CVC Newbridge Academy committee members (left to right) Debra Swain

CVC Newbridge Academy committee members (left to right) Debra Swain

Chinese Village Club plans school

Community group aims to establish academy offering bilingual curriculum

It won’t be ready for the back-to-school rush this year, but the Chinese Village Club is hoping an ambitious plan to create its own bilingual, accredited school on the Semiahmoo Peninsula will come to fruition by this time next year.

According to club director Adele Yu and academic director Sophie Jin, the aim is to provide a five-day per week school, starting with a kindergarten/Grade 1 class and a Grade 7/8 class.

It’s hoped that the school, to be called the CVC Newbridge Academy, will be ready to accept students by the fall of 2017.

“We will provide the B.C. curriculum of 850 hours of education (in English) as well as 300 hours taught in Chinese,” Jin said. “The second language for the school would be Chinese – our aim is to share the language and share the culture with the local community.”

A CVC Newbridge Academy committee has been meeting since May to help plan the school and develop a mission statement, Yu said.

Jin said the club originally explored the possibility of a Chinese-immersion school, but found, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, that only Canada’s official languages – English and French – are permitted as the main language under the B.C. curriculum.

The aim now, said Yu, is to provide instruction in Mandarin not only so that children with Chinese ancestry can retain language skills, but also as an opportunity for others to learn the language.

“We will always put first priority on anyone who wants to learn Chinese in an affordable, flexible study environment,” Yu said, noting that the CVC already provides Mandarin classes for some 150 students at a $5 hourly rate.

The club – which Yu describes as wanting to “build bridges between cultures” – has been raising its community profile through involvement with such groups as the White Rock and South Surrey Hospice Society and participation in the White Rock Sea Festival and the Diwali Integration Festival of Light.

It is also seeking sponsorship for the school from corporations and individuals “who want to build a legacy,” Yu said.

“The CVC is non-political,” she added, noting that the group is not willing to accept funding from outside Canada.

Biggest snag right now for the school, she said, is finding a suitable existing facility – the club’s offices and meeting room facilities on 24 Avenue are not  suitable for a dedicated school operation.

“We are looking, but we are finding it quite challenging,” she said.

For information, visit www.chinesevillageclub.org