Oct 11
Oct. 2018

October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book.
John Sinor

The “crisp” autumn air and the “cool nights [invites us to take] time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book.” As our seasons rather abruptly turn from the temperatures of cooler autumn to a walloping winter storm contrasting the strikingly, brilliant colours of fall with the white of winter, the Royal Oak School Community continues to focus on intellectually engaging in learning. With the beginning of October, our Canadian 2018 Nobel Prize winner for Physics, Donna Strickland is an excellent role model for our students. She is the third woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. Donna Strickland was recognized for helping to “pave the way” for the most intense laser beams ever created by humans via a technique that stretches and then amplifies the light beam. She brings honour, integrity and humility to the Nobel Prize for the discipline of Physics. This is a wonderful gift to the citizens of Canada and the world. It is interesting to imagine that perhaps one of our Royal Oak School children will one day hold such a prestigious and influential position.

It has been a great start to the school year and I would like to thank everyone for helping us rapidly refocus our excitement upon the important work of teaching and learning. It was wonderful to see so many people attend our first round of student-centred conferences and the school staff was again impressed at how quickly students have settled in and how committed the entire school is to creating the necessary conditions for successful learning. We have had to remind ourselves on a few occasions that it is just the first month of school.

The September Safety Week was positive with our practice of the following drills: fire drill, evacuation and lockdown. The students were extremely cooperative and the staff are confident that if there was an emergency, the students have now experienced the protocols for each drill and how to proceed. Thank you to parents who conversed with their children regarding the importance of these drills. I would also like to acknowledge the professionalism of the ROS staff as they prepared the students and conducted the drills to help ensure the safety of students and visitors to our school. A special thanks to Constable Will Johnson and his police partners for setting the appropriate serious tone for lockdowns in a gentle, friendly and kind manner.

The Terry Fox Run took place on Friday, September 14 and students braved the inclement weather. Royal Oak School students ran with the students from WD Pratt School in an effort to raise funds for a worthy cause. There is a great deal of enthusiasm and energy as we run to complete our .7 K lap route with 1100 students, staff and volunteers. I would like to extend a thank you to Ms. Hennick and the Comprehensive School Health Committee as well as Mr. Howat (PE Learning Leader from Pratt) for the accomplishment of demonstrating solid citizenship through concern for others. It is a very important to support fundraising initiatives that fight a disease that has such an unfair advantage. Thank you to all the students, staff and parents who donated “Toonies for Terry”.

We held our Royal Oak School Volunteer Orientation and if you missed the meeting, please check in with Ms. Jackson or Ms. Braun, our school Administrative Assistants, for the protocols and the “how to” information when volunteering in the school. I would also like to offer another special thank you to parent, Niki Rickhi, Volunteer Coordinator for her support and help that evening and throughout the year with our valued volunteers. It is volunteers who make so many, many wonderful opportunities for students possible. If you have not had the chance to either get your volunteer security clearance from the Calgary Police Service, or renew your volunteer security clearance, please see Ms. Jackson or Ms. Braun.

Following the Volunteer Orientation, our First School Council / Parent Fundraising Meeting of the year was held on Monday, September 10 at 6:30 p.m. All parents are welcome to participate in the discussions on school issues and give feedback. You can attend as a member of the community and are always welcome to join any of the committees such as Hug n’ Go (15 – 20 min), Fun Lunch and other initiatives set up by our ROS School Council and Parent Fundraising.

Royal Oak School celebrated Orange Shirt Day on September 28. We held an assembly with Shane Cunningham, CBE Diversity and Learning Support Advisor for Indigenous Education. Shane Cunningham spoke to the students about the Indigenous connection to the land and why it is important that we honour the land. Also, on September 28 was the Principal’s Gratitude Tea. Thank you to all parents who attended the Principal’s Gratitude Tea. I am grateful for your gifts of conversations and support.

I would like to extend a special thank you to ROS parents, Ms. Caitlyn Wood, and the members of School Council for organizing the celebratory community gathering of the Fall Fair for October 4. The plan was for a great, vibrant community gathering with so many of the ROS families out and enjoying the games, food trucks, laughter and great conversations with neighbours. Unfortunately, the winter’s early and unexpected arrival caused the cancellation of this wonderful ROS event. We look forward to the magnificent Fall Fair next year.

As we continue to strive for excellent communication with you, please ensure that you have subscribed to receive email messages from the school. The blue icon envelope that says, “Subscribe” on the Calgary Board of Education website near the bottom of the main website is how you subscribe and give approval. Our parent survey showed that most parents feel that communication is best served by receiving email messages. We would like to give just a gentle reminder to parents continue to check your child’s teacher blog daily for information on the events and upcoming activities in the classroom and school. Also, I would invite you to start checking into Iris to see some of the important work that your child has been completing in school. In addition, parents have asked to have a paper copy of the calendar and the Principal’s message to further enhance communication. More detail on the events in the school can be found in the school newsletter which is also posted on our website. Finally, check our Twitter Account @RoyaloakCBE for daily updates of school events. Please let us know if there is a better way to communicate with you about upcoming school events.

We are having a new Artist in Residence in Physical Education called Dance PL3Y from October 15 to October 23. The dance group will be working with all students from K – 3. The students will be focusing on their “dance moves” and we look forward to inviting parents in to dance with your children during their PE class. So, “get your dancing shoes on” and look for be more information coming to you soon regarding the invitation to participate with your children. Our returning Artist in Residence, Sharon Fortowsky, will be visiting from October 29 – November 15 to work with students on visual art connected to the discipline inquiry of historian, artist, geologist and illustrator and the Alberta Education Program of Studies. Sharon Fortowsky, an artist and former teacher, will be working this term with the Grade 2 and 3 students. The Kindergarten and Grade 1 students will have the opportunity to work with Ms. Fortowsky later in the school year. We are very excited to see the artist endeavors that the students create under the guidance of Shannon. Our Artist in Residence Programs sponsored by School Council and the Parent Fundraising Society are hosting our visual artist, Sharon Fortowsky. Sharon is working with the students and teachers on their inquiry work.

Our Student Photo Day is on Thursday, October 11 in the Learning Commons. The Re-take Day for student photos is on Wednesday, November 1. Any parent volunteers that are available we would welcome your participation provided you have security clearance.

We will be hosting a Costume wearing Halloween on Wednesday, October 31. Participation is optional. While wearing a costume to school is exciting and creative, we have a few requests to ensure costumes are safe and our focus is on teaching and learning. To make the day as success we would ask that students do not bring masks, weapons, or wear violent costumes. Also, other paraphernalia that is sharp, cumbersome or valuable should not come to school. Please look for further details regarding Halloween.

While the work in our school is constantly evolving, the early fall is traditionally a time where we create and formalize our School Development Plan. When we do this work, we review the data from multiple sources in order to set the goals and learning targets for the upcoming year. This plan is shared out at our School Council meetings on an annual basis but we do not always have the time to share and more importantly, celebrate these results. As such, I would like to take this opportunity to share some of that data that helps us recognize what a great school we continue to have. Some highlights from the June 2018 Royal Oak School data will be shared at the School Council/ Parent Fundraising meetings. We look forward to sharing more of this data at our October School Council/ Parent Fundraising Society meeting Monday, October 15 at 6:30 p.m. and in future newsletters including highlights from the Parent Survey, Student Survey and Teacher Survey.

Please join us. We welcome your participation.

Lynn Sparks
Principal, Royal Oak School


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