April 18 – April 22

Well, well, it feels like summer is knocking on the door. It was great to spend the whole weekend outside with the kids as the older ones rediscovered toys tucked away in the fall, while the twins continue to struggle with learning how to ride tricycles. Hopefully your weekend brought some well deserved rest, or just a chance to revel in the fact that you are an amazing mini-golfer (right Corey?).

Lots of great things going on last week as we saw:

  • some students & teachers learning about music at Resonate
  • 7-12’s taking part in a MADD presentation
  • the 4’s continuing to polish their photo stories (an incredible project…see Taryn for more info)
  • the 8’s broadening their artistic horizon at Persephone and their athletic ability at the “Y” playing squash

This week’s learning focus is on welcoming student voice into your classroom, how do you get students to share what they are passionate about? How is this reflected in their art work, their writing, or the books they are choosing? In learning link number one, the brief article asks several great questions about student centered classrooms that cause one to pause and reflect on practice. Where are you in terms of turning the learning over to your students? One of the things that scares me about student centered learning is the inherent messiness that goes with it. In this cool TED Talk, Astro Teller talks about GoogleX, a place where failure is the path to promotions! Imagine how students would approach learning if failure was not looked at as a negative. Talk about messiness! The final learning link also focuses on student centered learning, and contains a quote I love, “Why do they (teachers) keep talking about the real world out there? This is my real world.” Is there a way to move to more student centered learning in your classroom? Have you seen a parallel between this and what Ron is trying to do with staff meetings? In other words, if we are committed to adult learning, does it always need to run through Ron, or is it more effective and authentic when staff members lead it (as Ryan did last week)?

Here is what’s up this week:

Monday:

  • Kindergarten & Grade 1’s are off to Saskatoon for their fieldtrip
  • 9-12 progress reports go home
  • It’s a teachers birthday today…who is it?

Tuesday:

  • Ron & Bruce gone to ALT all day
  • Jr. Badminton hosting Borden

Wednesday:

  • K-6 students are off to Osler for a drama performance

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Subway lunch
  • Super Hoopers using the gym @ 3:00

As always, create a great week!

 

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April 11th – 15th

Drama week has come and gone, and Jamie and her crew worked tirelessly to put on two performances of Romeo and Julie and Something’s Rotten in the State of Denmark. Jamie’s dedication to the drama team allows other students to grab the spotlight (pardon the pun) and discover their talents. Activities such as drama, robotics, choral speaking, cardboard boat races, games club, and the many other activities I’m failing to mention, help round out what are some amazing extra-curricular options available at Hepburn School.

Resonate Week is upon us, and it is so exciting to see the participation, not only from many of our students, but from teachers as well. As he did last year, Kurt will be playing a pivotal role in Resonate, and as Kendra Worman said, “he works tirelessly to help those kids”. If you know you have students in your room that are going to Resonate, how will you have them share what they experienced with the rest the group?

It’s nice to have Ryan back with us after a week in New Hampshire learning about reading and writing from Penny Kittle. Ryan will share some of what he learned with us at our staff meeting on Monday, and even though it’s almost impossible to distill a weeks worth of learning into one short presentation, I know it will be a valuable use of our time.

In honor of Ryan’s trip, this week’s learning links focus on reading and writing. In the first video, 3 boys (gr. 12, gr. 12 & gr. 11) talk about their experience as readers, where they were and where they are now. As you watch, ask yourself, do we have low expectations of our readers and thus are creating “floaters”?

In this video several grade 6 students talk about writing; what they write, when they write, how they write and the importance of daily free writing where kids are not always being evaluated. See if there are any ideas or questions that come out of this video for you. Questions: when you ask students to write, do you write as well? Do you share what you write? Would that be valuable?

Finally, here is a link to Penny Kittle’s Resource Section from her website. I’m sure Ryan will speak much more about resources from her, but in the meantime it will give you something to peruse.


Here’s what is coming up this week:

Monday:

  • Gr. 9-12 marks due
  • Staff meeting (3:10 ~ Ryan’s room)
  • Bruce gone (pm)

Tuesday:

  • Jr. badminton hosting Rosthern

Wednesday:

  • Gr. 8’s going to Persephone Theatre
  • SRC Spirit Day: Spring Day

Thursday:

  • Sheppard’s Villa Lunch ($2.00)
  • Gr. 9-12 progress reports going out today
  • Gr. 7-12 MADD presentations (pm)
  • Resonate Music Conference
  • Jr. badminton hosting Blaine Lake

Friday: Day in Lieu (note: this is still a day on the 6-day cycle)

As always, create a great week!

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April 4th – April 8th

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Whoa! +22 on Saturday in the city! Took the kids for ice cream and a run in the park, just a warm up for summer…which will be here….eventually. I hope everyone had a wonderful break and are recharged and ready to go for the final 3 month push.

shakespeare poster final 1 (1)Hoping Ryan has a great trip with a crew of PSSD professionals as he heads to New Hampshire for the week to observe Penny Kittle. This is a real honor for our school as Ryan was selected from a large pool of interested teachers. Have fun and learn lots Ryan! Back home, Jamie and her drama crew are heading into what she calls, “crazy production week”. Jamie et al work so hard preparing for this and I’m sure Romeo and Julie will be a smashing success! Remember there are two performances this week for you to choose from.

Our technology order is slowly trickling in, so hopefully we can have iPads & Chromebooks distributed soon.  In the mean time, here is Ellen working with some kids on technology of the past:

 

Here’s what’s up this week:

Monday:

  • Welcome back, it’s day 1!
  • Ryan gone all week to New Hampshire, Verna subbing
  • Envirotech are coming to pick up old chemicals

Tuesday:

  • Conference room booked 9:00 for a team meeting
  • Jr. Badminton to Borden

Wednesday:

  • Bruce gone (pm only) Admin book study
  • Sr. Badminton to Warman

Thursday:

  • Grade 5 Saskatoon field trip (Ron & Ami both gone)
  • Drama dress rehearsal (let Jamie know if you are coming to watch)

Friday:

  • Grade 5 Hot Dog Sale
  • Drama performance (7:00 pm)

Create a great week!

 160 total views

March 21st – 25th

cool-bannerAs we look ahead to what can be classified as a long short week, we need to remember to keep our eye on what is important, and continue to support one another. Hopefully you are excited for parent/student/teacher conferences and the opportunity to sit beside your students as they share their growth with their parents. Every day you work tirelessly with your students and I hope you take some time Tuesday and Wednesday night to celebrate the great things going on in your rooms with the parents that come to visit you.

calvin-and-hobbes-parent-conferences

Thank you so much for the genuine feedback you gave me last week regarding On the Horizon.  Seven people responded to the survey, and each of you offered something that would make this blog better for you. Given that there is only so much I can write about, some weeks it will be a hit with you, while others might be a miss, that’s just the nature of a blog. What I’m excited about is that you continue to read On the Horizon and look at the links that may be beneficial to you.

This week I’d like to talk about side by side learning and the great things that have been occurring inside and outside of Hepburn School. Have a look at the pictures below and see what they make you think about. Is there side by side learning occurring at Hepburn School? Can you see evidence of student engagement with the grade 1’s? Do Ruth’s grade 8’s seem be involved in learning together? Next time you are in the staff room with them, ask them about these activities, and share some of the great things you are doing too!

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CdxdwEyUIAAK_KYThere is a bonus picture this week too, and it is evidence of adult learning. Jamie was at division office on Thursday for a learning facilitator meeting, and while they were there she received a copy of the book the LFs and some PSSD administrators put together earlier this year. We are so lucky to have Jamie in this role. Her dedication and commitment to adult and student learning is helping bring MPSC alive in our school.

Looking at all that side by side learning is very exciting! Here in learning link 1 the author writes about the importance of side by side learning between peers to help build engagement, something we continue to strive towards. In learning link 2 there are some resources for successful parent/teacher conferences. Do you think of these visits as an opportunity for side by side learning? What would you want to know if you were the parent of a child in your room? Finally, learning link 3 is a blog that discusses flexible seating in classrooms. I had sent this link earlier in the week, but for some reason it didn’t work.  Hopefully this one works better this time 🙂

On to what lies ahead in this busy week.

Monday:

  • SRC/gr. 8 pep rallies to kick off Random Act of Kindness Week
  • Ryan & gr. 12’s gone all day to fundraise
  • Staff meeting 3:00

Tuesday:

  • Parent/teacher conferences tonight

Wednesday:

  • Grade 7 bake sale
  • Ron gone (am) Admin Planning Meeting
  • Second evening of parent/teacher conferences

Thursday:

  • Last day of school before Easter break

Friday:

         First day of well deserved Easter break.

Create a great week everyone!

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March 14th – 18th

What does your cover sound like?
What does your cover sound like?

Another lovely weekend filled with warm weather and fun puddles to splash and play in! This time of year is always that little tease when we think we’ve turned the corner on winter, but Mother Nature always has a few tricks up her sleeve in the form of her own March madness! But, like my father used to say, enjoy each day for what it is and live one day at a time.

Great Music: I had an opportunity to see a great band Friday night in Saskatoon, they are a group that gets the crowd to the dance floor through a blend of their own original songs and covers of other great tunes. They have been able to develop their own unique sound, and they describe themselves as groove meisters who like to play their signature stubble funk and northern soul. Their reworked songs like Valerie, Sir Dukeand my favorite Seven Nations Army got me thinking about the way we make teaching strategies work for us.

What to Cover: 21st Century learning does not just apply to kids, in fact, I think the real beneficiaries are teachers because of the access we have to tremendous examples of great teaching online (Google is our friend!).  Just like great music, the art of great teaching is taking a terrific lesson that you either saw in person or online, or a strategy you read about or learned about at a PD, and remix it in a way that honors your style and meets the needs of your audience. We have a lot of resources at our finger tips, both in the form of printed material in our building and online, and we would be foolish not to at least have a “listen” to it. If it resonates with you, “cover it” in your own way that works for your students.

Jam Sessions and Concerts:  The best bands make it look effortless, and they are always the ones having fun on stage (did you ever see Eddie Van Halen with out a smile?). As we know, great music and great performances are a result of lots and lots of practice. Great teaching is no different. When you do find a strategy that you want to make your own, you need to give yourself permission to practice, practice, practice with your students. I sure hope that once you are comfortable with your “cover” of the strategy you took on you would invite people in to watch and learn. Who knows, maybe they will want to cover your strategy!

This week, learning link 1 takes a look at how to create a writers’ workshop in a high school classroom. How can you cover this song to make it work in your writing class, even if it is not a high school class?

Learning link 2 takes a look at how to “workshop” a math lesson as seen in a grade 5 classroom. This teacher has taken a strategy developed by someone else and made it work for her group. How can you make this work for yours?

And finally, learning link 3 is a video discussing Genius Hour, an approach to teaching that provides a path towards intrinsic learning. Two teachers are using Genius Hour right now in our school, and both have similarities and differences. Would you like to try this? What would your Genius Hour song sound like?


What’s Up This Week:

Monday:

  • Lori is popping in for a school connect
  • Badminton practice after school

Tuesday:

  • Ides of March
  • Ron & Bruce gone all day to ALT meeting
  • Badminton after school
  • Div II Basketball heading off to Osler

Wednesday:

  • Gr. 7/8 Badminton team hosts Blaine Lake after school

Thursday:

  • Green Day!
  • Subway lunch day

Friday:

  • Div II basketball playoffs, girls to Martensville, boys to Rosthern

As always, create a great week!

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March 7th – 11th

InnovationLooks like we have some warm weather heading our way, at least according to Environment Canada, make sure you bring your rubber boots and splash pants! And if that weather does not make you smile, then hopefully the amazing work by the people of our province does, as once again, Telemiracle was a huge success.  It is amazing to see what people who are engaged and motivated can do, $5.2 million, wow!

What a wonderful feeling in the school last week as the SRC brought our 7 – 12’s together in the name of winter competitions.  There was a buzz in the hallways, either about an erupting snow sculpture, a run-away sled pulled by an uber-competitive administrator, or a beautiful figure skating routine by a student and some guy in a flashy outfit. Regardless of the fact that team Captain America won (whoop, whoop!!!), it was obvious that the students were having a blast.  Hat’s off to the SRC for organizing such a wonderful event.

Now the challenge.  How do we capture that momentum and try our best to keep the kids excited about being at school?  What can you do first thing in the morning to pump up the kids about learning? How can you use recess and dinner time to connect with students you may not have had a chance to yet and see how things are going? What is the last thing you can say to them as they get ready to board the bus or walk home that will make them excited about tomorrow? Remember, we have that power.

In the first learning link, Eddy Zhong talks about creating and how teenagers just need to find that spark to make school meaningful and exciting. What could your students create beyond the typical PowerPoint?

Learning link number 2 is from Kayla Delzer (follow her @TopDogTeaching) who is a big believer in the importance of the classroom environment. She talks about her vision for her room, the steps she took (including the struggles), and where she is now. I know I’ve said this in the past, but I still believe it is not just the furniture that makes the learning environment, it’s the people in the room and the expectations and routines that lead to profound, side by side learning.

In the third learning link, as forwarded by Lori Jeschke in her weekly message, the question is asked by the student, “but how will I learn without grades?” For the past four years this is a subject that has been near and dear to Hepburn School since the leadership of Ruth, Jackie, and Neda Wilson (now at Rosthern High) took the middle years and some high school classes to a place where percentages went the way of the dodo bird. How does the message contained in the blog post resonate with what you are doing in your classes?

The final video I want to post is not directly connected to classroom learning, but I think it’s a terrific example of the things people can do when they are allowed to pursue their passions.  I never thought I’d see a machine like this, and like I posted on Twitter, my life wouldn’t be different without it, but it is a bit better because it I just watched this:


Here’s what’s going on this week:

Monday:

  • Bruce away (am only), medical appt.
  • Grade 1 – 8 progress reports due
  • Division II basketball hosting Rosthern

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Tania away all day SERT meeting

Wednesday:

  • Pizza lunch!
  • Ron away (tentative ~ am only) Admin Planning Meeting
  • Division II basketball travel to Osler

Thursday:

  • Sheppard’s Villa soup and bun lunch ($2 payable to Sandra before noon)

Friday:

  • Bruce away (personal day)
  • Grade 1 – 8  Progress Reports sent out today

As always, create a great week!!!

 

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February 29th – March 4th

thHmm, I’m starting to worry about Mother Nature.  I actually saw a couple people jogging down the street on Friday as I was going to pick up my kids from their school, and I thought, “geesh, this is February, and it’s plus 8 out there!” Fast forward to tonight and that’s a wicked wind, jolting us back to reality.

It was a busy weekend around Mr. M’s house as new bedroom furniture arrived for Maggie’s (our 2 1/2 year old girl) room and I had the pleasure of putting this together.  As I was doing this the kids were so excited about the change and they were more than willing to help take out the old and help set up the new. It’s interesting how an initial change can spark excitement, I’m reminded of how this also happened for Bobby (9 yrs old) and Eva (5 yrs old) on separate occasions.  Today the aforementioned two are not as excited as they were before, as now their bedroom is just back to being their bedroom.  I’m sure this will happen for Maggie as well.  And before you wonder, yes Charlie (Maggie’s twin brother) has a room too :).  Along with this excitement, I also stole a little time for myself on Saturday to watch a little bit of the Detroit Red Wings / Colorado Avalanche hockey game.  I tuned in for the spectacle, not the teams (I cheer for Arizona and Ottawa), for it was an outdoor game.  Initially the viewing experience was pretty cool, but eventually it just turned into another hockey game, and I found myself flipping back to the Toronto vs. Montreal game.

So, what does bedroom furniture and an outdoor hockey game have to do with learning?  After all, this blog is intended to focus on student and adult learning.  My message this week has to do with classroom environment.  Ron and Cory were busy last week getting our new furniture (it’s beautiful by the way, nice eye Ron!) distributed to different classrooms.  As was the case with the library last year, there was a buzz of excitement when the students saw the new digs.  What we need to remember, however, is that it is not the furniture that makes the learning environment, it’s the teachers stance on learning.  Look at the statement from My Prairie Spirit Classroom below,

Learning opportunities for all students are characterized by high expectations (rigour), personal and purposeful application (relevance), collaborative learning environments (relationship), risk-taking to consider alternative instructional approaches (innovative) and student choice (engagement).

It is important to have comfortable, collaborative learning environments, however that can’t be all we do.  How do you keep your expectations high (rigour)? What are you doing to keep the work relevant? What kind of innovation is occurring in your room in an attempt to engage?20160226_145255  I’ve included a picture of something I saw on Friday in the library. Kurt is currently teaching grade 11 math (Workplace & Apprenticeship 20) and is in the midst of his unit studying slope. When I saw him in the library with a couple students I asked what they were up to, and he informed me they are brainstorming how to learn about angles and slope by designing a miniature mini golf course (a mini-mini-golf course). What stood out was how the students were driving the conversation and thus the learning.  Very cool stuff indeed!

Learning link 1 is an article that shares the experience of a teacher that turned over the classroom design to her students, and while doing that she introduced them to some new technology!

Learning link 2 is one I really like because it contains seven really good questions that cause one to pause and reflect on their own classroom practices.

What’s up this week?

Monday:

  • SRC kick off spirit week
  • NHL trade deadline day

Tuesday:

  • Super Tuesday in the good ole US of A

Wednesday:

  • Kindergarten parent conferences

Thursday:

Friday:

  • SRC winter spirit week 7-12 wind up (pm)

As always, create a great week!

 154 total views

February 22nd – 26th

Innovation

Welcome back one and all after what I’m hoping was a tremendous break for everyone.  Monday marks the return of Jackie Salzl to grade 7, and we are all excited to see her back in the building.  When Ami returned she remarked that it felt like September in February, and I’m sure Jackie will be feeling the same way.  Sandra texted me during the break with more exciting news, some of our new furniture order from The Brick has arrived!  Please touch base with Ron to see if you can get your hands on some of this stuff for your room.

Over the break I continued with my latest read (The Innovator’s Mindset – George Couros) and was thinking a lot about what we are doing at Hepburn School.  George defines innovation, “as a way of thinking that creates Cover-in-3Dsomething new and better.  Innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of “new and better”, it is not innovative.”  Something that kept rolling around in my head as I read this was the question, what kind of learning environment is needed for innovation to occur?  Ron & I have had endless discussions about learning and the environment we are trying to create that will help you feel free to come up with new and better ways to help your students learn. I’d like to challenge you to continue being innovative and keep trying new things. If you do go ahead and try something and find that it flops (which sometimes happens when we try new things), please feel free to use this do over cardRedo Card

So, it’s one thing to say, “go for it”, but it’s another to say “go for it, and by the way here’s something that might help”.  With that, I offer learning link number one.  It is a post from George Couros as he discusses the 8 characteristics of the innovator’s mindset. I’ve spoken with teachers in our own building who are looking for new and better ways to do what has always been done. Just the other day Ruth spoke to Ron & I about changing how she is going to deliver her math curriculum from a standard classroom model to a more collaborative boardroom setting (speak to her for more info).  Ami has been wrestling with the concept of integrating curricula to make better use of her students time and energy.  I am looking at a different form of summative assessment in my Workplace Math 20 class, ditching the old test I would normally administer and offering up a project to the kids as a way of demonstrating their understanding.  Innovation is happening in our building, I just think we need to talk about it more!

Learning link number two is a TEDtalk by Charles Leadbeater who discusses the need for innovation in education.  How do you spark curiosity in your classroom? How is technology used for more than just searching and showing? How have you disrupted the formal education in your setting?


 

What’s Up This Week:

Monday:

  • Grade 4’s & 5’s are off to watch the Blades play in Saskatoon

Tuesday:

  • Grade 10 – 12 ski trip to Table Mountain (Jesse, Kurt, Ryan, Scott, Meredith)

Wednesday:

  • Gambling awareness presentation (gr. 7 – 9 + Life Transitions class)
  • Denae Ebach & Kaitlin Bueckert are writing the Science Challenge exam (see Renaye for more info on this)

Thursday:

 

Friday:

  • Subway lunch today

As always, create a great week!

 145 total views

February 8 – February 12

banner-winter-fence

We are into our last week before the winter break and before we know it the morning commute will be accompanied by our beautiful Saskatchewan sunrises.  Every year staff members come and staff members move on and this week will mark the last week for Scott Waters.  Scott joined us last year in grade six and has enjoyed a successful year in grade seven this year. Scott will be moving on to Blaine Lake for the remainder of the year.  Thank you for everything you have done during your time at Hepburn School, we wish you nothing but the best Scott!

Farmers and gardeners know you cannot make a plant grow. . . the plant grows itself. What you can do is provide the conditions for growth. -Sir Ken Robinson
Farmers and gardeners know you cannot make a plant grow. . . the plant grows itself. What you can do is provide the conditions for growth. -Sir Ken Robinson

Over the past couple of weeks, Ron and I have been analyzing our Tell Them From Me data from the surveys the students completed earlier this school year.  Our conversations have run the gamut, from high fives, celebration, and laughter to concerns, questions, and even (mildly) heated debates.  At our staff meeting on Monday we will be taking some time to discuss the data, trying to make sense of what it means, how we can build on the great things we already do, and how we can help students become more motivated and interested.

This week, learning link number one talks about the importance of intrinsic motivation as it relates to student learning.  As you read this, think about what resonates with you and what you do in your class, this is something we can talk about Monday after school.  Along with that, think about what you see in the article and how it aligns with My Prairie Spirit Classroom.

The second learning link is a TEDx talk I found on YouTube.  Kayla (@MrsDelz) challenges us to re-imagine our classrooms and our roles.  Have you ever Googled yourself?  Have you taken yourself out of the role of teacher and put yourself in the role of co-learner?  As you watch this, ask yourself if there are things you’d like to do, but aren’t sure where to start or if it would be supported.  Watch the video and think about ways you could be a leader on the staff.  Do you know we have things like genius hour going on in our school at a variety of classroom levels? Do you know we have students not only using technology as a learning device but as a learning artifact (talk to Ryan about Jacob Hutchinson’s dystopia study from last semester)? Watch the video and simply ask yourself, could I do that?

Here’s what’s on the horizon this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting (3:15 in library)
    • elementary staff please bring your Saskatchewan Reads coil bound book

Tuesday:

  • Tania gone to SERT meeting
  • Bruce gone to admin book study (pm only)

Wednesday:

  • Ron away Admin Planning Meeting (am only)

Thursday:

  • Sheppard’s Villa lunch ($2.00)
  • Sandra P gone all day (appt.)

Friday:

  • DQ treats delivered
  • Elementary Winterfest (pm only)

As always, create a great week!

 153 total views

February 1st – 5th

human-marketing

Finals are done, preparations are complete and semester two is upon us.  This can be a time for change or a time to continue with the status quo, what are you choosing?  Monday also brings the opportunity for new and renewed connections as we have some new faces and some returning students joining the Hepburn School family.  We are excited to welcome Kaleb Hamm (gr. 12) and Matt Guenter (gr. 11) back to our classrooms after some time away.  Kristina Rabyj, PSSD educational psychologist will be moving her “home base” to Hepburn School this week, and will be working out of our school, this is a tremendous opportunity for us to have an expert in the building so frequently.  Last, but most certainly not least, Scott Sully will be joining us for the remainder of the year as he embarks on his internship under the very capable leadership of Ryan Hutchinson.  Scott is pursuing his B. Ed. at Minot State University and his background is in senior History and English Language Arts.  We are very excited to have all of these voices in our building as we continue to learn together.

The first learning link this week discusses how we create real rapport with our students.  How often do you walk by a student without even saying, “hi” or at least acknowledging them with a smile, I know I’m guilty of it, and it is something I am going to work on this week.  How well do you know your students? What about their family? Take some time to give the short article a read and set yourself a challenge for the week.

In this video (a short one this week) the message is that it’s okay to lose control. It is not about a classroom or a certain approach to teaching, however, is there a connection you can make to what you do?

In learning link number two, George talks about why he feels all learning is personal.  What connections do you make to your classroom and your own learning experiences? How are you going to make learning more personal for your students?

Here is what on the horizon this week:

Monday:

  • Round two of teacher/teacher observations begin (speak to Jamie for more information if needed)
  • Progress report marks/comments due
  • Broomball equipment scheduled to arrive

Tuesday:

  • Ron & Bruce at ALT meeting (all day)

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Grade 9 – 12 progress reports go out today
  • Staff bowling social (please let Renaye know if you are going to be attending)

As always, create a great week!

 159 total views