Skip to content

Summer school no bummer school in Burnaby school district

Online registration opens next week for courses like rock band, robotics and cooking.
Robotics, summer school
Daniel Zou, Surabhi Phadke and Joseph Liu watch intently as their robot negotiates a maze during a summer school robotics competition at Taylor Park Elementary last year.

If you still think summer school is just for kids who’ve flunked math or English, think again.

For years, the Burnaby school district has been moving beyond remedial courses for its summer program, and students these days can learn how to cook, make robots and play in a rock band.

New options are added every year, and this year’s no exception.

About 20 per cent of the district’s high school courses are new this summer and include offerings like volleyball skills, coding and musical theatre, along with the regular academic courses to make up failed classes or to get ahead.

At the elementary level, 45 per cent of the courses are new and include such courses as fibre art, cooking and storytelling.

Director of instruction Janice Nakatsu, who is in charge of the district’s summer program, says summer school really began to change eight or nine years ago.

Before then, parents had to pay for their kids to go, and districts provided only remedial and some English language learning courses.

Now, kindergarten to Grade 9 students can take one course for free, and kids in Grades 10, 11 and 12 can take two.

“That’s why there’s been the explosion of students who take the courses,” Nakatsu says.

That change, combined with the redesigned curriculum, which emphasizes personalized learning and letting kids learn by exploring their interests and passions, has prompted the district to add some creative courses, which often also play to the interests and passions of the teachers who developed them.

For the first time this year, students in Grades 8 and 9 will be able to take so-called “enrichment courses” instead of just the traditional, academic offerings.

The 13 new courses include photography, rock band, model building and more.

“We’ve modernized it. These are courses that I would think that most kids, if not all kids, would be interested in taking … They are very different,” Nakatsu says.

Personally, she says she would pick photography and rock band.

Online registration for elementary courses opens April 15; for high school, it’s April 17.

In past years, some courses, like coding, engineering and robotics, have filled up within minutes of registration opening, so have your information ready to go.

For a full list of courses, visit