As I sat down to write this year-end message, the song Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day began to play on my Air Pods. I found the first verse to be very telling:
Well, the COVID-19 pandemic is definitely a turning point. None of us could have expected how the 2019-20 school year would end. I want to acknowledge the many extraordinary events that happened this year, from September to early March. We had successful extra-curricular events, fascinating field trips, and many exciting learning activities. We even had a Ski Trip in March. Then all of a sudden: a turning point. I still remember going around to classes on Friday, March 13, to tell students that while we were planning to have school on Monday, everyone should take their stuff home just in case.
Our transition to off-site learning had a few bumps, and I can say we made some mistakes. But overall, Father Leonard Van Tighem School staff migrated to off-site learning very quickly. I could not be more proud of our staff and students. Also, thank you to our parents for all their support. Although many of us transitioned smoothly, I must acknowledge this has been a difficult time for our community. Some of our families lost their jobs and income, and I think we all had some feelings of isolation. We followed the formula of relationships before rigour, grace before grades, patience before programs, and love before lessons. We must continue to strive to support all the members of our community, especially those in need.
As both staff and students struggled with missing connections, it was terrific to make some connections via home visits, parades by the school, and the Grade 9 Farewell. During this last week of school, we were able to see many of our students during the resource drop-off and the elementary report card pick-up. These connections were just as important to the staff as they were for the students.
The cancellation of classes in March affected everyone in the FLVT community. I do want to shout out four groups who were profoundly impacted by school closures. These are our Grade 9s, the staff and students involved in our Aladdin Jr. Production, families that are leaving our community, and staff that are leaving Father Van Tighem School—especially Mr. Hauck, who is retiring. These groups or individuals were looking forward to a special spring, but unfortunately, our plans changed. For those leaving us, we wish you all the best.
The next school year is still in doubt, and we do not know what September will bring. Many of us, no matter where we are, will be watching the government announcement on August 1. No matter the decision, rest assured that the staff of Father Leonard Van Tighem School will do our best to provide excellent Catholic Education for your family. I am a bit of a space nerd, and recently I was watching the movie Apollo 13. At one point, the NASA directors were predicting that Apollo 13 would be their greatest disaster. The flight director responded that it would be their greatest success. Whatever September may bring, I believe we will succeed as a learning community. Please know that as soon as we know any specific details about our school in September, we will share them with our entire community.
On behalf of everyone at Father Leonard Van Tighem School, we wish you a safe and blessed summer. Please be safe out there. We are in this together.
“God give me clear eyes, a faithful heart and courage to soar.” St. Kateri, pray for us.
This year we are inviting elementary students and parents to come by the school on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, to pick-up their report cards. Our Jr. High students do not receive a paper copy of their report card as marks are online using PowerSchool. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we must follow these strict guidelines:
Please follow Alberta Health Services physical and social distancing protocols and if necessary the use of Personal Protection Equipment;
To avoid big gatherings of people the Report Card Pick-Up will be scheduled at two different areas on the school grounds (library doors near the pond and the front doors). The schedule (see below) is designed to be a come and go activity. Students will be able to pick-up their report card, see their homeroom teacher, and have some brief interactions;
Each elementary homeroom will have a window of 40 minutes to pick-up their report cards. Teachers will be contacting parents with a general schedule based on surnames. Surnames with the beginning letters of the alphabet will be the first 20 minutes and surnames with the ending letters of the alphabet will be the second 20 minutes;
For those families that either cannot participate or choose not to, their reports cards will be emailed to them.
Here is the schedule to be followed:
Here are the maps to be followed, please use the entrance and exit routes:
Front Doors Pick-Up
We know this pick-up cannot replace the traditional year-end goodbyes we do, but we are glad we are able to proceed with this event on-site at Father Leonard Van Tighem School.
Please contact the school if you have any questions regarding the Report Pick-Up.
Please read this important email from our Superintendent of Schools, Ken Sampson:
COVID-19: UPDATED INFORMATION RE: RE-ENTRY PLAN
Message to Parents/Guardians of Holy Spirit Catholic School Division,
On July 21, 2020 Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, jointly announced that schools in Alberta would reopen in September in a Scenario 1 Mode – ‘Near Normal’ Operations with Health Measures in place in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools. As mentioned in a previous communication back in June, as well as noted in our Guidelines for Maintaining Safe & Healthy Schools in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the division, along with individual schools, has been planning and preparing for a return, considering all three possible scenarios (Near-Normal Operations with Health Measures; Hybrid Operations; or the continuation of At-Home Learning). The link to these Guidelines can be found here.
Please understand that school authorities are required to follow the decisions made by Alberta Health Services and the Provincial Government. These decisions do change from time to time, and as such, we are required to be flexible and ready to ‘pivot’ into a different scenario with very short notice. For instance, given the information in the News Release from the City of Lethbridge on July 27, 2020 regarding the mandatory wearing of face masks / face coverings on city provided transportation routes, we could logically expect that the students who will be transported on city school buses beginning in September would be required to do likewise.
When we conducted our original parent survey in June to get a better understanding of what were the needs of our families, we learned that some parents were not planning to send their children to school in September and wanted to continue with at-home learning. Of course, this was all before we learned of the recent announcement of a return to ‘Near-Normal’. The At-Home Learning option would include delivery of core subjects and would have the same expectations regarding meeting curricular outcomes and assessment for both in-school and learning at home.
As was mentioned earlier, we would be administering a follow up survey to get more up-to-date information around returning to school in September. This much shorter survey should be out by August 5, 2020. A link to the survey will be sent to all parents via School Messenger. The data from this survey will be used to identify the number of students who will be receiving their education at school or at home. As was the case in the first survey, we will need one survey completed per child. This information is of critical importance for the school division to be able to plan for educational delivery for every child. What is important to understand here is that your child’s at-home delivery teacher will not be the same teacher if they attend in-school classes, but rather another teacher within the division. If you are choosing educational delivery to be ‘At-Home’, we are also asking that you provide your school principal with at least a two-week notice / request to change or pivot back to learning in-school. I hope you can appreciate the need to know this information in advance so we can appropriately assign teachers to provide quality education to cohorts or groups of our students. Continual movement of students from one cohort to another would make it extremely
difficult to achieve these important outcomes. Please also understand, that should the province change the structure of the delivery of education, we will make the necessary adjustments and respond accordingly.
We have heard some talk about parents moving to Home Schooling for their children. This is not to be confused with what we are referring to as At-Home Learning. Holy Spirit Catholic Schools does not provide Home Schooling support. If a parent chooses Home Schooling, you would be required to register your child with another school division provider, where you as parents would be required to plan and deliver the instruction, with the support of that school division. Choosing this option would render your child to be a homeschool student for the 2020-21 school year at minimum.
While we recognize that these are very challenging times and education will look very differently than in the past, we will respond with compassion and care for each of our staff and students, and continue to provide holistic programming to all. Our goal is to make the transition to the 2020-21 school year as seamless as possible. Our excitement to begin the new school year continues to grow daily!
May God continue to bestow blessings upon each of us and the gift of grace to help through any difficulties and challenges we experience.
Ken Sampson, Superintendent of Schools
July 21, 2020 Update:
Today, our government gave an update for the 2020-21 School Re-Entry Plan. Here is the update:
At Father Leonard Van Tighem School we have already created some draft plans. School administration will be meeting later in the summer to further develop them. Once they are ready to share we will contact all the members of our learning community. We are excited to have our students return to ‘near normal’ operations (scenario one).
Please do the survey for each of your children that attend school on or before June 18, 2020. If you have three children attending school, please do the survey three times.
June 11, 2020 Update
June 11, 2020
Dear Holy Spirit Catholic School Division Parents, Guaridans, and Staff
Please find below the division’s Re-entry Plan Overview. We plan to send a survey to all of our parents/guardians tomorrow regarding this information, and will be asking for your feedback by the end of Thursday, June 18, 2020.
Thank you in advance for your support of Holy Spirit Catholic School Divison.
Ken Sampson, Superintendent
June 10, 2020 Post
Today, June 10, 2020, our government announced the 2020-21 School Re-Entry Plan. Here is the press conference:
This is our first look at the plan and we will start to examine it closely. Please read the following documents provided by our government:
Once we have some time to review these plans we will share with you how they will be implemented at Father Leonard Van Tighem School. We are looking forward to the possibility of having the students back in school in September.
Attention FLVT Grade 9 students, please read this important message from CCH regarding Catholic Central Summer School.
We are happy to announce that Catholic Central Summer School applications are now open! Please see the attached projected course calendar for anticipated course offerings. In order to indicate your student’s interest, please use the attached Google Form URL (https://forms.gle/9EztsyFzy6nSLw2n6) and complete all required fields. Of note:
-deadline for application submission is MONDAY JUNE 15
-students may select ONE course for the summer session
-French Immersion Students are to enroll in FRENCH Religious Education 15/Digital Learning Tools only. We are unable to offer PE10 to French Immersion students as we would traditionally would due to current Covid-19 restrictions. French RE15/DLT will thus be the course offered to this cohort this summer
-course delivery will require attendance via a digital platform (Google Meet). The attached calendar provides projected class times/dates. Attendance of summer courses in a digital capacity is a course requirement SUMMER STUDENT SCHED 2020.docx
-please note that the preset course selections on the Google Form are anticipated offerings at this time. Students have the ability to request an “other/alternate” course selection as well. Course offerings are not guaranteed and will depend on demand and staffing
June 17, 2020, Virtual Liturgy – Our year-end liturgy is scheduled for 11 am on Wednesday. The liturgy will be at FLVT, but only limited staff will be participating. We looked into putting this liturgy live online, but instead, we will be recording it and sending it out to families after.
June 18, 2020, Farewell Drive-Thru
Plans for our Grade 9 Farewell Drive-Thru have been finalized. On Thursday, June 18 between 5 pm and 8 pm each Grade 9 Homeroom Class has been scheduled a time to come to school. In their designated times, families can drive to the school (vehicles only) and stop their vehicle in our fire lane loop. At that point, our Grade 9 students will be able to walk towards the school, interact with staff, and pick-up a small gift from our school community. After this, students will exit on the grass and we will have our archway set up for a photo opportunity. After this, the families will have to get back in their vehicle and exit the school parking lot. We have created this map to show you the process:
Please follow Alberta Health Services physical and social distancing protocols and if necessary the use of Personal Protection Equipment;
To avoid big gatherings of people the Grade 9 Farewell Drive-Thru will be scheduled for classes to arrive at different times and is designed to be a come and go activity: Here is the schedule;
9C – 5 pm to 6 pm (A-L 5:00-5:30 and M-W 5:30-6:00)
9H – 6 pm to 7 pm (A-L 6:00-6:30 and M-W 6:30-7:00)
9R – 7 pm to 8 pm (A-K 7:00-7:30 and L-W 7:30-8:00)
Each Grade 9 class will have a window of 60 minutes. Homeroom teachers will be contacting parents with a general schedule based on surnames. Surnames with the beginning letters of the alphabet will be the first 30 minutes and surnames with the ending letters of the alphabet will be the second 30 minutes.
Finally, Mrs. Rogers and Mr. Craddock have put a lot of work into creating a video for our Grade 9 students. It should be completed soon and we will send a link out to our families.
Although this cannot replace our traditional Grade 9 Farewell, we are happy that our Grade 9s will have a chance to come to school to see the staff. The staff are truly looking forward to seeing the students.
June 4, 2020
Good afternoon Grade 9 Students and Families,
We are disappointed that the usual Grade 9 Farewell activities were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we think it is extremely important to celebrate the achievements of our Grade 9 students, say farewell to them, and wish them the best as they go off to high school. Therefore, we have spent a considerable amount of time planning the 2020 FLVT Grade 9 Farewell while navigating the pandemic and AHS guidelines to ensure students, parents, and staff are safe.
Our staff will be finalizing the details on our June 12 PD Day, but we thought it was important to share some preliminary information with you. At this point, we will be hosting a year-end Liturgy for all our community and broadcasting it via Facebook Live at 11 am on June 17th. This Liturgy will occur in our gathering space and will be closed to the public. Additionally, the school will be hosting a drive-thru, by vehicle only, on June 18th. Each grade 9 homeroom class will be provided with a timeframe where you can drive-thru the school’s parking lot loop, have contact with our Junior High staff (honouring social distancing) and collect a farewell gift from our school and School Council. Times have not been established, but we expect the times to be late afternoon or early evening.
Once we have more information we will share it with you.
Balanced School Day Pilot – FLVT (elementary) – 2020-21
We are continuing to plan for the next year; unfortunately, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are unsure of a lot of things. We are preparing for a typical start to the year, although there will be some changes in our new normal to address social and physical distancing requirements.
Earlier this year, we started our initial planning for the 2020-2021 school year. One idea that intrigued us for our elementary students was implementing a Balanced School Day (BSD). Of the thirteen schools with elementary students in our school division, four schools follow a Balanced School Day; therefore, some of us had heard of it or had some experiences with it. We are planning to implement a Balanced School Day for next year as a pilot. At this point, we want to share with you some information and thoughts, starting with “What is a Balanced School Day?”
What is a Balanced School Day?
A Balanced School Day is a different approach to structuring the school day. Instead of the traditional classes, recess, classes, lunch, classes, recess, and classes approach, the Balanced School Day has classes, nutrition break/recess, classes, nutrition break/recess, and classes. In both structures, the amount of time away from classes is the same.
We have not finalized our elementary bell times for next year yet, but here are the draft times:
From Monday to Thursday, students would have a block of morning classes, and then a Nutrition Break at 10:33 am for 10 minutes. The 1st Nutrition Break would be a time to have light snacks. Students would be in their classroom, and microwaves would not be available. After this 1st Nutrition Break, students would go outside for a twenty-minute recess. After recess, there would again be a large block of time for classes followed by another Nutrition Break. This 2nd Nutrition Break at 12:54 pm would act more like a lunch period. Our Grade 1 to 3 students would eat in the canteen (please note this may change due to the COVID-19 pandemic), while our Grade 4 to 6 students would eat in their classroom. Microwaves would be available. During the 2nd Nutrition Break, the students would have 20 minutes to eat and then go outside for a twenty-minute recess. After recess, students would have a final block of classes until the end of the day dismissal. Friday’s would be very similar to our current Friday with a 15-minute Nutrition Break to eat and a 15-minute recess outside.
Why are we trying the BSD?
Ultimately we think that the Balanced School Day approach will improve student learning. Here are the reasons:
It increases student instructional time. By reducing the breaks from three to two, it eliminates a transition time. If we save five minutes a day by doing this, it can save twenty minutes a week, 80 minutes a month and therefore, between 13 to 14 hours in a year.
It allows us to create large blocks of time that teachers can focus on numeracy and literacy.
By having two nutrition breaks, students will not get hungry during the day and be more focused on their learning, especially at the end of the day.
Due to having more prolonged outdoor recesses, students will be more active.
Although the time is the same, going to two outdoor breaks, rather than three lowers discipline issues (most elementary discipline issues occur during recess).
Research indicates that smaller amounts eaten over two periods are more nutritious for all students. We met with our Health Promotion Facilitator from Alberta Health Services to get her insights. She felt the balanced school day would be beneficial in providing more frequent smaller meals and extended time outside.
We contacted teachers and parents that are currently following the balanced school day. All the teachers are very positive about the approach. They claim students are more focused throughout the day, especially at the day of the day. They inform us students eat more often and enjoy spending long periods outside. Parents provide similar feedback. Giving the possible choice of returning to the traditional day, all teachers said they would stay with the balanced school day approach.
One reality that we have at Father Leonard Van Tighem is our structure of being a K to 9 school. Although this reality is terrific, it does provide some unique challenges. We are one school, but sometimes we are two schools under one roof; one Elementary and one Jr. High. We hope that the balanced school day approach in our Elementary helps the educational environment of both our Elementary and Jr. High classes. Only having two longer breaks for our Elementary students and the traditional bell times of our Jr. High students should create better learning environments.
This year I taught a Grade 5 class in period 6. At this time, our Jr. High students are on lunch break. Although our supervisors do their best to lessen the noise in the hallway, often, the hallway noise affects the learning environment in the class. Jr. High teachers have expressed the same concerns when our elementary students are in the hallway. Under the structure of the balanced school day, hallway noise should reduce.
We plan on implementing the balanced school day approach as a pilot for the 2020-21 school year. Throughout the school year, we will monitor the program and make any necessary adjustments. Also, we will survey students, parents, and staff to measure its success. In the spring of 2021, we will do some final surveys with all the stakeholders to see if the pilot will continue or not.
Some Common Questions and Answers:
What should I pack for my student’s lunch?
Answer – We always want to see students eat healthily. Instead of the traditional recess snack and noon-hour lunch, students will have two nutritional breaks at 10:33 am and 12:54 pm. By 10:33 am, your child may not want to eat a lot, but by 12:54 pm, they may be hungry. The challenge will be for students not to overeat in the first nutritional break and keep enough food for the second nutritional break. In past experiences, students needed more substantial lunches and separate containers. Here are some excellent websites to check regarding what to pack for a balanced school day lunch:
Answer – Staff is supportive of the pilot program. They will monitor students, and if they believe students are hungry, they will allow students to snack in class. Also, with a recent successful nutrition grant, our school has purchases two small fridges. They will in the gathering space and our counsellor’s office. These fridges will have healthy snacks (we may have to change student access to the new fridges due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Where will the student be eating?
Answer – For the first nutritional breaks, the students will be eating in their classrooms. For the second nutrition breaks, students in Grade 1 to 3 will be in the canteen (please note this may change due to the COVID-19 pandemic), while Grade 4 to 6 students will be in their classrooms. We simply do not have the space to have all the students in the canteen. Grade 4 to 6 students will have access to the canteen to make purchases (again, this may change due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Will there be microwaves available?
Answer – During the first nutrition break, we are asking students not be to bring microwaveable snacks. Although some classes due have microwaves, there simply is not enough time to heat food and eat it. The first nutrition break is not mealtime, but a time for snacks. During the second nutrition break, microwaves are available in the canteen and some classrooms. We do still recommend no microwaveable meals, only due to the time factor. Please do not bring meals that require a lot of heating time since microwave time is limited. As our school gets larger in student numbers some days, the line up for microwaves can belong.
Will I be asked if I liked the Balanced School Day?
Answer – Throughout the year, we will survey students, parents, and staff about the balanced school day. Hopefully, by mid-May, we can share the results and decide about the 2021-22 school year.
Is the schedule and bell times set in stone?
Answer – No. As this is new to us, we may have to change some times and routines as we experience the balanced school day.
Initially, we had planned to have a parent meeting to discuss this pilot; unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is not possible. We did introduce the Balanced School Day concept at the April and May School Council meeting to provide parent input. We look forward to this pilot to help improve the learning at our school. Please contact the school if you have any questions.