Vanier school board emphasizes the positive

Over the past several months, there has been a lot of public and media attention paid to Vanier Catholic Secondary School. This attention has not been focused on the fact that Vanier is Yukon's top performing high school from an academic perspective, or t

Over the past several months, there has been a lot of public and media attention paid to Vanier Catholic Secondary School.

This attention has not been focused on the fact that Vanier is Yukon’s top performing high school from an academic perspective, or that it has the highest graduation rate by a margin of 12 per cent over the Whitehorse average.

This attention has largely been focused on some of the challenges that Vanier has faced as a school community.

It was in the interest of bringing clarity to these issues, both for our school and for the community at large, that Vanier’s school council opened its March 27 meeting to the wider public and held it in the school’s gym.

For several hours we listened to what parents, teachers, students and interested parties had to say. We heard both dismay at the type of media coverage the school was receiving, as well as genuine concern regarding some outstanding issues at the school that need addressing.

At the March 27 meeting, the school community asked its school council for action and/or clarity on the following issues:

1. Clarity around a policy focusing on same-sex attraction among students and how such a policy is or would be developed and implemented;

2. Clarification and communication of the roles and responsibilities arising out of the 1962 agreement governing the relationship between the Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Whitehorse and the Government of Yukon regarding the operation of separate schools in the territory;

3. Review of the hiring policy for the Catholic schools with respect to teaching and senior administrative staff.

While the school council is not operationally responsible for these areas, it has encouraged movement on the action items identified at the March meeting and been monitoring progress.

Here are the updates that have been provided to the Vanier council:

Policy work by the Department of Education and the episcopal corporation related to a faith-based same-sex attraction policy is still ongoing and the process will require more time due to the issue’s complexity. The workshop planned for the school community to review the policy will be scheduled for a later date.

The Department of Education and the episcopal corporation continue to work on clarifying their roles and responsibilities – who is specifically responsible for what – as they relate to the 1962 agreement and other legislation.

Work is ongoing regarding the hiring policy for the Catholic schools in Whitehorse. While this work is not yet finished, Catholic teachers will continue to receive hiring priority in the separate school system. Non-Catholic teachers will be eligible for full-time employment provided they are deemed the best candidate and have the appropriate amount of experience as a temporary teacher at their respective schools.

While policy related work in the Department of Education and the episcopal corporation is not yet finished, there has been a lot going on at Vanier itself since the March 27 meeting.

As suggested at the public meeting, an independent facilitator has been engaged to work with the staff and administration of Vanier. The facilitator has begun to meet with staff members to collect their views on the school’s working environment and is expected to provide recommendations on any improvements that can be made in the operations of the school in the very near future.

Students and staff also participated in their own awareness exercises through participation in a series of “End Homophobia Now” events at Vanier during Education Week. In addition, a student group is being formed to address equality and inclusivity for all students.

By all accounts, Vanier is a very special school that is appreciated by all who work there, attend school there, or send their children there and has achieved academic excellence as displayed by its B.C. provincial test scores and graduation rates. Are there issues to work on? Yes. Is there room for improvement? Of course there is.

While the attention Vanier has received over the past several months has been hard on those who are so invested in our school’s well-being, the Vanier Catholic Secondary School community will address these challenges through its strength, perseverance and faith.

Paul Flaherty is chair of the Vanier Catholic Secondary School Council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Eric Schroff, executive director with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, poses for a portrait on Feb. 20. Schroff says he is puzzled as to why the Yukon government is cutting back on funding for the association. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
YG cuts Yukon Fish and Game Association funding, tried to vet outgoing communications

Yukon Fish and Game Association says 25 per cent government funding cut will impact operations

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 27, 2020

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Most Read