Today is March 8, 2016 and we are recognizing International Women’s Day in the North Vancouver School District. Having equal access to an education is every child’s right in Canada and it is important to reflect on how far we have come.
Equal opportunity for all learners is an expectation that is at the core of our District Vision and Values and 10-Year Strategic Plan. We wish for each individual to reach their full potential and encourage all students and staff to celebrate their personal achievements.
I encourage you to visit the International Women’s Day website, which has many resources you may wish to explore:
One of the busiest times of the year for our School District is March, during Class Acts: A Celebration of Education in the North Vancouver School District. Many events and activities are taking place during this time and I would like to highlight a few here:
25 Year Employee Recognition: On Monday, March 7th we are celebrating 53 employees for their exceptional service to the North Vancouver School District. These employees hold the experience, wisdom and perspective that makes our School District the success it is today. Their contribution to the education of our students is to be honoured and we are proud to be recognizing these long standing employees today.
Music: Last week the Intermediate Music Festival took place at Centennial Theatre and featured students in Grades 4-7 from each of our elementary schools. The Band & Strings Festival was held at Mountainside Secondary. On Wednesday, March 9th, our Secondary Band & Strings students will be performing with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at Centennial Theatre.
Artists for Kids: A Readers Choice 2016 finalist for Educational Program for Kids, Artists for Kids will be holding its Art Enrichment Show at the Education Services Centre on Thursday, March 10th. This exhibition features student artwork from the 2015-2016 AFK Art Enrichment Programs. As well, the Gordon Smith Gallery will be open for guests and families on Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00 – 4:00pm.
Trustee Reception: Also on Thursday, March 10th our Trustees are hosting a reception at the View for our partners in education. This annual event acknowledges the involvement of those parents, community members and businesses who enrich the learning opportunities for our students.
I would like to thank the organizers of Class Acts: A Celebration of Education in the North Vancouver School District, Ray Bodnaruk and Chanin Smyth, and committee members for their exceptional work in planning these showcase events for our School District.
As a follow-up to my Pink Shirt Day post last Wednesday, I wanted to provide more information about the Random Acts of Kindness initiative by Lynnmour Elementary students and staff:
From Principal Kelly La Roue: This year, the staff and students at Lynnmour have been focusing on Michele Borba’s book: Building Moral Intelligence – The Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing. One theme per month is selected as a focus and classes take turns leading the activities for the school.
February is our “Kindness” month and it was my turn to lead the classes in activities. We kicked off the month with a Kindness Assembly on February 1st as a way to put more emphasis on compassion and empathy. Our message to the students was simple – “spending more time on kindness, respect and empathy leaves no time for bullying or teasing.” We are teaching the meaning and value of kindness, establishing zero tolerance for unkindness and pointing out the positive effects of kindness.
Some of the school-wide activities this month include writing kindness letters (154 letters sent to the Education Services Centre and random high school teachers), reading stories, watching video clips about kindness (and the science behind kindness), TED talks, making a kindness “quilt”, reading messages of random acts of kindness over the PA and having a Funny Joke Friday. The Funny Joke Friday has been a real hit – 2 classes at a time come up with their best 6 jokes to share. The students read their jokes over the PA and we listen for the laughter coming from the classrooms. It’s been a great way to end the week! Ms. Meule’s Grade 3 class participated in the Vancouver Giant’s Day of Acceptance and had a great time watching the game and participating in a flash mob.
Students and staff in the North Vancouver School District participated in a lockdown drill on February 25, 2016. In partnership with the North Vancouver RCMP, schools practised the procedures for responding to a threat inside or outside of the building.
In the letter sent to parents on February 16, 2016, we stressed the importance of having conversations about the experience after the drill to reassure students and help them develop new coping and self-calming techniques for the future. We recommend these conversations also take place at home and encourage parents and guardians to review the Q&A provided in the letter.
In the North Vancouver School District, we recognize our responsibility towards the safety of students and staff on our premises at all times. While the incidence of threatening behaviours in our schools is very low, we hope you will find this knowledge of our procedures to be reassuring. Please don’t hesitate to discuss this information with your school principal or contact Brad Baker, District Principal, Safe and Caring Schools.
Although Anti-bullying initiatives are highlighted this week and especially today, there are many initiatives that take place in our schools throughout the year to foster a safe and caring environment for all students and staff.
A recent example that I am pleased to share is the personalized letters of kindness received by staff at the Education Services Centre from students of Lynnmour Elementary. Their messages of kindness included ‘Spreading kindness is the sugar that makes life sweeter? You can do it, too!” This act of kindness was well-received by our staff, creating connections of caring between staff and students.
As a school district, we are pleased to support the Anti-Bullying/Pink Shirt Day as a means to raise awareness of the issue of bullying as a societal issue, and encourage the sharing of ideas and solutions to address it.
As we all know, addressing the causes, behaviours and solutions to bullying is a complex issue. Our School District emphasizes the importance of creating schools as places of belonging–where all children feel safe and welcome at school. By attending to the social and emotional learning needs of students, a foundation is in place to develop schools that we can all appreciate as places of belonging.
The Ministry of Education ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) Bullying website is a great resource on how to support youth who are experiencing bullying. It also includes an online reporting tool for students to report bullying, and information about speaking up and not being a bystander.
We encourage everyone to acknowledge and adopt anti-bullying practices – each and every day!
The Grade 2 classrooms at Cove Cliff were peeping with excitement after two ‘baby’ chicks hatched early in February.
Students have been actively researching chickens, exploring the life cycle, and learning about what animals need in order to survive. This teacher-led initiative was a first for Cove Cliff, according to Principal Brenda Bell. With the generous support of the Cove Cliff PAC, the eggs and incubators were a popular attraction in the school, and provided a unique hands-on learning opportunity. Students used their keen observation skills and were eager to record the physical changes, and measure the height and weight of the chicks each day.
“The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion,” declared the Speaker of the Senate at the Inauguration of the new flag in 1965.
On February 15, 1965 our national flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill. Canada was just two years away from centennial celebrations when the maple leaf flag was made official by Royal Proclamation. In 1996, February 15 was declared National Flag of Canada Day and has been observed every year since.
For more information: http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1449158599459
I would like to bring your attention to an open letter addressed to the North Vancouver Community, which was published (page 2) in the North Shore News on Wednesday, February 10, 2016.
The letter, authored by the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations and the North Vancouver School District, formally acknowledges our commitment to advance the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. Calls to Action specific to education were outlined in the TRC summary report released in 2015 and we confirm we are ready to answer those calls.
Our Aboriginal Education Team led by District Principal Brad Baker has made great progress bringing Aboriginal worldviews to our classrooms – our students and staff have benefited from their leadership and expertise.
Throughout the year, the students and staff of Westview Elementary School have been exploring kindness. The goal was to make kindness more visible and important within the school, and the project has already been a huge success!
To begin, students worked hard to fill up each other’s ‘buckets’ in the classroom: helping in the classroom without being asked, helping a friend when they were upset, playing with a friend who was lonely, using kind words, or showing appreciation for others.
Students and staff also wanted to show their appreciation to the many people who come to work within the school. Since they are valuable members of the Westview Community and enrich their school environment, the Speech and Language Pathologist, School Counsellor, School Psychologist, Teacher Leader, Family of Schools leader, and Aboriginal Success Teacher each received thank you notes from the school. The students also flooded the office with sticky notes of gratitude.
This project has been so successful in teaching the students about kindness within the school walls, staff are confident that they are ready to take this initiative to the streets. The challenge has been set for each student in the school to complete five random acts of kindness within their local community. Once each act is complete they will be leaving their Random Acts of Kindness ‘calling card.’ The Westview students and staff are excited to share a smile and lend a helping hand.
What is “Bucket filling”? click here to read more about Carol McCloud’s Book: Have you Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
Photos provided by Amanda Dorst:
I am pleased to provide a bit of background to the upcoming Digital Media Youth Expo happening at Argyle Secondary School on February 13, 2016.
The Digital Media Youth Expo is a place where students, parents, families, teachers and the community can meet with representatives from many Lower Mainland Post-Secondary Schools as well as local & global organizations & institutions and studios involved in digital media.
The Digital Media Youth Expo is always a tremendous success and this will be its fourth, and largest, to date. The event is hosted by the North Vancouver School District Digital Media Academy (DMA) students and staff, and will be of interest to any student who is interested in pursuing a career in this wide-ranging field.
For more info, please check out the website (which is maintained by our own DMA students):
Poster designed by DMA students Danielle Adams and Kyja Leslie