The outdoor classroom is opened with a song from Richard, left, Sam, David and elder Mary Gutierrez of Chawathil First Nation. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

School’s out! Silver Creek opens outdoor learning space

‘Discovery classroom’ dedicated to longtime principal, trustee and kid-at-heart Marv Cope

Silver Creek Elementary School students will be spending even more time in nature in the coming school year, as an outdoor classroom is now open behind the school.

Bearing the name of former long-time principal at Silver Creek and school board trustee Marv Cope, who passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer, the classroom is the culmination of a vision for outdoor learning principal Bruce Becker and staff started working on a few years back.

“What we wanted was the kids to be able to learn, get outside, to be able to have an outdoor focus,” he said. “And to eventually build an outdoor classroom.”

The opening of the outdoor space on June 27 began with a slideshow of how students have been learning outside —field trips to Camp Squeah, White Rock and Kawkawa Lake as well as daily outdoor fun building snow forts, playing sports and growing squash and veggies in the school’s garden.

Paul Cope said naming the new space the ‘Marv Cope outdoor discovery classroom’ was a fitting tribute to his father, as Marv was always a kid at heart.

“If my dad was here right now…he would say ‘plant a tree, everybody water it, let it grow big and strong so that in the summer it would provide shade for the kids and shelter in the winter from the rain and snow’,” Paul said.

“For the kids here today who didn’t know my dad, but I’ll tell you something right now — my dad, at heart, was always a kid, always a kid. My mom didn’t have three kids, she had four. So right now, my dad is sitting right with you and he does all the time. Because everything about my dad was about the kids and the teachers and learning.”

School board trustee Linda Kerr agreed the naming of the classroom after Marv was the right tribute for ‘a man for whom learning was a way of life.’

Superintendent Karen Nelson spoke about Cope’s 35 years teaching in the district, starting at Coquihalla Elementary School and becoming a principal at Silver Creek at the age of 26. “Many of us didn’t even start teaching until then,” she added.

After his career in schools, Cope became a school board trustee for five terms.

“Whenever we spend time here, and I intend to do so to get away from the office, we will remember Mr. Marv Cope — a man who dedicated his life to supporting students, staff and parents,” Nelson said.

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Paul Cope spoke of his father, always a child at heart, during the opening ceremony for the outdoor learning space bearing Marv Cope’s name. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Marv Cope’s family were present to witness the unveiling of the outdoor discovery classroom bearing his name. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

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