Students go wild at Lac La Hache

Sawyer Keddie shows off his memory keeper at the Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).Sawyer Keddie shows off his memory keeper at the Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).
Raina Reed, Zion Field and Kohl Hutchins-Spink at the Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press)Raina Reed, Zion Field and Kohl Hutchins-Spink at the Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press)
Marley Kinder, left, Anna-May du Ruiter, Marcus Lisoway at the Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press)Marley Kinder, left, Anna-May du Ruiter, Marcus Lisoway at the Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press)
Memory keepers collected as part of Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).Memory keepers collected as part of Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).
Ms. Ilnicki and Cody Kinder at the Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press)Ms. Ilnicki and Cody Kinder at the Wild School in Lac La Hache. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press)

Carrying plastic containers and clutching manila folders, students at Lac La Hache elementary slip outside for the last class of the day. “Come down to the classroom, please,” teacher Tanya Ilnicki says.

Some take seats on the heavy stumps or stand on the wooden benches facing a green chalkboard. Others mill about, showing off their personal ‘memory keepers’ – collections of sticks, rocks and lichen found on a recent trip into the forest.

The students are part of the Wild School – a free, three-year initiative at Lac La Hache elementary that supports outdoor and place-based learning. The idea is aimed at increasing ecological literacy, outdoor field experiences and building connections to conservation in the community.

“It’s to get the kids outdoors more to respect nature and be active,” Ilnicki said. “Our classroom makes it very easy.”

Indeed, the school backs onto vast forests that the students and teachers have permission to use as part of their studies. Every morning, they go for a walk, run or bike around the schoolyard, while at least one full day a month is spent outdoors.

Last week, for instance, the Grades 3-7 students took a trip to Gavin Lake, where they experienced canoeing, archery and wall-climbing while learning about fish and trout habitat. Earlier this week, they pulled invasive weeds around the school. And on Oct. 21, Wild School facilitators will provide outdoor education to both students and teachers.

The focus this year is on forestry – from the diversity in the woods to inter-related systems, including how animals interact. Principal Kristi Davis said later this fall the students will also return to a burned area where they planted seedlings following the 2017 wildfires. Davis said the visit will allow the students to see how they made a difference as well as gain an understanding of how trees are important for oxygen and the animals living in the woods.

“It’s really good to be getting out in nature and learning about nature,” she said. “A lot of kids don’t get out as much as they used to. It’s to gain an appreciation of the outdoors.”

The students also learn about migration, hibernation and adaptation of animals, as well as Indigenous plants used for centuries by local Indigenous peoples in the area. Outdoor learning can be translated to any class, Davis said. She recently took her students outside to collect and count items to learn about estimating, while the memory keepers were tied into lessons about Orange Shirt Day.

READ MORE: EnGold discovers visible gold at two Lac la Hache sites

The students had read Shi-shi-etko, the book by Nicola Campbell, which tells the story of a little girl who gathered memories from her family before she went away to residential school.

The students were then asked: “If you were taken to residential school what would you take with you or want to remember?”

Sawyer Keddie showed off his container, which included a scrap of lichen “because we learned about lichen” in class and a pinecone that was sitting on the bench next to his friend Marcus Lisoway when they first met. Zion Field, meanwhile, gently held a bird’s nest.

“We found it when we were looking for memories,” Raina Rees, 12 said of the bird’s nest. “There’s big bushes and really cool things. There’s this log that’s been there a very long time – it’s been here as long as I’ve been here.”

Davis said the Wild School, in its second year, is looking to expand its outdoor physical education program. Ten bikes were recently donated by the community and students ride during recess and lunch and sometimes in the morning. The plan is to get enough bikes to use for gym classes. “It’s been proven that being outside in nature is good for your mental health,” she said.

llnicki agreed, saying the teachers are learning just as much as the students. One day, they had a visit from the ‘Bone Detective’ at Scout Island who taught them about skulls. The students also found a big insect that turned out to be some kind of beetle that flies at night.

The school also operates when it snows. But on this day, the students are shuffled back inside once it starts to rain. “What are we doing next?” Anna-May du Ruiter asks. Her friend Marcus responds: “Hibernating?”


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtney Driver is the new president of the 100 Mile Performing Arts Society. (Photo submitted)
100 Mile Performing Arts Society elects new president

Courtney Driver wants to provide more diverse events

Erica Henderson the supervisor of early year services and programs at South Cariboo Early Years Centre and others were giving out Halloween Family Activity Kits the week leading up to Halloween. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Halloween activity kits offered to kids at home

South Cariboo Early Years Centre is finding ways to bring activities into children’s homes.

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerskson of the BC Liberal Party and his partner Shelley Wiese celebrate at his campaign office in downtown Williams Lake Oct. 24. Doerkson has been elected as the new MLA in Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Angie Mindus photo)
Updated: Lorne Doerkson elected in Cariboo Chilcotin in preliminary results

Outgoing MLA Donna Barnett said win is ‘exciting’ for region

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Most Read