Love — familial love, that is — was a lineup of people outside of Lloyd George elementary on a Sunday evening in wintertime.
More than 20 parents stood patiently waiting for the doors to open the next morning so that they could register their children for kindergarten, but the school district superintendent said he doesn't understand why the all-night wait was necessary.
The annual quest for limited French immersion kindergarten seats at the school had a head start this year with people queuing up at 2 p.m. the day before instead of the usual 3 or 4 a.m. on the morning the school opens.
“What a way to spend Valentine’s Day,” said Deryck Crawford, just informed that he stood at No. 21 in the lineup. “I was going to spend it with my wife. There’s your true sign of love for Valentine’s Day.”
There were a few reasons for the earlier head start, several explained.
For the first time this year, the school district established a new rule, giving priority to families with children already enrolled at Lloyd George. With a total of 56 spaces available, that accounted for 30 right off the bat, leaving only 26 for other families. Some of those families live in the neighbourhood, others, such as Pat Hennelly and his wife in Rayleigh, see the educational merit in French immersion.
“We both work at the university,” the volleyball coach said, noting the convenience factor. Their five-year-old daughter will be starting kindergarten in September and they’ve got twins they’d like to enrol at Lloyd George as well.
In addition to that subset of families, there are those with children enrolled at Stuart Wood elementary in its final year of operation. They would prefer to have their kids attend a neighbourhood school, the last one within a reasonable walking distance in the downtown.
Karl deBruijn, Kamloops-Thompson school superintendent, said there are 109 kindergarten French immersion spaces available and they have never been entirely filled, so he doesn't see the need for lineups.
There was a third reason, however, for Sunday's turnout — social media. Once Lyla Rasmussen placed a chair next to the school’s front door to mark her position at the front of the line, word got out on social media and others felt they had to follow suit or count their kids out.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Daryl Snell. “It really is ridiculous.”
Everyone started texting and in the time it takes to order a double-double, the lineup was forming from the entrance onto the sidewalk. People dressed warmly for the occasion and some brought folding chairs while others spelled each other off.
The closure of Stuart Wood has compounded the situation, said Reagan Day, a coffee firmly in her hand. Her father-in-law was sleeping over to enable her and her husband to spell off one another through the night.
“It’s crazy you would have to do that,” she acknowledged. She was of the understanding that the school principal would drop by before school opened to hand out numbers so that they could leave before kids opened for school.
A number of parents mentioned they’d like to see a better method for registration that wouldn’t require them to spend all night in the cold.
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