Students on the North Shore have only just set foot in the classroom after a lengthy pandemic pause, but some kids are already looking ahead to hitting the books harder as the weather heats up – at summer school.
Both North and West Vancouver schools are offering a number of full-credit secondary classes in July, where students complete courses in a concentrated one-month time frame.
Students in the past may have regarded summer school as a potential punishment for failing grades. But these days, summer school is dominated by high-achieving academic keeners who want to get a jump on classes required for university programs.
“Traditionally we’ve been heavily subscribed in physics and math,” said Liz Hill, a director of instruction with West Vancouver Schools.
Between 1,100 and 1,200 students usually sign up for summer school in both local school districts.
Enrolment is open to the middle of June, but so far interest appears to be high this year, with 1,547 registrations in West Vancouver and 730 in North Vancouver.
Hill said her sense is after a prolonged absence from the classroom, some students are craving an opportunity for more structured learning – even if a good chunk of that still happens virtually.
In North Vancouver, most courses will happen online this summer, with students checking in with their teachers every morning. Some courses, like those requiring science labs, may involve small groups of students in schools.
West Vancouver is using a blended approach, combining limited in-class instruction at West Vancouver Secondary and Hollyburn and Pauline Johnson elementary schools with online classes.
Student Emily Philippov, who attends Grade 11 at Argyle Secondary, has signed up to take Chemistry 12 at summer school in North Vancouver this year.
Older students have talked about how taking one heavy academic course in July can mean less stress in the final year of high school, she said.
“It’s a really good opportunity to get a course done quickly,” she said.
Classes happen only during the morning, so “you still have the majority of your day,” she added.
“Preview classes” – which give students an idea of what’s ahead in their courses but don’t count for full credit - are also offered, along with a completion program for kids who have struggled to meet curriculum requirements.
A smaller number of classes for elementary students are also offered in math, literacy and English Language Learner courses.
This year, in anticipation of higher demand, both school districts are restricting summer school enrolment to students who were registered in the district for the 2019-20 school year.
Registration for summer school closes June 19 for high school students in both districts. Registration for elementary classes is open until June 5 in West Vancouver. In North Vancouver, elementary summer school is available by referral only.