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Community Evacuation Assembly Point signs going up

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​July 5, 2019 --

School District No. 57 has begun the installation of signs at select schools throughout Prince George to indicate their designation as official Community Evacuation Assembly Points in the event of an evacuation.

Earlier this year, the City of Prince George and the school district signed a memorandum of understanding in part to select primary and alternate assembly points at 18 local schools to ensure the safety and well-being of students and residents during an emergency event resulting in evacuation.

Should an evacuation occur while school is in session, the assembly points will be limited to school parking lots to ensure the safety of students attending class. In the event that a school is unavailable to be used during an emergency, the City and school district will work to ensure a feasible alternate assembly location is quickly identified and communicated to the public.

Should any school need to be evacuated due to an emergency, the City will accommodate students and school staff at civic facilities, such as the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre.

"The partnership between School District No. 57 and the City of Prince George was an integral part of our emergency response planning, in the event that we ever need to evacuate a school," said Nadine Neil, the school district's Health and Safety Officer. "By working together with the City, we have secured access to City facilities at a moment's notice to ensure the safety of students and staff."

The City of Prince George worked closely with School District No. 57 to pick the locations of the community evacuation assembly points, which were selected based on their centrality and traffic flow in each evacuation zone. Schools are often selected as community evacuation points as their locations are commonly known to most residents and they tend to be located in every neighbourhood.

"The City of Prince George and School District No. 57 share a strong partnership in safeguarding the well-being of students and residents within the community during any emergency event," said Lyn Hall, Mayor of Prince George. "The City is currently in Year One of a strategic plan to improve the city's readiness for all foreseeable emergencies. Strengthening our partnerships with key local agencies such as the school district is critical to our success."

The schools designated as Community Evacuation Assembly Points are: Beaverly Elementary (9777 Western Rd.); Blackburn Elementary (2222 Blackburn Rd.); Glenview Elementary (7310 Cluff Rd.); Hart Highlands Elementary (2233 Sussex Lane); Harwin Elementary (1193 Harper St.); Heather Park Middle School (7151 Heather Park Rd.); Ecole Lac des Bois Elementary (4131 Rainbow Dr.); Nusdeh Yoh Elementary (2579 Victoria St.); John McInnis Centre (3400 Westwood Dr.); Polaris Montessori (7005 Gladstone Dr.); Quinson Elementary (251 Ogilvie St.); Springwood Elementary (4600 Zral Rd.); Van Bien Elementary (311 Wilson Cres.); Vanway Elementary (4509 Highway 16 West); College Heights Secondary (6180 Domano Blvd.); D.P. Todd Secondary (4444 Hill Ave.); Duchess Park Secondary (747 Winnipeg St.); and Prince George Secondary (2901 Griffths Ave.).

Upon agreement between the school district and the City, any other school may be used as an evacuation assembly point, as required. The above list may change from time to time, and as circumstances dictate during an evacuation event.

The schools that have been selected as assembly points are indicated on the City emergency evacuation map. The map is based largely upon the current City garbage collection map, due to the fact residents are already familiar with the map's coloured zones. A high-resolution copy of the emergency evacuation map is available for download on the City's Emergency Response web page.

A mail-out to all residents of the combined garbage collection and evacuation zone map is planned for 2020.

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From left, Mayor Lyn Hall, School District No. 57 Assistant Superintendent Cindy Heitman, School District No. 57 Health and Safety Officer Nadine Neil and City of Prince George Manager, Emergency Programs, Fire Services ​Adam Davey gather at a Community Evacuation Assembly Point sign at Van Bien Elementary School.

cao_webeditor7/5/2019 3:44 PM
August 2019 Summer Provincial Exams re-write for SD 57 students

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​This year, School District No. 57 has established an examination centre for SD 57 Grade 12 students who wish to write one of the August Provincial Exams, listed on the following document, and are NOT registered in the Summer School Program for that course. 

Please see the following document for more information:

AUGUST 2019 SUMMER PROVINCIAL EXAMS.pdf

Morris Scarpino7/2/2019 10:57 AM
Strengthening Families Program made powerful impact
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June 27, 2019 --

For Rose Haugrud and nine-year-old son Ronin Rei, involvement in the Strengthening Families Program was a positive experience from the first day to the last.

"It was awesome," Haugrud said. "We got a chance to connect with other families and make new friends and learn new ways to parent and really support each other."

The program, in which School District No. 57 was a partner, has reached the end of a five-year run in Prince George. It was funded for those five years by Public Safety Canada and included the City of Prince George, RCMP, Prince George Native Friendship Centre and the University of Northern British Columbia as partners.

Haugrud and Rei – a Quinson Elementary School student who will enter Grade 4 in September – were part of the second and final Strengthening Families session of the 2018-19 school year. Each of the two sessions ran for 15 weeks and saw children (ages six to 11) and their families meet once per week from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the school of the child.

Each 15-week time period saw three schools involved. SFP facilitators would, for example, visit Quinson on one day and two other schools on the other two days. In conjunction, the Prince George Native Friendship Centre hosted one gathering per week.

The goal of the program was to build stronger bonds inside families and between families.

"We had groups every week," Haugrud said. "The parents had separate groups where we talked and had discussions and the kids did activities every week."

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Sessions followed defined curriculums, with topics such as the benefits of holding family meetings, problem solving between children and parents, the dangers of drugs and alcohol and dealing with peer pressure. Fun activities for the children included crafts and games. Each afternoon ended with a family activity and dinner.

Rei enjoyed himself at the Strengthening Families gatherings and reaped the benefits of involvement.

"I think it helped him gain a lot of strength and make friends a lot easier than he normally does," Haugrud said.

To help families attend regularly, free transportation to and from the site of the program was available and there were babysitters present for those parents with younger children. The financial support of Public Safety Canada "cut through all barriers," said School District No. 57's Cheryl Bateman, the program coordinator.

"We had taxis that could pick them up and bring them, we had the snacks after school and the food for supper – they appreciated the supper (because) they didn't have to cook," Bateman added. "And they usually took home food. We'd try and make it so they could. Some of the families that were kind of iffy at first, if they came a couple times they bought right into the program.

"I've done parenting programs before and this program was incredible because of the parent and the kid component. Some don't focus on both, and the family unit."

Bateman said families from all socio-economic backgrounds participated. Some parents heard about the Strengthening Families Program through word of mouth or professional circles and approached facilitators about joining.

Bateman saw through her own eyes the effectiveness of the program and the positive impact it made on parents and youth.

"Dinner would come at about 4:30 and then sometimes families would just sit there and talk," she said. "It was really neat at one of the schools. We had some families going swimming afterwards. They'd get together and take the kids swimming. The kids were loving it and making new friends."

Bateman was also told of children who normally had problems in the school setting, showing up with positive attitudes and smiles on their faces.

"Staff at schools have told us they see such good results from it," she said.

The final get-together for the winter-to-spring session of the Strengthening Families Program happened last week at the PG Dome (formerly the Roll-A-Dome). Kids, parents and facilitators enjoyed themselves at a pizza and roller skating party where they also had the chance to say their farewells or make arrangements for future visits on their own time.

Bateman said many of the families are sad to see the program come to an end.

She shares in that feeling.

"It's so hard," she said. "(Families) are like, 'We can't believe it's over,' because they still connect. Even at the roller rink, there were families from three years ago that came."

PHOTOS, TOP TO BOTTOM: Kris Holland, a School District No. 57 Youth Care Worker, gets ready to serve up a mountain of pizza at the Strengthening Families Program wrap-up party at the PG Dome.

Marci Ebach Mueller, right, sits with two of her children at the Strengthening Families roller skating and pizza party.

Rose Haugrud shares a moment with son Ronin Rei before he heads out onto the floor at the PG Dome.  

cao_webeditor6/27/2019 3:17 PM
'You saved my life': District celebrates its 2019 retirees

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June 25, 2019 --

Teachers often do not fully realize the positive impact they have on their students. School District No. 57 retirees were reminded of their capacity to be life-changing influences during a celebratory banquet last week.

At the celebration, held Thursday, June 20 at the Coast Inn of the North, the district's Board Chair, Tim Bennett, stood at the microphone after the dinner and relayed to the audience thoughts that came directly from the minds of one-time students. Bennett used a social media platform to collect words about favourite teachers and delivered the comments for all in the room to hear and appreciate.

"I had an incredible teacher in high school," Bennett read from the first note. "I ran into him after he retired and told him he expanded my mind to a point that when I would leave his class I felt like my head was about to explode and that I was a tiny speck in a huge universe I knew nothing about, which is no small feat when someone is a teenager and feels like the Earth revolves around them."

One of Bennett's other readings was as follows: "Thanks to the teachers that believed in me and what I could actually do, and not in the dyslexia test out of Kindergarten that implied I would never graduate from high school. Thank you for your help and for believing in me. Not only did I graduate, but I went on to get a Bachelor of Science and an advanced diploma in computer programming. I owe this all to my teachers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the good you have done for all of us."

A couple of the shorter but no-less-powerful comments, as read by Bennett, were: "You inspired me, you encouraged me, you pushed me and I flourished," and "You saved my life. You believed in me when no one else did."

More than 30 retirees (teachers, administrators and others) attended the banquet. Each received a gift – either a clock or a bell, complete with engraving.

Retirees for 2019 were: Rick Armstrong; Trudy Belyea; Susan Bloomingdale; Donna Bornholdt; Lyn Boyes; Sandra Buckley; Karen Charlie; Therese Clark; Cynthia Coles; Deb Coupe; Helen Davis; Lori Dennill; Shannon Doucette; Mike Dryden; Jim Elson; Allan Erricson; Edie Frederick; Colleen Gagnon; Joan Gass; Randall Henderson; Peggy Hubley; Vonda Jacques; Laura Jagodnik; Wesley Keim; Virginia Koftinoff; Faith Mackay; Lynne McEwen; Linda McLaughlin; Elizabeth Morland; Laurie Myram; Goldie Nadfey; Cindy Norum; Darleen Peters; Shelly Pollard; Janice Radway; Laverne Remmelg; Mary Ann Rice; Debbie Rowe; Terri Schweda; Parmod Sharma; Sylvie St. Pierre; Laura Stauble; Robin Thibault; Gwen Tindill; Brian Trotter; Shelley Waite; and Shauna White. Not all were present for the celebration.

Assistant Superintendent Nevio Rossi, the master of ceremonies for the evening, shared his thoughts with the guests of honour before the evening concluded.

"It is our hope that you leave our district with many wonderful memories from the role you played supporting the children in our care," Rossi said. "As I look around the room here tonight, I've had the privilege of knowing and working with many of you over the years and I know the dedication you brought to your roles. You are valued members of our team and we wish you the very best.

"On behalf of School District 57, thank you for the years of effort, thank you for your commitment and dedication, congratulations on your retirement," Rossi added. "Your experience, knowledge, dedication and presence will be sorely missed."

The banquet included performances by the D.P. Todd Secondary School brass ensemble, a speech arts piece by Meg Peters and a Highland dance routine by Victoria Bleecker.

Lheidli T'enneh elder Darlene McIntosh offered a traditional welcome and blessing.

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TOP PHOTO: Assistant Superintendent Nevio Rossi speaks during the School District No. 57 retirement banquet. ​

ABOVE: Retiree Brian Trotter, left, accepts his gift from School District No. 57 Board Chair Tim Bennett.

cao_webeditor6/25/2019 1:02 PM
PGSS student the first speed painting district champion

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June 24, 2019 --

Call it talent, call it expertise. It's best tested under pressure.

The 13 students who participated in the first-ever SD 57 Spectator Speed-Painting district final can attest to that fact. Last week at Duchess Park, they were presented with blank canvasses and were given 22 minutes – in front of a live audience – to turn the pictures in their minds into tangible pieces of reality.

As if that wasn't difficult enough, the students then had to wait for the spectators to pass judgement on their work.

The inaugural event was held on the night of Wednesday, June 19. And with the paint still drying under the lights of Duchess Park's Canyon area, Grade 12 student Raquel Pokiak was declared the winner. Pokiak, from Prince George Secondary School, used negative space against a forest-green backdrop to create the face and shoulders of a black-haired, pale-skinned woman. The result was striking, and clearly resonated with the observers.

"I loved it, but honestly – and I'm not just saying this because I'm a teacher – they all did amazing work," said Julie Fisher, a Fine Arts Resource Teacher with School District No. 57. "Art is so subjective. It's what you love, and it could have a completely different meaning for other people. I think they should all be super proud of what they produced."

Zoey Derksen of Kelly Road Secondary was the runner-up and Duchess Park's Rebecca Nore took third place. Derksen also painted a head and shoulders image but hers was completely different – bright colours mingled together, springing out of a circle of pink flower petals, with a hint of a Picasso influence. Nore went much more whimsical. She drew her inspiration from the original Toy Story movie and gave a near-perfect rendition of one of the green, three-eyed, oval-headed aliens plucked from a prize machine by 'The Claw.'

Each of the district finalists advanced to the big stage from school-based competitions. Along with the entrants from PGSS, Kelly Road and Duchess Park, there were three students from the Centre for Learning Alternatives.

In Fisher's view, art in all its forms holds an important place in the education system.  

"I think anything that gives children an outlet to express themselves, in any way, absolutely has value," she said. "Not every student is academic or athletic and this gives them a feeling of self-worth.  Also, they can go on to do great things in this field, and if we don't ever give them the opportunity to find what they're good at, what their talent is, then how would they know?

"I was really fortunate because I got to go to a lot of the preliminaries as well, and to talk to the students about their paintings after the preliminaries," Fisher added. "And they would say, 'Next time I'm going to do this to make it better.' Or, 'Next time I'm going to try this.' They were constantly thinking ahead to the next event and to how they were going to change things. The group of art teachers involved this year got together and chatted about the preliminary speed painting battles at their schools, and they were excited about the growth they were seeing in the students doing abstract work and maybe trying things that they hadn't tried before."

Bringing an art battle into the school district was the idea of PGSS art teacher Lance Hanes. Partners in the venture are School District No. 57, the Prince George & District Community Arts Council and Ridgeline Art.

Next year, the SD 57 district final will be affiliated with the official Art Battle Canada and will unfold in front of a panel of professionals, as well as spectators. The winner will gain a spot in the city-wide Art Battle. The Prince George Art Battle champion will move on to the Western finals, which will send one speed painter to nationals.

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cao_webeditor6/24/2019 10:52 AM