Jun 24
Principal's Year End Message

We are almost at the finish line of what has been a marathon of a school year…


It is my hope that as we bring this school year to a close, we will all be able to step back and, with time, see many positive outcomes and opportunities. It was a year that started with the promise of a return to the “old normal."  That hope soon gave way to yet again the “new normal." Over the course of the last few months, I have been filled with such happiness to see school looking much more that way it should with athletics, field trips, and assemblies!  


Over the course of the last year, I have noted many positives in the midst of these very challenging times.  I have watched exceptionally strong teachers grow even stronger in support of their students.  I have seen students grow even more disciplined and diligent in approaching their academic work and in advocating for themselves.  Our students have shown tremendous resiliency this year! I have seen parents grow to be exceptionally active partners in our school partnership!  


I have always maintained that the strong, positive culture that shapes this community of “Legends" has been built by students, parents, and staff working in tandem.  Thus, I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their role in shaping our school community and in helping it to further flourish.


I begin with our students.  There have been so many occasions during which our students have made me so very proud. The manner in which students have responded to the uncertainty and unpredictability of this past year has filled me with great hope and confidence for our world.  What a legacy these “Legends" will leave!  To our Grade 9 students moving onto high school, I wish you the absolute very best!  I only wish your last year as Legends could have been filled with so much more of what shapes the typical school experience. We are very proud of you all and will miss you terribly!


Our kids are great because of their parents!  Thank you, parents, for your awesome support of our work with your kids over the course of this year.  You supported your kids in completing tasks and encouraging them to do their absolute best, especially in this most different world of late.


I thank our staff for their unending hard work!  Parents, you can be assured that your kids have been challenged, enriched, honored, supported, nurtured, protected, and deeply cared for.  Students have received countless opportunities and experiences outside of the classroom as a result of teachers freely giving of their time.  I am particularly proud of and appreciative for the extra time teachers have given to support kids when they have encountered challenges in their learning.  I am greatly impressed by and appreciative of the extent to which teachers re-imagined their practice and engaged in much personal learning around on-line learning in order to best support students in this vastly unknown territory.


We have now completed our sixth year as a school community. With that passing of time inevitably comes movement of some people who were members of the original “Legendary" crew of our inaugural school year of 2016-17.  Specifically, we bid farewell to three Legends!


After a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, our Learning Leader of Student Services, Stuart Rieger, is retiring.  I have had the good fortune to know Mr. Rieger for nearly 25 years.  I have worked with him across three different schools. He has both greatly supported and inspired me in my work as an educator. I wish my dear friend all the absolute best as he now finds time to indulge his passions for family and travel. Mr. Rieger has made a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of students over the course of his remarkable career.


Colleen Threadkell has been instrumental in driving forth our whole school work around literacy for these last six years.  Ms. Threadkell is moving to Dr. E.P Scarlett High School to fulfill a lifelong dream of teaching high school English.  Her contributions to building our school community are immeasurable.  Staff and students have benefitted so very greatly from her vast knowledge, exceptional work ethic, and deep compassion.  She leaves behind an enormous legacy in this school's history!

Ms. Gemma Rae is moving to Rideau Park School. I have been fortunate to know Ms. Rae for almost ten years.  She completed her student teaching at a school where I previously served as principal. She showed such promise that it was a very easy decision for me to hire her onto staff right upon her graduation from university.  Three years later, it went without question that she needed to be a part of this school community.  Over the course of these almost ten years, I have watched a new teacher with such promise develop into a most strong, experienced teacher, making a huge difference in the lives of each of her students in her quiet, gentle way.


As you are aware, this is my last principal's message to you as I move onto a new leadership position within the CBE.  The opportunity to have served as principal of this school community for the last six years will remain an absolute highlight of my career and one of my greatest honours. I am exceptionally proud of the students that have been a part of this school's story from the first day till today. I see outstanding citizens of tomorrow when I reflect upon students of the past and today. During this time, I have been blessed to work alongside the most amazing staff a principal could ever experience.  I thank each of them for their exceptional hard work and deep care given to each of your children. There are some very experienced teachers whom I knew from previous experiences that would prove to be indispensable in building a strong school community.  They each lived up to their reputations!  There are several newer teachers, with great energy and passion, that have learned from those experienced teachers and who will take up the mantle of continuing to make this “legendary" learning community so very strong.  Finally, thank you, parents/guardians for your support of my leadership over these six years.  My work is now complete and I leave this community feeling most comfortable and confident in the future of McKenzie Highlands!


With warmest regards and best wishes in the future,

Kel Connelly​


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