Dec 17
December 2019

It’s difficult to believe that we are almost at the Winter Break!  Teachers, students, and parents have been incredibly busy since the start of the school year!

It was terrific to see the number of parents and students who attended our recent Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences towards the end of November.  These conferences are an excellent means to helping teachers and parents to better support students as “action plans” are developed between school and home to set conditions for further success.  Also, through these conversations, students come to better understand what is expected of them and the support that is available to help them to realize success.  Our next round of Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences is scheduled for February 11 and 12, following first semester report cards going home on January 30.  

Report cards communicate students’ achievement in relation to the outcomes of the Programs of Study and/or IPPs at a particular point in time.  Students will receive a numerical indicator, ranging from 1 (not meeting grade level achievement expectations) to 4 (excellent achievement of grade level expectations) for each outcome associated with a subject.  Teachers will include comments indicating where a student shows strength and can continue to grow in relation to specific curricular outcomes.

In addition to the official report card, student progress can be regularly monitored by visiting D2L, for which a link is contained on our website.  This web-based application provides students and parents the opportunity to go on-line to review progress and also find out what homework, assignments, projects, and tests are scheduled.  Parents are reminded that logging into D2L via the student side will provide much more thorough information.  Additionally, parents are encouraged to visit Iris, for which a link is contained on our website.  In Iris, you will find your child’s self-developed Student Learning Plan and artifacts for work from their various subjects.

Grades 6 – 9 students and parents are reminded that complementary courses for students will change at the end of January, as students in grades 7-9 take two new option classes and Grade 6 students begin their third complementary module.  Also, early in the new year, Grade 9 students will begin the process of registering for high school. Thank you to our Students Services Learning Leader, Mr. Rieger, for facilitating this process.

Over the course of these past three years, we have identified literacy and numeracy as priority instructional areas for our school community.  These priorities are captured in our School Development Plan (SDP) and guide the daily work of our teachers across our school.  Our SDP is posted to our school website at https://www.cbe.ab.ca/mckenziehighlands.  In the realm of literacy, our focus is on increasing students’ reading comprehension across all core subject areas – Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science, and providing targeted literacy intervention where appropriate.  Essential to increasing student literacy is getting students reading more.  Daily reading is a part of every Language Arts class.  In addition, 30 minutes of school-wide reading occurs every Friday morning.  Parents, I would ask that you please support us in this work by encouraging your child to regularly read at home.  Additionally, we have also added writing as a focus of our SDP work this year.  In Math, we are placing a particular emphasis on working with students to improve their computation strategies and problem-solving ability.  Also new to our SDP this year is a goal related to supporting the mental well-being of our students.

Over the course of the next few weeks parents of grades 4 and 7 students can expect to receive a survey in the mail from Alberta Education.  The Accountability Pillar Survey serves as an “annual check-up” on the province’s education system.  All surveys are anonymous and ask questions about experiences with your child’s school.  Your participation in the survey helps provide information about the quality of education your child is receiving.  Survey results will be available to school authorities in May and will be reported publicly as part of the CBE Three – Year Education Plan and Annual Education Results Report.  From a school perspective, this survey provides very valuable information to support our school planning processes.

Our fall athletic season is behind us and a successful season it was!  Congratulations to our volleyball teams for outstanding seasons!   Our senior boys volleyball team complemented their very strong season by also winning the Rally Pointe tournament!  Thank you to all our volleyball coaches – Ms. Birss, Mr. Tyler, Mr. Burden, Mr. Cooper, Ms. Hur, Mr. Harris, Mr. D’Aloisio, Mr. Stehr.   It was very exciting to watch the extent to which all our players developed.  Additionally, our soccer teams and cross-country team enjoyed stellar seasons!  Thank you to our soccer coaches – Ms. Perkin, Mr. McFarlane, and Mr. Irvine.   Congratulations to our girls’ soccer team for capturing our school’s first soccer pennant!  As well, thank you to our cross-country coaches – Ms. Rose and Mr. Harris.  The basketball season is poised to take court in January.  Good luck to all our basketball players!

I would like to take this opportunity to invite our families to come celebrate our school community on Thursday, February 20 at 6:30 p.m. Our “Open House” and Celebration of Learning provides an opportunity to see the types of learning experiences and extra-curricular opportunities afforded our students. Student work will be on display, along with teachers being available to share information and answer any questions you may have about our “Legendary” learning community! 

Thank you to all those families who came to celebrate the Holidays at our annual Winter Concerts held earlier this month.  They were treated to awesome performances by our Grades 7 through 9 Bands, Grades 4 and 5 music classes, and the McKenzie Highlands Music Club.   Also on display were some very delightful art projects!  Thank you to Mr. Cooper, Ms. Porterfield, and Ms. Rose for their time and effort spent in preparing our students for what proved to be an excellent evening.

January promises to be a busy month with semester 1 drawing to a close and students ensuring that they have completed all required work for their core classes and complementary classes.  As a bit of a treat for the long winter months of January and February, Ms. Birss has organized school-wide “Activity Days” on January 24 for grades 7-9 students and on February 21 for grades 4-6 students.  Students will have an opportunity to experience such activities as swimming, bowling, mini golf, skiing, beach volleyball, and Inja Nation.

Wishing students, parents, and staff a most restful and rejuvenating Winter Break and looking forward to seeing everyone back on January 6!

Happy Holidays!

Kel Connelly​

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