Apr 22
April 2022 Principal's Message

I have a confession.  I am a closet viewer of Grey's Anatomy and have been watching it for all 18 seasons. The series follows the life of Meredith Grey, a young medical student, as she and her peers navigate their way through internships, residency programs and subsequent careers as successful surgeons at fictitious Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.  Yes, admittedly, it's an elevated soap opera but there are often great “take-aways" about life, learning, persevering, commitment, collaboration, relationship, love, loss and resilience!

Each episode begins and ends with Meredith's narrative voice setting the audience up for the thematic punch line.  Between these narrative “bookends," the audience is exposed to often diverse perspectives which pivot around a common theme. In Season 18, Episode 15, Put it to the Test, the theme is stress, particularly test stress. 

The episode begins with sirens wailing in the distance, cars honking, and the predictable “M.G." voiceover:  “Surgeons are put through rigorous tests just to get in the game.  We endure decades of anxiety provoking acronyms . . . SAT, MCAT, USMLE, ABSITE . . . and if we pass that gauntlet, we are rewarded with the need to log 850 surgeries and take an 8 hour multiple choice and oral exam.  There's almost no time to take in the victory or even a nap."

In this episode, the Medical Accreditation Council is conducting an onsite assessment of the residency program. Dr. Richard Webber, the beloved, “hands on" teacher and Director of the program, undergoes a self-inflicted competency assessment to determine whether he is still able to competently operate given his age.  Meredith struggles with a major career path decision and, in the midst of it all, Dr. Bailey, Chief of Surgery, suffers a panic attack.

Floating above the strains of Felix Raaber and Schlindwein's Après Minuit (the soundtrack is always awesome), the end of episode voiceover says: “Researchers studied why some people perform better on tests.  They found that it is not necessarily related to intelligence.  Some people become anxious during exams and divert mental energy toward anxiety instead of expending it on finding the right answers.  Others have a better grasp of how tests work.  They use process of elimination and other techniques to help them make better choices.  Some people study harder.  They start early, make flashcards, or rely on repetition to retrieve answers when they need them.  Tests don't always measure how much you know.  They measure how well you take tests and tests certainly don't measure your worth.  But knowing that doesn't make it hurt less when you don't succeed."  You see?  Nuggets of wisdom and a wonderful segue into our June assessment plan! 

End of semester assessment is not synonymous with testing.  It's certainly not about creating unnecessary stress and anxiety for students which, for many, affects their bodies and minds in ways that interfere with and prevent them from performing at capacity.  It's not about measuring how well students take tests and it most certainly should not negatively impact students' self-esteem.  Assessment is not determined by a mathematical calculation based on weightings and cumulative averages.  Sometimes, I think it is easier to describe what assessment “is not" rather than what “it is." 

Assessment is a complex process that requires the professional judgement of teachers who are guided by current research and best practice.  By semester end, teachers have gathered much evidence of learning from numerous learning cycles.  They review all of the evidence gathered to determine a valid and reliable final grade for each student.  The evidence includes observations of student performance and conversations with students to assess their level of understanding.  The personalized body of evidence for each student is not equal.  If a student is missing evidence for key outcomes, teachers cannot accurately assess.  If patterns of achievement for a student are inconsistent over time, additional corroborating evidence is required to accurately assess.  If it has been weeks since a student has been assessed on a key outcome, teachers cannot assume that their current understanding is the same as it was when last assessed.  And if a student is overwhelmed with debilitating anxiety, what are we assessing?  This is why the focus of June assessments is not to administer a “one size fits all" final exam in a high pressure environment.  Our June assessment plan is thoughtfully designed to provide time for teachers and students to work together to ensure each student has submitted a balanced body of evidence, demonstrating their understanding of curricular outcomes, which is sufficient for teachers to determine a reliable and valid final grade.

For more information on end-of-semester assessment, click here and “Stay calm & carry on!"  You've got this!


Dec 09
December Principal's Message

Student Services is giving a noon hour session on December 9 on “Managing Test/Exam Stress" in Room 323.  If your student is experiencing stress, please encourage them to attend! 

We are also mindful of the emotional impacts of final summative exams, especially given the pandemic context.  We are implementing the following strategies to mitigate the pressures students may experience:

  • No “high stakes" assessments (any summative assessments will be weighted at 10% or be a “no jeopardy" exam).
  • Any final exams for Grade 10 and 11 students will be scheduled on January 17 and 18.  The timetable is modified to provide extended blocks of 156 minutes.  This ensures that all students have adequate time to show what they know.
  • Final exams provide students with one more opportunity to demonstrate their most recent understanding of outcomes assessed during the entirety of the course.  This means teachers have professional discretion to replace earlier demonstrations with more recent demonstrations that show more depth of understanding.
  • Final exams are also an opportunity to synthesize and apply multiple outcomes.  This evidence may inform teachers that a student has demonstrated an exemplary level of understanding of the course outcomes, rather than a proficient level.  Typically, only students who are already demonstrating a high level of proficiency will move from “PR1 or PR2" to “EX1 or EX2."
  • Teachers may also look for evidence of understanding on a final exam to fill in gaps or missing evidence from previous assessments.
  • When determining a final grade, teachers examine the entire body of evidence and look for the most consistent and most recent demonstrations of understanding. Determining a final grade is so much more than tallying or averaging points! 

We hope these strategies help significantly reduce student anxiety while providing students with opportunities to deepen their understanding of course outcomes and experience success! 



Aug 26
Welcome Back to the 2021-22 School Year!

On behalf of everyone at William Aberhart High School, we would like to offer a warm welcome to all our new students, and “Welcome back!" to all grades 11 and 12 students.  We hope you had a wonderful summer and are looking forward to seeing you next week! 

As we continue to experience an increase in positive COVID-19 cases in the Calgary Zone, here is some important Back to School Information for students and parents as you prepare for the new school year.  ​

As communicated by the Calgary Board of Education in the 2021-22 School Re-entry Information sent to families on August 19, the health and safety of students and staff remains a priority.  Effective immediately, students and staff must be masked at all times when inside the school.  Visitors, volunteers or external partners will be permitted in schools by scheduled appointment only.  If you wish to book an appointment with an administrator, please contact the Main Office between 8:00 am until 4:00 pm and we will be happy to accommodate your request.​

Over the summer, our exterior doors were replaced and the main doors may not yet be accessible when students arrive for photos.  If this is the case, clearly visible signage will direct students to designated “entrance" and “exit" doors.  Once inside the building, students will follow directional cues to the cafeteria, maintaining 2-meters' physical distance between other students and staff.  Please adhere to the schedule above.  Students are also asked to maintain adequate physical distance if congregating or waiting outside. Once again, masks are mandatory while inside the building.  All staff assisting with the photos will also be wearing masks and following the safety guidelines. Hand-washing stations will be available in the cafeteria and at all entrances/exits.  The student washrooms are also available in the main foyer.  We ask that all students self-screen using the COVID-19 Alberta Health Daily Checklist and refrain from coming to the school if experiencing any of the listed symptoms.  If you can't get your school ID on your scheduled time, there will be other opportunities once school begins.

First Day of School:

Our first day of classes is Wednesday, September 1, 2021. On the first day, we will have a staggered entry as follows:

  • Grade 10:  9:00am - 12:00pm    
  • Grade 11 & 12: 1:00pm - 3:00pm
  • Specialized Classes will Start on September 2, 2021

Thank you for your understanding and patience while we safely open the school for what will, hopefully, be a “near normal" school year! I will keep you updated if there are any changes. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to email me directly at taannis@cbe.ab.ca or call me at the school. I wish you and your families a restful and relaxing Labour Day long weekend and hope you enjoy the last week of summer holidays.

Please also check the Calendar posted on our Abe website for more information.  We will do our best to keep this regularly updated and current as the year evolves:  Abe 2021-22 School Calendar of Events

We wish you a wonderful start to the 2021-2022 school year at Aberhart!

Ms. A-J​

Jun 29
June 2021

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.  “So do I," replied Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." 

  • J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Rings

Certainly, the COVID-19 global pandemic is an experience we all wish need not have happened in our time but that was not for us to decide!  When I reflect on this past school year, we did well with the time given us!  We embraced change, became more or less comfortable with ambiguity, reimagined teaching, learning, and assessment and found opportunities we may not have considered but for the disruptions to the status quo.  We remained focused on the well-being of our students and supported one another.  We found ways to maintain human connection and, through it all, kept hope alive.

Most importantly, we ended the year with joyous celebration of our students and their accomplishments!  While graduation looked and felt different, we marked the milestone with style and honoured the Class of 2021.  The strength, grace, maturity and determination of our grads was noteworthy and they will be long remembered for their character and altruism.

As we look forward to next year, we are optimistic that we will be able to reclaim many of the extracurricular and co-curricular experiences that make high school engaging and fun.  We know we will need to take inventory and that some pandemic inspired changes are worth preserving.  We will meet our students where they are at, not where they would be but for the pandemic.  We will organize differently for instruction and ensure students have the universal and individual supports they need to progress and achieve.     

I hope students and staff alike will enjoy a safe and rejuvenating summer . . . and don't forget to get vaccinated!  Please check our web site at the end of August for the most up-to-date “back to school" information, including any ongoing public health protocols that may be required.  

Aug 25
Welcome to the 2020-21 school year!

After nearly six months of not seeing students at school, we are very excited to welcome you back to Abe!  Grade 11 and 12 students, we have missed you and we are looking forward to meeting our new Grade 10 students!  While we are doing all we can to make your return to school experience as near to normal as possible, many things will be different as we continue to operate in the midst of a global pandemic.  We are relying on you to work with us to ensure we are able to maintain a safe learning environment and know each of you will do your part.  

On August 28, I will be posting our William Aberhart 2020-21 School Re-Entry Plan to the web site.​ The plan will explain how we are implementing and supporting the health and safety measures as outlined by Alberta Education and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) within the context of William Aberhart High School.  The CBE's 2020-21 School Re-Entry document provides detailed information for all schools.  Our school specific plan will provide any additional information that is unique to our setting.  The plan will reflect recent updates by Alberta Education to school re-entry guidelines and we will continue to revise information based on updates by the province. 

We look forward to the school being filled with the sounds of learning and laughter once again!  Enjoy the last few days of summer holidays and see you soon!

Tamie Annis-Johnson

Feb 03
Welcome to Semester 2

​  Dear Abe,

As we begin Semester 2, I would like to congratulate you on your successful completion of the first semester! Grade 10s, you have now experienced how quickly a semester goes by and how to better manage your time to balance the demands of high school. Grade 11s, you started the year feeling confident that you “know the ropes” and could hit the ground running but the pressure of gaining early admission to a coveted post-secondary is very real. Grade 12s, you’re writing your Common App essays and have just finished your first round of stressful diploma exams. No matter which grade you are in, the pressure to achieve success can be overwhelming.

Perhaps the greatest challenge this past semester has not been learning how to solve a quadratic equation or how to write a compelling essay or defensible lab report. For many, the greatest challenge has been achieving some semblance of balance and this is the most important lesson of all – both in school and in life. Many believe that those who are most determined, work the hardest, and persevere through life’s challenges are the ones who succeed. Recent research in the field of resiliency actually refutes this thinking. When it comes to resiliency – the ability to bounce back in the face of challenges or adversity – the support we get matters as much, or more, than our individual ability to “tough it out.”

Dr. Michael Ungar of Dalhousie University’s School of Social Work and head of the Resilience Research Centre says, “The person who relies on them self only succeeds if they have very few challenges. When the odds are stacked against us, the people who do best are those with the most supports.” In his book, Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success, Dr. Ungar explains why “self-help” or “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps” often fails and the research behind what really works.

Dr. Ungar’s research indicates that “those who thrive do so largely because of their environment and the resources they have been able to access” and that “resourced individuals tend to do far better than rugged individuals.” In other words, personal characteristics such as grit, determination and perseverance can only take us so far. Dr. Ungar emphasizes that the “environment around us and the resources we’ve been given play a huge role in whether or not we’re successful. Grit and individual motivation is one thing, but it’s not usually enough to create change. You need an environment that makes it possible for you to change and grow.” In other words, “resilience depends more on what we receive than what we have.” We should never feel uncomfortable or ashamed to seek help from others or to access available resources.

At Abe, we are committed to creating a learning environment that is supportive of your individual needs and we don’t just want our students to survive but to thrive! The science of resilience emphasizes the importance of “external factors and opportunities that spark change, not some kind of internal fortitude.” There are many supports available to you at Abe – a.m. tutorials, flex block, Friday school, counseling, wellness supports (check out our new Zen Dens), caring and responsive adults and mentors, QSA, engaging clubs and extracurricular activities. I encourage you to access these resources and use them to your advantage. However, if there is something missing, I challenge you to let us know what you need.

Rather than trying to find the inner strength to endure the challenges you experience, Dr. Ungar says to “alter the world around you so it is more supportive of your needs.” I believe that when students and adults work together to create a supportive learning community, we will shift our school culture in a way that 

 drastically improves the quality of life and well-being of both students and  staff. 
 How great would it be if everyone were to take ownership of making our school  community a more supportive place where everyone can access the resources they need to thrive?

Friday, February 7 is our first “OrAnge Time” in Semester 2. At that time, you will have the opportunity to take an anonymous survey where you may indicate what else you need to thrive at Abe. If you have a “spare” during Period 4, you may take the survey in the Learning Commons. I also invite you to share your ideas through conversation. You are always welcome to drop by the office to see me and let me know how we can strengthen the services and supports you need to succeed.

Wishing you a well and successful semester! 

Ms. A-J   Principal


Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success is available from Sutherland House Press at sutherlandhousebooks.com

References taken from DalMagazine, Fall 2019. You Can’t Make it Alone. Dr. Michael Ungar on the surprising truth about resilience by Dawn Morrison with files from Colleen MacDonald and Sutherland House.​

Jul 22
Welcome Back

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year and to the “House of OrAnge!”  One of the most frequently asked questions from new Abe students is, “Why Orange?  Are we a colour or a fruit?” 

OrAnge is an attitude – a state of mind! 


The blend of red and yellow, orange is a mixture of the energy associated with red and the happiness associated with yellow.  Orange is associated with meanings of joy, warmth, heat, sunshine, enthusiasm, creativity, success, encouragement, change, determination, health, stimulation, happiness, fun, enjoyment, balance, freedom, expression, and fascination.  Orange promotes a sense of general wellness and emotional energy that should be shared.  Colour theory studies show the colour orange can create physical effects such as increased hunger, heightened sense of activity, increased oxygen supply to the brain, increased contentment, and enhanced assurance.  Orange is also said to help aid decision making, and enhances happiness, confidence, and understanding. 

Abe students embody all these positive characteristics of the colour and what it represents.  We are OrAnge!   Whether it is Academics, Athletics, the Advocate, DebAte Club, the Fine & Performing Arts, GSA, or the many social Action initiatives our students embrace, the OrAnge spirit is reflected in all we do and there is something for everyone at Abe!  As we commence a new school year, I encourage you to find your niche and get involved.  Believe it or not, three years go by in the blink of an eye and your high school experience is, in large part, what you make of it!  If you don’t find your place of belonging right away, please talk to us.  We’d love to help you make connections with like minded peers through clubs, committees or sport and if you’re interested in starting something new, we’d love to hear that too! 

I look forward to meeting you or reconnecting and am excited about the year ahead.  It’s going to be Abe Awesome! 

Together, we put the “heart” in Aberhart!  

Ms. Annis-Johnson                                                                          heart.jpg

Sep 05
December 2018

As we wind down the last week of classes before the Winter Break, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you & your families a peaceful and joyous holiday!  We look forward to coming together as a school community on Friday, December 21st, to celebrate a long standing Abe tradition . . . Turkey Fest!  Classes will end at noon and staff and participating students will enjoy a turkey dinner, catered by the Culinary Arts students at James Fowler High School.  One of our entrepreneurial students, Sedrica Doerksen, will also be selling homemade sweets at the event so bring some pocket change if you have a sweet tooth!

Students are encouraged to take a healthy brain break over the holidays. When we return from Winter Break, there is a week of classes from Monday, January 7th to Friday, January 11th followed by the exam period (January 14th – 30th).   There are no exams on January 17th and 18th.  These are optional “flex days” where students have the opportunity to plan how they will use their time in the most constructive way to meet their individualized learning needs.  To allow students to make informed choices, each discipline will provide a schedule of learning opportunities such as tutorials, review sessions and study skills workshops which will be posted to the web site and in the school.  Students Report cards will be available in PowerSchool on Thursday, January 31st and will only be printed if requested.  The January report card will provide a summative grade for each course completed in Semester 1. 

Once again, I wish you a wonderful holiday & look forward to welcoming the students back in 2019!​


Tamie Annis-Johnson

Jul 12

Welcome to our new website. To find details on important events, click on "Calendar" at the top of the page. To find School Council information, click on "Get Involved" then "School Council​." 

If you are looking for other content, try entering the key words in the search bar in the top right.  It will help you locate the link more easily.​​

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Guess what I’m doing? https://t.co/KFaqwztlig

Grad Committee hard at work distributing gowns, caps and tassels! It’s happening, Class of 2022! https://t.co/IlAJpfO24K

Hundreds gather for Indigenous awareness at Calgary high school https://t.co/IWEUTXncg3 via @calgaryherald

Extending heartfelt gratitude to Abe Music Directors, Mr. Gingrich, Ms. Olivier & Mr. Brown for their incredible talents and commitment to music education. Special thanks to the WAMPA for your support. My 🧡 is swollen with pride in our student musicians & singers!