Welcome back to the Taj Mahal

Welcome back to the Taj Mahal


Grade 8-12 students (and teachers) in Oliver are the luckiest in the province as they prepare to enter one of the newest, most technologically advanced high schools in BC.

Southern Okanagan Secondary School is finally near completion after many months of construction and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

And what a school it is, with birchwood lockers, Smart Board technology in every classroom, a modern library with a vaulted ceiling, automatic window shutters, and geothermal heating and cooling.

Coupled with the new gymnasium and science wing, this school is a state-of-the-art learning centre, and one of the biggest developments in Oliver’s history.

It’s amazing how fast this project came together after the 2011 fire. Ironically, that devastating event resulted in such a positive outcome for the community. It just shows how adversity truly makes us stronger.

Students and teachers had to put up with living in stinky portables for months, and with no lockers, pupils had to carry their stuff everywhere.

There was little cohesiveness during this tumultuous time, and it was hard to bring school spirit up to where it should have been. But everyone persevered and made it through, and now they have their Taj Mahal back. (Some teachers used this term years ago to describe the school’s high quality of learning.)

The Frank Venables Auditorium was consumed by flames, but its legacy will live on in the new, 400-seat theatre. This facility will soon be the town’s focal point and attract many people to the community. The glory days of Frank Venables will return with a cultural vengeance.

But wait, there’s more!

Rounding out this renaissance will be an outdoor amphitheatre and the Neighbourhoods of Learning centre, which will include daycare services, YouLearn,  and Desert Sun counselling.

From a small flame came a raging inferno. This brought fear and sadness, followed by anger. But the school and community refused to let one act destroy their courage to rebuild. And now they stand tall, ready to learn again.

But remember, it’s not all about reading, writing and arithmetic, it’s also about learning how to take negative energy and mold it into something positive.


Lyonel Doherty






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