Apr 13
Principal's Spring Message

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!

 

It was terrific to see the number of parents and students who participated in our last round of Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences just prior to Spring Break.  These conferences are an excellent means to helping teachers and parents 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.  Even though this was the last formal round of Parent/Teacher/Student conferences, teachers will continue to maintain contact with parents via email and phone calls should they have any concerns.  I also encourage parents to connect with teachers should they have any questions or concerns.  Staff emails can be found on our website under the “about us" tab.

 

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 PowerSchool and D2L (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 next month.  Please note that students in grades 6 through 9 will complete their written English Language Arts exams in mid-May.  For grades 6 and 9 students, that written exam comes in the form of the English Language Arts Provincial Achievement Test.

 

Although this school year is not yet complete, we are already in the process of planning for next year.  For the 2022-23 school year, our enrollment is projected to be 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, five grade 5 homerooms, five grade 6 homerooms, five grade 7 homerooms, six grade 8 homerooms, and five 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 March, students in grades 4 and 7 completed the Alberta Education Assurance survey.  Additionally, students in grades 5, 6, 8, and 9 have completed 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. 

 

After two very long years, the “whole school experience" is beginning to again feel more familiar.  Students are again having the opportunity to experience an array of extra-curricular and experiential learning opportunities that have not been possible for the last two years.  Our badminton season is currently under way and that will soon give away to the track and field season.  Experiential learning experiences are abounding with a number of field trips on the horizon. Some of these experiences include: Outdoor School (Gr. 7 & 8), Band Camp (Gr. 7-9),  Royal Tyrell Museum (Gr. 7), Bow Valley Glacier Tour (Gr. 8), Rollercoasterology at Calaway Park  (Gr. 8) Riverwatch (Gr. 9) and the Calgary Zoo Tour (Gr. 9).  I thank those staff members who have invested considerable time and effort outside of their classroom responsibilities to organize these opportunities for our students.  Again, should the financial impact of some of these trips necessitate alternative payment arrangements, please contact the supervising teacher identified on the trip information letter to discuss payment options.  


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 03
Principal's Semester Change Message


As January gives way to February, that is a certain sign we are half way through the school year.  The other obvious sign of that milestone is the delivery of the first semester report card.

 

Beginning this past Tuesday, students and their parents/guardians have had opportunity to review first semester achievement as measured by Report Card 1.  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 learning strengths and identify areas for continual growth.  There will be one more report card at the end of June.  Report Cards will be accessed by logging into your My CBE/PowerSchool account.  Please visit our webpage for further detailed information on accessing report cards at https://school.cbe.ab.ca/school/McKenzieHighlands/Pages/default.aspx.

 

Our final round of Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences are scheduled for March 10 and 11.  Again, these conferences will be held via Microsoft Teams Meet. 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.  These conferences are by appointment only and scheduled through Conference Manager.  Should you experience any difficulty booking appointments, please contact the school's main office.  Please bear in mind that should you ever have any questions or concerns, you are encouraged to contact teachers throughout the remainder of the school year.  Their email address can be found on our website under the tab “About Us."  Additionally, teachers will continue to reach out to you should there be particular concerns.  Further information about booking your conferences can again be found by visiting our website.

 

In order to further connect you to the learning experience, I encourage you to regularly visit your child's course Brightspace D2L shells.  The link for visiting those shells is contained on our school website at https://school.cbe.ab.ca/school/McKenzieHighlands/Pages/default.aspx.  Brightspace course shells will contain important information about what is currently being studied in class, due dates for homework assignments, and test dates.  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.  Academic achievement is no longer reported through Brightspace D2L but rather found by visiting your MyCBE PowerSchool account.

 

This year a focus of our School Development Plan is around literacy, specifically in relation to writing skills.  In order to support students in developing effective writing skills, our staff have committed to implementing specific writing strategies across all curricular areas.  In Math, teachers from grades 4-9 have committed to working with students to improve their ability to use computation skills and estimation strategies while solving multi-step problems. 

Another essential element of our School Development Plan pertains to promoting student well-being in learning.  We are specifically focusing on implementing specific strategies to promote students' resiliency.  Part of this process involved having students complete a self-reflection survey.  As a staff, we are reviewing that survey to ensure that we can meaningfully reflect student voice through individual responses and implement both school-wide structural and cultural initiatives to better support our students.  In support of more intentionally attending to our students' well-being, we have introduced “Legend Time" into our schedule every other Wednesday.  The intention of this structured time block is to give students, under the guidance of a teacher, the opportunity to engage in formalized activities intended to promote greater student resiliency.  Students in Grades 6-9 participate in this 36-minute period every other Wednesday.  At grade 6, it is a homeroom-based activity.  For grades 7-9, it is grade based but homeroom mixed and provides students the opportunity to meet in smaller groupings to work around wellness themes.  It has truly been a neat experience to visit these sessions and observe students working together in support of another and caring for each other during these challenging times. 


I invite you to visit our School Development Plan which can be accessed by visiting our website and can be found by first clicking on the “About Us" tab at the top of our homepage and then clicking on the “Our School" tab.

 

Again, I would like to thank students, parents, and staff for their continual vigilance in adhering to health and safety protocols to ensure that we all remain safe during COVID-19. Please continue to refer to health screening protocols and remind your children to regularly bring masks to school.

 

Key highlights of our safety plan for students, staff, and parents 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 entrances/exits.
  • Grades 4-6 students remaining in their homeroom cohort for all classes, including physical education and complementary classes.  Students in grades 7-9 remain in grade cohorts, meaning that they may be in mixed PE classes and complementary classes with students from other homerooms at their grade level.
  • Students are required to wear masks at all times, unless social distancing can be achieved or a medical mask exemption has been obtained.  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 and staff hand-washing whenever entering or exiting their classroom throughout the day.
  • Students must remain in the same assigned seat for all classes.
  • Continual promoting of social distancing
  • Assemblies are not being held and extra-curricular clubs are not running.
  • Volunteers and visitors are permitted, provided they are scheduled and have completed the required COVID screening protocols.

 

In order to further minimize numbers of people in the hallways, we continue to have 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.

 

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 02
Principal's Winter Message

It is difficult to believe that the Winter Break is almost upon us!

As we continue to live through the continual challenges of Covid-19, I want to take this moment and say thank you to students, staff, and parents for your diligence in attending to all the many protocols associated with ensuring everyone's safety during this most uncertain time.  

It was terrific to see the number of parents and students who participated in our recent Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences held virtually during November.  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 March 10th and 11th, following first semester report cards being made available for review during the first week of February. 

​In addition to the official report card, student progress can be regularly monitored by checking MyCBE/PowerSchool.  Additionally, you can provide support to your child by visiting Brightspace (D2L), for which a link is found on our website.  This web-based application provides students and parents the opportunity to find what homework, assignments, projects, and tests are scheduled.  Parents are reminded that logging into Brightspace (D2L) via the student side will provide much more thorough information. 

In support of our students' continual academic achievement, we have, in our School Development Plan (SDP), prioritized some particular areas of focus over the course of this school year.  In the realm of literacy, we are particularly focusing on strengthening students' writing across the core subjects of Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science.  For Math, teachers are focusing on working with students to improve their ability to use computation skills and estimation strategies.  Additionally, our SDP contains a goal related to supporting student well-being for learning, specifically focusing on building resiliency.  Our SDP is posted to our school website at https://www.cbe.ab.ca/mckenziehighlands and can be found by first clicking on the “About Us" tab at the top of our homepage and then clicking on the “Our School" tab.  As well, under this tab, you may review our School Improvement Results Report for the 2020-21 school year.

In support of more intentionally attending to our students' well-being, we have introduced “Legend Time" into our schedule every other Wednesday.  The intention of this structured time block is to give students, under the guidance of a teacher, the opportunity to engage in formalized activities intended to promote greater student resiliency.  Students in Grades 6-9 participate in this 36-minute period every other Wednesday.  At grade 6, it is a homeroom-based activity.  For grades 7-9, it is grade based but homeroom mixed and provides students the opportunity to meet in smaller groupings to work around wellness themes.  It has truly been a neat experience to visit these sessions and observe students working together in support of one another and caring for each other during these challenging times.

As well, this past month, we have convened our Principal's Advisory Group.  Every homeroom from grade 4 to 9 has selected two representatives to meet monthly with a team of teachers and school administration in order to give student voice an opportunity to be meaningfully expressed around a host of considerations that impact the whole school experience.  I extend sincere appreciation to those students who have volunteered or who have been selected to participate in this opportunity.  Thank you to those staff who facilitate this process – Ms. Porterfield, Ms. Davis, Ms. Still, and Mr. Tyler.

As our Fall athletic season concludes, I congratulate our student athletes on solid performances in cross-country, soccer, and volleyball!  Thank you to those staff members who gave of their time to provide these experiences for our students – Ms. Hur, Ms. Truscott, Mr. McFarlane, Mr. Irvine, Mr. Harris, Ms. Perkin, Ms. Robinson, Ms. Craig, Ms. Hart, Mr. Tyler, and Mr. Burden.

Wishing students, parents, and staff a most restful and rejuvenating Winter Break.  Although this Holiday Season will perhaps look very different again this year, I hope that many magical moments can still be found for families.  Here's hoping for a New Year that brings back a much more familiar world!

Happy Holidays!

Kel Connelly



Sep 29
Welcome Principal's Message


Welcome to the 2021-22 school year!

I extend a most warm welcome to our returning families and to those joining our community for the first time! I also extend a special welcome back to those students returning from HUB learning!

The start of this school year has been somewhat more typical of how we would want a school year to begin.  However, the reality is that COVID is still very much a lingering factor influencing both the structure and culture of our school community.

As we all attempt to continue navigating through these challenging times, 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.

Key highlights of our safety plan for students, staff, and parents 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 entrances/exits.
  • Grades 4-6 students remaining in their homeroom cohort for all classes, including physical education and complementary classes.  Students in grades 7-9 remain in grade cohorts, meaning that they may be in mixed PE classes and complementary classes with students from other homerooms at their grade level.
  • Students are required to wear masks at all times, unless social distancing can be achieved or a medical mask exemption has been obtained.  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 and staff hand-washing whenever entering or exiting their classroom throughout the day.
  • Students must remain in the same assigned seat for all classes.
  • Continual promoting of social distancing
  • Although athletics is running, spectators are only permitted for outdoor sports such as soccer and cross-country. Indoor spectators are not permitted for volleyball.
  • Assemblies are not being held and extra-curricular clubs are not running.
  • Volunteers and visitors are permitted, provided they are scheduled and have completed the required COVID screening protocols.

​In order to further minimize numbers of people in the hallways, we continue to have 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 or tables set in the upstairs foyer.  They must then go outside for the second half of lunch.  Those students who choose to leave for lunch at the start of the lunch hour 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 1:17.

Our school population for this year has settled in around 810 students from grades 4 through 9. Homeroom class size averages are as follows: Grade 4 – 18; Grade 5 – 27; Grade 6 – 29; Grade 7 – 31; Grade 8 – 28, and Grade 9 – 32. 

This year we have welcomed some new teachers to our staff.  I'm thrilled to introduce Ms. Michelle Craig, teaching Grade 6 Math, Science, and Physical Education; Ms. Priya Stephen has returned to teach Grades 7 and 8 Language Arts and Social Studies; Mr. Blake Doucet-Lewis is our new Music and Band teacher while Ms. Taylor Berry is away on maternity leave; and Ms. Kiana Truscott is teaching Language Arts and Physical Education.  At the end of September we say farewell to Ms. Katie Birss as she begins her maternity leave.  Please join me in wishing her the absolute best!  Ms. Jamie Harris will be joining our school community at the start of October.

Usually in September we host a formal in-person “Meet the Teacher" evening in order to provide you with the opportunity to put faces to the names you've been hearing over the last few weeks.  As we could not yet do that again this year, teachers have produced introductory videos that you can view by logging onto each of your child's Brightspace D2L shells in order to see and learn a little bit more about those working with your children.  Videos will be accessible as early as this Saturday for your viewing enjoyment! I encourage you to contact your child's teachers, whether by phone or email should any concerns or questions arise for you. Direct email addresses for teachers can be found on our school website under the “About Us" tab.

In order to further connect you to the learning experience, I encourage you to regularly visit your child's course Brightspace D2L shells.  The link for visiting those shells is contained on our school website at https://school.cbe.ab.ca/school/McKenzieHighlands/Pages/default.aspx.  Brightspace course shells will contain important information about what is currently being studied in class, due dates for homework assignments, and test dates.  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.  Academic achievement is no longer reported through Brightspace D2L but rather found by visiting your MyCBE PowerSchool account.

Over the course of the coming weeks, you will undoubtedly have many questions and concerns.  Again, I strongly encourage you to 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 direct email is kjconnelly@cbe.ab.ca.

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


​Regards,

Kel Connelly

 



Jun 18
End of the Year Principal's 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 that we can build upon going forward to forge an even stronger school community.

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!  It is my sincere hope that we can leverage these positive outcomes and live them in a more traditional school environment next year.

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.

This year our population stood at approximately 825 students.  Next year we anticipate that our population will be in that range again. Sadly as we conclude every school year, we seem to say goodbye to some staff. This year we are bidding farewell to Michael Smith.  Mr. Smith joined us two years ago to teach Grade 5. This year he has served with excellence as a Grade 6 HUB teacher.  Mr. Smith is taking that most recent experience and further building upon it by joining Cbe-learn next year. As well, we also say farewell to Barbara Foldesi who has been with us for the last five years operating our cafeteria.  Students have been most fortunate that Mrs. Foldesi always approached her role with such creativity and care, ensuring students could experience something very close to a home cooked meal every lunch hour.  We wish Mr. Smith and Mrs. Foldesi all the absolute best with their next adventures.

It remains our hope that next year will look much more like years of past in terms of school structure, protocols, and activities.  Once we have received further clarity and direction from the provincial government and the senior leadership of the CBE we will communicate that information out to you.

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 and one in which we are not having to continuously ready ourselves to pivot!

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

Take good care and stay safe!

 

Kel Connelly





Apr 06
April Principal's Message

January through March can be somewhat slow, with seemingly endless dark and cold days.  The return from a rejuvenating spring break, colored by brighter and warmer days, signifies the beginning of the mad dash to the finish line of yet another school year!

Prior to commencing our spring break, the reality of COVID again hit home for us.  As you may be aware, we had multiple confirmed cases, primarily at one grade level, which resulted in that entire grade having to transition to online learning.  Moreover, a number of teachers and students had to isolate for 14 days, part of that isolation occurring over the spring break.  This unfortunate state of events reinforces for us the importance of strictly adhering to all protocols that have been enacted provincially and at the school level. Parents and guardians, I thank you for continuing to support the school in ensuring that students are acting most responsibly with respect to these protocols intended to ensure for the health and safety of all students, staff, and families.

​Although this school year is not yet complete we are already in the process of planning for next year.  For the 2021-22 school year our enrollment is projected to increase from our current 820 students to that of approximately 845 students.  Next year our grade configuration will again be that of grades 4 through 9.  We are planning on two grade 4 homerooms, five grade 5 homerooms, five grade 6 homerooms, six grade 7 homerooms, five grade 8 homerooms, and five 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 or perhaps electing to attend CBe-learn, I ask that you please contact the school office as that will help in our planning for next year. 

Students in grades 6 though 8 were given the opportunity just prior to spring break to select their complementary learning courses.  We still have a number of students in grades 6, 7, and 8 who have not yet made their selections.  I ask parents and guardians 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. Banack, Mr. Rieger, or myself.  Students who do not complete their selections may find that they are placed in complementary classes where there is space remaining available and in courses which weren't their top choices

 With spring blossoming upon us, keeping students focused can be challenging.  Ways that parents can help support students to realize continual success include: contacting teachers as necessary, monitoring Brightspace 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 school time when possible.  Students in grades 6 through 9 will write final exams.  A detailed final exam scheduled will be sent home in the coming weeks.

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.  Over the course of this year, students in grades 4 and 7 complete the Alberta Education Assurance Survey while students in grades 5, 6, 8, and 9 complete the OurSCHOOL 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 extensively utilized in our planning for next year as we continue to work towards enhancing the “whole school" experience for our students. 

Just prior to Spring Break, we bid farewell to Mrs. Wendy Roy, who has been one of our secretaries for the last four years.  Mrs. Roy was the friendly face you would often first see when entering our school or most pleasant voice that you would hear on the phone.  We wish her all the absolute best as she begins this next great adventure in life known as retirement!  I'm very pleased to welcome Mrs. Marliese Romanchuk to our staff, who will be taking over that position.  As well, I extend a warm welcome to Mrs. Jacqueline Bristow who has joined our staff of lunchroom supervisors.

The next three 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 through our weekly updates. 

​Wishing all an exhilarating sprint to the finish line! 

 

Kel Connelly 




Feb 02
February Principal's Message

As January gives way to February, that is a certain sign that we are half way through the school year.  The other obvious sign of that milestone is the delivery of the first semester report card.

This Tuesday, students and their parents/guardians will be able to review first semester achievement as measured by report card 1.  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 learning strengths and identify areas for continual growth.  There will be one more report card at the end of June.  Report Cards will be accessed by logging into your My CBE/PowerSchool account.  Please visit our webpage for further detailed information on accessing report cards at https://school.cbe.ab.ca/school/McKenzieHighlands/Pages/default.aspx.

Our final round of Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences are scheduled for February 9 and 10.  Again, these conferences will be held via Microsoft Teams Meet. 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.  These conferences are by appointment only and scheduled through Conference Manager.  Should you experience any difficulty booking appointments, please contact the school's main office.  Please bear in mind that should you ever have any questions or concerns, you are encouraged to contact teachers throughout the remainder of the school year.  Their email address can be found on our website under the tab “About Us."  Additionally, teachers will continue to reach out to you should there be particular concerns.  Further information about booking your conferences can again be found by visiting our website.

In addition to report cards, students and parents are encouraged to regularly visit Brightspace D2L to monitor student progress and to also be aware of homework, assignments, and test dates.  There is a direct link to D2L Brightspace contained on our website.  Additionally, I encourage you to also 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 may also find artefacts of their work posted there.

This year a focus of our School Development Plan is around literacy, specifically in relation to writing skills.  In order to support students in developing effective writing skills, our staff have committed to implementing specific writing strategies across all curricular areas.  As well, another focus of our School Development Plan pertains to promoting student well-being in learning.  We are specifically focusing on implementing specific strategies to promote students' resiliency.  Part of this process involved having students complete a self-reflection survey.  As a staff, we are reviewing that survey to ensure that we can meaningfully reflect student voice through individual responses and implement both school-wide structural and cultural initiatives to better support our students.  I invite you to visit our School Development Plan which can be accessed by visiting our website and can be found by first clicking on the “About Us" tab at the top of our homepage and then clicking on the “Our School" tab.

Again, I would like to thank students, parents, and staff for their continual vigilance in adhering to health and safety protocols to ensure that we all remain safe during COVID-19. Please continue to refer to health screening protocols and remind your children to regularly bring masks to school.

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, Principal ​


Dec 17
December Principal's Message


It's difficult to believe that we are almost at the Winter Break.  Yet, at the same time, it's also been a much longer first part of the school year owing to COVID.

I want to take this moment and say thank you to students, staff, and parents for their diligence in attending to all the many protocols associated with ensuring for everyone's safety during this most uncertain time. Given the relatively few cases we've experienced (two), I think that speaks to everyone's vigilance in looking out for one another.

I also thank students, staff, and parents for their flexibility in transitioning from in-person learning to on-line learning at grades 7-9 over the course of these last three weeks.  I remind families, that although school officially resumes January 4, students in grades 4-9 will be, for the most part, attending school on-line from January 4th through January 8th.  During those five days students and teachers will continue to follow their regular timetables.  Teachers are sending home more specific information about what those five days in January will look like.

It was terrific to see the number of parents and students who attended our recent Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences held virtually in early December.  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 9th and 10th, following first semester report cards the first week of February. 

In addition to the official report card, student progress can be regularly monitored by visiting Brighstspace (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 of work from their various subjects.

Over the course of these past five years we have identified literacy as a priority instructional area for our school community.  For the next three years we will be particularly focusing on writing across all core subject areas – Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science.  Additionally, our SDP also contains a goal related to supporting student well-being for learning, specifically focusing on building resiliency.  Our SDP is posted to our school website at https://www.cbe.ab.ca/mckenziehighlands and can be found by first clicking on the “About Us" tab at the top of our homepage and then clicking on the “Our School" tab.

Wishing students, parents, and staff a most restful and rejuvenating Winter Break.  Although this Holiday Season will perhaps look very different, I hope that many magical moments can still be found for families. Here's hoping for a New Year that will be much different from the year that has been!

Happy Holidays!

Kel Connelly​


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


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