Students Justice Izsak (left) and Ash Mason (right) enjoyed the Christmas celebrations at the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre.

Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre hosts Christmas lunch

Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre Castlegar Campus hosts lunch for students and their families.

The Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre (KCLC) Castlegar Campus hosted a Christmas lunch for its students and their families on Tuesday. Other invited guests included sponsors and those who helped make the day happen including Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, Audrey Repin from Columbia Power, Kevin Anderson from Zellstoff Celgar, and board chair for SD20 Teri Ferworn.

The lunch was the idea of Nina Verigin, the child and youth care worker for the school. She had a desire to provide the students and their families with a Christmas celebration. She sent letters out to local businesses and organizations and received a tremendous amount of support for the endeavor. “I am overwhelmed by the support of the community, I could not have done this without them,” said Verigin. Sponsors included the City of Castlegar, Selkirk Massage Therapy, Fabricland, Columbia Power Corp., Safeway, Country Style Bakery, Mitchell Supply, McDonalds, Zellstoff Celgar, Pharmasave and Kootenay Market.

Verigin prepared a feast worthy of a king, and the guests thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Verigin added, “It was a lot of work, but so worth it.”

KCLC is an alternative learning centre. Alternative resource programs provide an environment that includes additional support for students. Teachers use a variety of instructional methods designed to meet the academic needs of students, classes have fewer students, and students have greater access to and support from child and youth care workers. The program staff is dedicated to working individually and in groups to address the social, emotional, behavioural and mental health needs of students.

Nathan Robinson, Principal of Alternative Education for SD 20 said, “The staff here are amazing.We have outstanding attendance and a good success rate. The staff has done an awesome job of making this a welcoming and accepting place.”

The students at the school couldn’t agree more. “Everyone here is actually really great,” said Justice Izsak. “The school itself is an amazing program for kids that don’t fit in with the outroverted style that regular schooling is set up like.” Ash Mason added, “One thing I really appreciate about this school is that the teachers can spend one on one time with the kids so they can really help them to understand what they are learning. It’s a great place. I way prefer it over high school.”

Izsak explained, “Instead of the big class, students actually get the opportunity if they don’t get a lesson to have it explained to them by a teacher who doesn’t have to run off five seconds later to help another person.”

The students were also pleased with the Christmas celebration. “I think it was a really nice thing that it was organized, because it gets a lot of people together, and families together, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves,” said Mason. Izsak concurred. “It was a great idea on Nina’s part, getting everyone together like this and just showing them that yes, this school might be different from the normal school, but that is not something to be looked down upon.”

Mason’s concluding remarks seemed to sum up the spirit of the celebration, “All the teachers here care about us and our well being, which is why they spend the extra time and go the extra mile, making sure we are feeling good.”