Teacher responds to climbing fee criticism

I am currently the teacher and program coordinator for Boulders Climbing Academy at Stelly’s secondary school

Re: School boards still skirt fee issue (Letters, Dec. 23).

I am currently the teacher and program coordinator for Boulders Climbing Academy at Stelly’s secondary school and wanted to clarify on the fee status of our “climbing class”.

Just so the public is aware, our climbing class is a climbing academy much like the lacrosse, rowing and aquatics academies at Claremont, hockey at Parkland, Spencer and Spectrum, soccer at Reynolds, as well as several others in the Capital Region.

These academies are set up to train students in a specific activity with the hopes of pursuing it at a higher level in the future. They are also set up so that no student is left behind and administrators and school board officials have policies and procedures in place for families who are unable to afford certain programs.

While it would be ideal for these programs to be free, it is difficult given the environment they are in. Our academy is a year-long program, where students are focused on climbing or related material every school day. We have students who have transferred to our school from Kamloops, Edmonton and even South Africa.

While I cannot comment on other academies, our academy has a paid coach (the former youth national climbing team coach) who works with the students, as well as paid rock climbing guides who come in to teach the students particular skills. These people are not teachers, but specialists in their field and need to be paid for their services.

Stelly’s secondary and the Boulders Climbing Gym make climbing very available to our students and the community. Students are able to climb for free in their normal physical education classes, for an hour right after school, in our outdoor pursuits classes and also take our recreation management course, which spends every day at the climbing wall hosting other school groups from the Capital Region.

While this academy and others are specialty programs, they are also very unique and make school a special experience. You just have to step into these environments to get a glimpse of what these programs are doing for kids.

Ryan Braun

teacher/program coordinator

Boulders Climbing Academy at Stelly’s