The smallest school in School District No. 5 is celebrating the power of its size.
Pinewood Elementary School is “Small School Proud,” and Pinewood’s Parent Advisory Council wants to get the word out that, as well as servicing a large catchment area itself, Pinewood has a lot to offer parents and students that is unique.
“The way people perceive of us is as the “across the tracks” school,” said Melissa Johnson, Chair of the Pinewood PAC .
“It’s just the perception of our school. But in reality, we have a small-school, small-classroom vibe to the school that we really want to advertise and market to parents.”
The entire school — students, teachers and staff — has been practicing a song by Canadian artist Ginalina, called “Small But Mighty.” The Pinewood music teacher set it up, and the PAC has acquired white T-shirts for the entire school, that each student will decorate themselves, making the project part of a school-wide team-building activity.
Then, in the coming days, the whole school is hiking up to the Buttes near Wycliffe, where they will sing “Small But Mighty.” A drone company will video the event, and the song will be then be recorded at the school by Mount Baker Secondary School students. The footage from the hike will be made into a music video, using the drone footage. The song is then scheduled to be played on CBC radio.
As the only Cranbrook school on the other side of the highway, Pinewood serves a large population base in its own right. But families in other areas have chosen Pinewood for their kids, for the options a smaller school can offer.
“We do have some out-of-catchment families who choose to come to Pinewood for that feeling of wanting to be more involved in the school, or their child’s education,” Johnson said.
“Maybe [a family is] new to town and they’re wondering where to go, or their catchment is full and they’re looking at other options.
“We have so many great things about the school. The small, close-knot community with excellent one-on-one communication between students, staff, principal … things you don’t always get at a larger school.
“Every staff member knows every student. And we have a great parent and PAC community. Parents are involved, and excited about meeting new people and get more people involved in the school.”
Shifting population bases, expanding or shrinking catchment areas, cultural and demographic changes can put pressure on schools, and small schools especially can find themselves in some jeopardy. Pinewood — with a current student population of about 115 — itself faced the risk of closing in 2008.
“We are the smallest school in the district,” Johnson said. “To lose one staff member, one teacher, in the smallest school in the district, would be huge.
“The best thing we can do to advocate for our school is to shine a positive light on our school, and why Pinewood is so great.”
Pinewood welcomes anyone who is interested in Pinewood to email the PAC or call the school for a tour.