Friday, January 29, 2010

Don't forget!

Next week, the CBE's Board of Trustees will provide their decision on the proposed closure of Queensland Downs Elementary - parents should find out on or about the 2nd.

Haultain's Council/Association meeting is on Wednesday, the 3rd - this is a good opportunity to forward questions or concerns regarding the proposal to the Council via this blog, or to write the date down on your calendar so you don't miss it in person.

You can click here, or on the link at the top, right-hand side for email access to the Council - and you can be guaranteed that your question or concern will be brought up during the meeting. All meeting minutes

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Education Minister Addresses Parents

The Honourable Dave Hancock addressed a gathering of parents at a meeting hosted by CAPSC and Western Canada High School last night. The meeting was well attended by about 125 parents and a handful of MLAs from the Calgary districts.

Mr. Hancock talked at length about the Education system in Alberta saying he sees himself in the role of explorer in that Alberta Education will be going through large changes in the near and long term future. Here is a paraphrase of a number of the points he made:
  • he is fully aware of the importance of education and sees it as an investment in the future of Alberta.
  • path to future success is dependent on the harmony of family, schools, community and province, and that the primary key to that success

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Education Forum

There will be a CAPSC Education Forum this evening at Western Canada High School starting at 7pm. Most of Calgary's MLA's will be on hand.

Dave Hancock, the Educational Minister will give a presentation which will be followed by a 'roundtable' discussion with each of the MLA's attending.

For a list of attendee's and more information click here.

Had enough of Ed's buffet

(Article of interest, from the Calgary Sun - where school funding is concerned.)


Premier Ed Stelmach has announced plans to end the largesse of his administration and the “all you can eat buffet.’”

He will cut spending so he doesn’t have to raise taxes. He wants to be out of the red in three years. How noble — if you are short-sighted.

It’s like not risking a house mortgage and just buying a tent. It’s like not buying a car and just riding a bicycle.

The “I can be more right wing than you” attitude comes from the challenge of Wildrose Alliance’s Danielle Smith, who is getting way more than her share of press for having long eyelashes and a brain.

She also wants to cut, and anything she can do, Ed can do better.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Update on Fine Arts Curriculum Changes

Joan Engel (Curriculum Director, Arts, Communication and Citizenship) with Alberta Education in Edmonton has agreed to attend a Save Our Fine Arts (SOFA) meeting in Calgary to discuss proposed changes to fine arts education, why the changes are proposed, and answer any questions. Christine Bouchard and Shelley Wells from Alberta Education will also be attending with Joan.

The meeting will be held at the Lutheran Church of our Saviour (8831 Fairmount Drive Southeast, a couple blocks north of Lord Beaverbrook High School and the Acadia Pool) in Calgary on Monday, February 1, 2010 from 7:30pm until 9:00pm.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Helping Hands for Haiti

You may have already noticed or even contributed to the efforts at the school to raise some money for Haiti relief. Entitled Helping Hands for Haiti; Mrs. Rupert and Mrs. Gannon are working with the Canadian Red Cross, who will collect all the money raised by our students and then apply to the CDN government for matching funds. The class is already near $800, well past their goal of $500.

Parents wishing to write cheques can make them out to the Canadian Red Cross. Any cash brought in by students is gathered by Mrs. Kipp, who then will cut a school cheque to the Red Cross. When kids bring in money, they receive a “hand” for each dollar they donate, the hands are then posted in the foyer with the donator’s name on it.

Help out any way you can with this tremendous effort and let's plaster the walls of Haultain with Helping Hands.

txtN cn hlp kdz sp

"If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it" - Dr. Clare Wood

A lot of parents commonly believe that texting is creating bad spellers. From the BBC comes an article reporting that this is untrue - that kids who text a lot may actually benefit from the exercise.

These latest findings of an ongoing study at the University of Coventry contradict any expectation that prolonged exposure to texting will erode a child's ability to spell.

Instead it suggests that pupils who regularly use text language - with all its mutations of phonetic spelling and abbreviations - also appear to be developing skills in the more formal use of English.

Read the entire article at the BBC.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Guest Speaker at Council Meeting

As a lot of you know, the principal from Wilma Hansen was at our last Council meeting. Mrs. Higgins was open, responsive, and clearly engaged in affecting change to her school and her community.

I found it very reassuring to hear her speak of reaching out to the feeder schools and opening lines of communication with everyone in our community. She not only talks about it but she is active about it. She regularly 'hangs out' with her students at the Seven-11 across the street, has started an integrity program with them encouraging character and responsibility, has been actively seeking out parental participation at the school, has been working with her Council chair (a Haultain Council past Chair - Ryna S.) to encourage more parents to become active at the school, and has opened lines of communications with other schools in the community.

Thank you, Mrs. Higgins, for attending our meeting.

Micro Survey 09.04: Results

The results of this survey are a little hard to quantify because there were a number of open questions but I'll give it a go:

Of the respondents who said they participated in this fundraiser, 100% said they were happy with their order, 50% said they were happy with the price, the other half reported 'not really but I'm glad to help raise the funds, 100% were happy with the shipping speed and method, 30% said next time they would buy more, 30% said they would buy less, and 60% said this was the best way to raise funds.

Of the respondents who didn't participate in the fundraiser, 40% said they would participate next year and 30% felt this was the best way to raise funds.

A Sampling of the Comments:
  • I didn't order only because the funds were tight and

In wireless age, schools begin to offer text ed

By Misty Harris, Canwest News Service

Text education is coming to Canadian schools, thanks to a new curriculum that sheds light on the dangers of sexually explicit mobile messages, textual harassment, and other potential pitfalls linked to youths' wireless communication.

The pilot course will be introduced to 100 Grade 7 classrooms across the country this month, with full program implementation in September, according to a joint announcement being made Thursday by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

Click here to read the full article.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Trustees Visit Haultain Memorial

Five Calgary Board of Education Trustees visited Haultain Memorial on Tuesday, January 19 as part of the community engagement process. The visit helped build understanding and inform the Trustees in regards to the consideration for closure of Queensland Downs School.

Scrap the Grade 3 PAT's?

There is a great debate going on right now about accountability in learning.

I imagine since the beginning of structured learning, there has been difficulty in the assessment of that learning. You put a kid in the classroom you want to find out how that kid is doing, is she picking up the facts, is she ready to move on, was the teaching method effective, efficient and productive? Very hard questions and extremely difficult to quantify. We don't want to waste time, money and effort on classroom activity that isn't working or could work better. Therefore some form of evaluation is necessary.

How to get kids off the couch

Is your rug rat becoming a sofa spud?

To get that texting, tweeting, gaming child up and exercising, a new book suggests parents try sneaking fitness into the day-to-day routine.

"A sneaky fit kid can burn an extra 400 calories per day," said Missy Chase Lapine, who co-authored "Sneaky Fitness: Fun, Foolproof Ways to Slip Fitness into Your Child's Everyday Life." with personal trainer Larysa DiDio.

Her book contains over 100 toddler-to-tween-targeted strategies, games and tips for exercising children. "Sneaky Fitness" is the fourth book in a series that sets forth what Lapine labels the sneaky lifestyle.

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unique way of learning

(An article of interest, found on

Stacy O'Brien - Red Deer Advocate

They may only be five years old, but pretty soon kindergarten students at Aspen Heights Elementary School in Red Deer could be delivering mail for pay, Grade 4 and 5 students will be running a bank and others will be taking out loans to set up businesses.

It’s all a part of a program called MicroSociety that will bring social studies to life at Aspen Heights.

The unique way of learning was created by George Richmond, a New York City teacher, in 1967. It later expanded to a school-wide concept and now is used in more than 200 schools across the United States. When Aspen Heights begins the program with students in the spring, it will be the only Canadian school using MicroSociety.

Click here to read the full story.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What's up on PD Days?

Through feedback at a recent Parent Council meeting, I learned that there may be some curiosity and possible misunderstanding as to what occurs on Professional Development (PD) days. As parents often work to make child care arrangements, and drive by a school void of kids, but filled with parked cars, questions naturally come to mind. What do teachers do on those days? Are they even at the school? Did they carpool to a movie? Are they playing in the gym on that Canadian Climber thing?!? While it might certainly be enjoyable (for some) to spend the day with feet up, enjoying snacks and beverages (as was jokingly implied by a well-intentioned, goat (or goad) seeking colleague), the reality lands far from that scenario (except for the snack part).

HMPA in the Community

The HMPA recently had the opportunity (Thanks, Aaron!) for the chance to promote itself with the use of a screened advertisement on the boards of the outdoor rink at the Queensland Community Centre.

With the rink being in such fantastic shape this year, (Thanks again, Aaron and helpers!) members of the Association were more than happy to jump at the opportunity.

If you get the chance, please give some kudos to Aaron (and his assistants) for the fantastic shape our community rink is in this year.

Thanks to Shona for taking pictures of our new board, too!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meeting Tonight

We are having our first meetings of the year tonight in the library at 6:30.

This month we have a special guest in Mrs. Joanne Higgins, the principal at Wilma Hansen School. Listening to her may be of interest to all the parents of grade six students as Wilma Hansen is Haultain's designated junior high school. Please join me in welcoming Mrs. Higgins tonight and listen to her talk about her admin philosophy and the future direction of her school.

Check your email or click here and here for the full agendas for both meetings.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Queensland parents fight closing of school

Declining enrolment cited for proposal

By Sarah Mcginnis, Calgary Herald

A southeast community is wrestling with the prospect of losing its local school as the Calgary Board of Education juggles the desire to preserve local schools with the reality of shrinking enrolments.

At a public meeting on Thursday, CBE administrators laid out their case for possibly closing Queensland Downs School. About 120 parents and community members attended.

The communities of Queensland and Deer Run have three elementary schools but only enough students to fill two, the crowd was told.

Queensland Downs and Deer Run schools already have excess space.

Full story here.

Why our schools are failing boys

(Article of interest, found on the CBC website)

Looking at the demographics of university-bound students today, it is hard to believe that not so long ago we were developing programs to get more girls into university.

By all indications now, that same spirit of reform and innovation is needed to push more boys into higher education — for all that may be worth.

These days I need only peek into a class and I can tell by the gender makeup whether or not it is academic or applied.

Full story here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Potential Queensland school closure debated

(From the CBC website)

Declining enrollment has the school board considering closing one of three elementary schools in the southeast neighbourhood of Queensland.

The possible closure of Queensland Downs School was the subject of an emotional meeting on Thursday night in the school's gymnasium.

The area's three elementary schools can hold 1,000 students, but have only a projected enrollment of just over 500.

Students, parents and neighbours expressed frustration about the proposal.

Click here to read the full story.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Meeting Last Night

The final public meeting concerning the CBE recommendation to close Queensland Downs was held last night. I want to give a quick synopsis and make some comments about it.

Firstly, what a great turn out. It was amazing to see so much engagement and commitment surrounding our schools. There were a large number of parents from QLD and from Haultain. Thank you to everyone who showed up to support their school. There were many parents from Haultain. I even saw a significant number of Haultain's staff attending - an incredible display of consideration and dedication!

All the Trustees but one were on hand to listen to the comments and questions from the community concerning the recommendation... and there were many comments,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

School Closure Meeting

There is a final public meeting tonight concerning the Queensland Downs School closure recommendation. There will be at least two Trustees at this meeting that is designed to hear final words from the members of the affected communities.

Nick and I will be there and according to a story in the Herald, there will be a large number of parents from the QLD school. Everyone who comes to the meeting will have a chance to speak about their school and address the Trustees directly regarding this recommendation.

I would be very helpful to have as many of our parents there as possible.

January's Key Communiqué

Please share the information you receive in these emails with your school councils and parent communities.

Welcome Back and Happy 2010! I hope you had a restful and enjoyable holiday.


The System Information Session scheduled for January 27th at Central Memorial High School has been CANCELLED due to a conflicting CAPSC meeting scheduled for the for the same evening.

At this time I do not have an alternate date scheduled for the Trustee meeting, but will let you know the date as soon as we have it secured (We’re expecting to have it finalized by next week).

Demographics blamed for changes to Calgary school

(An article of interest to parents of students in the CBE educational system, found on the CBC website)

The Calgary public school board's plan to turn Dalhousie Elementary School into a Spanish immersion program and move students to a nearby school is not running into the kind of opposition that often greets such changes.

Dalhousie parents invited to talk about the plan at a meeting Wednesday evening initially had little to say.

While parents eventually did ask a few questions, many were like Michelle Mah who said she's not going to fight the change, even though she's not happy about it.

Click here to read the full story.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't forget!

On Thursday night, there will be another public hearing, aimed at acquiring input to help the CBE Administration decide whether or not to close Queensland Downs Elementary School.  This option would result in the relocation of some of their student population to Haultain and Deer Run.

There has been no decision to implement CEOP's recommendation to close Queensland Downs by the Board of Trustees yet - so this is a crucial time for those of you, either in favour or not, to attend and let your voice be heard.

Please attend tomorrow night's meeting, at Queensland Downs Elementary, beginning at 7 p.m. - your input is valuable and appreciated.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Parents protest planned school closures

CBE calls public hearings 'vital' to decisions

By Sarah McGinnis, Calgary Herald
A s students head back to class this week, Calgary school boards will meet with the public to debate the merits of closing two small schools.

Calgary Board of Education trustees and district staff will host a public meeting this Thursday to discuss the fate of Queensland Downs School.

The southeast elementary has 173 students but space for almost twice as many children.

Read the full story here.