While we dug shovels into the crushed rock to mark the official groundbreaking for our two new schools in West Langford, the overarching meaning for the event was the blessing of the land. Sooke School District is rich in local cultural history and, in the last decade, that includes land blessings for all of our new schools. We are honoured to have T’Sou-ke elder Shirley Alphonse bless the land in which we are so fortunate to build the schools.
Pexsisen Elementary and Centre Mountain Lellum Middle schools will serve a lot of families. We know the area of West Langford is filled with kids and we’re pleased that these schools will be surrounded by the communities in which they serve. Schools act as hubs and meeting places. They are focal points of community services, community activities and even, community life. The schools will be filled with children during the day, community meetings at night and outdoor activities on the weekends.
Pexsisen Elementary will have a neighbourhood learning centre attached to it. This is a space that other groups will occupy, offering services to the community at large. Pexsisen Elementary is also going to have childcare space. Imagine being able to drop off your one-year-old and your kindergartener at the same location? Families with young children know how special and rare this is.
These schools are inherently tied to the land. Centre Mountain is the result of a treaty settlement between Sc’ianew, Metchosin and Langford, as well as provincial and federal governments. Deepening the schools’ roots, the word Lellum was gifted to us by the Sc’ianew Nation and carries the meaning of house, the idea of community and where we raise our children. In the Lkwungen and Sencoten language, Pexsisen means “the opening of hands” or “to have one’s hands wide open.” This word, gifted to us by Songhees First Nation, is a perfect description of what these schools will represent. They will be welcoming for all.
The board of education and everyone in the Sooke School District is very much looking forward to welcoming students, families, staff and our community to these new schools when they open in September of 2022. The connection our schools make with the land and the communities is a legacy we are making today that will be carried on for generations.
Ravi Parmar, board chair
On behalf of SD62 Board of Education