North Vancouver School District Music Festivals

I would like to highlight two North Vancouver School District music festivals that showcased students from North Vancouver School District.

The 35th annual Intermediate Music Festival took place on February 24th and 25th at Centennial Theatre. Eighteen elementary schools participated with hundreds of students having the opportunity to share classroom music and extra-curricular choral music with their peers. I would like to recognize Margaret Inglis and Michele Denny for their tremendous efforts in organizing this festival.

The Elementary Band and Strings Festival took place on March 4th and 5th at Mountainside Secondary School. Students performed with other bands and strings groups from a variety of North Vancouver schools. We have one of the largest elementary instrumental programs in British Columbia and this program’s success is a highlight for our school district. I would like to thank Bill Piggott who only in his second year in this role has done a fabulous job of organizing this event.

Both festivals are a highlight for students, parents and staff. We are extremely pleased with how these events have evolved and how hard the students work to prepare for their performances. These events also highlight the good work of our music teachers and provide an excellent professional development opportunity for teachers as they share musical repertoires old and new. Master music teachers Margaret, Michele, and Bill work tirelessly behind the scenes and continue to foster music in our schools.

Lastly I would also like to thank Yolande Martinello, District Principal, Fine Arts, for her support and leadership.


“Collaboratively it can be done” Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence share 2014 recipients exemplary practices notes

Summaries of some of the best practices of some of Canada’s most outstanding educators are now available through the Prime Minister’s Awards website.

After receiving their certificate from the Prime TiecheAtPMAShareTalk Oct2014Minister last October, the 2014 national recipients, including Carson Graham Secondary teacher-librarian Jennifer Tieche, gathered at a “Teachers’ Talk” to share teaching philosophies, innovative ideas, best practices and experiences.

The 2014 Exemplary Practices for Teaching Excellence and Excellence in Early Childhood Education highlight some of what the recipients covered during their time together. Much of the information is of a practical nature, with the intent that other educators can adapt the ideas for their classrooms and learning centres.

Nominations are now open for the 2015 awards and must be submitted by April 30, 2015. If you know an exceptional teacher or early childhood educator whose practice should be honored and shared, please consider nominating them for a 2015 Prime Minister’s Awards. Nomination packages are available at and for more information, you can contact the PMA office at 613-991-4255 or


Sutherland Builds Connections within Family of Schools

Teachers from Sutherland Secondary School have been busy organizing leadership opportunities for their students while building relationships with students from their feeder schools.

Sutherland’s Transitions Math/Science 8 class hosted grade 2 and 3 students from Queensbury Elementary School in January. Grade 8 hosts prepared community-building games, then led their guests in a lab investigation to find out how different solids react to heat. They finished off the morning with some of the 8s’ favourite math games. Students enjoyed sharing their classroom with the younger students and look forward to more opportunities to connect.


Sutherland Science 1 Sutherland Science 2

In March, grade 6 and 7 students from Brooksbank Elementary School had fun taking part in a cooking class at Sutherland. Senior Foods Studies students provided guidance and support as their guests made a dessert dish in the foods lab. It was a great opportunity for elementary students to experience a day at their future secondary school.

Sutherland Foods 1 Sutherland Foods 2

Sutherland Foods 3

The family of schools (FOS) connections have been very positive and a valuable experience for all involved. Big thanks to the teachers who make these opportunities possible: Brooksbank teacher Angela McKay, Queensbury teacher Laurie Kennedy, and Sutherland teachers Brad Thornhill and Tanya Virani. Thank you also to Sutherland Vice-Principal Caren Hall for providing the details for this post.

A hands-on head-start: ACE IT Piping Foundation program partnership for Mountainside Secondary students opens at the Squamish Nation Trade Centre

Students and guests at the official opening of the ACE IT Piping Foundation Program


April 7, 2015

Seventeen students from Mountainside Secondary are getting a head-start in hands-on trades training at the Squamish Nation Trade Centre through a new ACE IT Piping Foundation program. We are proud to be involved in the program, ade possible through a B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint partnership involving the Squamish First Nation, the Industry Training Authority (ITA), Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), our school district and the private sector.

DSC_0092The Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training program (ACE IT), allows students to take their first level of technical training in certain trades while at the same time giving them high school credits needed for graduation. Students in the ACE IT Piping Foundation program will earn hours toward Level 1 certification in three trades: plumbing, sprinkler fitting and steam/pipefitting. They will also get a real-world perspective on the piping trades through job shadowing opportunities. Pipefitters and sprinkler system installers are in the top 60 of projected in-demand occupations to meet future labour force needs.


“Waste Diversion in Schools Handbook” now available


In conjunction with our waste diversion in schools program, a new, unique resource for NVSD teachers–by teachers–has just been released. The North Vancouver School District’s Waste Diversion in Schools Handbook,  supports a significant change in the way food waste is handled in our schools and represents another advance in our commitment to sustainability education.

With practical ideas and extensive links to both French and English teaching resources, the handbook conveniently connects the new standards and expectations of Metro Vancouver’s organics waste disposal ban with the BC Curriculum for K—12 students.

Co-authors Corrinne Kinnon, Susan Johnston and Tricia Gardner present ideas and solutions already being piloted in some of our schools including litter-free lunches; assembly topics, local field trip opportunities and potential guest speakers to help bring the message home. This handbook represents an outstanding contribution to our environmental education resources and I encourage every educator in our school district to review its contents and create an approach to waste diversion that engages all students in practical acts of everyday sustainability.

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.


Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools