Excitement has been building through the school all week. It started with the kindergarten, grade one and grade 2's on Tuesday, and continued! Each grade group had a talent show that showcased musical, dramatic, magical and mystical acts from across the school. As an arts centered school we often say it is "not about the art". This week it certainly was. A few years ago we went to a talent show model that allowed for all students to shine. Instead of a traditional audition process, all students were encouraged to show their talents in a grade group talent show. After each grade group show a few performers are asked back to perform one more time for the whole school. This format honors all students and lets them all have their moment to shine!
Performing in front of others from a young age helps students to build communication skills and self-confidence that will stay with them through their lives. I am so proud of each and every student that bravely took the stage this week! It has been very gratifying to watch our students share some of the other parts of their lives through this annual event. In fact, many of our students start thinking and rehearsing their acts early in the year! Regardless of whether they have had formal training or not, they have come to know that they can share their talents openly and with complete abandon. I was especially tickled to see that students who continue to sign up year after year. In their moment, with all eyes on them, they are special, they are important and they are loved! In the days that follow these performances I see students walk a little taller and engage with their peers a little more freely. In some cases, it is the first time that they are really "seen" by their peers and it can be life changing!
Next week we welcome a few acts from across the grades to come together to put on one final showcase for this year. Students who are invited to perform again will be notified in their classrooms. It is hard to decide who to call back to the "Big" talent show but in the end we hope that we have provided an opportunity for all in one way or another. Parents are welcome to attend the final talent show on Thursday April 27th. The show is scheduled to run from 1 - 2 pm but may run a little longer due to some last minute additions. Huge applause go out to our teachers and especially Mr. Symington for his organization of this event!
Our Beautification Project is finally in full swing!
We had bob cats and dump trucks on site today and fencing installed around the work area.
This fencing will be in place throughout the installation of new playground equipment (see previous post).
Parents are asked to pick up students from the front of the building for the next few days while we have large equipment operating. Our installation / excavation crew has been doing a great job of stopping all activity when students are on the playground so that students are safe. Our part in this is to ensure that the crew has enough time to actually complete their scope of work.
The good news is that the protective fencing has left our adventure playground usable!
There will be many projects and and enhancements over then next few months. We are indebted to the Communities in Partnership (CIP grant), Parks Foundation and ConacoPhillips for their financial assistance that made this project possible. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so much time and energy in the past 2 years to get us to this point. Today is the result of several YEARS of hard work and dedication!
Artist in Residence - The Rogue Naturalist
This week we started our work with Sara Smith, the Rogue Naturalist! Sara comes to us with a rich background in both science and theatre and was a touring member of Evergreen Theatre! Her experiential approach to learning will culminate in a celebration of learning towards the end of February. Teachers and students will be learning from Sara. Our teaching staff will receive 3 professional development sessions with Sara who has become somewhat of an expert on Arts Centred Learning and as this is also a passion and focus for our teachers we are all excited learn from Sara!
We are very grateful to the Alberta Foundation for the arts and our Belfast Fundraising Council for funding this 6 week residency
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!
- We have a warm and welcoming school culture.
- We only have one secretary and when she is away from her desk it is impossible to know who has entered the building
- Safety for our kids is everyone’s number one priority
- In case of fire or other emergency – we know who is in the building in case we need to go find them
- the Belfast community ‘feel’ is also important
- we are an inner city community that has many transients and complexities that we should be aware of
- many parents walk past the office and do not sign in when they come into the school
The following requirements were generated by our parents at the November School Council meeting and need to be considered.
- We need to provide safety and school staff is directly accountable for the safety of each child in the school
- Our procedures need to be consistent – mitigate human error
- Parents need to respect staff intention to provide safety
- A decision needs to be proactive not reactive. That it is we need to have a reliable safety system before we have an emergency situation
- Compassion for our community can be accommodated by ensuring understanding of the process and the opportunity for input
- Relationships between staff, students and parents need to continue to be fostered and modeled
- parents need to have continued access to the teachers
- We do not want to lose who we are – the sense that parents have access, that we are special, that our school respects parents, and the warmth that is Belfast
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Principal, Belfast School
I'm writing to notify you that we had a fire drill today. It was one of the 3 required firedrills that the CBE requires us to have before Winter Break. There was no actual emergency.
We had been waiting for some warmer weather this week as we have been very busy with the school musical over the last several weeks. Unfortunately, warmer weather was not in the cards, so we made sure that all of our students were bundled up before lunch and scheduled our drill to coincide with what we hoped would be an outdoor playtime at lunch. The fire drill lasted exactly 2 minute and 47 seconds afterwhich all the students were brought back into the school. The brief moment outside would unfortunately be our only fresh air today as our temperature of -10 with the windchill was still -20 degrees.
We need to be aware that emergencies can happen when the weather is less than ideal, and organizing for our firedrill today has prompted an important conversation about what we would do if we had to evacuate the building in severe temperatures, especially since we wouldn’t have the opportunity to bundle our students up. Should this happen in the future, we will evacuate directly to the Crossroads Community Center. There we will wait for emergency personnel to determine if we can return to the school or not, and communicate to parents as necessary.
I want to reiterate that we conducted our fire drill today quickly and made sure that all of our students were appropriately dressed for the weather.
Our students were well organized and focused during this time and are to be congratulated!
If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Principal, Belfast School
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