Blitz on learning

B.C. Education Minister Don McRae visits Cranbrook, including overcrowded high school.

Education Minister Don McRae (standing at rear

Education Minister Don McRae (standing at rear

Wearing a Good Ol’ Goats t-shirt everywhere he went, B.C.’s Education Minister Don McRae visited Cranbrook on Thursday, April 11.

The MLA for Comox Valley first met with School District 5 Trustees on Wednesday evening, April 10,  to talk about the replacement of Cranbrook’s Mount Baker Secondary School.

Built in 1949, Mount Baker is slated to be replaced by a Neighbourhood Learning Centre focused on theatre and the arts – as soon as capital funding is approved by the provincial government.

“Mount Baker was identified four years ago as being over capacity with deteriorating conditions, and SD5 therefore made it our number one replacement priority for the whole district,” said Chris Johns, chair of the SD5 Mount Baker Replacement Committee.

“Frankly, we’ve done more work and more public consultation on this NLC initiative than any other district in the province, including those districts who’ve been approved. We have key partnerships with the City of Cranbrook, Key City Theatre and our MLA Bill Bennett. We just need a commitment from government to go ahead.”

On Thursday morning, Minister McRae then got to see the overcrowded school during lessons for the 980 kids.

Grade 12 students Danika Nicolagsen and Catherine Cameron gave Minister McRae a tour of the school, starting in the choir room. Local band The Good Ol’ Goats were having a band practise, and music teacher Evan Bueckert gave Minister McRae a Goats t-shirt, which he immediately put on while listening to the Goats perform.

During the rest of the tour, Minister McRae visited Aboriginal Education, Spanish, art, physical education and electronics classrooms, among others.

At the conclusion of the tour, Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett reminded McRae that, while the school might be full of programs for students, the facility is letting the students down.

“Such great things are happening in this school, but it’s the building,” Bennett said.

SD5 Superintendent Bendina Miller applauded the school’s teaching staff.

“Despite the age of the building, there is world-class education happening here,” she said.

Principal Jason Tichauer said the tour was an accurate representation of the school.

“You saw Baker as Baker,” he said. “We do great things here every day, so we don’t need to put on a show.”

Minister McRae said he recognizes the need to replace Mount Baker.

“We can’t forget about areas outside the lower mainland,” he said. “This is a high priority for us and Bill doesn’t let us forget about that in Victoria.”

Next on McRae’s agenda was a visit to the Bank of Montreal on Cranbrook’s Baker Street to remind parents about a $1,200 grant the province offers for every child born since 2007.

Through the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant, parents can register their child for a Registered Education Savings Plan at any financial institution, and when the child turns six the government will contribute $1,200.

“We want all British Columbia families with children under the age of seven to know how easy it is to access the $1,200 B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant. If parents already have an RESP for their child set up, they’ve already taken the most important step to get the grant. If they haven’t set up an RESP to get the grant, then the time to do so is now.”

For more information, visit

Finally, MLA Bennett took Minister McRae to the Cranbrook Rotary Club, where he talked about the government’s goal to reach a 10-year agreement with public school teachers.

“I’m looking forward to making sure the education system is celebrated, it is refined, it is improved – we have to do that – but in the end, the students get a quality education so they can benefit themselves, their families, stay in communities like Cranbrook and, if they choose to go out and see the world, they’ll have more base to work on than they have ever had in the past,” said Minister McRae.

Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Supporters — and shoppers — lined up waiting at the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store on 8th Avenue South, waiting for the doors to open on the store's first day of operations since the pandemic forced its closure. (Photo courtesy Kate Fox)
CHCA Thrift Store re-opens in Cranbrook

After a closure of 15 months, due to the pandemic, the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store on 8th Avenue South has once again opened its doors for business.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read