It’s back to school next week

  • Sep. 1, 2004 6:00 p.m.

By Heidi Bevington–Students find your backpacks, sharpen your pencils, and make your lunchs-school starts Tuesday, and there are several new things.
Queen Charlotte Secondary has a new principal, Clemens Rettich. Mr. Rettich has been at QCSS for 10 years, 3 as vice principal. It also has two new teachers, Diane Turner from Sechelt who replaces learning assistance teacher Lonnie Skelton during her leave of absence, and Katherine Bell from Kitimat, teaching a variety of courses.
As well as a few new faces at the front of the class, students will see a few improvements around the school. Maintenance workers did some painting and installed new walls in the stairwells. Outside, the extended field will get some new fencing.
Mr. Rettich said the school has no new programs or projects in the works. He and the staff are committed to doing the best possible job for students with reduced resources by “putting kids first and continuing to improve the quality of communication with parents, students and the community.”
George M. Dawson also has a new principal, Angus Wilson, who was vice principal of Sk’aadgaa Naay for three years and taught one year at Tahayghen. The school has no new projects this year, said Mr. Wilson, but the teachers will continue with the double literacy blocks begun a couple of years ago. In these, English teachers help students understand their reading in other subjects like science.
One new teacher will join the GMD staff: Normela Braletich will be teaching information technology and science.
Both GMD and QCSS have new hoists in the industrial education shops.
Sandspit Elementary has no new staff this year. In fact, the number of staff has been reduced, said principal Sharlene Scofield, but the school will offer the same K-10 program as last year. ” I work with a dynamic group of educators who care about kids,” she said. “Despite everything, they put kids first. It’s a pleasure to work here.”
As well as literacy and numeracy, keeping kids active is an important goal of the school, said Ms Scofield. “We want to be known as a school with a strong outdoor education program.”
This year Sandspit’s Grade 7-10 students will be involved in a school exchange-probably with a middle school in Hamilton, Ontario. The students are excited about visiting the sites of Toronto, including MTV. And they look forward to hosting students and sharing the culture of the islands with their guests.
Sk’aadgaa Naay will have no new teachers this year, said principal Joanne Yovanovich. Vicki Ives will return this year and Elizabeth Condrotte will be in the school twice a week as principal support. Two teachers will be on leave for part of the fall: Evelyn von Almassy and Michelle Davies. The school isn’t planning any new programs, said Ms Yovanovich, but the school will continue with the numeracy and literacy program begun a couple of years ago.
Port Clements will have the same teachers as last year, but the school looks different. The siding has been completed and painted buff and dark blue.
Tahayghen will have two new teachers this year, said principal Darlene Bragg-Hounsell. David Squires will teach grade 6/7, in his first teaching assignment. Cheryl MacKenzie has been teaching at GMD for three years. This year she will be a part-time vice principal at GMD and Tahayghen as well as teaching some learning assistance.
The school will continue to focus on math and language arts in the mornings, said Ms Bragg-Hounsell. September 24, a Fall Frolic is planned for parents to come and see what their kids have been up to in school for the first month.
Tahayghen students will find a newly paved play area in behind the school. The school board spent $12,000 for new asphalt to be poured.
Two new teachers start this year at the Living and Learning School. Teacher/principal Rebecca Hurton is a recent graduate of UBC, and teacher Cleo Burke recently graduated from Queen’s University. Both teachers are impressed with the natural beauty of the islands and the friendly welcome they’ve received. They’re looking forward to an exciting first year teaching.
Adult students who want to graduate can take courses at George M. Dawson, Queen Charlotte Secondary and Sandspit. The program in Charlotte has been cut back significantly, but is still offered a couple of hours a week. In Masset and Sandspit more hours are offered. Five adults graduated in Sandspit last year.
Improving literacy and increasing social responsibility for students continues to be the school district’s goal, said district superintendent Mike Woods. The district has analysed the areas where students need improvement, and will collaborate with the Haida bands to create goals and strategies to increase graduation rates for Haida students.
This fall, district trustees will report the results of trustee variation meetings held in every community this spring, said Mr. Woods. The trustees are considering several different ways to increase the number of Haida representatives on the school board.

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