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Gratitude to Our Community

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Last night at 11:30 p.m., after months of hard work consulting with the City of Victoria, I received some great news. City Council has given their permission to allow us to move up to five portables and the gym structure from Beach Drive to Pemberton Woods. We are now able to move forward with our plans and provide additional physical distancing to our students and staff. I will provide more details about this in the coming days, but I wanted to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to our community for their substantial support. I cannot thank everyone enough for their contributions to this outcome. Over 100 letters of support were submitted and 10 of our families called in last night to support our application for the Development Variance Permit. I am extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to contribute to this crucial component of the process. Where the application truly took flight was with the calls from two of our Grade 12 students—Ava Dryden and Corin Wallace. They did an excellent job representing the perspective of their fellow students. By highlighting what it is like to attend school under the current COVID-19 restrictions and what the benefits would be of giving them access to more indoor space on campus, they changed the dialogue with the members of City Council. One of our teachers expresses this best: “You were, in my opinion, the final tipping point that helped the result of the vote to come out in our favour. Sharing your perspectives was really the first opportunity the city council had during the hearing last night, to begin to wrap their heads around the positive impact that these structures would have on the lives of our students. You reminded them that this was not about the past, but the present. Not about buildings, but kids wanting to enjoy school during a pandemic. You were polite, concise, and convincing. You represented GNS well, and I am so proud of you! Thank you for taking your time to share your thoughts, our whole school will benefit from it.” Through this process, we have come to recognize that there is work to be done to repair the relationship between the school and our neighbours, particularly at Pemberton Woods. I am committed to improving our connections with them. I will continue to strive to find common ground and to move forward, together, in celebrating our wonderful Gonzales neighbourhood that we have been a part of since 1932. Again, we are grateful for how GNS came together to make this happen. The true strength of GNS lies in our community. Kind Regards,Chad Holtum Head of School