Times Colonist – The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry is growing and will be moving to a bigger space.

It’s a good sign for the unique independent operation, known as PSII — pronounced “sigh” by its students. The Grade 9-12 school, which opened in September 2013 in leased space at the Victoria Truth Centre on Fort Street, will be heading downtown to space in Nootka Court, on Douglas Street.

Forty-three students registered the first year, with 66 signed up for the current year. Fourteen Grade 12 students are preparing to graduate.

“We don’t know for sure, but we’re probably going to be around 80 to 85 next year, probably 85,” said Jeff Hopkins, the school’s founder and principal.

That is much quicker growth than expected, said Hopkins, who left his job as superintendent of the Gulf Islands school district to start PSII.

“It’s actually really difficult, but it’s a good problem to have.”

PSIl is based on personalized “inquiry-based” learning, where students’ questions help them to establish their academic paths. Teachers ensure that students cover the required course content.

Hopkins said that the school’s new space is not only larger, but closer to places where students are involved, including the Victoria Advanced Technology Council and the YM-YWCA, site of PSII’s physical-education sessions.

Joining PSII in the Nootka Court complex will be Elizabeth Buckley School, which is starting a program there for Grades 6 through 8. It also has an elementary program run out of the Cridge Centre.

Hopkins said Elizabeth Buckley School is independently run, like PSII. It emphasizes disciplines such as science, technology and the arts and, like PSII, stresses a student’s individual direction. It was started in 1987 as a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, but now serves a wide range of students..

Jeff Bell / Times Colonist
May 24, 2015 06:00 AM