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Vote for Adi Pick for the Vancouver School Board Trustee

Vancouver school board candidate Adi Pick places a high priority on restoring the band and strings programs to local public schools.

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The youngest candidate in the Vancouver school board election says every student should have an opportunity to pick up an instrument, not only those who can afford it.

By Adi Pick

The superintendent at the time, Steve Cardwell, said the occasion “was an outstanding success. However, it cannot just be one event, it needs to be an ongoing conversation with students, and we need action”. Since then, boardroom 120 at the VSB still holds the poster overflowing with gobsmacking ideas presented on that rainy day back in 2012, but no districtwide forum has been held since. The conversations with students have been overtaken by bullying accusations and the slashing of the elementary band and strings program. So I have decided to be that action that Superintendent Cardwell was speaking of. You know, Gandhi’s famous quote of “be the change you wish to see” at the Vancouver school board.

So here I am, a 20-year-old, ambitious product of our public-school system. Our public education experience is great, but has the potential to be far greater. Every candidate claims to be putting students first, but cutting 136 French immersion spots, exterminating the elementary music programs, and focusing on a year-old report about the previous board’s actions is taking away from students, NOT helping them. Twenty-eight thousand of our students should not walk into school every day fearing their survival should “the big one” strike. Fifty-eight is much too high a number of schools that are still in the planning stages of seismic upgrading. Asbestos and lead pipes should not be infiltrating our students’ lungs.

Moreover, our students have seen dwindling options and programs, and more lottery systems (i.e. French immersion). Every student should have the opportunity to pick up an instrument, not only those who can afford it. Even Bill Clinton once said “I don’t think I would have become president if it were not for my school music program.” The positive effects of music are not to be underestimated. The band and strings program was a devastating loss to Vancouver students, which I will fight to bring back.

Many candidates speak of wanting to raise the graduation rates, specifically that of Indigenous students, but very few actually explain their plan to achieve that. Less than optimal graduation rates are one of the many reasons why I think the return of a districtwide forum is indispensable. The first step to fixing issues is understanding what they are, which is exactly why we need to have meaningful dialogue with our students, such as through a districtwide forum.

With a new provincial government, it’s time for a fresh start. We need to stop concentrating on the past, and start concentrating on our students! We need to show students we care. We need to take student input into consideration. We need to be engaging our pupils and asking them what is not working, and what we can do to help resolve these issues. As a recent graduate from our system, I hope to bridge the gap between students, educators, and policymakers.

Rehashing the previous board’s issues will not make up for the lack of meaningful dialogue with our diverse students. It is time that we stop pointing fingers, and start focusing on providing the opportunities students need to thrive. We need to be putting our students first—but actually, this time.

Adi Pick is an independent candidate for the Vancouver school board. She’s a 20-year-old UBC student of international relations and the youngest person running in the October 14 election.
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