Canyon Heights – a celebrated Action School


Canyon Heights has created a school culture enriched by healthy living in which school spirit runs high. By taking advantage of the services offered by Action Schools! BC and the many organizations that support school health in the province, Canyon Heights Elementary is excelling at integrating healthy living into the fabric of their school community in unique and creative ways.

Congratulations to the Canyon Heights community!

Windsor Hockey Academy Gives Back

Windsor Hockey Academy students Give Back

The Windsor Hockey Skills Academy looked beyond their own needs and decided to contribute to the less fortunate families here on the North Shore.    Prior to Christmas, each of the 75 players brought a non-perishable food item to the foyer of Canlan Ice Sports in North Vancouver before heading onto the ice for their scrimmage session.  

A total of 180 kilos of food were dropped off for the Food Bank. Everyone was pleased with the efforts on the part of these student athletes.   Not only are they dedicated hockey enthusiasts, they are good citizens, and that’s a combination that you just can’t beat!

 courtesy of Cam Kerr

Windsor Hockey Skills Academy

Environment an Eagle-Eye View – continued

Nature is complex but it may be more complex than we can even understand

Along the Cheakamus River where Outdoor School is located, the numbers of birds during the eagle count have been as high as 800.  This year’s count was one tenth of that – 81.  We know that Bald Eagles, a type of fish eagle, depend on late run Chum salmon for winter-feeding. In the past five years we also know that the numbers of large chum salmon have declined in the Cheakamus/Squamish rivershed as well as throughout coastal river systems from Alaska to Oregon. We also know in the last 5 years Russian and Japanese fishing fleets have targeted Chum in a lucrative salmon roe fishery. Combined with these larger outside influences there are recent local factors as well that have influenced Chum, the most significant being the 2003 flood and 2005 CN chemical spill. However in recent years other Cheakamus species have faired well; Coho were ten times more abundant in 2010 than the average and Pink Salmon numbers this year were close to 300 000, a dramatic increase from only a few thousand in the 1980s.

Obviously something is affecting Chum specifically and resulting in the reduction of wintering Bald Eagles on the Cheakamus and Squamish Rivers. Like the “canary in the mine shaft” Bald Eagles abundance is a clear indicator that something has recently changed.  Bald Eagles are survivors, and will seek out winter salmon wherever that food can be found.

Bald Eagles, Chum salmon and human interaction is just one aspect of experiential environmental Outdoor School programming that will be further enhanced through the North Shore Credit Union – Environmental Learning Centre due to open this April.  These new facilities along with enhanced programming, built on our Outdoor School successes over the past 40+ years will take full advantage of the school’s full potential as a centre for environmental leadership and learning.

report courtesy of Victor Elderton

An eagle-eye view of the environment

Eagle Count – courtesy of Art Smith

On Sunday, January 8 a number of North Vancouver School District staff once again participated in the annual Brackendale Eagle count. This is an annual volunteer event, held on the first Sunday of each new year and this year was the 26th anniversary. On deck this year representing NVSD & the North Vancouver Outdoor School were Colleen Elderton (24th year), Victor Elderton (22nd year), Kate Keogh (10th year), and Dawn Green (1st year).

Over the past 26 years the numbers of Bald Eagles Haliaeetus leucocephalus counted on this single day have ranged from several hundred to a record 3769 in 1994. Over the decades until recently Bald Eagles counted, adult and immature juveniles, was averaging between 1500 – 2000 birds, this changed about 5 years ago when numbers dropped to an average of less than 1000 birds per eagle count. On Jan. 8th, 655 birds were counted, which was up by 68 birds from last year, but still less than the historical average.

What are the reasons for this drop and why might it have become the new norm? These are questions that students, teachers, staff and guest researchers at the North Vancouver Outdoor School in the center of the Brackendale Bald Eagle reserve investigate every day at this time of year.

Eagle feeding on salmon – courtesy of Kate Keogh

Conditions for counting from the count day one year to the next can vary but, it’s the trends in help enlighten and inform us, these observations tell us something is happening. We know that the environment all life depends on is complex and is influenced by many factors. Robert Bateman, a friend of to NVOS and AfK, put it this way in a mid-90s promotional video for Outdoor School:

Nature is complex but it may be more complex than we can even understand

Investigating this complexity experientially is at the core of environmental learning and demands that this form of education be wholistic, investigating multiple factors.

to be continued ….

I’m Just Wild About Winter

On Wednesday January 11th over 40 grade 1 and 2 teachers from across the school district attended an after school workshop facilitated by the School District’s Early Literacy Facilitator Gretchen Tolfo. 


The workshop focused on extending winter term explorations in the early primary grades through engaging picture books and associated literacy activities.  Teachers in attendance were very inspired by the ideas presented and most appreciative of this in-service opportunity.

Thank you, Gretchen!

Education Minister visits North Vancouver

Education Minister George Abbott is joined by trustees, local officials and students on the grounds of Queen Mary Elementary. January 9, 2012

It was a pleasure to welcome Education Minister George Abbott back to North Vancouver on Monday, January 9th for the Queen Mary Elementary groundbreaking ceremony. Underway since September, the seismic upgrade and heritage reconstruction of Queen Mary represents a $20 million capital project to the school district and our community. Thanks to core funding from The Province, and additional funding through the sale of surplus land on Lonsdale, the school will be reopened in 2014, the same year that Queen Mary celebrates its centennial anniversary.

Award for the North Shore Credit Union Environmental Learning Centre

The view from the NSCU ELC

In December we received the news that McFarland Marceau Architects Inc. is the recipient of an Award of Merit from the 2011 Canadian Architect Awards for the design of the North Shore Credit Union Environmental Learning Centre currently under construction at Brackendale, near Squamish, BC.

Canadian Architect’s annual awards are given for architectural design excellence. In making their winning selection, the jurors considered response to the program, site, geographical and social context, and evaluated physical organization, structure, materials, and environmental features.

We asked McFarland Marceau Architects Inc. to design a building that responded to the ecology of the site, including the cycles of the river, the eagles and the salmon, as well as the rainforest setting.  We’re very pleased with what they’ve designed, and clearly a jury of their peers agrees!

Find the full story here.

New Year’s Message from the Board Chair

I’m pleased to share with you this New Year’s message on behalf of the North Vancouver Board of Education. As Chair Stratton notes, we have much to look forward to as a School District in 2012. Welcome to the New Year!

January 3, 2012

Welcome to the New Year: A message from the Chair

On behalf of the North Vancouver Board of Education, it’s my pleasure to extend these New Year’s greetings and reflect upon several indicators of revitalization and renewal that we are experiencing in the School District.

In September, we were honoured by a visit from Education Minister George Abbott to celebrate the reopening of Ridgeway Elementary. Minister Abbott will be returning to our School District in January for a ground-breaking ceremony for the heritage restoration of Queen Mary School. Meanwhile, our construction projects for Carson Graham Secondary, the Environmental Learning Centre and the Education Services Centre and Artists for Kids Gallery are on schedule for completion this year.

As a Board we are proud of the work our staff has done to create a new District Learning Centre and Community Learning Program to provide specialized support for students with diverse learning needs. This initiative is reflective of our commitment to the concept to personalized learning that resonates with students as individual learners.

With regards to the current BCTF job action, we understand parents have concerns, particularly around the reporting of student progress. We are fortunate in our school district to have many channels of communication to maintain open contact, including emails, blogs, the Synervoice system and for updated news and information. I would encourage you to continue to access these channels, and maintain contact with your child’s teacher regarding their needs and progress.

In December, we welcomed a new Board of Education to serve the School District for the next three years. With every Board comes a breadth of perspectives and experiences to provide good governance in our School District. With the School District’s 10-year Strategic Plan now in place, supported by a 3-year operating plan, we have the foundations and direction for parents, staff and community members to support student learning and student success. It is an honour for every trustee to represent our community and serve students and we look forward to the work ahead.

On behalf of the entire Board: Lisa Bayne; Barry Forward; Cyndi Gerlach; Mike McGraw; Christie Sacré; Susan Skinner and myself, I wish you an educational and successful 2012.


Franci Stratton