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Journey History

Did you know in the tile floor of the foyer is Journey’s first logo of a path? Ten years later the mascot was a jaguar. Then, in 2001.Mr. Elm designed the Dragon mascot. As part of celebrating 25 years there is now a three D Dragon bursting through the wall in the foyer. Also, the bird sculpture as you walk up the stairs was designed by an artist and each tile was made by a student. Journey students also made the mosaic design as you enter Ed MacGregor park on West Coast Road. And, did you know the school was named Journey because we had a contest in the community to name the school. A student at John Muir, Kate Phillips, was reading a novel called Journey and submitted the name. Obviously, she won. These are part of Journey Middle School’s history.

Change is a Journey.. and Journey has gone through a lot of changes.

Journey Middle School opened in September of 1993. Journey was the first Middle school in the Sooke District. Journey’s award winning architecture creates an open and inviting space. The classrooms have many windows overlooking, at the time, rolling fields. A side note: In 2005 the outside walls or envelope of Journey was redone. It was what was called a Leaky condo. And every one of those windows were replaced. It was a disruptive time but like how Journey always approaches challenges, it was one where we came together to keep the school running smoothly. The two story building in a u-shape, is built around a three hundred year old Maple tree. The Library is situated in the centre of the second floor. The school was purposely constructed as a middle school and features four distinct classroom neighborhoods designed to make a large school into smaller communities of learning.

In the first 6 months as we were trying to figure out how to run a new school as a middle school, change happened often. New staff was hired, new time tables, class size necessitated new classes and more staff hired. And in February of 1994 there was a change in the administration and Sandy Stewart and Bob Ennis took over. People refer to that time as tumultuous.

However, it was also a time of great creative and educational innovations. Many of the programs we have at Journey today were started in those first years and evolved over the years.

Sports and sport teams were and still are a big part of Journey. From basketball, badminton, volleyball, track and field to today wrestling,rugby and the hockey program, sports have always been great way to focus that middle school student’s energy and school spirit.

The exploratory program so integral to a Middle School concept, gives students choices in a wide variety of activities. Students have the choice to explore activities like art, pottery, mountain biking, archery, robotics, animation, Mantracker, yearbook, musical theatre and cooking to mention just a few.

The band program started in 1993 but soon folded. It wasn’t until 2008 that Lorna Bjorklund brought back the program and turned it into an award winning one. French Immersion started with one class and today is thriving with classes in all three grades. The Aboriginal program has been integral to Journey from the beginning. Three years ago we built the fire pit and as a consequence we have an annual Aboriginal Day in the Spring.

Preparation time for teachers are provided by relief programs.  Grade 8 students attended the Applied Skills program of home economic, which Mrs Gitzel has been teaching since 1993, and woodworking.  The grade six and seven students attended a program that has changed over the years. In 1993 it was called MALL, which is an acronym for: Music, Art, Library, and Life skills. It quickly changed to MAL: Music, Art and Library. MAL became MALT: Music, Art, Library and Theatre. And finally MAD: Music, Art and Drama. Today the grade 8, 6 and 7 programs have been combined and include Coding for all grades. It is called FAST, which stands for Fine Arts, Applied Skills, and Technology.

The second year at Journey saw the beginning of Musical Theatre productions. The staff came together to produce the show Beauty and the Beast. It was an extravaganza with over 400 students involved. The production was like a first kiss – it was what all other productions would be measured against. But more than that, the show demonstrated what the staff of a school that holds a deeply shared vision can accomplish through collaboration. At the time of the production Journey was in the throws of start up turmoil. The school’s reputation was beastly. The show set the school in a new direction and enabled outsiders to see the beauty in the beast. In the last 12 years, EMCS and Journey Musical theatre programs work together to produce shows at EMCS. In 2018  twenty-four Journey students were in Grease at EMCS.

In 2002 the entire staff came together to create our Vision and Mission. Creating a Vision is the beginning in developing and implementing an effective educational plan. By creating our Vision and Mission, we set in motion a realistic and  credible future for Journey. Journey’s Mission is the acronym ASPIRE. It stands for Accept the Challenge, Stretch our Brains, Play, have fun, Invest in people, Reach for the stars, and Explore cool stuff. . Journey’s vision is “People Run to be Here” and everyday we strive to realize that vision. In the words of our principal, Laurie Szadkowski, “Journey’s Vision Statement is ‘People Run to be Here’ and I extend an invitation to all to stop by and see why!”

Journey is on a Journey of Change, always moving towards a vision of education in the future. Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Our message to new and old Journey students is to Dream Big.

Twenty-seven years ago my dream was to be part of an educational system that inspires children and awakens the joy of learning in all of us. Journey has been that school and so much more.

It has been 27 years.

Enjoy your Journey