Plan to move Whitehorse students meets some opposition

The Yukon government's plan to move some Whitehorse students out of the Wood Street Centre this fall to study elsewhere is coming under fire.

Students in experiential learning program at Wood Street Centre will study elsewhere this fall

Students in the Music, Arts and Drama (MAD) at the Wood Street Centre in Whitehorse, in 2019. Students in the program this coming year will attend their classes at other schools. (Submitted by Mary Sloan)

The Yukon government's plan to move some Whitehorse students out of their regular school this fall is coming under fire.

Last Thursday, the Department of Education announced its plan for the upcoming school year. Part of that plan will see students in the Music, Arts and Drama (MAD) program at the Wood Street Centre move from that facility to space at Porter Creek Secondary School and F.H. Collins Secondary School. Grade 8 students from F.H. Collins will move to the Wood Street Centre.  

The MAD program is an experiential learning program that provides Grade 9 and 10 students with an alternative to the regular school curriculum.

Retired MAD teacher Mary Sloan is trying to convince the government not to move students to another facility. She says the Wood Street Centre has been the MAD home for 20 years, and it's important to keep it there.

"We are dealing with a group of kids who are very connected to the place and I would hate to see them uprooted," said Sloan.

Sloan says there is a lot of equipment at Wood Street — including a theatre, costumes, and everything students need to perform. She's written to the education minister asking her to reconsider. She's also created a Facebook group, called "Stop the MAD program move." 

Yukon NDP Leader Kate White, a graduate of the MAD program, also questions whether experiential learning programs will be as effective in mainstream schools. 

"One thing that we've knocked out of the park in the Yukon in the last generation has been those programs. So to put those programs at risk, I think, is short-sighted. And I think there are other options," White said.

'I think there are other options,' said Yukon NDP Leader Kate White. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

She says the atmosphere is different at the Wood Street Centre because all the students are learning in different ways.

White says the government did not consult with educators, students, or parents before making the decision. 

Planning is ongoing, minister says

Minister of Education Tracy-Anne McPhee says the move is about the health and safety of the students.

"We are committed to making sure they have all of the places and spaces that they need, all of the equipment that they need," McPhee said.

In a written statement, McPhee said the department is working on plans for the relocations, including moving all equipment and supplies to the new locations. 

She says the MAD program will be given full support.

McPhee also said that planning discussions for the upcoming year are ongoing with staff, Yukon First Nations, School Councils and the Yukon Teachers' Association.

She says there are 135 Grade 8 students who will be moving to the Wood Street Centre.


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