As we begin the Winter Break, I would like to express my gratitude to the students, staff, parents and partners for their exceptional contributions to our school community. I greatly appreciate all the remarkable accomplishments of both students and staff since the start of the school year. We have had a semester full of highs and lows and have come through these experiences with greater strength, new perspectives and brighter hope for our future!
Through the high and lows of this year, students have been actively engaged, learning and giving. One of those lows was the passing of our colleague Mr. Dave McLeod. This was a great loss for his family, his church community and our Diefenbaker family. We were uplifted by how students, parents and community members reached out to embrace our school with comfort at a time of great need. Words are hard to find that would adequately express the depth of compassion shown towards our students, staff and the McLeod family. We are also aware that other students and staff have been dealing with incredible personal challenges. Our thoughts are with them as well as we head into the holiday season.
The highs of school life were many and varied throughout the first four months. Yesterday students and teachers alike worked to finish up final course assignments and then collectively engaged in some festive activities during the Annual JGD Christmas Grade Assemblies. They were celebrations of all that is good about youth and learning.
The JGD Athletic department outperformed much of the competition these past months. The Jr. Boys Volleyball and Sr. Football teams both won the City Championship banner and three of our other fall athletic teams came 2nd in their respective leagues (Girls Soccer, Sr. / Jr. Girls Volleyball). Many swimmers and cross country runners also medaled in their respective championships and one of our students received a scholarship as the top academic athlete in football for the city. Way to go Chiefs!
In October, our students made the namesake of Diefenbaker proud when we hosted an “All Candidates Forum” and 1200 of our students participated in the “Canadian Students Vote” as the political scene of Canada and the World were very active. As well, our students have engaged in a number of incredible field trips to places such as the Calgary Zoo, Banff, and the Tyrell Museum in Drumheller. Both Winter Concerts, one held here and the other at Centre Street church, highlighted the incredible musical and vocal talents of our students. The music department has tapped into a range of human emotions felt by their audiences as they performed at events such the “Field of Crosses”, school assemblies and just this week on the Departure level of the YYC International Airport. We have also enjoyed Leadership in the Arts (LITA) Lunchbox Performances of our Fine Arts’ students who presented their works in progress to full cafeteria audiences. On November 13th we celebrated over 45% of our current Grade 11 and 12s who achieved Honour Roll last year, and then on December 18th we held our Annual Honour Roll Awards Event to celebrate the achievements of last year’s Grade 12 Students, with special recognition of Patience E., who received the Governor General’s Award for highest average – hers was 99% average! Overall, 185 students received honour marks (80% and above), which constitutes 43% of this year’s graduating class. We are exceptionally proud of all our amazing students! As well, it was great to see how well our newest Alumni group are doing in their new endeavors at post-secondary and career development.
What better represents the commitment and passion of our Diefenbaker community than the incredible volunteering that helps support our school, local city and global community! A huge shout out to all our parents and adult volunteers who advocate for our students and school! Our community has also been involved in Blood Donations, Food Bank Donations and donations to our local Seniors Centre, as well the Ride of the Chiefs is also revving up for our major Spring Event.
Our two-week Winter Break allows us time to rest, visit with friends and family, and to review our previous four months of school work in preparation for our upcoming final exams beginning in January. Our teachers are also providing tutorials throughout the month of January to support students who require extra assistance to complete their first semester courses successfully. Our exam schedule has been posted on our website since November and we encourage everyone to review those exams dates and exam expectations. We wish our students every success on their exams!
We look forward to seeing everyone back at school on Monday, January 7 2020. On behalf of all staff and students at John G. Diefenbaker High School, we wish you and your family a joyous and peaceful Winter Break.
Mike Bester, Principal