From left, Ana Mendoza, 15, from Mexico, Ben Kimberely, 13, from Penticton, and Paulina Castro,14,  from Mexico are dressed in the Unisus uniform. Standing is math and science teacher Deanne Nielsen who recently returned from teaching in the United Arab Emirates.

Unisus, Summerland’s rapidly growing private school, welcomed both local students and those from around the globe on their first day of classes.

Students from Iran, China, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Kenya, Hong Kong and Vietnam and their Canadian counterparts more than tripled last year’s enrollment.

“We are thrilled to have international students join with local learners,” said senior school principal Tosca Killoran, who has two decades of teaching in Asia and Europe and a doctorate in education.

This academic year marks the opening of the senior school with the admission of students through Grade 10.

The school opened in September 2018 to local primary school students.

“With close to 100 students we’re right on target for this year,” said director of marketing and recruitment Blaine Melnyk.

Applications for admission continue to arrive daily.

The academic program and the renovated physical facility are designed to give students the skills to learn.

The first morning on Tuesday, students practiced their communication, critical thinking, research and social and self management skills before going on a two-hour hike up Giant’s Head Mountain.

“It was wonderful to have our students engage in the Canadian outdoors right from the start, grounding them in one of the Unisus pillars of education,” said Killoran.

The other pillars are innovation and technology, entrepreneurship and the international baccalaureate program.

Unisus is a candidate school in both the primary years and the diploma IB program. 

Integration and flexibility are enhanced by student chairs being on casters and the absence of teachers’ desks.

Interaction among teachers is facilitated by having a ‘collaboration room’ rather than the traditional teachers’ lounge or room.

“I will find ways to link the subjects I am teaching with those of the humanities teacher,” said math and science teacher Deanne Nielsen.

International senior school students and those from across Canada and locally are housed in the recently completed state-of-the art, multi-million-dollar dormitory.

Unisus is the only international school in Western Canada offering weekly, full-time boarding and junior kindergarten to Grade 12 programs. 

The financial aid packages coupled with the school’s academically challenging and balanced program are attracting students.

Killoran anticipates that Unisus, a B.C.-accredited school, will become an International Baccalaureate World School.

IB World Schools share a common philosophy of commitment to improve the teaching and learning of a diverse, inclusive and global minded community of students by delivering challenging, high quality programs of international education.

The IB diploma program is considered by many educators as the "gold standard" for high school graduates.

Candidate status for the middle years program is being sought.

When affirmed, Unisus will be one of the few schools running the complete IB program continuum from primary years through diploma.