It has been a very busy week at Belfast School! We returned from Winter Break to what we have come to call "Cocoon Time". Cocoon time is an intentionally uninterrupted period of instructional time that allows students and teachers to focus on learning at key points in the year. We have found it particularly useful to do this in September as teachers are establishing classroom routines, prior to parent teacher interviews, and recently as teachers welcomed students back from Winter Break. This time of the year is particularly important as teachers prepare to write report cards and gather evidence of student learning mid year.
This week we also welcomed Alicia Hampshire back to our school. Alecia has been coming to Belfast over the past several years to teach tennis skills to students K - 6. It is exciting to see how students’ skills have grown year over year. Student activity fees funded this athletic residency.
Leighton Arts Centre Visit - Grade 5 and 6
On Thursday the Leighton Arts Centre staff visited our grade 5 and 6 classrooms. During the day students and teachers explored a number of different visual media and learned new techniques to apply to their learning. Our grade 5 and 6’s had been scheduled to visit the L.A.C. back in the fall but scheduling conflicts threatened to cancel the learning entirely. We are grateful to the Leighton Arts Center staff and to Mrs. Ayer for finding a way for this experience to happen!
Fish Creek Field Trip - Grade 1 and 2
Our Grade 1 and 2 classrooms had absolutely beautiful weather for their trip to Fish Creek! Students explored Science outcomes and the natural environment and had the opportunity to get some much need fresh air! Quite a treat for our students and teachers after weeks of indoor recesses and dangerously cold temperatures! Stay tuned for a picture of this field trip [coming soon]. Thank you to the grade 1 and 2 teachers and especially Miss Weber for her leadership in organizing this trip!
WOW WHAT A SHOW!
There is no doubt that there has been a humongous amount of time, energy and work put into Belfast School's production - A Rockin' Tale of Snow White! For an undertaking this large it takes a very strong and collaborative team. At Belfast we are so blessed by all of our staff and parents who willinging stepped up to make this show come alive! I've reflected throughout the process about the value of the experience. Whenever we commit to something of this magnitude we are making a choice. I know choice for one experience means not being able to choose something else. My evidence comes from the students before, during and after the experience. Staff reflections (to be gathered when we are more rested) and from parents comments and emails following our performances.
There is no doubt that that creativity is an essential part of Belfast School! We often say, it is not about the arts it is about the learner that is discovered in the process of the being involved in an artistic experience. Through the show we have seen our students in a different light but more importantly many of them have had the opportunity to see themselves in a different light as well. We know that for students to be successful in school they need to experience being successful. Success builds on success! We also know that having high expectations for student and helping them to reach those expectations increases students belief in themselves. The impact of our little show will far outlast the performance run. If we ask adults what they remember most about their school experiences it is not the stellar math lesson or the carefully sequenced science unit (although those are important) it is likely the key events (often artistic or sports related) where community came together to accomplish something greater than we can each do individually. The Belfast Family is very proud of our students! Bravo we say to each one! You are the true stars of the show!
I want to thank the following individuals who invested so much to make this show a success. It is likely that I will forget someone in this post, so if this happens please accept my appolgies and thanks!
Ryan Symington: you came to our school this year with a show already chosen and a mandate to make it great! You did just that! Your leadership and vision inspired us and kept us going. We are so lucky to have you here!
Nadine Ayer: This show was your choice - an amazing choice! You provided a platform that could showcase so many of our kids and let them be stars! Thank you for your work on the director team and for your technical problem solving abilities!
Jana El-Guebaly: Such energy! Such spunk! Your work with our Ladies in Waiting, the mirror and the Evil Queen was inspired. These young artists shone under your direction.
Tiffany Dahl and Debbie Boud: Thank you for your creative approach to the technical side of the show and for persevering through challenges with key technical issues. The sets, the props, the backdrop, the animation the crew and the promotional materials - Oh My! You are a dynamite team!
Kelly Knight: Your passion for the choir and efforts to make their role meaningful were extraordinary. Your energy with them was infectious and showed up in the choir's performance. Thank you!
Jim Sangster: You took on a new technical challeng in directing the shadow theatre! Thank you for taking the plunge and for researching the techniques to bring it all to life!
Kati Coates: Your coaching of our young vocalists was that little bit of individualized attention our youn performers needed. Thank you for sharing your talent with them!
Kari Forest: Thank you for managing the ticket system and front of house and all the other details that kept us moving in the right direction!
Our Kindergarten 1/2 team: Thank you for your time and patience while we figured out the details and for being such a great support to the production team.
Anne Marie Robart: Thank you for stepping in to our music position and for supporting our performers throughout the run!
Christine Jansen: Your vision for costuming and your relentless perseverance to make sure that each of our performers felt special has been a gift to us! Thank you for your leadership, your time and your passion.
Laurie Breitkreuz: Thank you for inspiring our stop motion animation and sharing your talent with our young technicians!
Johnathon May: How could we ever have managed without you? Thank you for designing our sound and making sure it was easy for us to run ! Your expertise and time is so appreciated!
Irena Kangas: Thank you for the amazing logo cookies and for mobilizing volunteers to do make up an a large scale!
Les Enser and Matrix: Thank you for coming to our rescue and lending us a projector bulb so that the show could go on!
Our School Council: You are definitely the best school council in the city - maybe the world! Thank you for your support and enthusiasm and for filling in the gaps where you saw them. We are so lucky to work so collaboratively with you!
The arts, it has been said, cannot change the world. But they might change human beings who might change the world.
We are looking forward to welcoming our community to our Remembrance Day Assembly tomorrow. As we do I am reflect as a teacher and as a parent on what this day means to me. Many of you know that I have a son. This year marks the first year that he is eligible to join the Canadian Armed Forces. He is 17. Whether he decides to become a serviceman or not, I can relate to mothers across our country who have wait while their children go to war, and to the mothers who’s children have not returned. When I picture our fallen soldiers I am reminded that each of them was young, at the beginning of their lives. Each of them had loved ones who likely remember their first steps, first words, first day in kindergarten - as if it were just yesterday.
Our present and our future is brighter because our Canadian Heros continue to put themselves in harms way - to go out into the world and create the conditions for peace. Today we say thank you and we remember those who did not return. In our moment of silence I hope you will each imagine our soldiers as real people who lived in our communities, who attended our schools, and had dreams for their own futures. Remember each of them as a young person that was LOVED by someone like you.
Students in several of our classes have prepared tributes to our Canadian Service Men and Women who have given their lives so that we can live in a country that is free, a country where children can grow up safely, and a country where boys and girls can go to school to realize their dreams. We hope you will join us.
We have had a wonderful first week at Belfast School. Teachers have welcomed many returning and new students to our building with engaging first week activities. During our staff time prior to students' arrival we looked at what is typically done in the first days of school and we challenged ourselves to consider the special opportunity the first day of school offers. Students come to us hopeful and excited about the possibilities of a new year. It is our job to capitalize on their enthusiasm to build momentum for an amazing year. Some of the learning tasks around the building involved STEM engineering tasks that challenged students to work collaboratively to solve problems using building materials. In grade 5 / 6 a class built paper airplane prototypes then tested their designs. And of course there was drawing, painting, sculpting and other arts-centered activities that have become the hallmark of our little school.
We are very lucky to have many of our former Belfast teachers returning including Mrs. White who is returning to kindergarten following her maternity leave last year. Other returning staff members include Miss Chelsea Mitchell and Miss Kinsey Weber who join us again after temporary contracts last year. New faces to Belfast are our new administrative secretary, Kari Forrest, new grade 3/4 teacher Kelly Knight and new grade 5/6 and Fine Arts teacher, Mr. Ryan Symington. All three come to us with experience from other schools. Their passion education and their genuine love for children make them natural fits for our Belfast Staff. When you see them, please introduce yourself and welcome them to our community. I'm sure they will soon see how special a community Belfast is!