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Carpool – The Off-Island Student Experience

Carpool – The Off-Island Student Experience

By Kristine Wickheim
WestCoast Families Magazine

Island Pacific School (IPS) is a distinctively different type of middle school located on Bowen Island, BC. Roughly half of our students are not Bowen Island residents, which means they must make the commute over from the mainland to attend our school every day. So, how does this work?

Our incredible team of parents collaborates to create a carpool system on the North Shore to get the kids to and from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. We are extremely lucky that BC Ferries has gone the extra mile to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for the students travelling with them, and that the low-traffic ferry run during this time creates a peaceful, safe journey.

“Our son loves the carpool! Yes, it’s an early start, but you soon get used to it and adjust! We have a carpool (organized by a North Shore Island Pacific School parent) which is made up of four Island Pacific kids in grades 6 and 7. In both years that we’ve been carpooling to this school, I found that the kids quickly bonded and became friends. Having the carpool really helped when our son started in grade 6, and also helped two grade 7’s who joined the school and the carpool this year.”
Jennie W., Island Pacific School Parent

These lucky students gain extra useful life experiences during their scenic 20-minute ferry rides each morning and afternoon. There is no set curriculum during the commute, however, the students often cultivate an appreciation for the nature they see as they travel and enjoy watching the changing seasons. Some students use this time to work quietly on homework or read a book, while others choose to socialize with their peers.

The roughly 20 students from grades 6 to 9 who commute together each day share incredible, lifelong bonds with each other and create some very special memories. The older kids are proud to act as a mentor to the younger kids, showing them the ropes, answering any questions they have about the school, and helping to ensure they feel safe.

“It’s a very communal event where you know it extends the social time for the kids, the parents get to know the students better — that you wouldn’t otherwise know because the kids don’t necessarily socialize with each other after school hours — very sort of intimate environment, you hear the chit chat amongst the kids. It was a very intimate environment, we established a community around a shared need, but really what grew out of the community was extra time, getting to know each other better. That played out at school too, they just knew each other better.”
Jennifer M., Former Island Pacific School parent, and Carpool creator

Even after over 25 years of seeing students commute, we at Island Pacific School are always amazed to see the growth and confidence in these kids as time goes on. Plus, it’s always fun for us and the other on-island students to hear the stories of exciting wildlife and sea creatures seen during their ocean cruises.

Island Pacific School is excited to announce that we are offering tours of our school to give families a chance to ask any questions and learn more about our high-level and specialized academics. We also invite you to plan a student day visit for your child to give them valuable hands-on experience to know what it’s like to learn and explore with us.

Lauren Brzezowski – Alumni Class of ’15

Lauren Brzezowski – Alumni Class of ’15

Hi, my name is Lauren Brzezowski.

I had the privilege of attending Island Pacific School (IPS) from grade 6-9 and graduated in 2015. It was not, however, only a privilege, but a choice my family and I made each day as we drove from Squamish to Horseshoe Bay to catch the morning ferry; I am forever grateful to my parents for supporting me in this adventure as IPS forever changed my approach to education and life.

I completed high school at Brentwood College and I am now finishing my BSN at the University of Victoria. This past year I was awarded the President’s Scholarship and long listed for the Rhodes Scholarship. Now I am an RN preceptor on the Neuroscience unit at Vancouver General Hospital. In my future career endeavors I hope to improve equitable access to health and address social justice issues.

As I reflect back on my life I can attribute these goals and values to projects such as masterworks; to activities such as understanding the lived experience of Vancouver’s downtown eastside residents; and most importantly to the engaged teachers at IPS (and other institutions) who were respectful and attentive to the learning needs of each student.

I have fond memories of the adventurous experiences which are woven into the DNA of IPS. While these experiences are one of a kind and helped foster my self trust, my willingness to be courageous, and developed my fervor for outdoor activities, I do not believe they are what makes IPS such a special place. IPS taught me the importance of community and how to have authentic human connections. From the first time I sat on the concrete and ate lunch with people from all grades I felt welcomed; it was a safe space for me to show up as myself and explore who I was as a person.

Each teacher held space for me to learn who I was and explore what was important to me by framing each learning opportunity within the context of topics in which I was interested.

This sense of community is built into every aspect of IPS from taking the ferry every morning to being a part of morning check to being a mentee and later becoming a mentor. This sense of community is special; it creates a small family which demands you to show up, be honest, respectful, and ultimately lead with integrity because in return you are able to be curious and explore the world through project based and experiential learning.

Now in hindsight I am able to see how this principled yet curiosity based approach to education began to develop my own moral compass.

Thank you IPS!

Lauren Brzezowski

December 2022

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

In honour of #smallbusinesssaturday, Island Pacific School would like to give a huge shout out to all of the restaurants, retailers and other businesses who supported our 2nd annual Monsoon Madness Mudder. Community is very important to us — we could not have raised over $100,000 without our local businesses.

All of the businesses shown in this image supported us and now it is our turn to show our support of them during this busy season.

We encourage everyone who is shopping or dining over the holiday season to show your recognition by patronizing them.

With love,
Island Pacific School

After Mudder Alumni Events October 29, 2022

After Mudder Alumni Events October 29, 2022

Calling all Alumni!

There will be two Special After-Mudder Events for ALL IPS Alumni

Scott, Ted and the whole Mudder Team look forward to seeing you at the Monsoon Madness Mudder event that will be held at the school from 11:00 am-3:00 pm on Saturday, October 29th. If you haven’t yet signed up to participate, there is still time. 🙂

We are also inviting current staff and ALL IPS Alumni – students, staff, parents, and Board members — to two special After-Events as follows:

Alumni Education Roundtable Reception

3:00-4:45 pm
2nd Floor of Island Pacific School
Hosted by Scott Herrington and Ted Spear
Light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages provided
Can’t come in person? Join us virtually using this Google Meet link:

An opportunity for IPS alumni students, staff, parents, and board members to offer their thoughts and perspective on five key questions concerning the future direction of the school. This feedback will be invaluable to Scott and the Board as they prepare for the school’s next Five Year Strategic Plan.

The After-Mudder Party

5:30-9:30 pm
Home of Ted and Dyan Spear
1655 Old Eaglecliff Road ~ Bowen Island
Hosted by Ted Spear and Steve Baker
Burgers, chips, salad and dessert provided
Ferry Departures: 8:30 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:30 pm

A social gathering for all IPS alumni students, staff, parents, and Board members to revisit the triumphs and travails of the day. Didn’t attend the Mudder? You are still more than welcome. Guests are requested to be vaccinated. Hope to see you there.