44 Dresses supports more than 100 grade 7 students

Grade seven student, Shanny Roberts, tries on dresses at the 44 Dresses Boutique Day

More than 100 grade seven girls in North Vancouver will look and feel amazing during their grade-seven farewell ceremonies this year thanks to the generosity of the North Shore community. Now in its third year, 44 Dresses is a program organized by Norgate Elementary School principal Lisa Upton and Sofiabella owner Elena Grant. The program collects beautiful donated dresses and shoes, and then provides them for free to grade seven students through a pop-up shop at the North Vancouver School District central office on Lonsdale.

“Our generous sponsors and team of wonderful volunteers ensure that every girl that attends our 44 Dresses Boutique Day is treated to a truly special day.  We assist them in finding the perfect outfit while providing scrumptious goodies, refreshments and goody bags in a party-like atmosphere with music and decorations.  It’s not just about the dress but also about the experience.  We want each girl to feel valued and celebrated,” said Grant.

The program started out of recognition that not all students can afford elegant outfits for their grade seven farewell celebrations.

“Transitioning from elementary to secondary school is a milestone in our students’ lives. We want to make sure that all students are able to fully celebrate this achievement. It really does make a difference when students feel great at their grade-seven ceremonies,” said Upton.

The program also includes dress shirts for grade seven boys.

In addition to the community support in the form of clothing donations, many other community partners also helped make this year’s 44 Dresses a success. Sofiabella Tween Clothing Boutique, North Vancouver School District, Posy Florist, Fresh St. Market and West Coast Beauty Supply were all sponsors of the event.

Earth Day – April 22, 2016

Today is Earth Day and many schools are celebrating with activities that highlight environmental and sustainability initiatives.

JLBlogEnergyBulbIS11069822Today we are also wrapping up two School District sustainability campaigns:

Lights out Lunch (LOL) – students and staff were asked to turn off the lights this week during the lunch break. Using natural light on bright spring days is an easy way to save energy. This year, we challenged schools to take it one step further and continue to turn off lights over lunch for the rest of the school year.

Sustainability Strategy Survey – the North Vancouver School District began a process to develop a sustainability strategy in 2015 with input from students, staff and community partners. The DRAFT Sustainability Strategy was presented at a facilitated community discussion held at the Board of Education’s Standing Committee Public Meeting on April 12, 2016. If you haven’t done so already, please provide your input and feedback on the North Vancouver School District’s DRAFT Sustainability Strategy via a short online survey (closes April 22, 2016).

North Vancouver students tackle the new curriculum



The excited buzz of enticing conversation emanates from roughly 160 students who have gathered to tackle a topic that directly affects them – the new curriculum. This coming September will mark full implementation of the redesigned kindergarten to grade nine BC curriculum, as well as the start of the trial phase of the redesigned grades 10 to 12 curriculum.

“The new curriculum affects us. It affects us the most. It impacts our learning, so students need to have a voice,” said Christina Acton, grade 10 student at Argyle Secondary School.

The direct correlation between the new curriculum and student learning is why the North Vancouver District Student Leadership Council (DSLC) decided to focus their annual student forum on the new curriculum. DSLC is comprised of students from all seven secondary schools in the North Vancouver School District. Students meet monthly throughout the school year to tackle educational issues of interest to them and report out on district committees that they sit on as student representatives.

Their annual student forum brings a broader group of students together from across all of North Vancouver School District to discuss pressing issues. This year, nearly 160 students from all secondary schools were joined by several grade seven contingents, as well as principals, vice-principals, and school district management staff, including the superintendent and assistant superintendents, to address the new curriculum. Throughout the event, school district administrators presented on the new curriculum and questions were posed for the students to explore. In diverse table groups, questions were discussed and thoughts were captured in Tweets. These Tweets will then be compiled and the DSLC executive will be presenting the data to school board trustees and the executive management team of the North Vancouver School District at the June public school board meeting. The information will also be shared with the Ministry of Education and the North Vancouver Administrators’ Association.

“I had no idea what the new curriculum was all about until we started planning this student forum. This made me realize how important it is for students to know how their learning may be impacted,” explained Acton.

According to Cameron Carley, grade 12 student at Windsor Secondary School, the redesigned curriculum is quite different and will impact all students.

“The new curriculum promotes diversity and different ways of learning. A classroom is full of students who don’t learn the same way. The new curriculum is more inclusive and has something for everyone. It really does affect all of us,” he said.

Student organizers of the forum hope their feedback about the redesigned curriculum will be incorporated into the way teachers implement it. They believe that by using the DSLC to leverage student voice, their input will be viewed as an important part of the curriculum conversation.

“The District Student Leadership Council gives students a powerful voice. It makes it easier for us to discuss issues that affect us as students,” said Acton.

“The biggest benefit of DSLC is knowing we are heard and it lets us know that we have similar concerns as students. At all of the schools in the school district we have similar concerns and interests. DSLC gives students a strong voice at the adult table,” said Lauren Kellmann, grade 12 student at Windsor Secondary School.

The RCMP Academy: 2016

North Vancouver School District along with four other metro school districts (Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond and Surrey) has a partnership with the RCMP in the co-sponsoring of an 8 day mini RCMP Depot. This experience recently completed its 21st year and has involved over 1000 students over that time period. This camp places students in a simulated RCMP training environment including every facet of policing from Police Dog Service Training, Threat Assessment to the RCMP Helicopter.

RCMP Academy Cadets

To attend the RCMP camp, students must complete a rigorous selection process. They must successfully complete a physical test which includes sit-ups, push-ups and a timed run. The students then go through an interview with an RCMP and school representative. The students also require several references from school staff, family and friends. Once at the 8 day camp they complete a variety of activities that an RCMP Cadet at Depot would experience but in a condensed form. Students receive instruction and lectures on law, social and communication skills, physical training, as well as some police tactics. Students are involved in a great deal of role-playing scenarios where they take turns as a police officer or as an observer. They will receive instruction from Emergency Response Teams, Dog Service members, Riot Control Teams, Drug Enforcement Representatives, Forensic experts, Social Media Teams, Cyber Teams and of course, the Helo Team.

RCMP Academy North VancouverThe Academy is an excellent learning experience. Over 88% of the participants end up in policing related careers. It is challenging both mentally and physically, but the memories last for a lifetime. At the recently concluded camp one NVSD student remarked, “I thought it would be an interesting experience for me but it is actually transformative. It made me realize that being a police officer is not about enforcing the law it’s more about helping people in need.” This year The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, presided over the graduation ceremony. To paraphrase Her Honour, “this is a fine example of how important it is to give our youth quality experiences in order for them to find their path.”

RCMP Academy certificates

The RCMP camp is another example of how NVSD is building many pathways for students through their educational journey. Thanks to Monty Bell, Director of Instruction and Neeru Parmar for their dedication and support in supporting our students involved in this wonderful program.

National Sweater Day results

I am pleased to report that 13 of our schools and the Education Services Centre participated in National Sweater Day on February 4, 2016. By turning down the temperature to 18 degrees, the School District’s Energy Manager Robert Greenwald estimates that we saved 17 GJ of energy for the day—equivalent to 18% of the average annual passenger vehicle’s carbon emissions.

Boundary Sweater Day 2016
National Sweater Day at Boundary ElementaryIMG_0573

National Sweater Day is a sustainability initiative of the World Wildlife Fund Canada. This year’s campaign, Better in a Sweater, encouraged students and staff to participate in this fun energy conservation day while showing off their favourite sweater, hoodie, or fleece.

Sweater Day 2016 - Westview
Westview Students participate in National Sweater Day


Asahikawa Commerce High School Band

Our School District has been engaged in an exceptional music exchange program over the past twenty years with high schools from  Japan.  Seycove Secondary School, supported  by North Vancouver families, hosted the Asahikawa Commerce High School Band from March 28 through April 5.

Asahikawa orchestra

Principal Conductor, Mr. Jun Sato of Asahikawa High School was accompanied by Conductor, Mr. Kuroda of Rumoi High School, with a combined contingent of 60 talented and enthusiastic musicians.  The visiting students shared their music in concerts at Seycove, Carson Graham, Handsworth, and Dorothy Lynas Schools, as well as other public performances including a free public concert at Centennial Theatre.

Asahikawa soloist

In addition to sharing their music with our students in workshops, rehearsals and performances, these exchanges provide a wonderful opportunity for cultural understandings and sharing between our two nations.  My sincerest appreciation and thanks go to Risa McDonell, Seycove Band Director, Mr. Mark James, Seycove Principal, and the many supporters and volunteers who welcomed visiting students into their homes and contributed to the success of this year’s exchange.


World Autism Awareness Day – April 2, 2016

On April 2, 2016, World Autism Awareness Day will be recognized in the North Vancouver School District.World Autism Day Logo

Each year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), observed on April 2, was adopted by the United Nations in 2007.

The Autism Speaks “Light It Up Blue” campaign coincides with World Autism Awareness Day and everyone is encouraged to wear blue to show their support for those who are affected by autism.

About the Light It Up Blue Campaign:

  • Spreads awareness and understanding of autism
  • Celebrates and honors the unique talents and skills of people with autism
  • Brings attention to the needs of all people with autism

Carson Graham takes the silver medal at Canadian Improv Games

CG Imrpov

Big congratulations to the Carson Graham Improv [CGI] team for their outstanding performances at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa over the Spring Break. Placing 2nd at this level is a huge accomplishment and I would like to thank Carson Graham Principal Karim Hachlaf for sharing his post:


Turn it off before you take off for Spring Break


Spring break is just around the corner and we’re asking staff to do their part to reduce phantom power while the schools are closed. Phantom power is the energy used by electronics even when they aren’t in use because they have a battery pack, a clock or other internal brain drawing a small amount of energy. With all the equipment we have in our schools this can really add up. So if you are leaving for Spring Break, please plan to “Turn it off, before you take off”.

Not sure what you can turn off or unplug?

Read through the list and when in doubt, leave it plugged in. Do not unplug anything that is difficult or dangerous to reach. While this list was prepared for schools, it may also help you reduce energy waste through phantom power at home.

Together we’ll cut down on phantom power and make sure our electronics also get a break over spring break.

Thanks everyone!


Student Assignment featured in the North Shore News

During this week’s celebration of Class Acts, I would like to share an article co-written by Queensbury Elementary student Nodin C. Ravensbergen and North Shore News restaurant reviewer Chris Dagenais.


Nodin contacted the NS News as part of his class project on exploring careers. He was invited to accompany Chris on a review of a local restaurant, and the article was featured in the NS News on February 17, 2016.

The Dish review is informative and entertaining, and I congratulate Nodin for a job well done!

I would also like to thank writer Chris Dagenais and the North Shore News for providing this unique experience for Nodin.


Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools

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