Wrapping a remarkable school year
Dear Students, Parents and Caregivers,
This was a remarkable year! We successfully navigated a pandemic, while we opened our new high school mid-year, and re-named a school that’s also being rebuilt. We made progress on the work around our anti-racism commitments, and we learned and showed support for our community as we’ve faced a range of world and regional issues together. We released a final report for our year-long Inclusive Education Review and launched the new Parent Guide to Inclusive Education. And we did all of these projects while remaining focused on the social-emotional and educational needs of over 7000 students and their families.
It would not have been possible without the joint effort of a LOT of people.
We have to start by acknowledging our staff and the amazing job they did in caring for students and schools. They channelled creativity and dedication as they found new ways to engage, and they continued to show the deep commitment they have to making schools safe, welcoming and supportive spaces for all kids. Our teams worked hard to keep schools clean and organized, under new health and safety protocols, so they could continue to support kids and families. Many worked long or altered hours to manage the additional requirements and requests. And our staff managed that, while they each also cared for their own families and needs. Throughout the year, we kept students learning, supported and growing – and this was true from our youngest StrongStart kids right through to our adult learners.
We also need to recognize parents and the community. We navigated some challenging times together: there were many questions, and we saw how dedicated families were to doing their very best to navigate both learning and the guidance we were all asked to follow. The willingness to demonstrate understanding and show support was powerfully mirrored throughout the year. And, in many ways, we saw parent engagement at an all-time high: from budget and diversity surveys to home viewing of school concerts and Parent Advisory Council meetings, there was record engagement in school and district-based discussions and activities. This was an unanticipated benefit to the changes we managed this year … one we’re thankful for and committed to build on.
When it comes to our community partners and leaders, they stepped up to donate everything from additional sports equipment to grocery store gift cards … to make sure families feeling additional pressures would still be supported throughout this pandemic. And we’ve seen overwhelming support for the new Welcome and Wellness Centres that are being built into the new NWSS, including an astounding $100,000 commitment to the Wellness Centre from one local family, with the promise to donate more to match donations from others.
And of course, we have to acknowledge our students. You came together and modified the way you moved through schools and interacted with friends … while you continued to learn and experience new things. You inspired us all with your insightful questions, the caring and passion we’ve seen as we navigated some challenging world issues together, and for the adaptability and resilience you’ve shown, which has made this year both a qualified and unqualified success.
While we all eagerly look forward to a full return to class in September, please know we’ll be following up with families in mid to late summer with updated health and safety plans, as we’ll continue to make sure student, staff and community safety are our top priority as we carefully move forward.
But for now, as we turn our thoughts to the few slower months ahead – which will involve both a little recuperation time and a lot more planning – we thank you all for being part of this remarkable year with us. We managed it together because we were in it together. And we’re so thankful for everyone who has made that possible.
Wishing you well,
Gurveen Dhaliwal, Board Chair
and Karim Hachlaf, Superintendent of Schools