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May 22
Amazing Celebrations of Learning

Over the past few months, our school community has experienced some amazing celebrations of learning. In April, our Grades 4-6 students presented their Spring Concert. In collaboration with Ms. McCune and with the support of their classroom teachers, students explored rhythm, rhyme, and literary forms through music and movement. Their show was phenomenal. It was indeed a tribute to the talent, teamwork, and commitment of our students and teachers.

On May 2, we realized our vision for a celebration of learning devoted to written expression. Our Night of the Author signified the efforts of teachers and students who for the past two years, have worked diligently to develop confidence and skills in written expression. Writing truly is a fundamental skill. As such, it is important that we nurture early foundations in it, so that students can communicate, represent and express their ideas. Writing can be very hard work, yet at the same time it can bring us great joy.

For me, the Night of the Author, was a thrilling and validating experience. It provided us with a needed opportunity to show both the processes and products of teaching and learning. It also offered us an occasion to share the key idea that writing is much more than putting words on paper. The act of writing leads us to deeper understandings and helps us uncover and give voice to our best thinking.

The “Say Something!” theme for the Night of the Author, emerged from grade 5 teacher, Lauren Smith’s experience at the National Art Education Conference (NAEC), which she attended earlier this year. At the conference, Lauren went to a session hosted by author, Peter Reynolds, who in his book, Say Something! reminds us that the world needs our voices. This message resonated with Lauren and then with our school community as we sought to consolidate ideas for our celebration of learning.

While attending the NAEC, Ms. Smith also received her inspiration for the #WeMatter photography installation, currently on display at our school. We are extremely grateful to Lauren and her team for their tremendous efforts. To our amazement, this ambitious project featuring over 500 student and staff portraits, was ready for our Night of the Author event. Gratitude is also extended to Stop and Go Reproductions for printing our photographs, free of charge. This project reminds me once again of the powerful ways in which art can touch souls and bring a community together.

Our dance and music sharing assemblies, brought further opportunities for us to join with our extended school community. On Friday May 10, students in K-6 showed their remarkable ability to work in teams as they performed dances unique to each grade level.

I am extremely proud of our students and teachers. Their willingness to try new things, to persevere, and to jump into the limelight is inspiring. Our students’ time at school has been very well spent this year. They have come far.

Chris Buhler, Principal

March 18
The Climate at Chaparral School remained very warm in February

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David thoreau

While Calgary’s weather in February was the coldest on record since 1979, the climate at Chaparral School remained very warm! Taking the month to focus on community building through a variety of initiatives including lunch clubs and intramurals, helped us conquer cabin fever!

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Our wide range of club offerings included activities like drawing, chess and Rubik’s Cube. Taking part in club activities not only helped us manage a long string of indoor recesses, but it also allowed us to meet new friends and work with different teachers. We still have a few more clubs coming up in April and May.

In addition to our extra-curricular offerings, the month of February was also warmed through our experience with Quest Theatre. On February 25, the Quest team shared its performance of We are All Treaty People, with our Chaparral School Community. Through music, drama, and puppetry we explored the shared history of our ancestors. At the end of the performance we all did a Round Dance. Curt, the singer and drummer was in the middle. The beating of his drum was like the heartbeat of our community as we moved as one in friendship and peace. Thank you to our Chaparral School Association for providing funding for this excellent presentation.

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February’s focus on community building was also taken up in classroom based learning as teachers and students pursued a variety of tasks and held many conversations exploring the concepts of empathy and kindness. Our walls are adorned with artifacts representing the students’ thoughts and intentions for a compassionate school climate where everyone finds a - sense of belonging.

On February 27, Pink Shirt Day, we made a visible commitment to stand up for a compassionate future. Students and teachers continued their conversations by thinking pink as they read stories, watched videos and had conversations that invited us to “enter for a brief time the wholly different perspective of another person's consciousness,” (Maryanne Wolf, 2008). Perspective and social consciousness are motivators for empathy, a key driver to human kindness.

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We see our school as a great place to learn about, practice, and embrace qualities of character and citizenship that we can carry with us into the world. As one of our Grade 2 students explains, “The time to be kind is at school, at home, anywhere is the time to be kind to yourself and to your family… be kind to everyone anytime, anywhere.”

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So far, our March events have included Student Led Conferences. Students and teachers put a great deal of effort into preparing for meaningful and informative sharing sessions. We are very grateful to the parents and guardians who joined us, showing invaluable support to their children and our learning community as a whole.

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Coming up, we are looking forward to our Teachers vs. Grade 6 Students versus Teachers Basketball Tournament which will take place on March 20, and then of course our week-long Spring Break! Please remember that Thursday March 21 is the last day of school for students. Our return to school date is April 1.

March also marks the time when we initiate planning for 2019-2020. In the next few weeks, we will send a survey request through email asking parents to let us know if they are anticipating a change in school registration for their children going into K-6.

In April, we will design our staffing scenario for 2018-19. Staffing is intricately connected to student enrollment; thus, it is extremely helpful for us to know ahead of time which students will continue at our school and which ones might be moving or accessing alternative placements. This month’s newsletter includes our regular features such as grade and subject based updates in learning, as well as reminders and news from our School Council.

Wishing you all a Happy Spring,

Chris Buhler, Principal

 

January 16
Nurturing Virtues and Traits

Happy New Year, Chaparral Families and Friends! You are wished many blessings in the year ahead.

As a school community, we are celebrating a very productive fall session. I am very proud of the growth and success noted in both our students and staff. Chaparral School is indeed a place of learning for all!

On January 21, students will receive their first of two official report cards. This report card is considered a formal communication and documentation of a student’s summative achievement at this point in the school year. It provides teachers the opportunity to communicate to parents and students the most significant aspects of student achievement. Report cards are based on outcomes that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do according to the Alberta Programs of Studies. In the Calgary Board of Education, summative assessment indicators are also provided for Citizenship, Character and Personal Development (Results 3, 4 and 5). While the assessment of the results is separate from Academic Success, the way in which they are demonstrated and lived is always through the learning experience.

In the upcoming report cards, teachers will provide narrative comments to augment summative indicators. The purpose of the comment is to communicate additional information related to achievement, supports, and next steps. Families will note specific attention to feedback provided in the areas of literacy and mathematics. This focus is reflective of student achievement goals identified in our School Development Plan for 2018-19.

At Chaparral School we also are very intent on nurturing virtues and traits associated with Results 3, 4 and 5. This year, we adopted the Circle of Courage as a model through which we can understand and practice generosity, independence, mastery and belonging. It has been incredibly exciting to note students, staff and families express these ideals, reaching out to the broader community through donations to organizations like the Poppy Fund, the Calgary Food Bank and Inn from the Cold. For more on these initiatives please see, Generosity (pg. 3 & 4) and News from Grade 5 (pg. 14).

As a place of learning for all, we are also very proud to be mentoring five pre-service teachers. These students come to us from St. Mary’s University, the Werklund School of Education (University of Calgary), and Ambrose University. We are pleased to welcome the following student teachers:

  • Jessica Belanger – working with Andrea Buist Grade 2
  • Tammy McLaren – working with Kelly LeBlanc Grade 1
  • Ashley Bigelow – working with Lori Wilson Grade 1
  • Cassidy Mueller – working with Katie Keil Grade 2
  • Jeffrey Bennett – working with Tracy Behl Grade 4

With the start of the New Year, our school community is also very pleased to announce some changes in staffing:

Newly appointed:

  • Tammy Furgason – Lunch Supervisor
  • Greg Morrell – Facility Operator

Change of assignment:

  • Corinne Yee – Lead Lunch Supervisor

Each season at school brings unique highlights. At Chaparral, the period between Winter and Spring Break is a time when students make great gains in learning, often grasping concepts and skills that might have perplexed them just weeks before. The winter months are also a time when we intensify our focus on community building through various special events, celebrations and initiatives.

Once again, this year, teachers will be offering a variety of lunch clubs. The purpose of clubs is to provide students with an opportunity to work with different adults, meet new friends, and spend time in activities that they find enjoyable. More information regarding lunch clubs will be shared at the end of January. Clubs will run through February and into April.

On Monday February, 25, we will host the Quest Theatre group for We Are All Treaty People. Our school community is extremely grateful to the Chaparral Parent Association for funding this immersive and interactive experience that will inspire us to consider an enlightened and sustainable future for everyone – together. Following this, we will recognize Pink Shirt Day, through focusing on kindness as a way of mitigating cyberbullying. As stated on pinkshirtday.ca “Kindness requires no manipulation, no focusing on the negatives, and no filtering of yourself. It’s simply, truly nice. For social media users, we want them to THINK before the post. We want them to ask themselves if it is: True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and KIND.”

As always, we strive to involve parents in all aspects of our school. We welcome your involvement in our learning and special events. Please connect with teachers, administrators, and our main office at any time.

Yours most sincerely,

Chris Buhler, Principal

Please see:

November 26
Nov. 2018

Dear Chaparral Families,

Each year, teaching teams and school council groups throughout the CBE system contribute to and create a School Development Plan. This plan is to be read and understood in correlation with the school’s annual results report. Both documents focus on continuous improvement in student learning through planned and intentional responses to evidence of achievement and data about the learning conditions that support student success. The various sources of assessment information and feedback that inform the School Development Plan are unique to each school. At Chaparral, our considerations include:

  • Report card marks,
  • Provincial assessments like Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs – Grade 6) and Student Learning Assessments (SLA’s Grade 3),
  • Observations of student learning patterns, accomplishments and needs,
  • Accountability Pillar Survey, and
  • School process goals – the impact of previously identified goals and strategies.

Through collective review of school results, we have determined that this year teachers and students at Chaparral will continue to focus on improving student achievement in written expression. In this process teachers will implement high impact instructional strategies. Ultimately, we intend that students at each level will understand what counts in writing and how they can stretch their skills to the best of their abilities. The article in this newsletter included under the heading, News from Grade Three, illustrates how this approach is being taken up. As the year continues, we are looking forward writing celebrations where students can commemorate their accomplishments in the writing process and share their writing with an audience.

In addition to our writing goal, we have identified a secondary focus for 2018-19 in the area mathematics. This goal will see students improve their ability to apply appropriate and efficient strategies for mental math and automaticity. These skills are key components to achieving the goals of mathematics education. Our students will be well served through this focus as they take part in daily practice through games, energizers, and oral activities and apply self-assessment strategies to confirm mental math calculations. Parents will note that at our recent conferences, teachers shared two handouts that provide further explanation number fact fluency and the developmental process students go through to develop number fact fluency. Throughout the year, we will continue to share strategies for home practice.

For further information on our School Development Plan for 2018-19 and Results for 2017-18 please visit our Our School page. Please look under Resources, on the right hand side of the screen to download PDF copies of the School Development Plan, the Annual Results and Mulit-year Reports for Provincial Achievement Tests.

As always, yours truly,

Chris Buhler

October 11
Sept./Oct. 2018

Dear Chaparral Families:

At Chaparral School, we celebrate a safe, caring, inclusive, and welcoming learning environment, whereby we work together to provide opportunities for all students to thrive in learning and in life. This year, in our continued efforts to help students develop important social–emotional attributes for learning, personal development and community building we have introduced the strength-based Circle of Courage model.

Drs. Larry Bendtro, Steve Van Bockern, and Martin Brokenleg developed the Circle of Courage. The model is based on indigenous wisdom and research, and provides us with the language to empower students to learn about personal growth, character development, and community. The Circle of Courage medicine wheel represents the need for balance and harmony within the sacred circle of life. The four points of the Circle of Courage are the universal growth needs (i.e. developmental needs) of children that must be considered together as one. The four points of the Circle of Courage that we focus on are:

The Spirit of Belonging: All Chaparral students belong to the Chaparral School family. Building relationships of trust and treating each other as kin nurtures our community and helps us to feel valued and safe.

The Spirit of Generosity: Chaparral students develop and show care, concern, and respect for others. Their purpose is to unselfishly help on another, and to make our world a better place.

The Spirit of Mastery: Chaparral students develop competencies in many areas including physical, social and intellectual. As they observe, listen, practice, reflect and self assess they learn new skills in their daily lives both in and out of school. Students learn that they can succeed and can celebrate the success of others.

The Spirit of Independence: Chaparral students develop responsibility, inner discipline, problem solving and critical thinking skills. They learn to set and achieve goals, and to make good decisions.

I have been extremely encouraged by the ways in which staff and students have set a positive tone for the school year through exploring facets of the Circle of Courage. Thus far, most discussions and activities have focused on developing an understanding of what it means and what it takes for us to feel a sense of belonging in ourselves and at the same time to consider the needs of others as they seek a similar sense. This month’s grade based news stories further detail explorations of the Circle of Courage.

Assemblies and other whole school activities help us further build community and connectedness at Chaparral. During our first week back, all of us gathered in the gymnasium to officially celebrate the opening of the school year. Ms. McCune and Mr. Van Roekel worked with students to create multi-media presentations highlighting students’ thoughts about what they were looking forward to this year, and their feelings about belonging at Chaparral. We will post the videos on our website just as soon as we can. Please watch for them. The students’ words provide the most authentic assessment of our efforts at Chaparral.

Our second assembly was held in conjunction with the Chaparral Terry Fox celebration. Once again, we enjoyed coming together as a “family” reflecting on the courageous legacy of Terry Fox and doing our bit to support further research through our Toonies for Terry campaign. We had a lot of fun in the process. As was previously shared, we achieved our financial target of $1 070.00, raising a total of $ $1,935.38! Staff and students celebrated this accomplishment a week later by wearing our PJs to school!

This month we also hosted our first round of Parent, Student, and Teacher Learning Conferences. These meetings represent the first of three formal occasions for parents, and students to connect with teachers to discuss individual needs, strengths, progress, and goals. The next Learning Conferences will be held on November 22 and 23. Student Led Conferences will take place on March 14 and 15, 2019. Learning Conferences represent a very important venue through which families are able to better understand and support students in their learning and development.

To close this message, I will provide some brief information on enrolment and staffing. In April 2018 staffing at Chaparral was based on a projected enrolment of 486 students. However, over the summer many new families moved into the community, resulting in an increase to our student population. We are currently sitting at 505 students in K-6. We are thrilled by this growth and the many opportunities it presents! In response to increased enrolment, we have been able to open two additional classrooms and add two new full – time teachers in grades 2 and 5. Please see below for a full listing of classes and staff members.

Wishing you all a great month ahead!

Sincerely,

Chris Buhler, Principal Chaparral School

July 03
June 2018

“Aaah, summer - that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It's a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends.” -Darell Hammond

On behalf of the staff at Chaparral, I extend the very best of wishes to our families for a safe and healthy summer break.  We are looking forward to reconnecting in September and meeting lots of new friends! 

I would also like to express my thanks to the amazing teaching and support staff at Chaparral, our School Council and Association members, our students, and the Chaparral Community Association. We have had a wonderful year, growing and learning together.  I hope you enjoy this last newsletter for 2017-18.  I believe it truly is about the “we” working together as one…

Chris Buhler, Principal

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May 01
April 2018

The most important thing about mental health is mindfulness.
Mindfulness encourages us to stop and focus on what is happening right
now. Mindfulness means listening with our eyes, ears, and hearts.
Mindfulness is a gift we give ourselves.
But the most important thing about mental health is mindfulness.
Poem by Christina Maron ~ inspired by Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book

From April 30 – May 4, 2018, students and staff at Chaparral will spend time learning more about mental and physical health. Our decision to devote a week to focus on both aspects of health is rooted in the understanding that children’s physical and mental health needs must be met in order for them to achieve success, to reach their full potential, and to flourish and fully enjoy life.

Our mandated Programs of Studies include many outcomes designed to help students develop awareness, skills and strategies for positive self-care and personal development. Thus, many of this week’s activities will be integrated in crossdisciplinary, classroom based learning tasks. Throughout the week (and beyond), students will become familiar with factors that influence mental health and learn strategies to help them develop a strong sense of well being.

At Chaparral, we continue to strive for improvements in students’ educational outcomes through approaches that include addressing school wellness. This week’s focus is aligned with our intention to nurture a compassionate school culture. We hope that parents will take a few minutes each day this week to talk to their children about what they are learning in relation to mental and physical health. Please note that we have many excellent print and digital resources at school to support conversations about things like nutrition, self-esteem, flexible thinking, stress, optimism, resilience and mindfulness.

To help us celebrate this week, our school will relax hat rules for mental health. On May 2, we will join other Albertans in wearing a hat or other head covering to raise awareness for the importance good mental health.

Wishing joy and wellness,

Chris Buhler, Principal

March 19
March 2018 Update

Excerpted from our March Newsletter.​

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Charles Dickens - Great Expectations

While the wintery weather persists, our calendars remind us that it is, after all, March! This month we mark the official start to spring and we begin the process of ushering in the final faze of our school year. In March, we look forward to events like meeting for our last round of student learning conferences, taking our weeklong spring break and then returning in April with goals and strategies to help us finish our year well.

This newsletter includes previously communicated information regarding the student led format for conferences. The intent of sharing this news again is to reach those who might have missed seeing it when it was originally distributed through School Messenger. Student led conferences are a celebratory event at Chaparral. We have observed that this approach brings forth joy and confidence in students, as they take the lead sharing what they have learned, the tasks through which their learning has taken place, and the level of proficiency to which concepts, skills, and competencies have been developed. Teachers and students are working diligently to deliver an informative and enjoyable student led conference experience. We intend that parents and guardians leave the conferences with a keen understanding of how their children are doing at school.

March also marks the time when we initiate planning for the 2018-19 school year. During conferences, families will be asked to complete a feedback form, which will provide us with important information regarding school enrolment. In April we will design our staffing scenario for 2018-19. Staffing is intricately connected to student enrolment, thus it is extremely helpful to us to know ahead of time which students will continue at our school and which ones might be moving or accessing alternative placements.

This month’s newsletter includes our regular features such as grade and subject based updates in learning, news from our Parent Council, the Leadership Link and a few other information items. We have also included a very timely article by our assistant principal, Colleen Bratko, entitled Technology and Screen Time: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Indeed, as educators we recognize and value the ways in which technology can make learning possible and in many cases vastly enhance what we are able to do in the school environment. 

At the same time, we realize that too much of a good thing, can result in negative consequences. At Chaparral, we are noticing more and more of our young students carrying mobile devices. Some of our students are spending far too much of their unstructured after school time playing online games, or using social media in ways that compromise their safety, confidence and opportunities to develop healthy and real relationships.

Please enjoy reading Colleen’s article and note that on April 5th, representatives from the Calgary City Police will host seminars at our school for students and parents on the topic of Online Safety. The student seminar will take place in the morning from 10:30 – 11:30 for students in Grades 3-6, and the parent seminar will occur in the evening from 6:00 – 8:00 pm in our school gymnasium.

Wishing my best and looking forward to seeing you all at conferences, 

Chris Buhler

February 20
Feb. 2018 | Kindness

“If you have a choice between being right and being kind, choose kind."
-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

This quote by Dr. Dyer, is particularly familiar to many in our school community who have had the pleasure of reading Patrica Polacio’s fantastic novel, Wonder.  Dr. Dyer’s wise instruction sets the tone of Polacio’s story, which at first glance is about a boy with a craniofacial difference but at its heart and soul, is about kindness and tolerance.

Like the characters in Wonder, we at Chaparral School are exploring, celebrating and practicing the virtue of kindness. This focus supplements and supports our ongoing pursuit of a safe and caring community and culture in our school.

In a recent PA broadcast, grade 4 students in Ms. Van Gorp’s class explained kindness as, “Treating people with respect, being friendly, generous and compassionate.  It is doing acts for other people and showing care and concern.”  The students further noted that, “One small act of friendship and love can send a rippling effect throughout our school.” 

We seek to model, instill and practice the virtue of kindness every day.  Yet over the past few weeks as we have intentionally focused on it, many random acts kindness have occurred within our midst.  

On Wednesday morning, grade 5 students from Ms. Swan’s class followed the lead of their friends in grade 4, by using the PA system to once again share a kindness message.  Their broadcast prompted the school community to consider kindness through the medium of music.  As they played John Lennon’s Imagine, grade 5students arranged themselves in the hallway performing the same dance as they shared at the Remembrance Day assembly.  The announcement caught everyone’s attention.  We stopped what we were doing, and listened, imagining how we can make the world a better place through our acts of kindness.

Earlier this month, in another act of kindness, a group of grade 6 students hosted an extremely successful bake sale with proceeds going to Fur-Ever Homes Rescue.  This organization works to find caring homes for dogs that otherwise might wind up in shelters.  The students raised a significant amount of money ($614.00) through their efforts.  They also provided a very exciting diversion during one of our many indoor recesses. 

Another act of kindness that greatly touched my heart occurred when Ms. McCune spontaneously invited me to come to the music room to, “Provide an audience” for the grade 1 students.  The class had been working on an amazing lesson that combined literature, visual art, music and movement.  My experience watching the students joyfully respond through intentional movements to the beautiful visuals, lovely music and the poetic words Ms. McCune read from a picture book brought tears to my eyes.  I am very proud and grateful that students in our school are able to take part in such high quality, joyful and artistic learning experiences.

As always there is a great deal going on at Chaparral School.  This newsletter provides a reflective glimpse at the learning that has been taking place and a forecast of some of the wonderful things to come.  Please enjoy reading through the articles.

Kindly yours, Chris Buhler ​
January 15
January 2018 Update

“Building a safe, caring and inclusive school culture means teaching it minute by minute, day by day, integrating it into discipline practices and curriculum, using instructional models that provide practice in social and relationship skills and, most importantly, modelling it.”
– Vicki Mather, Executive Director The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities

Dear Readers,

We are looking forward to some of the most exciting months of school year. The period between Winter and Spring Break is typically a time when many students suddenly grasp ideas and skills that might have had them perplexed just weeks before.

During this time we are also excited to apply increased focus on developing and nurturing our safe, caring, and inclusive school culture. We do this through involving students in thoughtful curriculum based learning experiences that might include things like reading powerful texts, talking about important issues, and reflecting upon who we are and what we stand for.

Another way in which we seek to build relationships during the winter months is through offering a variety of lunch clubs. The purpose of clubs is to provide students with an opportunity to work with different adults, meet new friends, and spend time in activities that they find enjoyable. More information regarding lunch clubs will be shared at the end of January. Clubs will run through February and into the first half of March.

This month, students and parents can also look forward to receiving the first of two official report cards. This report card is considered a formal communication and documentation of a student’s summative achievement at this point in the school year. It provides teachers the opportunity to communicate to parents and students the most significant aspects of student achievement. Report cards are based on outcomes that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do according to the Alberta Programs of Studies. In the Calgary Board of Education, summative assessment indicators are also provided for Citizenship, Character and Personal Development (Results 3, 4 and 5). While the assessment of the results is separate from Academic Success, the way in which they are demonstrated and lived is always through the learning experience.

Instead of receiving one overall grade for a course, students receive indicators showing their achievement of the report card outcomes in a course. On the Kindergarten to Grade 9 report card, students will receive achievement indicators from 1 (Not Meeting) to 4 (Excellent) on each outcome in a course. For Results 3, 4 and 5 a summative scale (EX, EV, EM and SR) is used to indicate a student’s personal approach to learning which has impacted their overall success. Chaparral School Jan. 2018 In the upcoming report cards, teachers will provide narrative comments to augment summative indicators.

The purpose of the comment is to communicate additional information related to achievement, supports, and next steps. Comments in the January report card will be organized around Results 3, 4 and 5 and connected to achievement in specific areas of learning.

As always, we strive to involve parents in all aspects of learning. While no formal interviews are offered in conjunction with the distribution of the January report card, parents are strongly encouraged to connect with teachers as needs arise to address concerns and to seek clarification.

Assessment is an ongoing and integral part of the learning process. While teachers and students are continually focused on assessing learning, the production of summative report cards remains an exercise that requires a great deal of thought and labor. To honor the efforts of teachers and students, it is our hope that parents will review report cards with their children, celebrating achievement, discussing learning, and planning how they can work together for continued growth and improvement.

Wishing you all the best for the New Year,

Chris Buhler (Principal)​

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