Ridgeway School achieves GOLD

I am pleased to announce that Ridgeway Elementary School has received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Canada GOLD for New Construction and Major Renovations (version 1.0).

The Canada Green Building Council acknowledges 4 levels of certification: CERTIFIED, SILVER, GOLD, and PLATINUM and defines what constitutes a green building in design, construction, and operation according to accepted energy and environmental principles.

Under 5 environmental categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality, buildings receive a credit scoring for environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, toxins, carcinogens, and air/water pollutants.

The North Vancouver School District has committed to reducing our environmental footprint with all new construction and renovations – we are pleased to have Ridgeway Elementary School awarded so highly under the LEED standards. I would like to acknowledge the work by our Facilities and Planning Department, Capital Projects, who have set a very high standard for major projects under the direction of Mark Thomson and former Director of Facilities and Planning, Ian Abercrombie.



BlueShore Financial Environmental Learning Centre recognized at the 11th annual Wood Design Awards


At the 2015 Wood Design Awards in BC on Monday, March 2, 2015 McFarland Marceau Architects received the award for Best Use of Western Red Cedar in its design of the BlueShore Financial Environmental Learning Centre at Cheakamus Centre.

This award reflects the very high value we place upon sustainable building design in the North Vancouver School District. The western red cedar featured in our Environmental Learning Centre contributes to the building’s unique design and enhances its purpose as a facility for teaching and learning about nature and sustainability.

The western red cedar used in the Centre was reclaimed from the former Lonsdale school in North Vancouver when the property at 2121 Lonsdale was redeveloped for the Education Services Centre and Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. The reclaimed timber beams are over 100 years old, and complement the towering cedar trees that surround the Centre.

Wood WORKS! is a program of the Canadian Wood Council that promotes the use of wood and wood products in construction projects, and acknowledges the contribution of wood-use advocates and industry leaders.

This is the third major design award received by BlueShore Financial Environmental Learning Centre. In 2013 the Centre was recognized with a Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Award in Architecture and in 2008 received the North American Holcim Award of Acknowledgement for Sustainable Construction. Cheakamus Centre welcomes visitors from around the world to explore its range of outdoor learning spaces. While day and residential programs must be booked in advance, the Centre’s upcoming Open House on May 3, 2015 is an excellent opportunity to tour the Environmental Learning Centre and enjoy a day in nature.

Class Acts: A Celebration of Education in North Vancouver School District

While we have much to celebrate each and every day in our classrooms and schools, this past week has provided us with an opportunity to feature and celebrate the Class Acts that make North Vancouver an exceptional School District.  Some of the highlights of our Celebration week are provided below.

25 Year Employee Recognition Event: This year 84 employees were celebrated for achieving 25 years of service in the school district. We recognize these long service employees for providing the kind of perspective and expertise that only years of experience can give. Their invaluable dedication to quality education and the success of our students is sincerely appreciated.

Artists for Kids: Artwork is showcased all year round in our schools and at the Education Services Centre but as part of Class Acts, we celebrated with a public display of After School Program and student enrichment artwork. Students enjoyed presenting their masterpieces to their parents and guests.

AFK also presented a Ross Penhall print release on Tuesday which was a tremendous success.

Band & Strings: This year’s Band & Strings Festival took place at Mountainside Secondary and involved performances from all of our elementary schools. School groups received constructive feedback by retired teacher Peter van Ooyen who adjudicated for both the band and strings performances. The festival ended with an evening performance featuring the Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Huge thanks to teacher Bill Piggott and Paul Mason, President of the Band & Strings PAC, as well as Yolande Martinello, Director of Fine Arts.

Trustee Reception: I’d like to thank our Trustees for hosting their annual reception for our education and community partners. There are countless individuals and organizations that enrich the success of our school district and we are fortunate for their involvement and support.

Trustee Reception
Trustees Forward, Sacré and Gerlach watch as Adina Williams provides the First Nations blessing at the Trustee Reception


Musical entertainment provided by the Argyle Jazz Bots: Marlowe Rainey, David Hodgson, and Evan Gratham


I would especially like to thank Ray Bodnaruk and Chanin Smyth, Trustee Cyndi Gerlach and Trustee Christie Sacré and the planning committee for organizing the Class Acts celebration week and for all your hard work behind the scenes. Without your leadership these events could not take place – congratulations on another successful Class Acts celebration!

District Lockdown Drill Day – February 18th

Further to our parent communications on February 5th, the North Vancouver School District participated in a practice lockdown drill on February 18th as part of our first District Lockdown Drill Day. In consultation with the RCMP, Fire Department, North Shore Emergency Management Office, and Safe and Caring Schools, students and staff practiced District lockdown procedures and followed up with a guided debriefing session.

Walking through the scenario of a threat inside or outside of the school can be stressful and we encourage parents and guardians to discuss the drill with children in their household. Please refer to the Questions & Answers section on page 2 of the parent letter for more information. As some schools conducted this drill in the fall and some have planned theirs for the spring, your child may or may not have participated in District Lockdown Drill Day.

The safety of students and staff is our priority and our goal is to be prepared for all possible emergency situations.


The Problem with Discipline

I am pleased to announce the North Vancouver Parent Advisory Council’s event The Problem with Discipline, featuring Christopher Burt, on Wednesday, March 25th at 7:00 pm at Argyle Secondary School.

As part of NVPAC’s special speaker event series, The Problem with Discipline is free for parents and we encourage you to attend.

Christopher Burt will present effective tools and parenting styles. I thank our NVPAC Executive for organizing this event and for giving parents the opportunity to hear his perspective on discipline.


“Turn it off, before you take off”: getting ready for a sustainable Spring Break

Spring Break Shutdown Image

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!

Device Turn off Unplug
Lights Y N/A
Small kitchen appliances (with a light, clock or ON/OFF switch) Y Y
Small refrigerators (prop the door open, please!) Y Y
Personal space heaters and fans Y Y
Large and small printers Y N
Computers in classroom and labs N N
Monitor Y N
Laptops N N
Laptop carts N N
iPads Y N
iPad carts Y N
Smart Board Y N
Projector Y Y
Televisions Y Y
Cellphone charger Y Y
Electric pencil sharpeners Y Y
Listening Centers Y Y
PA System N N

Re-Designs: Transforming the Curriculum

As a follow-up to my post on February 10th announcing the Designs 2015 series, I wanted to acknowledge the Designs 2015 team who created Re-Designs: Transforming the Curriculum and co-constructed this year’s Curriculum Implementation Day on January 9th. The Designs 2015 team is comprised of Secondary and Elementary educators from each Family of Schools. Team members led the Designs sessions and presented practical classroom strategies and best practices. Participants appreciated the opportunity to discuss and plan, and work in cross-school grade teams.

Thank you to the following Designs 2015 team members for their hard work and leadership:

Sean Soper, Julie Bertrand, Susan Johnston, Kammi Clark, Megan Wheatley, Judy (Dee) Chen, Louise Owen, Cheryl Ham, Ian Powell, Paul Shtenko, Veronique Darwin, Roland Schulz, Paul Clarke, Caren Hall, Jeeniece Chand, Cary Hungle, Carla Orr, Kathleen Barter, Glenda Robertson and Joanne Robertson.

This group also took part in this year’s Coast Metro series featuring Ron Ritchhard. Ron’s work Making Thinking Visible was a central theme of Re-Designs and aligns with District initiatives.

Designs 2015 wrapped up on February 24th and was very well-received with over 175 registrants.

Designs 2 Wordle

Getting greener: organic waste disposal and schools

As you likely know, the Metro-Vancouver-wide effort to keep food scraps out of the landfill is now in full gear. All schools are expected to fully comply with Metro Vancouver’s organic waste disposal ban. To do this, we are preparing to roll out new, compartmentalized waste receptacles in all our schools later this spring. “Organics only”, “Waste Only”, “Mixed Recyclables” and “Paper” will each receive a designated bin to simplify sorting.

Located in hallways and high traffic areas, the receptacles will allow for staff, students and even visitors to send waste in the right direction.

From apple cores to pizza boxes, by keeping organic waste out of the landfill, Metro Vancouver expects to achieve an overall 70% recycling rate in 2015, and up to 80% by the year 2020. By diverting organics from the landfill, methane, a potent greenhouse gas, will be reduced in the atmosphere (deprived of adequate oxygen to promote the decay process, food waste rotting in landfills produces methane). Even better is the boost to agriculture that will come from this new source of compost.

Educational materials are being developed to help everyone understand the importance and necessity of this initiative and staff will be advised as soon as they are available. We do recognize that this represents a change in habits and behaviours, but we hope that with everyone’s support, the transition happening all over the Lower Mainland will be straightforward in our schools. As noted above, the Metro Vancouver ban makes it mandatory to keep organics waste out of the landfill, and we want to avoid any possible penalties that could be imposed down the road for non-compliance.

Thank you for your support!


For more information, please visit www.metrovancouver.org


Bullying Awareness Day – February 25, 2015

The Province of British Columbia has proclaimed today as Bullying Awareness Day and many schools have shown their support with various Pink Shirt activities.


The Erase Bullying website is an excellent resource for students, parents, and educators to understand the motivation behind bullying and the serious effects on its victims. We all have a responsibility to ensure our school community is a positive and safe place to learn by fostering respect and understanding and encouraging victims to report bullying. I encourage anyone who is being bullied or has witnessed bullying to use the online reporting tool on www.erasebullying.ca.


North Shore Restorative Justice is holding its 18th Annual General Meeting at Mountainside Secondary tonight at 6:00pm. They will be showing The Reena Virk Story, a story to promote dialogue, healthy relationships, and teach empathy and communication skills with the intention of building strong classroom communities.

This invitation is extended to all NSRJ members and volunteers as well as youth, youth supporters, teachers, school staff members and all interested community members. Please RSVP to info@nsrj.ca.


In Memory of Diana Katherine Billy 1957-2015

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Diana Billy, Swanamia, on Monday, February 16, 2015 at Lions Gate Hospital.  Diana spent much of the last three decades working at the Bighouse in the Skw’une-was Program primarily as the Food Gathering Elder and leader of songs.  Her quiet but firm voice during school programs will be remembered for the strength and integrity that she shared when she was teaching cultural knowledge, and her passion for bringing everyone she met to a place of understanding of the long standing traditions of her Skwxwú7mesh and Lil’wat heritage.

Over the decades, Swanamia worked with learners of all ages; students and adults in the Skw’une-was Program at Cheakamus Centre, teenagers in the Sea to Sky School District, as well as adult workshops.  She participated in a variety of events along the Sea to Sky corridor and presented at the First Nations Education Steering Committee Conference in 2014 (FNESC).  She will be remembered for her organization and promotion of the Remembrance Day services at Totem Hall in Squamish each year.

Swanamia was a fierce protector and advocate for her children, grandchildren, culture, and heritage.  She was intensely proud of her children and grandchildren, their accomplishments, and the possibilities that their lives could have.  As a strong warrior woman with a ready smile and wonderful laugh, she was generous and gifted in cedar bark work, weaving, and plant knowledge.  Swanamia’s amazing knowledge of medicinal and food plants was passed to her by her mother Anna Billy, and her Elders and mentors of the Skwxwú7mesh and Lil’wat Nations.

On behalf of the Board of Education, our students, and staff, I would like to extend my very sincere condolences to Swanamia’s children, grandchildren, father Richard, sisters and brothers, and extended family members.

Swanamia will be greatly missed by all who met her.  Her legacy is her vast knowledge and kindness to the many lives that she touched.  Her presence will endure at the Bighouse at Cheakamus Centre, providing inspiration and warmth to those who visit.

John Lewis
Superintendent of Schools


With thanks to Kathleen Keogh for sharing her thoughts and memories of Swanamia.

Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools