigger is not always better. As Wasley and Lear (2001) state "Together, parents, teachers, and principals have found small schools better able to engage the intellectual and emotional lives of students and to improve students' academic performance" (p. 23). I want my children to be engaged in school and more choice selection is not what creates this engagement. Engagement comes from the relationships that are established between teachers, students and parents. The work of Bronfenbrenner (1979), a prominent child development psychologist and founder of the Head Start programs, along with numerous other scholars recognize the value of relationships, connections, and belonging as vital in development. Bronfenbrenner calls this proximal processes and identifies these processes as being key to healthy development. I would much rather see an education system that attends to the quality of relationships and engagement in schools, rather than a 'more is better' approach. My son has never had difficulty with limited course selection at Cedar and we have never expressed any concern to the principal, teachers, or the board about lack of opportunity at Cedar rather we have been pleased to witness how he has come to know many of his teachers over the years and through these close relationships they have become true mentors to him. In my mind Cedar is a perfect size and given that it is operating at capacity I just do not understand why you would choose to close it. If the school was significantly under enrolled the decision would make sense to me, but given it is not and given the community's desire to keep the school open I just do not understand the decision that has been made. Initially I thought it was financial, in the guise of better choice, but as I learn more about the financial implications of this choice I just do not see the benefits of this decision. I am so deeply disappointed with the decision of the board and still hold some faint hope that this decision will be re-considered, especially in light of the information provided to the trustees from the parent delegation that presented at the board meeting earlier this month. This delegation raised a number of very important questions and I would like to know how this information was considered and what the Board's response is to this information? I do understand that this item was on the Board's agenda earlier this week and was sorry that I was not able to attend. I have another question. I received the letter about information meetings with Barsby and Ladysmith and am wondering why the meeting about Barsby is not at Barsby? As I consider options for my children I need to see the schools that I may be sending them to. I would appreciate a tour of both Ladysmith and Barsby, the opportunity to meet principals and key staff at both schools, full information about course selection options, extra-curricular activities and student support services. Teri Derksen