Arch Trip Summary

By: Dana Barclay, Elkford Secondary grade 12 student

The Elk Valley Arch Project was a huge success. From Sunday June 25 to Tuesday June 27, 2017, a project team comprising of seven students from Elkford Secondary School, thirteen students from Sparwood Secondary School and five teachers took on the goal constructing a welcome arch on the BC/AB border entering the Elk Lakes Provincial Park. Everyone helped bring the logs 5 km up to the top of the Elk Pass on a cart designed and constructed by students. During the trip, while a team worked to assemble the arch, the rest participated with volunteers in many activities such as hiking, archery, fishing, swimming, geocaching and community park service work.  Professional Volunteers helped support the trip by providing their professional experience in guiding, archery instruction and visual design

Megan Kelly, a hiking guide for Island Lake Lodge, volunteered her time to take many students on several hikes including Upper Lake, Petain Falls and Fox Lake. The students also had fun with Vinny Kropodra who took the time to come up to Elk Lakes to teach introductory skills of archery. Some students choose to go fishing in Hidden Lake and caught fish for a meal while others went swimming in the glacier fed water in Upper Elk Lake. During the trip, the students placed geocaches that they had made with the Elk River Alliance.  Finally, a team also worked with the park rangers to replace worn out bridges and provide community service to support the park.

The opening ceremonies were held Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 pm. The arch will stand for years to come welcoming people into the Elk Valley. A special thanks goes out to Michael Penny, the chainsaw carver, and all the other sponsors as well as Mr. Larsen and all the teachers and students who made this project possible.




Project Design

Written Dec 11th

By Stephen Larsen

To commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary and the conversion of the TransCanada trail to the Great Trail, we are getting students excited about their school, community, region, province, and nation.  The pinnacle of our project will be a student sculpted “welcome” arch.  The arch will be sculpted by students with the guidance of a local chainsaw sculptor Michael Penny.  The arch will be constructed from 3 local pine logs weighing roughly 1000 kg each.  The arch will be assembled at the three way intersection of the AB/BC border, the TransCanada trail, and the high point of the Elk Pass, by a team of students from 4 different high schools in the week leading up to Canada day 2017.  While this arch will be a symbol of the students’ work, collaboration, and service contributions to their community, this project is considerably more.

First the arch will honour the communities in the Elk Valley as it will be designed by Sparwood Secondary art students in consultation with the communities of Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford, and the Ktunaxa nation.  Second the arch will be delivered by truck to the Elk Lakes Provincial Park but will be taken the 5 km and 300m of elevation to the top of the Elk Pass, by student groups through a method of their own design.  Thirdly for 3 days while an interschool team assembles the Arch at the pass, the 43 other participant students and 7 volunteer educators, will engage in a series of outdoor educational activities with local community trappers, trail guides, park rangers, fishing guides, and a series of other local experts (we are still searching for photographers, bike guides, and native plant specialists).   Fourthly a team from one of the participant schools will work with a BC Park Ranger from December to June to research the best ways to repair an eroded bank, and grow the necessary plants.  During the actual trip they will work with the ranger to repair the eroded bank.

This project is intended to be the first step in a regional service learning team that will create in class, curriculum linked, project based learning tasks that supporting extra-curricular outdoor education events yearly.  It is the project teams vision that the outdoor education events will lend authenticity and excitement to PBL projects and allow teachers at all of our local schools to engage their students in PBL without the onerous task of inventing authenticity and engagement constructs.  We feel that this is likely to greatly increase the amount of PBL in our schools.