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News: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Rick Hansen Secondary to be Re-invented as Science and Business School

It’s never been done before in British Columbia. A new direction in education will be launched with a school of science and business at Rick Hansen Secondary School in the fall of 2015.

“This is new. This is innovative. It will be very exciting for our students and their career pursuits,” says Abbotsford Board of Education Chair Cindy Schafer. “This initiative also supports a key element of our district Strategic Plan, namely flexibility and access to programs and services.”

At its February 24 public meeting, the board approved launching the new science and business programs at Rick Hansen, with initial start-up in September 2015. This will result in a dynamically different education experience for students.

The new approach is two-fold. First, the emphasis of the programs will be toward the goal of professional careers in business, science and medicine as well as preparing students for success in university studies. Second, the daily approach to learning will be transformed.

“We’re definitely talking about post-secondary and professional career aspirations here,” explains David deWit, school principal. “But to achieve this, we’re approaching daily learning experiences from a very different angle. We’re leading the way in BC with this approach.”

This new way of classroom learning will be more reflective of life in the work world. It’s centered around what educators call “problem based learning”.

“With this approach, students learn through experience,” continues deWit. “They learn by trying things, by solving problems presented to them. And they do so in teams and across multiple disciplines, which is more reflective of what they’ll be faced with in their careers. It’s very engaging for students, and very practical.”

Will they learn the basics? “Of course,” says deWit. “Graduates must have strong math and language skills. And it’s also important to understand that even if you’re focus of interest isn’t science or business, Rick Hansen Secondary is a great place for you to thrive.”

The school will still emphasize language, arts, sports and social sciences for example, but in a much more integrated manner. While all students can attend, the overarching theme is science and business.

“Education delivery in BC is moving in the direction of problem based learning,” explains Abbotsford district superintendent Kevin Godden. “We’re just leading the way with this program and other initiatives like our ExploZone experiential classroom. With the community in mind, we’ve had input from staff, students and parents as we’ve reimagined Rick Hansen Secondary.”

Principal deWit and his team will be making presentations to parents, business and science community partners and the public in the coming weeks. There will be opportunities to provide more information and to help families make arrangements for enrollment. And preparations are well underway to welcome students to the first phase of the new science and business school in fall 2015.

Beginning in September, grade 9 students will have a full immersion experience in the program. But the new approach to classroom learning, and the vital atmosphere at the school will impact Grade 10-12 students as well. Throughout the 2016-2018 years, as the (2015-16) grade 9 students progress, the entire cohort of students will be immersed in the full spectrum of science and business programming.

Students from within the Rick Hansen Secondary School catchment will be given first option to enroll. But enrollment in this unique program will not be exclusively limited to catchment students.

“We expect that as students experience this new program and dynamic way of learning that there will be a high level of interest,” says deWit. “Our aim is to make it available to as many students as we have room for in the coming years.”

“If you want to see where 21st Century learning is headed,” says board chair Schafer, “keep watching what’s unfolding at Rick Hansen Secondary. We are excited to see what our students will achieve given this amazing learning opportunity.”

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Contact:
Dave Stephen
Manager, Communications,
Abbotsford School District
604.859.4891, ext. 1206