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09/15/2018 - Week #2 

There is a scene in the 2004 movie Hidalgo (which stars actor Viggo Mortensen as an American cowboy who rides his mustang Hidalgo in a gruelling cross-desert race against Arab stallions) in which all the horses start the race at a gallop. Once out of sight of onlookers, the horses are reined in, and the real endurance race begins, with the horses being kept at a pace they can maintain for the 3000 mile (approx. 5000 kilometer) journey.

So it is with the journey of the new school year. Last week was all about the excitement - the new classes, the new clothes, and the real joy that is possible at school. Well-rested after the summer, we were all the best versions of ourselves - the kinder, gentler, more patient us.

This past week was the beginning of the longer vision.

Students, not quite used to the routines, started to become overtired at the end of the day, and at the end of the first full week. Staff members, who invariably fall in love with their students within the first few months, began to have that, "this is a lot more difficult than herding cats" look. Office admin. staff were reeling after innumerable changes and new system glitches - none of which were their fault, but rather just the growing pains of change. Our Special Ed. Team - teachers and educational assistants - worked tirelessly to deliver and model our vision of inclusion. Mr. Whiteside, Mr. Stevenson and Ms. Hedderley valiantly cleaned and inspected and repaired our school, always with a smile. Mrs. Parent met with large groups of students in an effort to transform our bus environment, at the same time filling in the gaps for our Special Ed. Team, AND getting to know, as she says, the real stories of our students.

The new Principal had a few lows - technical glitches, of course, and a few disappointments when our focus of the month - The Golden Rule - did not assert itself. It takes awareness, reflection and courage to change established behaviours. It is so much easier, sometimes, to just go with the crowd and mock someone who is different, or to talk ABOUT instead of TO someone. When we do not examine and take responsibility for our actions, we sometimes miss the sad repercussions. This week, in at least one instance, we failed. I look forward to the time when we don't just tolerate diversity - we celebrate it.

There were many, many highs. Families joined us for our Terry Fox event, run by Ms. Lemanczyk, Mr. Forte and Mme Muise. Mrs. Strojny conducted the first Ecoschools/Green Team meeting of the year, and we dimmed the lights to save energy on Firefly Friday, thanks to Mrs. Carruthers. Mr. McKelvey held his first flag football practice. Mr. Forte, Ms. Ivan and Mrs. Leal got the Cross-Country team up and running. Mrs. Montgomery assembled her team for WE Day, and she and Ms. Fry booked (and booked, and booked again) buses for the event. Mrs. Feetham was recognized on our Board website as being an outstanding team member (her second time within a year). Father Gerard dropped in to plan Masses. Our JKs joined us for their first-ever week of school, with proud parents snapping photos. Old friendships were renewed, new friendships were made, and children were plucked off of the Buddy Bench by their peers, and invited to play. Our first Parent Council meeting was delightful, with many new faces and fresh ideas - all with an eye on building community. Ella, Luca and Sophia delivered the announcements and Taryn led the daily meditation - all, initially nervous, gaining confidence with each day. Speaking of announcements, Mrs. Murray had the office staff in stitches when she rocked a reminder about agendas with a pitch worthy of an Air Canada flight attendant.

The highest, most delightful high for me this week occurred on Tuesday, with the first ever meeting of the Student Team Advising the Principal. Fifteen students, from a range of age groups, gathered to just ... talk. There were times, during that conversation, that I felt quite awestruck. In 40 minutes, I gained insight and purpose and inspiration - all brought to me by some of the most humble, empathetic, forward-thinking, resourceful, positive, articulate people I have ever encountered. Notes from this meeting will be posted on the website within the next few days. Work is already underway on their ideas, including more activities for those interested in the Arts, same-grade mentors for new students and repairs to damage of which we were not aware.

In the movie Hidalgo, the mustang and his cowboy win the race, of course, after many adventures and hardships and acts of heroism. So it will be with the 2018/2019 year. With such a team - students and staff and families and community members - the journey will be magnificent, particularly if we remember to speak kindly, love generously and seek out joy.

Posted by seccleshall On 15 September, 2018 at 10:41 AM  

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