Killarney Secondary's halls were packed last week, but not with native British Columbians. This year the secondary school played host to roughly 420 new high school students from 16 countries around the world, the highest international student enrollment for the past five years.
"Our new international students are joining about 500 returning students, and about 100 elementary kids, for a record 1020 student enrollment," says Barb Onstad. "This really is proof of how amazing our public school system is here in Vancouver."
During the last Monday and Tuesday of August, these students got a crash course in Canadian schools and their responsibilities as new students. Teachers, multicultural liaison workers and international staff explained how the homeroom works, touched on the wide range of electives offered and stressed the importance of staying with their home-stay families and obeying the rules. It was first time most will have sat in a Vancouver classroom.
Following an initial welcoming ceremony, students broke into dozens of rooms where they received the basics in languages including Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and English. Now, as school opens up across the province, these students have dispersed to all 18 secondary schools throughout the city and are joining tens of thousands of other students heading back to school today.