Sunday, December 27, 2009

January Newsletter

I hope that everyone is having a healthy, safe, fun holiday.

Please follow this link for the Haultain newsletter for January. Read it this month for the Holiday best wishes, the incredible and lucid grade 6 descriptive writing from Bird School, the fabulous art samples, alternative programming information, some 'learn-to-read' resolutions, and the updated calendar.

Best wishes for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

last Key Communiqué of 2009


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

This is the last Key Communiqué of 2009. I hope you all have a wonderful and restful holiday spent with loved ones. See you in the New Year.

System Meetings:

The PowerPoints and link to the November 4, 2009 webinar can be found here under the 'Meeting Follow-Up' drop-down menu.

Foyer Cabinet

During the Christmas concert I overheard a few people chatting about the cabinet in our front foyer. The cabinet was the result of fine workmanship and a lot of hard work but even more importantly some serious generosity.

A good friend of mine, Joe, heard that we wanted to update the front of the school a bit in hopes of attracting attention to our students incredible art work. We had considered a display case of some sort but it was dismissed as far too expensive. He said that he would be happy to help us out with their construction. The Parent Association accepted Joe's proposal of design and asked him 'how much'?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Grade 6 Bird School

Recently the PA subsidized the student's portion of their latest field trip to Petro-Canada's 'Bird School'. The Parent Association's mandate is to support the learning environment with funds that we raise.

With this in mind, I asked Mrs. Summers to 'poll' the students after the field trip to find out what they thought they learned from the experience. I wanted to share the responses with you. After you read them, I think you'll agree that our mandate was well met and that the grade six class are literate beyond their years... not that I'm biased or anything!

Ms. Summers responded with their comments and this: "I can also share my educational perspective and say that the time spent outdoors has indeed changed both their outlooks and their output. They have evolved into a hardy group that is inspired by the time they spent alone outside. I have writing samples taken from their journals which shows the dramatic improvement to both the quality and quantity of their writing. Those samples are being sent to both Petro Canada and the Open Minds coordinator."

See the responses by clicking the ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Don't forget!

It's the 2009 Haultain Christmas celebration tonight beginning at 7pm, in the gymnasium at Haultain.

Please remember to bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toy Mountain.

Schools' repair costs skyrocket

Maintenance backlog jumps more than $100M in last year
By TARINA WHITE, SUN MEDIA

The backlog of maintenance requests at Calgary public schools has ballooned by $100 million this year to a whopping $742 million.

Calgary Board of Education trustees last night heard the maintenance backlog has grown by $119 million since last December.

This year's $742-million tally includes $363 million for deferred maintenance and life-cycle replacements of $379 million.

Frank Coppinger, superintendent of facilities, said each year the CBE injects $16 million into deferred maintenance requests.
But at this rate, it will take 20 years to clear the current backlog.

Read the full story here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Calgary school board cautions parents as bitter chill puts kids at risk


By Gwendolyn Richards, Calgary Herald

CALGARY - Parents are being warned to bundle their children with extra layers as a new school week starts amid a bitter cold snap that is likely to cause school bus delays.
The Calgary Catholic School District also warns that schools just outside the city -- in Airdrie, Cochrane and Chestermere--may be closed depending on conditions this morning.

Click here to read the full story.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Case for the Outdoors

I have read a number of articles recently that link increased outdoor activity to more focused, healthy, and attentive kids who get better grades. I think a large percentage of the families in our community would tend to agree that there is an intuitive logic to that statement, yet more and more time appears to be spent indoors. Here are a few links to some interesting articles that talk about this subject from different angles.

2009 Basket Raffle - Help Make it BIG!

Once again Angela is working towards getting our very popular basket raffle together. She reports steady progress but needs your help in making this year's raffle as successful as in previous years.

The raffle is held each year just after the Christmas concert and some great prizes have been given out. The most popular baskets usually represent a theme: movie night, kids games, sports package, etc.

If you can donate a basket or parts of a basket please contact her and let her know what you have in mind. If you work for a company that can help us out with some swag then by all means let us know - its a great way to get some advertising out there.

Working Together to Resolve Differences

(From the CBE website)

Alberta schools are required to make every reasonable effort at the school and district level to resolve concerns collaboratively with you as parents. Despite these efforts, when you do not agree with a decision related to your child’s educational programming at school, your first step is to talk to the teacher to try to resolve the concern together. If that fails, your next step is to talk to the school’s principal or assistant principal. Together with the teacher and school administration, you should be able to resolve most issues that affect your child at school.

Click here to read the full document.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Toy Mountain

Our Christmas Concert will be held next Wednesday on December 16th at 7:00. You can see this and all the important events on the calendar at the bottom of the page - check it often.

As an admission 'price' the school is asking that everyone bring an unwrapped gift to the school. All gifts will be going to the Toy Mountain drive that is organised by the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is asking for these gifts:
  • Coloring books and crayons
  • Toys/clothing for girls and boys ages 10-12
  • Toys/clothing for girls and boys ages 13+
  • Toys & clothing for Infants/toddlers
  • Puzzles
  • Sports items
  • Family board games
  • Books for all ages

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Micro Survey 09.04: Innisbrook Fund Raiser

At our last meeting Kristie gave a final tally on her first fund raising effort for the PA. The only way to describe it is: an unmitigated success. Over $2200.00 was raised! Thank you Kristie, great job.

Now we need to hear from you. We need to know if this is worthwhile to do again. We have our 4th micro survey on this subject. Please go here and choose the best answers for your experience - don't forget to click SUBMIT at the bottom of the form.

From mommy blogging to mainstream


By Joanne Chianello, Canwest News Service

"It all happened by accident."

That's how Andrea Tomkins describes becoming Ottawa's best-known parent blogger. (She doesn't love the label, but she'll take it over the condescending "mommy blogger" any day.)

Click here for the full story.

Monday, December 7, 2009

CEOP Letter to the CBE


On December 1st the CEOP group formally presented their letter of recommendation to the Board of Trustees. The notice of that is here. The Board voted to consider the closure of Queensland Downs School and will now hold public consultation on this consideration.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Micro Survey 09-03: Results


Here are the results for the micro survey regarding this years school photographer. You can click on the thumbnail on the left for the full graph or just see below for the results.


I prefer last year's - 10%
I prefer them over last year - 54%
Really? There was a switch? - 6%
Other/Comments - 21%

Read more for some of the comments:

Interesting read

A quotation from "The Cult of the Amateur" by Andrew Keen - a book commenting on the interaction between our kids and the web:

"Which brings me to my final point: Parents must man the front lines in the battle to protect children from the evil lurking on the Web. In today's Web world, one thing is clear - kids are spending more and more time online. And while this may be unavoidable, if you're a parent, when, where, and how your kid spends his or her time online is largely up to you. Move their computer to a family room, rather than allowing them to go online in the privacy of their bedrooms.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Newsletter

Please click link to read Haultain's latest newsletter - LINK. Its a good one, not only the art and information, student writing, and updates from the CBE but some great personal anecdotes from the staff about 'gifts'. Some of you will need to get a hanky ready...

"Junk praise" creating a generation of self-absorbed children

(From the Calgary Herald)

Here's a concept.

The majority of today's parents see their children as flowers. You know, you plant a flower, you give it lots of water and fertilizer and you expect it to blossom beautifully.

Naturally, nurturing our children with life's necessities is a good and necessary pursuit. Only we have a well-intentioned tendency--according to a book called The Self-Esteem Trap (Little, Brown and Company; $17.99)-- to drown our children in what is often unwarranted praise with the aim of building self-esteem.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Calendar has been updated!

Check the bottom of this blog - the December calendar has been updated with event dates and times, along with the Winter Break dates.

Got questions or comments? We'd love to hear them - use the link just below our school picture at the top right and send us your thoughts!

Clumsy kids' brains work differently

(Interesting article, found on the CBC website)

Researchers at the University of British Columbia are shining a new light on a condition that affects children's ability to print, tie their shoes or play sports.

Called developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), it affects about six per cent of school-aged children.

For the first time, researchers have shown that the brains of children with DCD are different from other kids.

According to researcher Jill Zwicker, a PhD candidate in rehabilitation sciences at UBC, DCD often leads to struggles in school, partly because the kids find it physically difficult to print or write.

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, November 30, 2009

This month's Key Communiqué

Please have a look at the most recent Key Communiqué, distributed via email on Friday of last week. There are some important updates to the calendar for the 2010/2011 school year, and an interesting update on Bill 206.

Also of note - the Grade six class is at bird school this week, and the Parent Association/Council is meeting on Wednesday night at 6:30 in the library for its annual performance review. Please feel free to attend, with your questions, comments or concerns.

Friday, November 27, 2009

As promised...

I've uploaded the minutes of our last Key Communicator Steering Commitee Meeting - they can be viewed here. Also, on speaking with other Key Communicators, there was a great deal of interest in the School Act revisions - here is a link to what the Board sent to Alberta Education regarding this.

Have a great Grey Cup weekend!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Negotiating an end to the homework debate

From the CBC website

Anna-Liza Kozma has worked as a writer and producer on many CBC Radio programs. She has three young children and has just returned to work on Cross Country Checkup.

Childhood passes quickly. And so do sunny days.

That means, in our house, sunshine trumps homework pretty much every time.

I figure that the kids have been shut in a classroom most of the day, and I've been glued to my desk. So if our wretched climate gives us an excuse to play outside, we should grab it.

When I confessed this delinquency to Paul Cappon, director of the Canadian Council on Learning he was surprisingly sympathetic.

Read more here.

The PAT test - is it necessary?

I attended the Key Communicator Steering Committee meeting last week, and, among various topics covered, was the concern of parents as to the relevance of the PAT exams - why they were necessary, and how the results were interpreted. I found this video posted by the Alberta government, which offers some insight as to the test's importance.

I'll detail the full meeting agenda and minutes once they are sent to the committee for distribution.

Should kids roam free?


From the Canada.com website:

Lenore Skenazy is leading a one-mother campaign to ground some of the "helicopter parenting" habits she contends cost millions of modern kids their right to roam free.

Growing up in the 1960s and '70s, she did lots of things now off limits for many children. "I did indeed walk and bike . . . to school. I went by myself to the town pool, I explored the neighbourhood and some abandoned orchards, and I never thought of myself as being adventurous or daring. Just normal."

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Childhood Poverty in Canada: A Shameful Effort

Twenty years ago today - the Canadian House of Commons voted unanimously on an all party resolution to end child poverty in Canada. The resolution read "... acheive the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000"!

Today 1 in 10 Canadian children lives in poverty.

Obviously they have missed the mark. Just as obviously, they tackled a beast. Although the sentiment has to be lauded, the execution has been embarrassing. A watchdog group called Campaign 2000 has been monitoring the progress of the governments efforts. Today they have released their report card.

As rich as Canada is, I see no reason that our children should be hungry. I'm ashamed to think that 10% of our children have a hard time getting proper meals.

Make your voice heard - tell your MP that this effort needs more attention. To make it very easy to contact the right people go here and fill in the form. This will send a letter to your MP that states you wish them to (among other things) " develop an immediate plan to eliminate poverty in Canada for all, starting with achieving 50 per cent reduction in poverty by 2020..." A much less aggressive goal but hopefully more attainable.

Read the letter carefully, it will be sent in your name and there are a number of requests. If you don't agree with all of them but still want your MP to work toward ending poverty - then send an email or letter to Jason Kenney (for most of us). His email is kennej@parl.gc.ca and his snail mail address and phone number is here.

Crib Blamed for Infant Deaths: Recalled


BC based Stork Craft has had to recall almost 1 million cribs in Canada and over a million more in the US as the cribs are reportedly faulty and may have caused 4 Canadian infant deaths. Read the rest of the story here - stop using this crib if you have one!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Booking Parent/Teacher Conferences

Just a reminder that starting Monday at 8:00 AM you will be able to book your parent/teacher conferences online. Simply visit our Haultain homepage (http://schools.cbe.ab.ca/b362/) and click the conference booking link. This will take you to a secure site at pickatime.com. Conference bookings can be made 24/7 until Friday at 9:00 AM.

Once there, create an account by entering your email address and creating a password. Email addresses will be used to send your conference confirmation only.

Once you have logged in, select the teacher you wish to book with. If you wish a Thursday interview, scroll down and select an available time slot. Should you wish Friday, you should not need to scroll. Simply click the appointment box you desire. Be sure the colour matches the teacher legend.

Now that you have selected the time slot, enter your child's FIRST NAME and LAST INITIAL so it can be recorded on the teacher's schedule. If you would like a reminder email, enter that information as well.

That's it! We hope it's as easy and painless as I described. If you do not have access to a computer (... wait a minute, how could you be reading this?) or if you know someone without access, either help them out by doing it for them OR have them contact the school and Pat or I will set things up.

By the way, let us know what you think of this process. We realise it isn't communicating with a person, but we also hope the convenience, ease, and reduced office stress will balance things out. Comments are welcome!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Calgary family negotiates homework ban

A Calgary family concerned about their children's homework load has signed a contract with their school to eliminate the problem altogether.

Tom Milley and his wife have signed a formal "no homework" contract with their children's school.

Click here to read the full story
.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fundraiser


We have yet to tally the final results but it looks like the fund raiser was a success. Everyone should have received their orders by now. If you haven't please let Kristie know.

I would love to hear some feedback about the product so we know if we should try this again. Please take a second to click on 'comments' below and leave your thoughts.

Thanks Kristie - great job.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Multiple Choice Exams for Math/Science Diploma

From the Key Communique Newsletter for November:
Removal of Written Response in Math/Science Diploma Exams:

In Alberta, the mathematics and science diploma exams will no longer include a written component. The exams in these subjects will be composed of multiple choice and numerical response questions. Students in math and science 30 classes this year will be affected by this change.
Here is a facebook response organized by some students, and here is some feedback on the Alberta Education 'speak out' site.

Playground Zone Changes

Alberta Transportation is proposing sweeping changes to the school and playground zones around the province. They would like to standardize the times for the modified speed limits in the zones. For example; instead of 'one hour after sunset' times, it would be an actual time all year round. In the case of playgrounds, it would be 7:30am to 9:00 pm. For school zones, the times are proposed as 7:30 am to 5:00 pm. The zone in front of Haultain is a Playground Zone.

My two cents: if they are trying to make things clearer for motorists - they shouldn't have two different times for the different zones - just make them both a reduced speed limit from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm.

Some interesting facts:
  1. There are 876 playground zones in Calgary
  2. There are 716 school

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Alberta adds, subtracts math classes

From the cbc.ca website

Alberta Education is changing the way it delivers math, eliminating pure math and giving students entering high school more choices.

Instead of having to choose between pure or applied math, new high school students will have three choices.

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stop the Cuts Correspondence

Further to the previous post about Alberta Education cuts, I received a letter and a flyer from the ASCA/ATA/ASBA group trying to stop the cuts. To see the flyer, click on the post picture and click here to see the letter. These three organizations are very concerned about these cuts and want to add your concerns to their lobby. Please contact your MLA (Heather Forsyth/Calgary - Fish Creek) to make sure she knows how you feel about this.

Friday, November 6, 2009

School Updates

In case you haven't checked in a while, we have updated our Publications Page on the Haultain Memorial School website. Go there for school information such as our renowned, Fees Report to Parents, our rather insightful, Provincial Achievement Test Results, and our School Development Plan for the upcoming school year. We will also be updating it to include our current Annual School Report.

While this may not fit the bill as page turning reading for all, our Publications Page contains valuable information about where we are headed as a school, along with data to support that journey.

Honesty key to telling kids about vaccine

By Bradley Bouzane, Canwest News Service

Parents should be honest with their kids about the virus and try to keep them calm.
With the H1N1 virus being linked to two deaths in recent days of Ontario children 13 and under, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Paediatric Society says parents should be honest with their kids about the virus and try to keep them calm.

Click here for the full story - and please comment on what you read, using the 'comment link below.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November's Council and PA Meeting


Last night we had our Council and PA meetings. They were both brisk, to the point, informative, productive, and on time. In fact, we got out of the second meeting a few minutes early.

Thank you to everyone who came out and participated.

Some of the highlights:
  • Mr. Barkley demonstrated the new Parent/Teacher Interview online appointment maker - www.pickatime.com
  • He presented the school's development plan, which will be posted soon
  • Talked about the Christmas concert a bit,

Thursday highlights

In the pursuit of knowledge sharing, I was asked to present at the CBE's System Meeting last night, at Ernest Manning High School. The meeting was in a 'webinar' format, and can be downloaded and viewed here. (No special software needs to be downloaded or installed to view.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SOFA - Save Our Fine Arts (Guest Post)

The following is a guest posting from Keith Scharnau who is a Director at Large for the Queen Elizabeth Band Parents Association. He is also a committee member of SOFA - Save Our Fine Arts, a group of representatives from high school band associations, teachers, parents and students.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November Newsletter


Follow this link to read the latest newsletter from Mr. Barkley and the staff at the school.

Read it for the great comments from the kids about report cards, updates from most of the classrooms, some great art samples, Council update, a message from the Board, and November's calendar of events.

Letter being sent home today

Click here to view the school closure recommendation letter which is being sent home today with students.

Last night's CEOPs meeting

Hi, Parents -

Trevor, Shane and I met with the CEOPs team again last night. It was the sixth meeting in the student accommodation process, whereby the closure of Queensland Downs Elementary is being proposed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alberta Education's Fine Arts Program in Jeopardy?

There is a proposed Program Update to the curriculum for Fine Arts from the Alberta Education. Follow the link for all the information available on the AE website.

The Beaverbrook Band Association has sent out an email urging parents to get involved and become aware of the proposed changes specifically because the band program and music in general will be affected.

Monday update

Thanks to Ramona for facilitating the artwork on our newly painted Haultain Parent Association banner. Good work, kids!

Also, Trevor, Shane and I will be attending the next in the series of CEOPs meetings tonight. An update will be posted later on tonight, or first thing tomorrow morning.

And don't forget that the next council meeting is this Wednesday evening in the Haultain library at 6:30. Bring your concerns, or just come to watch the proceedings. It's a great way to be involved.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

HOJA Fun

Once again the HOJA performance was a smash. By all accounts the students responded very well to the music and the message.

I've also heard that a special participant was 'pressed' into displaying unknown talents for singing and dancing. If anyone knows who this unknown performer is, please leave a comment with his stage name. Click on picture for a better view. I think Simon Cowell will want this man on his star list.

I'm sure sorry I missed this...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Innisbrook Fund Raiser

The fund raiser that Kristie has set up for the PA is in full swing. There have been a few questions concerning the logistics. Kristie has provided this summary:
  • Order online at www.stanbridge-innisbrook.com, select EZ Parent, enter the school code that was sent home in the agendas, if you need the code email me.
  • All online ordering has to be completed by October 30th.
  • Print out voucher, return it to the school in agendas or drop it off at the front office with your cash or cheque(s) made payable HMSPA. All payment must be received by November 2nd.
  • Orders should be in by the middle of November
  • All orders will be delivered to the school. Smaller packages will go home with the kids, larger ones will be available at the school for pickup on Friday the 20th (if they all arrive that week) after school at 2:25 - 3 pm. This date may change but you will be notified.
Thanks again to Kristie for all her work on this fund raiser.

Meeting Last Night

This is just a quick entry outlining the meeting last night.

First - thanks to everyone who came out. It was great to see so much engagement and support for our school. The format of the meeting (which was a bit of a surprise to everyone) was a 'mixer'. There were no formal presentations or speakers. All the principals were there (in both senses of the word) but they simply mingled around and engaged people in conversation about the process and the recommendations.

There were displays mounted on large Bristol board presentations outlining a number of things - most of which we had already seen or had access to. The final display was, in my mind, the most important. It addressed a lot of the concrete questions, feedback and conceptions from the "World Cafe" that occurred three weeks ago. This display will hopefully be made available to us on the CEOPs web site shortly.

The next and final step of this part of the process is one more Focus Group Meeting held on November 2. This will be a return to the original three person teams from each of the schools meeting with the CEOP team. Stay tuned for more updates and information. If you have any questions about last night's meeting please let me know.

Monday, October 26, 2009

CEOP Meeting Tonight - Open House

Don't forget that tonight is the final public forum for the CBE recommendation on school closure in our area. So far their proposed recommendation is to close the Queensland Downs School and divide those students across a geographic boundary into Haultain Memorial and Deer Run.

Tonight's meeting is an open house, everyone in the community is invited to come and participate. I'm not sure what forum the meeting will have but that it is part of the CEOP community consultation process. Parent involvement levels are noticed so the more engagement we can have the better.

Please plan to come and have your voice heard about our school and this issue - Wilma Hansen at 7:00. See you there.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Swine flu vaccine approved

By Meagan Fitzpatrick, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA — Canadians who want to roll up their sleeves for the H1N1 vaccine should stay tuned for details about local immunization clinics, now the vaccine has been authorized and the country's biggest vaccination program in history can get underway.

The vaccine, named Arepanrix by its manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, was given the green light Wednesday morning by Health Canada, paving the way for provinces and territories to start using the doses of the vaccine that were shipped to them last week.

Full story here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Deer Run residents worried about field's future

From the CBC Calgary website.

A petition to save a sports field is circulating in the southwest Calgary neighbourhood of Deer Run.

The field in the 2000 block of 145th Avenue S.E. is popular with football and other sports teams. It's one of 16 surplus school sites that the city is considering developing.

Full story is here.

Student Enrolment Climbs at the CBE

I Just found this story on the CBE website, and thought this might be an interesting addition to the blog after reading Shane's latest. Interesting that enrolment is down in older, established communities - and up in the newer ones. Read on:

Student enrolment at the Calgary Board of Education has increased for the new school year, according to figures submitted to Alberta Education on September 30th.

The number of students enrolled in CBE schools for the 2009-2010 school year is 102,413. That’s an increase of 591 students from the previous school year.

CBE Chief Superintendent of Schools Naomi Johnson announced the latest enrolment figures during a public board meeting last night, calling the increase “extremely good news.”


Click here for the full story.

CEOP Manager at CAPSC Meeting

I had the opportunity to attend my first CAPSC meeting last night at AE Scott School. The primary reason I went was to listen to guest speaker Phil Carlton who is in charge of the CEOP department at the CBE. As you know we are presently engaged in the process of 'surplussing' a school in our community and that department is in charge of the process and forwards the final recommendation to the board for a vote. There is much more information on that here, this entry is to share my impressions of the meeting.

Mr. Carlton outlined his department's goals and challenges. They are responsible for predicting the numbers of students that will be in all the CBE's schools in the near and far (three years) future. They use various tools and accept input from many stakeholders to put together the numbers that the CBE needs to make decisions on budget and student allocation. They also make recommendations for school openings and closures, and are responsible for the allocation areas (walk zones). A large task. Last year, they were 99.9% accurate in their overall number of students in the system - a well-deserved bragging point.

As he worked through the outline of his departments mandate and procedure, it became obvious to me that he is not just a number cruncher, not just a minion of the mechanical process. He is excited about his job and it shows, but he also has a firm grasp on the fact that his groups closure decisions affect families, children become displaced, parents are stressed, and buildings lose their meaning in communities. He appears to know that schools take on an importance beyond the three R's. I definitely got the impression that this department takes a very careful look at the ripple of effect their decisions cause. I hope I'm right.

The process lends itself, in a carefully balanced way, toward including the community just enough so that if CEOP missed something they can correct themselves but not so much that there is opportunity for prolonged, emotional, and usually futile 'save-our-school' campaigns. The IAP2 framework allows a consultation position (among others) for public participation and that is their general format. The process is usually mercifully quick.

One of the intriguing questions that became obvious last night was how did we get in a position to close so many schools? The answer: Too many new spaces (2200), not enough new kids (554). There has been a slow but steady decline in enrollment over the years at CBE schools within the older neighbourhoods. There has been ever-growing expansion in Calgary housing, with a commensurate lack of new school construction. Many students (like our McKenzie Towne kids) are/were bussed to receiver schools. With many new schools becoming available in the outer suburbs, receiver schools are losing their populations. Now, the low enrollment numbers can't be ignored.

In Haultain's case, four years ago we knew our numbers were getting so low that we would be attracting the attention of (the newly created) CEOP. So it was with open arms that we welcomed the idea of becoming a receiver school. Disaster was averted, our numbers were up... for the time. Now their school is ready, our numbers plummet and we are back under the vigilant gaze of the CEOP group. Ironically, the present decision that is now affecting four communities and the ultimate recommendation to close Queensland Downs School was probably postponed for four years due to the fact that the McKenzie Towne students were bussed into our school.

Much more was talked about last night but I'm sure this long post has pushed your patience already...

Actually - one more thing, the results of the CEOP 'World Cafe' meeting are posted - these are the complete comments that were recorded at each table during the meeting on October 5th. The next meeting is an open house held at Wilma Hansen, open to all parents - please plan to come: Monday October 26 @ 7:30.

Web feeding H1N1 vaccine doubt

By RICK BELL
The Calgary Sun


It's the way of the world where everyone can have their 15 minutes of stupidity.
It's easy. You get just enough nutbars who get just enough coverage to make just enough noise so just enough individuals have just enough doubt.

So it is with the vaccine for H1N1.

Still more to read...

Alberta anti-vaccine tour concerns disease expert

Two speakers billed as vaccination awareness experts began a tour in Alberta this week — a tour that concerns an infectious disease expert who says attendees might get incomplete information about flu shots.

The speakers, Mary Tocco and Dr. Andrew Moulden, are charging $25 at the door for their appearances in Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary.

In addition to newspaper advertisements promoting their talks, there is also an email circulating that suggests people need to "discover the truth" about vaccines, including the swine flu or H1N1 vaccine.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flu Shot Permanently Disables Washington Redskins cheerleader Desiree Jennings / with Update Video

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A few weeks ago, Desiree Jennings was training for a half marathon. Now, she's struggling to walk, talk and even eat.

According to the Loudoun Times-Mirror , Jennings, who has been working with the Washington Redskins as an ambassador in hopes of becoming a cheerleader since April, developed severe and possibly life-threatening side effects from getting a seasonal flu vaccine seven weeks ago at a Safeway in Reston.

Twenty-five-year-old Jennings says she was healthy and active and was not in a high-risk group at the time of her shot.

Click here for the full story - get informed before you get the H1N1 virus shot.

Canadian Government information on the H1N1 virus

... can be found here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Send 'em in!

... it only takes a minute, but it carries a lot of weight.

Thanks for posting that website, Shane!

$300 Million Dollar Cuts to Alberta Education!

The ATA and others are reporting that the province is considering $80 Million dollar cuts this year and as much as $300 Million dollar cuts next.

Here is a bunch of info, and here is where you can tell your MLA to stop it!

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it"



- Quote attributed to George Santayana.


Don't just follow the crowd - educate yourself, and make an informed decision.

Make an educated decision.



(This is only to encourage parents to read up on the vaccine beforehand - I don't recommend Fox as a trustworthy news source.)

Beware of H1N1 propaganda

(As an addition to a recent comment, added by Roxane)

The editor:

A recent letter in the Morehead News contains several serious allegations, which are completely false. The worst was this one: “The origins of H1N1 are these mass production factory farms where pigs are forced to live in cages so small that they cannot turn around.”

Click here for the full story.

Monday, October 19, 2009

CEOPs and Land Use Re-Allocation

If you've been reading the blog today, you have seen a lot of information about the proposed land use reallocation of two areas in Deer Run and Deer Ridge.

I have been asked specifically about the possibility of the City using the area as 'affordable housing' and the possible impact of that development on CEOP's decision to close a school in our neighbourhood. The thinking is: do we need to close one of the three schools if there is going to be an influx of kids into our neighbourhoods in the near future? To get some information on this I called the CEOP's office to talk with Anne Trombley who is a planner with that department.

To paraphrase that conversation:

The CEOP proposal states that the two schools to remain open will have a 5 year speculated enrollment not exceeding 75-80% capacity of either school. If (that word again) the city re-allocates the above mentioned land for affordable housing, there would be approximately 6 acres of housing developed. It is outside of Anne's purview to know how many housing units that 6 acres could accommodate, but as an example:

A development with approximately 465 units would be anticipated to yield 1.7 people per unit. This translates into approximately 10-15 students per grade. In a K - 6 school, this translates into about 70-100 students.

Note that these two sites fall within the area that would be designated to Deer Run School according to the CEOP proposal. In that proposal, Deer Run School is projected to have 325-350 students over the next 5 years and has the capacity to accommodate 450 students.


An open house will be held at Wilma Hansen on Monday October 26th at 7:30pm. It is open to all parents from all the communities affected.

Raising compassionate kids

By Emma Gilchrist, Calgary Herald; Canwest News Service

Sure, not every kid is a little Craig Kielburger in the making -- but they could be, if only they had the right role models, says the man himself.

If you're not familiar with Kielburger, you need to know that he's the Canadian prodigy who started Free the Children when he was just 12 years old.

Now he's 26 and after inspiring millions of youths to raise the funds to build more than 500 schools in the developing world, he's belting out his "kids helping kids" mantra louder than ever.

Click here to read the full story.

Clarification from Paul Cochrane

Just got off the phone with Mr. Cochrane. He has confirmed with me that he will be at the AGM on Wednesday. He will be ready to answer any questions you may have about the process and the land use re-designations. A couple of clarifications from my previous post that he would like to see:

1) No decisions have been made at any level about what to do with the land. The process itself hasn't even been approved yet (though it likely will be). The process will call for new legislation on land use details and standards, so there is no way that decisions could be made yet.

2) The proposed process calls for a look at 'open space' use for the land first. There are rumours abounding that the City has already declared for 'affordable housing' on the sites and that's simply not true - see point number 1.

3) In general, the land in speculation will be about 3 acres in a 10 acre area. This land was originally assigned for a school building and its immediately surrounding area (the 'envelope'). It was assigned decades ago during the development of the community. Since there is no school going onto that land - the CBE has 'returned' it to the city for its use. Those possible uses are varied and it has been proposed that the first look for use be for 'open space' - see point number 2. For more on possible uses see page 10 point 5a,21 of this document. Also in this document is a template for the probable proportions that the land use re-allocation will take, see page three of the same document.

In other words - it appears that under no circumstance is the entire green space going to be re-assigned.

The bottom line is that Mr. Cochrane will be at the meeting and will be able to answer and clarify all the points that have been brought up and give you an idea of what the short and long-term future holds for the our parks.

Deer Run: Surplus School Land Re-use

I have received an email from a concerned Haultain parent.

The email is on the subject of the re-use of the land that was allocated for a proposed school site in Deer Run. At this time there is a lot of speculation and rumour surrounding the proposal and what the city will do with the land. Trying to firm up some things, a quick call to Ald. Fox-Mellway's office confirmed that the process is well under way, with the CBE having already declared some of the land around the Deer Run School to be surplus.

To get all the information, attend the Deer Run AGM this Wednesday October 21st at 7pm in the Deer Run Community Center. A representative from the city is scheduled to be there - Mr. Paul Cochrane with Land Use Policy. I have a call into his office to verify his attendance, I will confirm when/if he calls me back. Here is a link to the documentation on the Deer Run Community website. And here are the two documents sent to me by the Alderman's office. Ald. Linda Fox-Mellway will be in attendance as well.

The second part of this speculation is that if the city allocates the area's new land-use as housing, will there be enough students in the area to justify having three active schools in our area? My gut feeling is that it will have no immediate bearing on the present process but I have contacted CEOPs with that question and am still waiting for an answer. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Girls do more chores by age 10, and learn it's fair

By Shannon Proudfoot, Canwest News Service

Kids pick up the slack on housework when their fathers work longer hours, new research suggests, and by the time they're 10 years old, girls are doing more chores around the house than boys.

"We expected that as a generation or two of women have gone out into the labour force, the gender differences would have faded in their children, but that's not happening," said Constance Gager, a sociologist in the department of family and child studies at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Kids aged 10 to 18 reported an average of 7.3 hours of housework each week spent on tasks like setting the table, doing laundry and caring for pets. However, girls spend 50 minutes more on chores each week than boys.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Micro Survey 09-02: Results


Here is the result of the latest survey on Values. Mr. Barkley was hoping for input into the values in focus for the rest of the school year. This is the break down by percentage of those values chosen. Thank you to everyone who responded. If you missed contributing to this or any other survey - your feedback is still appreciated and will continue to be tallied. Simply find the link on the right of the page titled: All Surveys and scroll through them to the one you want to fill out.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Calgary school libraries to embrace iPod

(Your Haultain Parent Association has already funded the acquisition of iPods for students of our school - we're ahead of the curve!)

Libraries in Calgary public schools are planning to make way for iPods among the stacks of books.

The Calgary Board of Education wants its libraries to embrace new technologies, such as video conferencing and hand-held devices like smartphones and the iPod.

Currently, some schools discourage students from bringing expensive gadgets to class because they can be distracting or tempt thieves, but officials are working on a district-wide policy on items such as iPods.

Today's students are the mobile generation and it makes more sense to use their devices productively, said Karen Pegler, an education specialist with the board.

Click here to read the full story
.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October Key Communiqué

(Distributed by Katie Young, Communications advisor for the CBE - the information contained within to be shared with our school council and parent community.)

Registration Forms:
Thank you to everyone who submitted their registration forms to me and my apologies for not providing the link to the registration form in the previous edition of the Key Communiqué. Here is the form. Please ensure that it is filled out and faxed to 403-294-8172 Attn: Katie at your earliest convenience.

System Orientation Session - Important Update:
This year we are going to try a new approach to the System Orientation Session. We are going to organize it as a webinar. You will be able to ask questions, interact with speakers virtually and view their presentations on your screen as we progress through the session. It will take place at the end of October and I will finalize the date ASAP.

After the session is over, we will send a recorded version to your schools in case you wanted to share the information with other council members.

Key Communicator Steering Committee:
There are some vacancies for the Key Communicator Steering Committee this year. If you are interested, please email me for details.

Area Meetings:
If you are a returning Key Communicator or School Council Chair, I would really appreciate your input with regard to Area Meetings. If you could please take a moment to fill out this brief survey it will assist us greatly moving forward.

Three-Year Education Plan:
The CBE's Three-Year Education Plan is like the compass that guides the strategic direction for the system. All school boards in Alberta are required to maintain a three-year timeframe for their plans and all plans must be updated annually. As one year is completed, another is added, rolling the plan forward. The plan is revised and adjusted based on performance and changes in the operating environment.

Click here to read the CBE's plan and get an in depth look at where we our system is headed in the future.

Provincial Achievement Test Results:
The results are in and there is much to celebrate. Recently, the results from the Provincial Achievement Tests and Diploma exams were released and CBE students displayed results well above the provincial standards as well as improved results locally.

In the PAT’s, Math scores for Grades 3, 6 and 9 have all gone up in the acceptable and excellence categories over last year’s results. Our students have also made gains in Language Arts in the acceptable and excellence categories.

In Diploma exams, CBE students improved in the excellence category in Pure Math 30 over last year. Applied Math 30 has shown improvement since the 2007/2008 school year in both the acceptable and excellence categories. CBE students improved in both categories in Biology 30 over last year.

Student Enrolment:
CBE Chief Superintendent of Schools Naomi Johnson announced some extremely good news about the latest enrolment figures during a public board meeting last night. She revealed that student enrolment at the CBE has increased for the new school year, according to figures submitted to Alberta Education on September 30th.

The number of students enrolled in CBE schools for the 2009 / 2010 school year is 102 413. That’s an increase of 591 students from the previous school year.

Board chair Pat Cochrane thanked Calgary parents for choosing the Calgary Board of Education as their first choice for their children’s education.

Report to the Community:
We are currently starting to work on our Report to the Community for the 2008/09 school year. If you have not seen last year's report, you can read it here.

Your input on this publication is most welcome. Do you find the stories interesting? Are there areas you'd like to see less of, or expanded? What would you like to see in a report from the CBE? We would greatly appreciate your thoughts and feedback on this publication. Please email me.

WorldSkills Calgary 2009:
We are very interested in your perspective on the impact of WorldSkills on your child. We would appreciate if you would take a few minutes to complete this anonymous online survey to provide us with data that will be presented to our CBE Superintendents’ Team and to the Trustees. Please feel free to send the link to other parents who would be interested in giving us their opinions on this event. The deadline for completing the survey is October 16.

Please click on the following link and answer the questions, then click DONE to submit your answers.

CAPSC:
CAPSC is Calgary’s city-wide, public school parent association. CAPSC’s primary goal is to keep parents up to date and involved in their children’s education, and to help make individual school’s Parent Councils as effective as possible. CAPSC provides parents with resources, learning and sharing opportunities. They represent parent concerns to the CBE and all levels of government. For more information or to subscribe to their newsletter, visit www.capsc.ca.

School Council Development
School Council Development (SCD) provides workshops and resource materials to assist school councils.

School Council Development provides the following services:

  • Workshops for school councils anywhere in Alberta
  • Toll Free School Council Consultation Line - 1-800-661-3470
  • Instructor training to deliver workshops to school councils
  • Resource manual and materials for school council

Alberta Education

School Council Resource Manual

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Council Meeting Last Night

Thank you to everyone who came to the council and PA meetings last night. As usual we got through them very quickly at one hour each. Some highlights:

Mr Barkley presented the PAT scores and though there are a couple of areas where Haultain has shown a reduced level of excellence, overall we are showing some great results. For more information on the PAT results stay tuned to the blog and the newsletters from the school. There will be individual results available soon and the school will be actively analyzing all results to see if adjustments need to be made. If you have any questions or concerns please let us know and we'll ask Mr. Barkley to extend explanations at the next meeting.

Ms. Summers presented a quick synopsis of the last PD day for us. Math is going to be a particular focus at the school across the grades. The teachers will be working together to identify challenges and techniques in line with the math curricula. They will have regular meetings during each of the extended lunches to streamline their efforts.

Mrs. Sarginson was also present to personally thank all the parents at Haultain for their generous support of the MTS students and staff... and I got a hug.

A CEOPs general update and discussion of the latest Focus meeting was presented as well. There is a lot of information regarding the process available and the CBE will shortly be posting the comments and notes from the Conversation Cafe held at Haultain. We will provide the link on the website as soon as we get it.

Our new Fund Raising Coordinator will be pursuing our first venture shortly with a catalogue sales initiative. Please keep an eye on the blog for her post which will explain the effort in detail.

We have 20 replies to the latest micro-survey, if you haven't had a chance to complete it, please go here and give us your input. Don't forget to click the 'submit' button at the end. You can review all the micro-surveys here as well.

Thanks again to all who attended last night.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Micro Survey 09-02

Below is the latest Micro Survey. Please help us decide on the rest of the virtues in focus for the year. Only select 8 virtues and don't forget to press the 'Submit' button at the end. I will be sending this out to the Council Email List as well, please only do the survey once.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Parent Council/Agenda Meeting Tomorrow Night

Don't forget that our October Council/Agenda meeting takes place tomorrow night at 6:30pm in the Haultain library.

Now is a great time to attend, if only to be part of any discussion surrounding the CEOP proposal to close down the Queensland Downs Elementary school, and have Haultain take in affected students.

Have your voice heard, and listen to the concerns of others. The council meetings follow a strict time agenda, and don't extend far into the night.

Click here to read the Council agenda, and here for the Association agenda. Also, the October Newsletter is available for viewing here.

CEOPs Proposal Update

Hi, Parents!

Last night was the second meeting in the consultation process for the CEOP school accomodation proposal. Ten parents from each school, as well as school principals from Queensland Downs, Deer Run, and Haultain Memorial were invited to meet with CEOPs representatives at the Haultain library.

The meeting was structured in a 'Conversation Cafe' format - there were six or seven tables, all with a card displaying a different question. Questions had the flavour of, "How do you feel about the proposal" or, "What, in your opinion, needs to be done to facilitate this change effectively?"

Parents made their way from table to table after a timed period, mixing up groups as they went, and discussing each question at length. Having the chance to meet with parents from the other schools involved in the process was very valuable, and appreciated. Most attendees realized the value of keeping their focus on the bigger picture, but the voicing of individual grievances did occur from time to time.

Keeping in mind that there will be no absolute decision made until March where the issue of school closure is concerned, there were no real 'aha!' moments during the conversations where it was evident that there might be a strong case to keep QLD open.

It's still, however, just a proposal at this point.

I've offered up the url of our Parent Association blog for the parents at Queensland Downs, in the hope that they post comments on anything they find important. It would be great to see parents from that learning community get engaged on this site, if only to have their opinions on the proposal read by the greater community.

Please feel free to post your comments or questions - it's great to have parent input. If you have feedback on the proposal, please leave it here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Calgary students do well in exams

By Sarah McGinnis, Calgary Herald

Calgary youth continue to score top marks on provincial exams, but the tests themselves are earning mixed reviews as some call for an overhaul of how Alberta evaluates its students.
The Calgary Board of Education saw more of its students earn honours than the provincial average in every diploma exam subject tested in 2008.

Local public schools particularly excelled in Chemistry 30, where 38.9 per cent of CBE students received a score of 80 per cent or higher compared to 27.2 of all Alberta students. The CBE also exceeded provincial averages for the number of students passing high school exams in eight of 11 subjects.

"This year, we are very pleased. We had a couple areas of concern the last couple of years, especially in mathematics," said CBE board chairwoman Pat Cochrane. "Our students are doing better, which means our system has figured out how to focus on what our students need to support them in their learning."

Princess pedestal

By Martha Irvine, Canoe News Network

All the pink, frilly and sparkly — from the princess dresses to the pink castle in the playroom — isn’t necessarily what Caroline Morris would choose for her eldest daughter.

She doesn’t want to stop her six-year-old from being who she is. But as princess fever has reached a new high with this generation of girls, she and other parents are feeling the urge to rein in the would-be reigning ones, just a little.

That’s especially true in tough economic times, when more parents are focusing on messages of frugality and humility that, they say, just don’t fit with the princess mentality that has become a rite of passage for many girls.

Morris knows, of course, that some parents think such worries are ridiculous.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Malawi windmill boy with big fans

By Jude Sheerin, BBC News

The extraordinary true story of a Malawian teenager who transformed his village by building electric windmills out of junk is the subject of a new book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
Self-taught William Kamkwamba has been feted by climate change campaigners like Al Gore and business leaders the world over.

His against-all-odds achievements are all the more remarkable considering he was forced to quit school aged 14 because his family could no longer afford the $80-a-year (£50) fees.
When he returned to his parents' small plot of farmland in the central Malawian village of Masitala, his future seemed limited.

But this was not another tale of African potential thwarted by poverty.

CEOP proposed school closure update

Just a reminder that the Haultain contingent will be meeting with CEOPs as well as representatives from Queensland Downs and Deer Run on Monday evening. Tune on late Monday or early Tuesday for updates where the proposed closure of Queensland Downs Elementary is concerned.

Please contact Shane, Trevor Barkley or me if you have any questions or comments - one of us will gladly make sure your input gets up on this blog if you'd like.

Have a good weekend!

Tips on fostering self-esteem

Choosing your words carefully gets the right message to your kids

By Katherine Dedyna, Canwest News Service

When Barbara Small was a chubby little girl, she hated the way other kids teased her. Her mother, trying to help, responded: "Well, if you lost weight, they wouldn't tease you."
"Her intention was positive...it was for me not to be teased or hurt," recalls the Victoria-based counsellor. "What I heard in my head was, 'It's OK for them to tease me and there's something wrong with me and I've got to fix it.' "

Despite the sky-high pile of parenting books, advice websites and changing child-rearing norms, Small is convinced that "a whole lot of kids" aren't getting the message of healthy self-esteem because their parents didn't learn it. "They're parenting the way they were, healthy or unhealthy."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Comments, anyone?

Working moms' kids less healthy: study (Australian Broadcasting Corporation )

Children of working mothers are more likely to have an unhealthy lifestyle than children of stay-at-home moms, suggests a U.K. study.

But experts are quick to point out that the blame should not be heaped on parents, and suggest more be done to support working families.

The research, led by Dr. Catherine Law of the Institute of Child Health at the University College London, England, examined more than 12,500 five-year-olds who were part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study.

Click here to read the full article.

6 tips on fostering love of sports in children

By Jill Barker, The Gazette

You signed your kids up for organized sport in hopes of keeping them active. But there's more to keeping kids in the game than buying gear and driving them to practices. According to McGill University's Enrique Garcia, whose area of expertise includes motivation in youth sport and physical activity, a parent's job goes far beyond chauffeur and banker.

"The very best parents can do is to encourage and nurture the youngsters' ability to generate motivation from within and for themselves," Garcia said. "This ability fuels the natural motivation to play sports."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Teaching kids good stress

By Sheryl Ubelacker, Canoe.ca

With the school year well underway, those first-day jitters most children experience are now a thing of the past. But for some kids, meeting the intellectual demands and navigating social relationships at school can trigger ongoing stress and anxiety.

And parents need to be on the lookout for signs that their child is having difficulties coping, experts say.

“It’s important to recognize the times when children are experiencing more severe or chronic stress that is beyond their ability to manage,” says Dr. Robin Alter, a Toronto-area child psychologist.

Click here to read the full story.