Sep 11
Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year

I extend a most warm welcome to our returning families and to those joining our community for the first time.

To say that the start of this school year is unlike any we have ever experienced would be an understatement.

As we all attempt to navigate through this unchartered territory, it is essential that we all have a common understanding of and appreciation for the heightened health and safety protocols that have been put into place by the Calgary Board of Education, in order to ensure for the safety of students, staff, and families.

I would ask that you please, if you haven't already, familiarize yourself with our school's re-entry plan, which was emailed to you at the start of the school year and which is also contained on our school website at https://school.cbe.ab.ca/school/McKenzieHighlands/

Key highlights of the plan include:

  • Students and staff completing the daily health screening assessment before coming to school.
  • Students not arriving at school before 8:15 and promptly leaving the school and school grounds at the end of the day.
  • Students always entering and exiting through their designated doors.
  • Students remaining in their homeroom cohort for all classes, including physical education and complementary classes.  Instead of students changing rooms for classes, teachers are moving so as to limit the number of people traveling throughout the building. The only exception to this is when students, as a homeroom cohort, travel to PE and their complementary class.
  • Students always masking and sanitizing upon entering the school, at any time throughout the day.
  • Students and staff sanitizing whenever entering or exiting their classroom throughout the day.
  • Masks remain worn during class time as we cannot achieve physical distancing owing to class size and furniture limitations.  Please note that mask breaks are incorporated throughout the day for students while in their homeroom classrooms.  Masks are also required whenever students are travelling through common areas of the school.
  • Students are not to be sharing materials.
  • Students must remain in the same assigned seat for all classes.  This includes lunchtime.
  • Students must sign out whenever leaving their classroom.  Only one student is allowed to leave a classroom at a time.
  • Keeping to the right when walking in the hallways
  • Continual promoting of social distancing

In order to further minimize numbers of people in the hallways, we have moved to a “soft entry," meaning that students can start entering the building as early as 8:15 and go directly to their homeroom classroom for the 8:30 formal start to the day.

For lunch, we have implemented a staggered lunch.  Students in grades 4 and 5 go outside for the first half of lunch while grade 6 students remain inside to eat their lunch.  Half way through lunch, grades 4 and 5 students come in for lunch while grade 6 students then go outside.  This is intended to reduce the number of students congregating both inside and outside at any one time.

It should be noted that students in grades 7-9 are allowed to remain at school for lunch.  They have the option of spending the first half of lunch eating in their homeroom classroom and then they must go outside for the second half of lunch.  Those students who choose to leave for lunch must promptly exit the building at the start of lunch and they will not be permitted to re-enter the building until the end of the formal lunch period at 1:19.

I bring to your attention that we have received several expressions of concern and complaint from community residents about our students seemingly ignoring health and safety protocols during lunch time. This is of concern as we want to ensure that our students and their families remain safe.  We also have a citizenship role to play in ensuring that our fellow community residents feel safe and also remain safe.  To that end, I have visited all grade 7-9 homerooms, reminding them of necessary health and safety protocols so as to ensure that our community sees students being mindful, respectful, and responsible citizens.  Even more significantly, this has been done to ensure that your children's personal health and safety, and the health and safety of their peers, and their families, remain protected.  Parents, I ask that you please support us in this important work by frequently educating your children around the risks associated with Covid-19.   Additionally, if at any time you have questions or concerns related to communication we give students around health and safety, please contact me directly, so as to ensure the message you have received is, in fact, accurate.  I am more than happy to entertain those conversations with you.  My direct email is kjconnelly@cbe.ab.ca.  Please feel free to also call me.  The phone number is (403) 817-3544.

Covid-19 has also necessitated some significant structural changes to our programing.  A big part of the grades 7-9 student experience is the opportunity to access option classes in addition to the core subjects of Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Physical Education. Certain courses, such as Band and Foods, have been substantially restricted in terms of what can be attended to.  As well, option classes are a period during which students normally leave their homeroom cohort and take classes with students from another homeroom cohort.  In order to limit the “cohorts" to which students belong, as an additional means of working to reduce student risk, we have re-structured our complementary program.  For this semester at least, meaning until the end of January, students will remain in their homeroom cohort and take one specific complementary class every day for a period of between 6-10 weeks, depending upon their grade.  Students in grades 7-9 will each take a technology class, a construction class, an art class, a creative design class, and a fine arts class.

Additionally, school athletics has been postposed, as per CBE direction.  Also, extra-curricular clubs and activities have been postponed.   As well, we have postponed our first round of Parent/Teacher/Student conferences, which were scheduled towards the end of September.  We are working to creatively construct a process whereby parents will “virtually" have an opportunity to put a “face to the names" they have been hearing at home.  I ask for your continual patience as we work to construct a new process for this very important point of contact.

It should also be noted that all teachers maintain a D2L “Brightspace" shell which parents can access by visiting our website.  Brightspace course shells will contain important information about what is currently being studied in class, due dates for homework assignments, and test dates.  As well, students and parents can also track student achievement in class.  Moreover, teachers will upload assignments and additional learning resources to Brightspace.  This will be of particular benefit this year, should students be away from class for an extended period of time.

Every year, we welcome new faces to our staff.  I am thrilled to announce that three new teachers have joined our staff.  Ms. Taylor Berry is teaching music and fine arts.  Mr. Vance Lam is teaching Grade 6 math and science and physical education.  Mr. Stephen Becker joins us to teach grade 7 and 8 Language Arts and Social Studies.

Sadly, every year, we also say goodbye to some staff members and that is always difficult.  This year we say goodbye to someone for whom it very sad for me to be wishing farewell.  Kathy Van Heurn, our administrative assistant, was the second hired staff member of McKenzie Highlands in March of 2016.  Shortly thereafter, Ms. Van Heurn and I, sharing a table in the Area Office, began the process of constructing this new school.  Over the course of the last four and half years she has been indispensable to me, and all of our staff, in valiantly and proudly supporting the daily work of this school community. This Monday, she begins a new position with the CBE.  I know she will do excellently in her new role.  However, it is a huge loss for our school community.  Although we will replace the position, we will certainly not replace this most original “Legend!"

Over the course of the coming weeks, you will undoubtedly have many questions and concerns.  Again, I strongly encourage you to always bring those questions and issues directly to me, whether that be via email or phone call.  That way we can ensure you have clarity and accuracy around those concerns.  As well, if we know there is a problem, we are then better positioned to constructively fix the problem!  So please, stay in touch directly with me.

My best wishes to our students, parents, and staff as we journey through many unknowns before us during this most unprecedented time!

Regards,

​Kel Connelly

 Code of Conduct ​
AHS Student Health Guidelines​


Jun 29
June 29, 2020

​To say this has been a challenging school year would be a huge understatement!

It is my hope that as we bring this unprecedented school year to a close, we will all be able to step back and, with time, see some positive outcomes and opportunities that we can build upon going forward to forge an even stronger school community.

Over the course of the last few months, I have noted some positives in the midst of these very difficult times.  I have watched exceptionally strong teachers grow even stronger as a team 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.  I have seen parents grow to be exceptionally active partners in our school partnership!  It is my sincere hope that we can leverage these positive outcomes and live them in a more traditional school environment next year!

At this point we do not yet know what next year will look like.  Presently, the Calgary Board of Education is diligently planning around three scenarios to align with guidelines as put forth by Alberta Education. 

One scenario would see school return to near normal routines, with additional health and safety measures in place.  A second scenario would have in-school classes partially resume.  This model would see an even greater number of additional health and safety measures in place and also see students attending in-school classes on modified schedules.  The third scenario would see a continuation of in-school classes cancelled for all students and teaching and learning facilitated through remote means, as has been the case for the last three months. 

Some of the most obvious changes for our school next year may include the following:

Where possible, creating cohorts or groups of students and teachers who will stay together throughout the day;

Increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas and equipment;

Identifying ways to engage in valuable courses where additional health protocols must be followed (e.g. physical education, music classes), and ensuring cleaning of equipment that may be shared by multiple students (e.g. computers, gym equipment)

Creating regular routines to support hand hygiene and coughing/sneezing etiquette;

Enforcing a strict illness policy.  Anyone showing signs of sickness will not be allowed on buses or in schools.  This means families will need to ensure they have back-up childcare available if their child is unable to attend school;

Changing pick-up and drop-off routines for parents to support physical distancing student safety while entering or exiting the building;

Using spaces such as gyms and libraries to deliver education programs to aid in physical distancing;

Developing new procedures for students using yellow school buses, including assigned seating and how students get on and off the bus; and

Organizing and planning to apply protocols and online instruction allowing us to move between different scenarios if required.

In early August, Alberta Education will inform school authorities as to what scenario will be put into effect for the start of the school year.   As more information comes to light, the CBE, at a system level, will regularly share plans going forward for the 2020-21 school year.  Please check our school website regularly throughout the summer for CBE system updates.

Although the recent reality is what is most fresh for all of us, I do think it important to still take a step back in time to acknowledge the culture prevailing throughout our school community prior to the pandemic.  I have always maintained that the strong, positive culture that shapes this community of “Legends” has been built by students, parents, and staff working together in tandem.  Thus, I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their role in shaping our school community and helping sustain our community, particularly through these most recent months.

I begin with our students.  You need to know that we have missed seeing you in person terribly these last few months.  There have been so many occasions during which our students have made me so very proud – whether it be as scholars, athletes, artists, responsible citizens, or kids just growing in maturity and learning to show greater levels of respect and consideration to all they interact with.  When I look at our kids, I am filled 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 final few months as Legends could have been actually spent in school.  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 homework and encouraging them to do their absolute best, especially during these recent months.  You worked with teachers to ensure that students remained on a path towards success.  You cheered kids on at countless athletic events.  You attended assemblies.  You attended Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences.  You volunteered on countless enrichment excursions!  We deeply thank you for your solid commitment to our work with your kids.

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.

This year our population stood at approximately 785 students.  Next year we will grow to approximately 825 students.  I’m thrilled to welcome the following teachers to our staff next year:  Stephen Becker will be joining us to teach Grades 7 and 8 Language Arts and Social Studies.  Vance Lam joins us to teach Grade 6 Math and Science and Physical Education.  Taylor Berry will become our new music and band teacher.  Welcome to our newest Legends! 

Sadly, however, we also say goodbye to some staff.  Unfortunately, system-wide budgetary implications mean that Priya Stephen will not be returning next year.  We thank her for her very hard work and deep commitment and care consistently demonstrated towards her students. We wish her all the absolute best in what will be a most promising future for her within the CBE. 

As we conclude this year, It is my sincere hope that the worst is behind us and that next year will bring back to us a world we are all much more comfortable with.  

I extend to all our students, parents, and staff, wishes for a most restful and rejuvenating summer.  

Take care and stay safe!


Kel Connelly


Apr 14
April 14, 2020

Over the course of the last few weeks, schools, literally across the world, have been forced to reinvent the ways in which teaching and learning will occur over the next little while.  McKenzie Highlands has been no exception to this new reality.  I know I speak for our entire staff when I say the hardest part of this is not seeing “our kids” every day.   

 We have, as have all schools across the Calgary Board of Education, moved to a model of on-going learning that primarily utilizes technological platforms to support students in their learning during this time.  The primary modes of technology connecting students, families, and teachers are D2L, Google virtual meeting apps, and email.  I thank our students and families for their patience and understanding as we work to take up this challenge.  I thank our staff for the enormous time, effort, and care they have extended in taking up this challenge!

 As mandated by Alberta Education, students in grades 4-6 are to receive an average of 5 hours per week of task work in Language Arts and Math, with opportunities for Science and Social Studies to be integrated into LA and Math where appropriate.  This translates into approximately 2.5 hours per subject, per week.  Students in grades 7-9 are to receive an average of 10 hours per week of task work in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies, again translating into approximately 2.5 hours per subject, per week.

 Learning tasks are uploaded to D2L shells for the week by 8:30 a.m. on Mondays, with an expectation that students will complete the work by the following Friday.  In addition to tasks being uploaded to D2L and students submitting their work via D2L, a number of teachers are also using Google Meet apps to facilitate virtual face to face contact with their students.  Some of these virtual classroom meetings involve teachers teaching lessons, conducting tutorials, facilitating classroom discussions, holding class meetings, and answering student questions.  Teachers also have formal “office hours” posted during which students can virtually, either through Google meetings, phone calls, or emails, connect with teachers for further instruction, clarification, and support in completing tasks.  By no means are students limited to only accessing teacher support during these formal office hours.  Students and families are encouraged, when needing clarity and support, to connect with teachers via email.

 We now enter our third week of this new on-going learning model.  The first week was certainly experimental.  The second week likely involved students and their families finding a “rhythm” in which to approach their learning.  It is my hope during this third week that the rhythm becomes routine as students develop a schedule to best support their learning and capitalize on opportunities for teacher support.  Teachers will be closely monitoring submission of student work and will certainly connect with families should there be concern about the quantity and/or quality of work being submitted.  Parents, if you are finding it difficult to have your child commit to a scheduled routine, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teachers so that we can problem-solve together.

 Although we are very focused at this time on creatively supporting students to get through this immediate time, we are still taking up our work of planning for next year.  One of those important pieces involves placing students in their complementary or “option” classes for next year.   Students were given the opportunity, beginning a couple of weeks ago, to select those classes.  We still have a number of students in grades 6, 7, and 8 who have not yet made their selections.  I ask parents to please check in with their children and see if they have completed their selections and if not, please ensure they finish doing so by the end of this week.  This process is completed online in PowerSchool.  If your child is experiencing any difficulty with this process please don’t hesitate to call the office and speak with Mr. Cooper, or email Mr. Cooper at dgcooper@cbe.ab.ca.  Students who do not complete their selections may find that they are placed in complementary classes where there is space remaining available.

 As you are now all aware, our assistant principal, Ms. Tania Brown, has left our school community in order to take up her new role as principal of Annie Foote School.  We say goodbye to her with the most mixed of emotions.  She is very deserving of this appointment and will make an exceptionally outstanding principal.  However, we are selfishly sad for ourselves as we will miss her incredible work ethic, vast knowledge, deep compassion, and wonderful sense of humour.  Every day, over the course of the last three years, she came to work committed to making the world better for students, their families, teachers, and this principal.  Thank you!  We wish her the absolute best in her new endeavour!

 In the interim, Mr. Danny Cooper, one of our Learning Leaders, has stepped into the role of acting assistant principal.  I thank Mr. Cooper for taking on this added responsibility, particularly during this terribly challenging time.  Over the course of the next couple of weeks a new assistant principal will be selected and begin their duties, tentatively, following the May long weekend.

 Please continue to take care of yourselves and your families and never hesitate to contact your child’s teachers or myself in the event you are feeling in need of support.

 

Take care,

Kel Connelly
Principal

Apr 06
April 6, 2020

Please see the letter below from our Assistant Principal, Tania Brown.
Ms. Brown will be leaving us at the end of this week to become Principal of Annie Foot School. On behalf of our school community, I thank her for almost three years of very dedicated and passionate service! We wish her the absolute best in her new journey!

 
Dear Families of McKenzie Highlands School,
I write this letter with a heavy heart. I wish I could tell you and the students in person that my journey as your Assistant Principal has come to an end. Effective Monday, April 13th, I begin my new role as Principal of Annie Foote School.
I want to tell you how much I have enjoyed working with your children and you, over the past three years. When I joined McKenzie Highlands, I immediately realized what a special place it was. Not only because of your students and yourselves, but to find such an amazing group of teachers and support staff, who put kids first, every single day.
As our worlds have turned upside down over the last few weeks, you must know how each teacher misses your children terribly. I have seen our staff work tirelessly, day and night and on weekends to get ready for this new way of teaching and learning. I don’t think any of us were prepared for this, but what we have accomplished in just a short time, reminds me that teachers and support staff are superheros. Your children are in the best and most capable hands possible during this time. That is one less worry you need to carry right now.
To my students: Thank you! Thank you for trusting me; thank you for challenging me; thank you for making me a better Assistant Principal everyday. I will miss you terribly.
To the parents: Thank you for being such amazing partners in your child’s educational journey. It truly takes a village to raise a child. With your support, McKenzie Highlands is that village.
To my staff: You are the best. You are so talented, caring and passionate about teaching and learning. I see you make each decision in the best interest of your students. You are amazing and collectively, McKenzie Highlands is by far a wonderful and safe place for children to learn and thrive.
To Principal Connelly: Thank you. Thank you for giving me the leadership opportunities to develop my capacity to serve a community of learners. Thank you for all your kind words of advice and the guidance you have given me.
My time at McKenzie Highlands can only be described as magical. It was a privilege to be apart of this school community. Until we meet again……
Air hugs,
Ms. Brown
Feb 06
Principal's Message

Hopefully you have had an opportunity to review your child’s report card that was made available to you through PowerSchool on January 30.  The purpose of this report card is to provide you with a summary of assessment data in relation to how your child is achieving in each of the major curricular outcomes associated with their subjects.  Teacher comments are intended to give insight as to your child’s current achievement and identify areas for continual growth. There will be one more report card at the end of June.  Please bear in mind that should you ever have any questions or concerns, you are encouraged to contact teachers throughout the course of the school year.​

 

Our final round of Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences are scheduled for February 11 and 12.  These conferences are by appointment only and scheduled through Conference Manager.  Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences are an excellent means to helping teachers and parents to better support students as “action plans” can be developed between school and home to help further set conditions for 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 further success.  Should you experience any difficulty booking appointments, please contact the school’s main office.

 

In addition to report cards, students and parents are encouraged to regularly visit D2L to monitor student progress and to also be aware of homework, assignments, and test dates. There is a direct link to D2L contained on our website at www.cbe.ab.ca/mckenziehighlands.  Additionally, I encourage you to visit Iris, which can also be accessed by visiting our website.  In Iris, you will find your child’s self-authored Student Learning Plan, in which they have set forth specific learning goals for themselves and developed strategies to realize those goals. You will also find artefacts of their work.

 

Over the last few weeks, parents/guardians of grades 4 and 7 students should have received a survey in the mail from Alberta Education.  The Accountability Pillar serves as an “annual check-up” on the province’s education system.  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.  

 

 As always there is no shortage of activity beyond the walls of classrooms! This coming weekend is our junior basketball tournament – Hoopfest!  Go Legends go! Grades 4, 5 and 6 students will get to participate in an activity day on February 21 that will feature such activities as swimming, mini golf, bowling, “InjaNation,” and skiing at Nakiska.  Grade 6 students will further their understanding of aerospace and aerodynamics by visiting the Hanger Flight Museum later this month.  Next month, grade 4 students will be visiting the Leighton Centre and grade 9 students will attend SAIT to explore different career opportunities in the trades. Grades 4, 6, and 7 students will also be attending the National Geographic Presents series. Also, in early March, our senior basketball teams will take to the court in our tournament – the “Legendary Showdown.” Thank you to those staff members who have been involved in organizing these opportunities for our students.  We also wish our basketball teams best of luck as they continue to build on their strong starts to the season! Thank you to our coaches –  Ms. Birss, Mr. D’Aloisio, Mr. McFarlane, Mr. Harris, Mr. Rieger, and Mr. Irvine.

 

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call me or email me at kjconnelly@cbe.ab.ca 

 

Best regards, 

 

Kel Connelly ​

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​

Sep 16
September 2019

Welcome to the 2019-20 school year!

McKenzie Highlands continues to grow! Today, as we enter our fourth year, we sit with a student population of approximately 790 students in grades 4 through 9 and 38 teachers. Absolutely every classroom is now in use!

I’m thrilled to welcome all of our students, parents, and staff to the home of the Legends! I extend a special welcome to two of our newest staff members: Sue Nixon, teaching Grade 6 Math and Science, and Michael Smith, teaching Grade 5.

Ours is a school community built upon the pillars of academics, athletics, artistry, and citizenship.  Our staff is committed to attending to all of the developmental needs of our kids - academically, physically, socially, emotionally, and ethically. This commitment permeates throughout the classroom and extends beyond the walls of classrooms to the rich host of extra-curricular opportunities afforded our students.

It is extremely important, early in the school year, for students to quickly settle into a study routine. It is reasonable to expect students in grades 6 through 9 to have at least a half hour to one hour of homework per night. Students and parents should bear in mind there will be times where the workload is considerably more at all grade levels. Students are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities outside of formal class time to receive additional teacher support.

 

I invite you to be involved in supporting your child’s learning through regularly monitoring their academic progress on D2L and through reviewing their self - developed Student Learning Plans (SLPs) contained in Iris. With SLPs, students identify ways they learn best and set forth some of their own learning goals. Additionally, students will be posting artifacts of their work in Iris. Both D2L and Iris can be accessed through visiting our website at http://www.cbe.ab.ca/mckenziehighlands. All students are currently in the midst of building their individual SLP.

 

Our first round of Parent/Teacher/Student conferences is scheduled for this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The intent of these conferences is for teachers to get a better sense of students as learners and provide an opportunity to build strategies between school and home in support of students.

 

Over the course of this year, students will have enormous opportunity to access a number of exciting extra-curricular opportunities. On September 26, we will hold our annual club fair, giving students an opportunity to see all that is offered.  Some of these offerings include:  Band, Music Club, Drama, Principal’s Advisory Group, Patrols, Newspaper Club, Science Olympics, Eco Club, Robotics Club, culinary club, “Me to We Club, Lego Club, Book Club, sewing, craft, and crochet. Last year we offered over 20 extra-curricular clubs.

 

On the athletic front, cross-country, soccer, and volleyball are quickly getting under way. It’s terrific to see the outstanding level of student interest in all of these activities. Basketball, badminton, and track will round out our athletic program over the course of the year. As per the Calgary Middle Level Schools Amateur Athletics (CMLSAA) constitution, students in grades 6 through 9 are allowed to try out for and play on school athletic teams. In addition to this opportunity, we provide developmental athletic clubs for our younger students along with a formalized intramural program at lunchtime.

 

Thank you, in advance, to parents for helping support our school’s cell phone policy. Students are allowed to bring their cell phones to school but will be expected to leave their cell phones secured in their lockers during class time. Students in grades 7 – 9 will be allowed to have access to their phones during lunch hour. Grades 4 to 6 students will be allowed to access their cell phones during the second half of lunch after having eaten. If there are instances where students are in chronic violation of the cell phone policy, their phones may be confiscated for the remainder of the day and stored securely in the office.

 

We do not produce a monthly newsletter. Every Friday, we email a message highlighting past events of the week and offer a sneak preview of what’s around the corner. Additionally, I will send out regular principal’s messages. As well, teachers will, when necessary, email important information. Over the course of this year we will continue to build our website to help include you more in our learning community. This will include important school rules and expectations, events, and resources to help support you in our work with your child. It will also provide an opportunity for you to come to better know your child’s teachers! Stay tuned!

 

Please feel free to email, call, or drop in for a visit should you have any questions or concerns, or just want to learn a little more about our school community.

 

Looking forward to meeting many of you over the course of the year!

 

Kel Connelly

Principal​

Jun 24
June 2019

McKenzie Highlands is a school built upon the pillars of academics, athletics, arts, and citizenship. 

Those pillars provided a most solid foundation for students this year!

Academically, teachers were passionately dedicated to getting to really know their students as learners – unearthing what types of learning experiences most engaged students and what each student most needed in terms of having their unique learning needs supported.  As well, we watched our students grow immensely – doing their homework, giving their best efforts to tasks, and contributing to positive classroom environments.

Athletically, we fielded teams in all sports sanctioned by Calgary Middle Level School Amateur Athletics.  This year our “Legendary” teams captured 8 divisional pennants! Even more impressive, though, was that our athletes consistently showed tremendous skill, determination, and character as they represented our school with great pride.

Artistically, musicians and actors were given an abundance of opportunity to explore, develop, and refine their talents through band and drama classes with culminating concert performances and production of “The Comic Book Artist.”  Evident when these students took stage was not only great talent, but also much effort, courage, and perseverance!

In the realm of citizenship there were so many occasions upon which our students stepped up to inspire much hope for our future. Of particular note, was the work of our Grade 6 students and their Take Action Fair, which culminated with almost $10,000 being raised for a number of local, national, and international causes.  Not to be overlooked are the countless informal displays of responsible and respectful citizenship displayed by students on a daily basis throughout our school community.

This culture that shapes this community of “Legends” has been built by students, parents, and staff.  Thus, I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their role in shaping our school community!

I begin with our students.  There have been so many occasions during which our students have made me so very proud – whether it be as scholars, athletes, artists, responsible citizens, or kids just growing in maturity and learning to show greater levels of respect and consideration to all they interact with.  When I look at our kids, I am filled with great hope and confidence for our world.  What a legacy these “Legends” will leave!

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 homework and encouraging them to do their absolute best.  You worked with teachers to ensure that students remained on a path towards success. You cheered kids on at countless athletic events.  You attended assemblies.  You attended Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences.  You volunteered on countless enrichment excursions!

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.

This year our population stood at approximately 685 students.  Next year we will grow to approximately 760 students.  Such growth of course necessitates the hiring of additional staff.  I’m thrilled to welcome the following teachers to our staff next year: Sue Nixon will be joining us to teach Grade 6 Math and Science, Michael Smith will be teaching Grade 5 and Evvy Jenoure joins us to support our L and L students in Grade 8.

Sadly, we also say goodbye to some staff.  Blake Irvine was with us this year on a temporary contract and made an outstanding contribution to our school community, both within the classroom and in coaching a number of our athletic teams. Priya Stephen and Jamie Bohnet each joined us over the course of this year on temporary contracts working in our L and L program. Both brought great dedication and care to their work with our students.  We wish Mr. Irvine, Ms. Stephen, and Ms. Bohnet all the absolute best in what will be most promising futures within the CBE.

Thank you, everyone, for a most memorable and amazing year!  Wishing all of you a summer full of much relaxation and rejuvenation!

Kel Connelly​

Apr 17
April / May 2019

​​Welcome back from what I hope was a relaxing and rejuvenating Spring Break for all!  The next three months will be fast and furious as we sprint toward the finish line of this school year!

With spring blossoming upon us, keeping students focused can be challenging.  Ways that parents can help support in realizing student success include: contacting teachers as necessary, monitoring D2L (accessible on our school website) visiting Iris (also accessible on our school website), asking your child about assignments and test results, making sure your child is dedicating some time every day for homework and final exam preparation, asking about special events scheduled on our calendar, and booking medical and dental appointments outside of class time when possible.  A detailed final exam schedule for students in grades 6 through 9 will be sent home toward the end of this month.

 

Although this school year is not yet complete, we are already in the process of planning for next year.  For the 2019-20 school year, our enrollment is projected to increase from our current 675 students to that of approximately 790 students.  Next year our grade configuration will again be that of grades 4 through 9.  We are planning on two grade 4 homerooms, seven grade 5 homerooms, five grade 6 homerooms, five grade 7 homerooms, four grade 8 homerooms, and four grade 9 homerooms.  If you know for certain or think there may be a possibility that you will be moving away from our school community, I ask that you please contact the school office as that will help in our planning for next year. 

  

A hallmark of our school is the abundance of opportunities we provide for the reflection of student voice.  One way in which we do this is through the administration of student surveys.  In January, students in grades 4 and 7 completed Alberta Education’s Accountability Pillar Survey.  In the coming weeks, students in grades 5, 6, 8, and 9 will have the opportunity to complete the Calgary Board of Education Student Survey.  Between these two surveys, topics such as student academic engagement, quality of instruction, social engagement, emotional health, sense of citizenship, and physical well-being are measured.  The information gleaned from these surveys is taken very seriously and extensively utilized in our planning for next year as we continue to work towards enhancing the “whole school” experience for our students. 

 

Our school is built upon the pillars of academics, arts, athletics, and citizenship.  Teachers and students are showing how strong each of those pillars are this year!  Our basketball teams enjoyed stellar seasons, all teams going undefeated through regular season play, and three of our four teams capturing divisional pennants!  Badminton and track seasons are now under way and I extend the best of luck to all our athletes!

 

In the realm of arts, both Mr. Cooper and Ms. Rae have been terribly busy!  Thank you to Mr. Cooper for his time and effort extended towards organizing phenomenal band camp opportunities for our musicians.  Wishing our band students all the best in advance of their spring concert season!  Thank you to Ms. Rae for her work in directing our Spring production of “The Comic Book Artist,” which debuts on May 15.  

 

Kudos go out to our grade 6 students and teaching team for their enormous displays of citizenship through their organizing of activities intended to help our outside community in the form of their “Take Action Fair.” Grade 6 students have raised almost $4,000 to be contributed to a number of community agencies!  Thank you to Mr. Ashton for taking the lead in coordinating this invaluable citizenship building opportunity for our students.

 

Learning transcends the walls of school.  There are enormous experiential learning opportunities presented to our students at all grade levels over the course of the school year. Two huge opportunities are currently about to be realized by grades 7 and 9 students. Wishing our grade 7 students an awesome Outdoor School experience at the end of April/early May.  Thank you to Mr. McFarlane for all his efforts around coordinating this valuable experiential educational experience!  Also, I wish our Grade 9 students a wonderful and safe trip to Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City at the end of April.  Thank you to Mr. Rieger and Ms. Threadkell for the time and effort they are extending towards organizing this most educational and memorable trip for our students!

 

The next couple of months promise to be very busy as we race towards the finish line of the school year.  Given all that will be going on, please stay tuned for more information in addition to that of our weekly updates. 

 

Wishing all a strong, productive, joyous, and memorable sprint to the finish line! 

 

Kel Connelly ​

Feb 11
February 2019

Hopefully you have had an opportunity to review your child’s report card that went home on January 24.  The purpose of this report card is to provide you with a summary of assessment data in relation to how your child is achieving in each of the major curricular outcomes associated with their subjects.  Teacher comments are intended to give insight as to your child’s strengths and areas for continual growth. There will be one more official report card going home with students on the last day of school in June. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your child’s teachers.   

 

It was terrific to see the number of parents and students who attended our recent Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences. 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 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 March 21 and 22.  

 

In addition to report cards, students and parents are encouraged to regularly visit D2L to monitor student progress and to also be aware of homework, assignments, and test dates. There is a direct link to D2L contained on our website at www.cbe.ab.ca/mckenziehighlands.  Moreover, I encourage you to visit Iris, which can also be accessed by visiting our website. In Iris, you will find your child’s self-authored Student Learning Plan, in which they have set forth specific learning goals for themselves and developed strategies to realize those goals. You will also find artefacts of their work.

 

Over the last few weeks, parents/guardians of grades 4 and 7 students should have received a survey in the mail from Alberta Education.  The Accountability Pillar serves as an “annual check-up” on the province’s education system.  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.  

 

I would like to take this opportunity to invite our families to come celebrate our school community on Thursday, February 21 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! 

 

As always there is no shortage of activity beyond the walls of classrooms to further the learning experiences of our students. In the next few weeks grade 4 students will be visiting the Leighton Centre, grade 6 students will be off to the Rothney Observatory, and grade 9 students will travel to Edmonton to tour the Legislative Assembly.  Thank you to those staff members who have been involved in organizing these opportunities for our students. Also, thank you to Ms. Birss for all her time and effort spent organizing our recent Activity Days! We wish our basketball teams best of luck as they continue to build on their strong starts to the season! Thank you to our coaches –  Ms. Birss, Mr. D’Aloisio, Mr. McFarlane, Mr. Harris, Mr. Rieger, Ms. Brown, and Mr. Irvine.

 

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call me or email me at kjconnelly@cbe.ab.ca 

 

Best regards, 

 

Kel Connelly ​

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