Bowness High School is Alive and Well
First blog of the school year and I sincerely hope that all of our students are settled and getting into a routine at school. This year was one of transitions for two out of our three children as we saw our oldest child transition to high school at Bowness and our youngest make the leap to Middle School at Arbour Lake. Transitions are always tough because it is difficult to leave your comfort zone and it is the apprehension of not knowing that is scary for both parent and child. I took my boys to Arbour Lake School on the first morning to help alleviate any fears and because as a mom it’s what I enjoy. My moment of the day was from my youngest sons dear friend when he found out they were in the same class‘we are in the same class…this is going to be the best school year ever’. I cherished that as I walked out of the school and realized that for kids, that’s what it really is all about.
My daughter was a bit more apprehensive as she worried about if she would know anyone in any of her classes. She soon realized that most of her friends were also apprehensive and were worried about how to manage their classes, which courses or options they should take and yes the most important concern who else they were in class with.
So, last night I attended the Bowness High School Council meeting. With close to 1300 students it is actually one of the smallest high schools in Calgary; however it has a great deal of history filled with traditions. Besides hearing all the fabulous initiatives that both the council and the school have undertaken and parent concerns over class size, what struck me the most was the fear that parents expressed that they were concerned that Bowness High School would be closing. They expressed concern because of the opening of the new high school, Robert Thirsk opening next September 2013. This has been a concern that I have heard from many people in the community and it is clear that we will need to continue to communicate and have conversations that this is not the case. Bowness High School is NOT closing.
Students currently attending Bowness High School from the communities of Arbour Lake, Scenic Acres, Royal Oak and Rocky Ridge will be re-designated to Robert Thirsk. Students living in the communities of Bowness, Greenwood, Montgomery, Silver Springs, Valley Ridge, Crestmont and Tuscany will continue to attend Bowness High School. So will there be a dip in numbers once Robert Thirsk opens, yes absolutely, however fewer students will only be the trend for a few years as we see a huge increase in numbers from student’s specifically in the community of Tuscany.
On another note, Principal Gislason announced last night at the School Council meeting that folks from Alberta Education had dropped by the school yesterday to assess the school and look at the technology needs of the school which is good news. Modernization of Area 1 high schools, which includes Bowness High School, has been identified as a top priority by the Calgary Board of Education so we are hopeful that we will see some much needed upgrades.
So in a nutshell…Bowness High School is Alive and Well and will serve students for many years to come.
September 13, 2012
How The New Northwest School Got It’s Name, Robert Thirsk High School
If you live in Northwest Calgary you are probably like me and my kids who have watched the new high school being built from the ground up and have wondered…what are they going to call it? Well the wait is over as last week the Calgary Board of Education announced the name of the new high school located in the community of Arbour Lake will be called Robert Thirsk.
At the risk of sounding corny, I am “Over the Moon” with the name. Robert Thirsk is an engineer, physician and a Canadian Astronaut and a former student of the Calgary Board of Education, attending RT Alderman and Lord Beaverbrook High School. He holds the Canadian record for longest space flight at 187 days and 20 hours and the longest time spent in space 204 days and 18 hours.
Robert Thirsk is a man who believes in public education and said “he was pleased to accept the honour, saying he is the beneficiary of a first-rate public education. “Without a doubt, my inspirational teachers and coaches at R.T. Alderman School and Lord Beaverbrook High School laid the educational foundation under the dreams that propelled me into space. I wish the same for today’s young people and take every opportunity to explain the benefits of education and lifelong learning to students.”
So how did the school get it’s name? Well within the Board of Trustees policies, specifically Governance Culture, there is a policy called Board Committees or GC-5E, and under that falls School Naming Committee. The membership of the committee is made up of the Chair which is the Ward Trustee for the community that the school is being built in. The Chair or the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Corporate Secretary of the CBE, and members of the school community, at least 2-3. On the naming of Robert Thirsk we had four members from the community and four students from each of the middle or junior high schools that are feeder schools to the new high school.
The following is taken directly from the Board of Trustees School Naming Committee – GC-5E
The purpose of the committee is to provide recommendations to the Board of Trustees for the naming of a school. It is also to ensure that reputation of the CBE is given utmost priority when making recommendations and the values be guided by the principles:
As the community watched the school being built I was approached many times by students, parents, teachers and community members wondering what the school would be called. I kept a notebook with me and throughout this past year and a half I wrote down each and every name suggested to me. I took the names to the first committee meeting and presented them to the committee as a starting point. The committee initially met to decide on how to get input and how to consult with the school community. The committee felt that they wanted to first get input by seeking input on names. A survey was posted on the new school website and each feeder school was sent the link to the survey asking for input on a name. Respondents to the survey were given the parameters described in the Board of Trustees school naming committee, however they also indicated that they were specifically looking for a connection to Calgary either by event, landmark or an individual.
We got an overwhelming response from the school community with suggestions from sports heroes, doctors, philanthropists, inventors, politicians, former staff, famous landmarks, prominent leaders and yes even teenage heart throbs such as Justin Beiber. The committee specifically wanted the name to have a link to Calgary and with that in mind it came down to four names; Eric Harvie, Brian Keating Peter Lougheed, and Robert Thirsk.
A second survey was sent out to the school community again and once again posted on the website and we waited anxiously to see the results. With the survey complete it was now time for the naming committee to hand it over to the Board of Trustees to take a look at and in a nutshell that’s how Robert Thirsk High School got it’s name.
I have had the fortunate opportunity to meet with students, parents and community members who have watched the school being built. From the digging of the ground, to the ever changing Crowfoot library entrance being rerouted what almost seemed daily to it almost being complete it has truly being exciting. Robert Thirsk will be the designated High School for students in the communities of Arbour Lake, Citadel, Hawkwood, Ranchlands, Rocky Ridge, Royal Oak and Scenic Acres.
Last week I was fortunate to tour Robert Thirsk High School with Prinicipal Chris Meaden and all I can say is WOW!!! What a great learning space this will be for our students. I hope our students feel excited as I am about the exciting opportunities that lay ahead for them when the doors open in September 2013.
July 7, 2012
Impersonation, theft or just plain evil…someone took my name
Yup hard to believe really. I recently discovered a website in my name pretending to be me…I mean who does that sort of thing? And why? To what end? What is to be accomplished by doing this? Credibility is not gained by discrediting others.
I always believe that there is good in each and every person, but I am really struggling why somebody would do this. I seek to understand people before I pass judgement. If I don’t understand I work to establish relationships so that difficult conversations can be had. If you don’t like something I said, a decision I made, if you don't agree with my values or beliefs…call me…let’s have a conversation. Pretending to be me by hosting a website and posting things on the website that are taken out of context to make me look bad is cowardly and lacks integrity.
As an elected person I anticipated kickback, frustration and even anger from folks on occasion. I get it - parents ultimately want the best educational experience possible for their kids and they are often willing to advocate to the ends of the earth for them…I know because I am one of those parents. I expected at times that communication with folks could lead to tough emails, heated meetings and difficult conversations but really nothing prepared me for this.
My goal has always been about ensuring that each and every child in the CBE, can achieve their full potential. I believe this because of the 104.000 students in our system, 3 of them are mine. I believe in the statements “kids come first” and “learning is our central purpose”. These two statements are written on the walls at the Education Centre to remind each of us students, teachers, support staff, administrators, trustees and whoever walks through our doors of why we are there. Why do I believe this? Because when it comes to making decisions within education, these two statements must be at the forefront of each and every decision. Public education is about building for our future, believing in our kids and ensuring that they are supported to reach their potential and be the best that they can be. I don't believe that the creation of the website had anything to do with children...sounds more like political pettiness to me.
As a Trustee with the Calgary Board of Education I believe that I should model the values that are written through policy by the Board. Our governance results policies at the CBE speak to each and every student achieving Academic Success according to his/her ability which includes using digital tools safely, ethically and critically. The Board has also said that it believes that our students should be responsible citizens, build on their personal development and demonstrate good character.
The creation and impersonation of me on this fraudulent website is cowardly. It is not open and transparent. It frankly is really disappointing to see this happen. I hope the individual/s responsible are not modelling this destructive behaviour for others and I really hope they aren’t teaching their children that this is how you work with people. I believe this is in essence a form of cyber bulling….something that I do not condone, by definition this is actually a form of cybersquatting...so I am standing up for myself and letting people know. I am encouraging parents to have conversations with their kids about the positive things the web has to offer…. and the negative.
June 11, 2012