The spring and summer season is usually busy for School Board District 47 (SD47) staff, students and the school community, due to planning for year-end events, field trips, celebrations, grade 12 student graduation events and summer activities.
“As the board of education works toward a new strategic plan, we must also reflect on the current plan [goal one under the theme: Learner Success], which is to improve achievement results for all students,” said Powell River Board of Education chairperson Dale Lawson during her opening remarks at a meeting on May 17.
Throughout the month of May, the school board offered Ready, Set, Learn events to help support children ages three to five years old transition into kindergarten.
Regarding in-coming correspondence from Dyslexia BC to the British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA), addressing student learning: “a motion was carried by school trustees to have a policy in place to screen students for dyslexia starting in kindergarten,” said Lawson.
Another global issue being addressed by SD47 is the mental health of youth and students. The Grade 7 Level Up Conference was held on May 25 for the first time in the district. The focus was on health and wellness as students transition into high school.
Although most elementary school students are familiar with Zones of Regulation, a program meant to build resilience and give students tools to deal with uncomfortable emotions, transitioning into a high school environment can still be overwhelming.
Lawson said the conference had “dynamic speakers and workshops, bringing students from across the district together for a full day of learning and connecting that will help prepare them for moving into Brooks [Secondary School] and becoming young adults.”
In January of 2022, Brooks students created a mental health advocacy group that meets once a week. The initiative was borne out of the need to help destigmatize mental health.
“The group recently launched its Wellness Lounge project, which provides a safe space where all students are welcome to join their peers for conversation, help with homework and enjoy a snack,” said Lawson.
There have been several building upgrades in the works. Kelly Creek and James Thomson elementary schools had washroom renovations and lighting upgrades. Portable replacements at Brooks were delayed by a year but are now being planned.
Westview Elementary will have a playground installed during the summer and Texada Elementary had envelope upgrades and replaced all the windows. The school board wants to replace the mechanical heating/cooling system at the Texada school with a heat pump to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.
Enrolment projections for SD47, including Texada, are status quo, meaning the district is not seeing a spike in the student population.
At the end of April, BCSTA held its Annual General Meeting and those trustees who attended were impressed. Former federal minister of justice and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was the keynote speaker of the event.
Lawson said well-known BC journalist Keith Baldry had some great insights into navigating today’s media atmosphere, and trustee Kirsten Van’t Schip commented that the student panel was “powerful.”
Coming up, SD47 is hosting an information session for students in kindergarten to grade seven who are interested in theatre, dance and music to learn about the school district’s new Elementary Musical Theatre program.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to explore and improve skills in an inclusive and supportive environment,” said Lawson.
Similar to school districts across BC, SD47 offers free summer learning programs that run July 10 to 28, and will keep kindergarten to grade five students busy with reading, writing and numeracy.
An exciting opportunity for grade nine to 12 students over the summer is the school district’s Leadership Ecology Adventure Program (LEAP).
“Students will have the opportunity to learn and expand their skills in sailing, canoeing or hiking,” said Lawson.
There will be an employee recognition assembly on June 5 and a retirement dinner on June 14. Brooks’ graduation ceremony is on June 10, commencing at 4:30 pm at Powell River Recreation Complex.