Sunnyside Elementary’s growing pains

May 25, 2017 update: We still haven’t found a way to keep the band program. As it stands, there will, of course, be a band program, for Grade 7, twice a week, 50min each. And there will be a music teacher who visits all the K-4 (K-3 Montessori) classrooms. But no-one I’ve heard from is able to tell me how to keep the music we’ve seen for the past decade at Sunnyside. The current band program spends at least 14hrs per week on sectionals for trumpets, saxophones, flutes, drums, clarinets, etc…plus jazz band practices and concert band practices. Early morning, after school, lunch times…it would be such a shame to lose this one-of-a-kind program.

Thank you to all the parents who’ve written the school district! Keep writing, and if you haven’t written, take a minute or two to write in! I still have hope that someone will find a solution. Here’s the contact info you’ll want: https://www.surreyschools.ca/departments/SECT/Trustees/contacttheboard/Pages/default.aspx

Original post: As Sunnyside Elementary in Surrey, BC braces for next year’s influx of students, growing pains are being strongly felt by its award-winning music program. For years, Sunnyside Elementary has won top honours for its stunning band program.

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This elementary band program competes with secondary school bands, because it is too advanced for most elementary schools. Secondary students regularly come to Sunnyside to play with the Jazz Band.

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But next year, the state-of-the-art, specially-designed band room in the newly built school might be converted to classroom space.

The province needs to supply enough portables like this one

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so that the band room can remain where it is. With high demand for portables from schools throughout BC, we don’t know if that will happen. The school might try to put the band program in a portable: a band program this size doesn’t fit.

The current music room has enough xylophones for an entire classroom, stored in a special room at the back during band practice and brought out again for class practice.

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It may be that the band program will have to shift to some other school that’s not seeing so much pressure from urbanization. Many students come to Sunnyside knowing the band program is stellar. It’s sad that a school with hundreds more students receives fewer and fewer resources than it did before.

The new Sunnyside Elementary was built for about 420 students in 2014, with beautiful architecture, a large music room, a spacious gymnasium, and large playing fields.

That year, the area around the school was still forested. Surrey and the Province knew that the entire area was slated to be urbanized, with hundreds of townhouses being planned all around the school. They could have built a school for projected numbers, but that’s against policy.

North and West Sunnyside Boundary June 2014
The new Sunnyside Elementary when it was built in 2014
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The forest around Sunnyside has been replaced by hundreds of townhouses

The school now houses over 600 students, with five portables on site.

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The portables have no air conditioning, no running water, and no washrooms. There is one playground the school PAC has been able to fund so far. The school runs on a split bell schedule so that half the school is at recess at a time. New teachers struggle to furnish their classrooms, and observant parents donate badly-needed shelving and extra funds to support basic materials for their children.

The school was built to be expanded; the contractors knew it would be required to house many more students. But expanding the building doesn’t seem to be on the Province’s priority list.

Sunnyside Elementary is an example of the problems faced throughout Surrey. Development is outpacing infrastructure, and new residents rarely know the challenges they will face after they buy their new home. Sunnyside Elementary was built beautifully for 400 students; it may well be forced to house over 700. What will happen to programs like the award-winning jazz band? Instead of benefitting from added resources that could be available in an urban setting, the school will suffer from lack of space and funding, even as new residents flood to hundreds of newly-built homes.

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2 thoughts on “Sunnyside Elementary’s growing pains”

  1. Really well written , thanks! Can you put a link to this on the SS Parents’s FB page? It is so important!

    On Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 10:55 PM, Save Sunnyside Trees wrote:

    > Alisa Ramakrishnan posted: “As Sunnyside Elementary in Surrey, BC braces > for next year’s influx of students, growing pains are being strongly felt > by its award-winning music program. For years, Sunnyside Elementary has won > top honours for its stunning band program. This elementary b” >

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