SD73 board picks Sníne as name of new Kamloops elementary school

New school name picked

A new school being built in Pineview Valley will be called Sníne elementary, according to the Kamloops-Thompson school district, despite overwhelming support in a community consultation survey for another name.

Following a consultation process that saw over 1,300 responses from the public on five proposed names for the new school, the SD73 board of education motioned to approve Sníne elementary as the school’s name Monday evening.

"Sníne," the Secwepemc word for owl, saw 196 responses in favour from the community and was one of the top two names recommended to the board. The other was "Pineview Valley," which saw 856 responses in favour.

Board chair Heather Grieve said community consultation wasn’t necessarily a voting process and the top two choices were given to the board to make the final decision.

SD73 trustee Diane Jules, who sat on the Pineview Valley School Naming Committee, said Sníne was one of several Secwepemc names that came to the committee and part of the decision was that the name is associated with wisdom and holds Secwepemc meaning.

“In the Secwepemctsín culture, the owl actually, there's stories and stuff that refer to when our children are small and they're growing up through the stages — the owl is represented in our story,” she said,

“So it was quite fitting for both worlds to kind of marry together.”

Of the other possible names, Copperhead elementary received 174 responses in favour, S7etqwllp (Ponderosa Pine) elementary had 59 responses and Spelq'wéqs (Turtles) elementary had 43 responses.

Choosing the name

SD73 trustee Jo Kang, who also sat on the Pineview Valley School Naming Committee, said there was plenty of public participation in the school naming survey.

He said part of the reason some community members may have expected the name to be Pineview Valley was due to school district’s own use of the name.

“It may have been that the school district itself over the last decade was referring to it as the Pineview Valley Elementary in a lot of our public stuff and, unfortunately, that resonated with people,” he said.

Board vice-chair Rhonda Kershaw agreed with Kang, saying Pineview Valley had always been a placeholder but said respondents to the naming survey made it clear to her that Sníne had more “depth of meaning for people” and the volume of responses didn’t “reflect the whole story.”

“Moving forward with a Secwepemctsín name is very important for language revitalization for Secwepemctsín and highlighting the culture of the Secwepemc people of this region,” Kershaw said.

Trustee Kathleen Karpuk was also in support of choosing Sníne as the school’s name, saying historically schools have been named after while males or geographic location.

“It says to a lot of people that we're moving out of an English-centred philosophy, that we are respecting the diversity within our community and that that's going to be reflected in our schools,” Karpuk said.

“We don't just want our regular old safe names, that we want to be progressive, that we want our schools to have meaning that will inspire our students and engage our community and to show people that we are more than a one-dimensional school district.”

The board heard Yellow Ridge Construction Ltd. was approved as the general contractor to build Sníne elementary after receiving approval on April 17.

The 453-seat K to 7 elementary school received $65.3 million in provincial funding in 2023.

The project is expected to begin construction in May and the school is slated to be completed by September of 2026.

Architect for Batch school

Following a five-week request for proposal process, the board also motioned to approved Station One Architects as the school district’s primary consultant for a new school in Batchelor Heights.

Art McDonald, SD73's director of facilities, cited Station One Architects as an ideal candidate after working with the school district on three previous school construction projects — Valleyview secondary, Parkcrest elementary and Sníne elementary.

“Station One Architect’s fee was well within the fee allotted in the project budget. Station One Architects has extensive experience with K to 12 projects in many areas of the province,” McDonald said.

“Please note that no contract will be entered into with Station One Architects until the ministry approves the project funding.”

The school district is also slated to open two other elementary schools in September of 2024 — the rebuilt Parkcrest elementary, as well as the previously shuttered George Hilliard elementary.

SD73 continues to face a severe space crunch, with 10 schools over 120 per cent capacity and the district is expecting its schools to hit an average of 106 per cent capacity by 2029.

The school district is growing at around 150 students a year, equivalent to the size of a small elementary school.

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