School’s back next week-Thursday, to be exact

  • Aug. 27, 2008 2:00 p.m.

The summer that wasn’t much of a summer is over, with schools on the islands ready to roll.G.M. Dawson Secondary School will be welcoming its new grade 8 students next Thursday with drums and a special assembly with local guest speakers, says principal Lorrie Joron. Each grade 8 will be introduced to the school in a ceremony designed to welcome the new students. Ms Joron said all Dawson alumni who would like to take part are welcome to attend the assembly and join the drumming, starting around 8:45 am on Sept. 4. This year’s students will enjoy brand new paint in most of the school, shiny new floors, freshly-renovated change rooms and a refurbished stage, she said. Two new teachers will be joining the staff: Michael Gassney is coming from Ontario to teach P.E. and Daniel Schulbeck will soon be arriving from Vernon to teach junior math and sciences. New classes this year include a fitness class and a yearbook class, which will teach students desktop publishing skills. Last year’s Haida art class started work on a totem pole which will continue to be worked on throughout the coming year, Ms Joron said, and which will be used as part of a new school entrance once it’s complete. It looks like enrollment will be slightly up at Dawson this year, she said, with about 125 students ready to attend as of the last week of August. Ms Joron is in the early stages of arranging a student exchange with a school in Churchill, Manitoba for the fall of 2009. Students from Masset would visit Churchill (the community is renowned for its polar bear viewing opportunities) and would then host the Churchill students on a visit here. Still disappointed that the Gwaii Trust did not contribute any money to the school’s trip to Costa Rica earlier this year, Ms Joron said she is hoping to get funding from Heritage Canada for the Churchill exchange. At Queen Charlotte Secondary, the search is on for a new principal after Angus Wilson left the job to become superintendent of the district. Acting principal Stephanie Hedley-Smith said everything is running smoothly, with the whole school having been repainted over the summer and cleaned up. Two new teachers will be working at QCSS this year: Russ Fleming, who has previously taught at the Living and Learning school, will be teaching English 11 and grade 8 courses; and Melanie Baerg will be the new, full-time, learning assistance teacher. Ms Hedley-Smith said the staff is looking forward to implementing the new “Smart Reading” program with many of them taking a three course this week at the Kaay Centre. Enrollment is up a little bit, with 152 students expected to attend next week, she said. The school will celebrate the first day Sept. 4 with Tyler Crosby drumming everybody in. At Tahayghen Elementary in Masset, principal Steve Bentley is working from home this week as the job of replacing the school’s heating system was not yet complete. Tahayghen has been undergoing a complete “internal facelift” over the summer, he said, switching from an old and unreliable oil system to a new propane one. Mr. Bentley said the school will definitely be ready to open its doors next Thursday and staff are eager to welcome the students. There has been very little turnover in staff, but there will likely be fewer students this year as enrollment continues its downward trend, he said. The school will have even more aboriginal content in the curriculum this year, he said. However, the school will be looking for a new principal as Mr. Bentley has accepted a new job as vice-principal of a grade 4-7 school in Golden and will be moving there at the end of September. Mr. Bentley said he has really enjoyed working on the islands but “I cannot deny that I like the sun”. He said he is also looking forward to winter sports like cross-country skiing and showshoeing that simply can’t be done here.