Semi Weightlifting Club founder Dieter Stamm says word his club had been ousted from the South Surrey high school after 40 years triggered a slew of support; the school district maintains there was cause for the decision.

Semi Weightlifting Club founder Dieter Stamm says word his club had been ousted from the South Surrey high school after 40 years triggered a slew of support; the school district maintains there was cause for the decision.

Community weighs in on South Surrey weightlifting club’s eviction

Surrey School District ‘doesn’t terminate without cause’

The sudden cancellation last month of space at Semiahmoo Secondary for a long-running weightlifting club triggered criticism of the school district and a slew of supportive messages to the club founder.

“Things have been shaken up,” Semi Weightlifting Club coach Dieter Stamm said Wednesday. “Nobody said it was a good decision.”

Stamm, who started the club in 1970 when he began teaching at Semi, was given three days’ notice Oct. 13 that the school district was cancelling his use of school space.

The move, he told Peace Arch News the following week, was made with “no discussion with me, no consideration with me,” and sparked an immediate quest for a new location.

That same week, school district spokesman Doug Strachan told PAN he couldn’t comment regarding decisions to do or cancel business. He described the emailed notice to Stamm as “all we can say.”

Strachan reiterated the sentiment Wednesday, citing privacy.

However, “we don’t terminate without cause,” he said.

A copy of the district email that was sent to Stamm explains, in part, that school administration was “no longer comfortable with your use of the facility,” due in part to Stamm not remaining in the weightlifting area and communicating with students who weren’t involved in the club.

Strachan, speaking generally, said that whether a renter is given an opportunity to address the cause for cancellation depends on the circumstances.

“Obviously, if there’s something that’s very extreme, we would need to act, quickly,” he said.

Stamm said he was not given an opportunity to address concerns and has yet to hear specifics behind the decision.

“It would be nice if they said exactly what I did,” he said.

Stamm said his presence outside of the weight room was rooted in his 40-years-plus history with the school. He would peruse photos that hang in the hallways, pop in to chat with teachers – some of whom are his former students – and encourage students to come check out the weightlifting club.

And if he noticed that a student was working on chemistry homework – a subject he used to teach – he would stop and chat for a few minutes.

“You don’t stop being a teacher,” he said. “You’re a teacher forever if you’re a real teacher.”

Strachan confirmed PAN’s publication last week of the decision to oust the club resulted in “three or four” critical emails to the district. Comments posted to PAN’s website and Facebook page were also critical of the district. One commenter described the short notice as “absolutely disgusting” and said those behind the decision “should be ashamed of themselves.” Another described the move as “incredibly ignorant and short-sighted.”

By contrast, comments directed at Stamm were highly supportive. One said that participating in the club “was what taught me dedication and determination.” Another said her son “learned so much… not just about weightlifting, but about commitment, dedication and respect.”

Stamm – who was in Nelson last week to help judge the second annual Power by You Classic – said his wife fielded 20 calls on Friday, the day PAN published the story. As well, he received “oodles of emails,” including several offers of new locations, including from the City of Surrey and City of White Rock.

At 74, Stamm estimates he has “another quarter-century in me” of Olympic weightlifting involvement. While he remains optimistic that a new home for the club will be found, he said the cost factor is key.

“It really has to be free,” he said, noting that other than entry fees to the various competitions, he funds members’ participation out of “my back pocket.”

Just Posted

Fleetwood Park Secondary School’s 2021 commencement ceremonies were held over the course of two days, June 10 and 11. Grads went through a small, distanced ceremony in groups of four, with up to four members of the grad’s household. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s 2021 grads find creative ways to celebrate in another year of COVID-19

This year’s Grade 12 students were unable to have any large-scale events

All nine White Rock Renegades softball teams are set to take part in the Canadian Pride and Power Tournament, scheduled for July 1-4. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock Renegades set to host multi-team Pride and Power softball tournament

‘There’s going to be a lot of excitement in the park,’ said Greg Timm

The Lower Mainland Green Team and students from Earl Marriott Secondary remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Green Team returns to White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park to monitor previous work

Environmental volunteers, South Surrey students remove invasive species

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Doris Anderson’s digital triptych Aberration, which she is marketing as an NFT.
Semiahmoo Peninsula abstract painter dives into NFT market

Works sold as one-of-a-kind digital files

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Most Read