Education for all ages will be focus of new Osoyoos Education Society

By on October 10, 2017

Brenda Dorosz, who helped found the Osoyoos Independent School Society after it looked like Osoyoos Secondary School was going to close in June of 2016, said the organization is looking to change its name to the Osoyoos Education Society and its focus to providing educational opportunities for everyone in this community from pre-school to adult learning. (Richard McGuire file photo)

Now that it’s almost certain Osoyoos won’t ever have to open an independent school, the women who spearheaded the Osoyoos Independent School Society (OISS) is looking to change its name and focus.

“Instead of focusing on an independent school … we will be focusing on providing educational assistance for everyone in this community from pre-school to adult education,” said Brenda Dorosz, the woman who also started the Save Our School (SOS) committee in the spring of 2016 after School District 53 trustees had voted in favour of closing Osoyoos Secondary School (OSS).

After trustees voted to close the school, Dorosz and a small army of local supporters formed OISS and raised several thousand dollars in a matter of weeks as they were determined to keep local high school students in Osoyoos.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen, as the Liberal government formed the Rural Enhancement Education Fund (REEF) and provided $500,000 in funding to keep OSS open only days before the school was scheduled to be closed for good in late June of 2016.

Because the new NDP government has given every indication it intends to keep REEF and will provide adequate funding to keep rural schools like OSS and Osoyoos Elementary School open now and in the future, it’s time for OISS to change its name and focus, said Dorosz.

Just recently, Dorosz sent paperwork to the provincial government to change the official name of the organization to the Osoyoos Education Society, she said.

“We wanted to get away from the idea that the society was related strictly to opening an independent school,” she said. “The focus of our society will be on providing educational opportunities for everyone in the community. That means from pre-school to adult learners.”

Dorosz said the provincial government has received the documentation to change the name and she’s expecting the Osoyoos Education Society to be formally incorporated within the next six months.

Meanwhile, the money raised by the independent school society is being spent to help with worthy education programs in this community, she said.

“We recently handed over $3,000 for the School After School tutoring program at Osoyoos Elementary School,” she said. “That program will be using the money to purchase new laptop computers.

“This past June, we also donated $4,000 to give every graduating student from Osoyoos Secondary School some gifts. These were the students who entered Grade 11 and weren’t quite sure if the school would still be open by the end of the school year. We thought it would be a great idea to give all of the graduating students some nice gifts because they had been through so much.”

Each of the graduating students in June received an engraved graduation mug, a personalized backpack and a gift certificate from Unity clothing shop on Main Street in downtown Osoyoos.

Several thousand dollars remains in a bank account and will be used to improve educational opportunities in Osoyoos in the future, she said.

David Adamson, a teacher at Osoyoos Elementary School, is one of the six board members involved with the Osoyoos Education Society, said Dorosz.

“The other four members all have kids attending Osoyoos Secondary School at the present time,” she said.

The new NDP government has announced that adult education will be offered to all adults wishing to upgrade their education, which is another sign the current government is committed to improving the province’s education system, said Dorosz.

While she’s confident the issue of closing either school in Osoyoos won’t come forward any time soon, Dorosz said having a formal group committed to education issues can only benefit the community now and in the future.

“We’re all about providing educational opportunities for every single member of this community from children to seniors,” she said.

If anyone wants more information, they can contact Dorosz by email at dorosz@persona.ca.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

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