​​​If ever there was a reason to celebrate – with ice cream and fudge sauce, of course – it is the big victory that our district students scored on Monday March 19. ​

Known as the Arden Ambassadors, six students representing the voices of their entire school community at Arden Elementary spoke up before Courtenay City Council to present a compelling case for improving traffic safety along Lake Trail Road between their elementary school and the neighbouring​ Lake Trail Middle School.

During a 10 minute presentation, each student took turns to articulate their concerns about pedestrian safety along Lake Trail and gave rationale for why they want mayor and council to consider installing a sidewalk and bike lane.

Taking on a demanding role of presenting in front of city council is no small feat but for these Arden students, they came well prepared. Leadership is part of everyday school life. It’s practiced in the halls, in the classroom and outside the school.

At Arden Elementary, students and staff embody the virtues of leadership through The Arden Way. It’s the term students coined to describe Successful Learner Traits, which are taught in their school.  Senior students set the example as Arden Ambassadors by being enthusiastic, confident, industrious, creative, risk-takers, strategic, thoughtful, and compassionate. This behaviour is then modelled by all grades throughout the school.

The Ambassador program was introduced by Phebe May, teacher, after​ she saw a similar program modelled in a school while on an exchange in Australia. With the support of Lucinda Wolters, Vice Principal, the program has been a great success in its first year.

“They have done a fantastic job being the first Arden Ambassadors. They have given up many lunch hours to brainstorm ideas about what we can do to make Arden better,” shared May. “We are so thankful that the opportunity for them to get in on this issue came up. It was exactly what we were looking for in terms of them getting the most out of their leadership experience.” 

Following their time with council, Brian Goodwin, Principal, treated his elated team of ambassadors to a well deserved Dairy Queen treat. But the real victory worth celebrating was announced well after the students left City Hall and were back home snug in their beds.

“It is with great excitement and, of course being extremely proud of my Grade 4 and 5 students, that I announce that the motion at city council last night to set aside $25,000 for surveying, concept design and option analysis for the sidewalk and bike lanes between Lake Trail and Arden was unanimously passed,” expressed Goodwin. ​

To see these young, astute leaders in action click on these link here https://youtu.be/LrGlyWouIMU and Black Press TV

Mary H. Lee

Communications Advisor, School District 71 (Comox Valley)