Oct 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!


Chris Buhler, Principal Chaparral School


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