British Columbia·Photos

Students trade pencils for oven mitts and guitar picks at Burnaby summer school

More than 7,500 students have registered for unique courses that differ from traditional academic and athletics summer school classes.

More than 7,500 students have registered for the unique courses

Bryan Leung performs last week during rock band summer school in Burnaby. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Students are putting aside their pencils to pick up oven mitts and guitar picks for summer enrichment courses offered by the Burnaby School District. 

More than 7,500 students have registered for the courses, which differ from the traditional academic and athletics classes that have been a mainstay of summer programming.

Cooking, fashion design, musical theatre, gardening and rock band programs have been a hit with summer students.

Students gather all the desserts they have made on a table during summer school in Burnaby. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Last Thursday, a sign reading "Kids Can Cook!" led to a room at Byrne Creek Community School where a dozen elementary school students were putting the finishing touches on treats they were preparing to serve to their parents. For the previous two weeks, students had been learning to make savoury dishes as well as desserts in classes taught by qualified teachers.

Mavis Tam decorates a cupcake with Hilary Lee during a summer cooking class. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Two students taste the french toast they made at their summer cooking class. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"Cooking is such a vital skill and to start early in life I feel that students will get that appreciation of how much work goes into cooking but also feel the joy of cooking," said parent Aimee Chung. 

Chung's 10-year-old son Kieran signed up to learn the essentials of cooking, but admitted it was not always easy. 

"We are making mac and cheese and scones, which are kinda hard to make," he said. 

Students present the desserts they baked and decorated. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

New friends Hilary Lee, 12, Mavis Tam, 10 and Bronwyn Lee, 10, all agreed that the best part of the class was "all the free food you get to eat."

As the final tray of cinnamon buns went into the oven, Aiden Tong, 10, admitted he had "never really baked at home before. I always just used the stove or microwave."

Kieran Chu, Mavis Tam, and Hilary Lee put pretzels in the oven during their summer cooking class. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The cooking students served their final desserts to their parents over tea in the library, which they had decorated with colourful tablecloths and signs. Brownies and cupcakes were served by the students, who eagerly talked about decorating the individual treats. 

Kieran Chu serves brownies to parents during the final day of cooking summer school in Burnaby last Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Parents take a group picture of their children during the last day of cooking summer school. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Down the hall, the rock band students were tuning their electric guitars one final time before their performance. 

A student tunes her guitar in preparation for her band's final performance. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Students perform during rock band summer school in Burnaby last Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"We have many music programs in our school but generally they are cookie-cutter and all the same. When we look at contemporary music, which is what this rock band course is, we want to shed a light on some of the things that are outside of the box," said Janice Nakatsu, director of instruction for the Burnaby School District.

Logan Barros and his summer school friends take a break during their band practice while at rock band summer school. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Students perform during rock band summer school. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Parents filed into the theatre at Byrne Creek Community School and eagerly waited for their children to take the stage for the final performance of the course.

The set list contains old and new rock classics that are preformed on the last day of summer school. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Music teacher David Ivaz gave some last-minute advice to his students: "Wait for the crowd to stop cheering before you start playing."

Music teacher David Ivaz showed off his t-shirt. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Neil Young's hit Rockin' in the Free World kicked off the students' set with a generous amount of feedback from the amps pointed at the parents. Ivaz quickly reined in the sound levels and the band went on to perform a lively seven-song set, with the band gaining more confidence with each number. 

"I am trying to show them how fun this can be and how much fun it can be playing in a band together," Ivaz said.

"How you can rehearse something that sounds terrible on the first day and two weeks later, it's like, 'Look how good this sounds!'"

Parents react to the first song played by the students during their performance at rock band summer school. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Bryan Leung performs during rock band summer school. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Logan Barros, an 11-year-old wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses, shuffled from playing keyboard to drums between songs.

"This is better than going into Grade 8, that's for sure. We get to play music all day while my brother has to go to social studies summer school."

Students perform for their parents. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

First-day nerves had all been shed as each student played their respective instruments. Evie Vivian, 11, sang Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child O' Mine with her new band mates. 

"We learn how to be rock stars on stage, they don't teach you that in school."

Music teacher David Ivaz is pictured with students of rock band summer school. (Ben Nelms/CBC)