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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP are investigating a reported assault at Panorama Ridge Secondary. (Shane MacKichan photos)
UPDATE: Two youths arrested after assault with a weapon at Panorama Ridge Secondary in Surrey

School placed on a ‘hold and secure’ until safety of all students confirmed

Image Surrey.ca
Surrey to pony up one-third of cost to cover Cloverdale lacrosse box in 2022

This will be at the Cloverdale Athletic Park at 64th Avenue and 168th Street

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Delta Mayor George Harvie. (Submitted photo)
Mayor asks Fraser Health to reconcider North Delta vaccination site

Harvie wants a North Delta clinic to complement the South Delta location

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Murder conviction upheld in case where Surrey mom was stabbed in front of her kids

Jury in 2017 found Tanpreet Kaur Athwal, aka Sonia Kaur Gill, guilty of first-degree murder in 2007 death of Amanpreet Bahia, 33

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

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

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on October 27, 2020. The City of Vancouver says it has purchased a former hotel at a major thoroughfare that can house about 65 units to accommodate homeless people. A joint news release by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and city says 2075 Kingsway, Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver, will be ready for accommodation this November. The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen also announced a $51.5 million Rapid Housing Initiative for Vancouver that is expected to create 135 new affordable homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Former Vancouver hotel to be converted to 65 units for homeless people by the fall

The former Days Inn on Kingsway will be ready to house people in November

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Most Read