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Under the Northern Lights - March 26, 2019

The March 26, 2019 regular meeting of the NLPS Board Of Trustees was held at the Cold Lake Energy Centre. Here are some of the highlights:

Good News Items

  • Board Chair Arlene Hrynyk highlighted the upcoming NLPS STEAM Challenge being held on April 11 at the Bold Centre in Lac La Biche. The division is currently looking for volunteers to be judges at the event.

  • Trustee Karen Packard attended the division's Community Engagement session in Cold Lake. She noted that attendance was lower than anticipated but the people who did attend were highly engaged in the conversation. Hrynyk said participants at the session at Ecole Plamondon School were also very engaged in the process. Trustee Lorne Kaban complimented Heather Stromquist, Director of Community Partnerships and Engagement, on a great job facilitating the sessions and ensuring everyone who attends has an opportunity to provide input and feels heard.

  • Bill Driedger, Associate Superintendent - System Improvement, and Vice-Chair Michael Topylki noted their attendance at a recent Tribal Chiefs meeting and said it was a good opportunity to build relationships.

CLHS Enviroyals Club Presentation

Ten students Cold Lake High School's Enviroyals Club presented the Board with information on the club's initiatives to reduce waste in their school and encourage choices that are environmentally-friendly. 

One of their most recent projects is fundraising to put hand dryers in washrooms to reduce the use of paper towels. The students reported that each washroom in the school uses 150 rolls of paper towels per year for a total of 1,500 rolls over the course of a year. The hand dryers they would like to purchase produce less carbon dioxide than the use of paper towels, as well as reducing the water consumption involved in the production of paper towels.

The hand dryers they would like to install in the school cost 71% less to run than other hand dryers and have HEPA filters that capture 99.97% of bacteria. Each filter lasts 700,000 dries. The cost to purchase and install two dryers is $4,449.98 and the students have raised approximately half of that to date.

Other projects the club has initiated include recycling bins in the school, annual highway cleanup, water bottle filling stations, aquaponics tank and solar cell phone chargers in the school's learning commons, and selling reusable straws to reduce the use of single use plastics in the cafeteria. In the cafeteria alone, due to the recycling bins and other Enviroyals initiatives, the amount of trash has been reduced to a half a bag a day compared to two bags per day previously. 

The Board encouraged the students to share the information they had collected with the division's facilities staff and to continue with the excellent work they are doing in their school and community.

More information, including videos of some of the Enviroyals initiatives is available on the school's website: CLHS Extra-Curricular


Student Voice to the Board

The Student Voice committee, made up of two student representatives from each Northern Lights high school, provided the Board with the feedback they had collected over the last few months on what schools are doing well to create warm, caring and welcoming schools and what could be improved.

The students surveyed all high school students in the division, and received 407 responses. Some of the things students highlighted as contributing to a warm, caring, welcoming school were staff greeting students as they arrive at school, school events, and staff listening to the opinions of students.

Suggestions for improvement included creating more awareness for staff and students of depression and mental illness, providing areas for students to get their stress out and take a break, and staff taking students' feelings and emotions into account.

This is the second question the students have been asked to provide input on. The first focused on barriers to student success. Some of the students on the committee have been meeting with their school councils, school administration and staff, to share the results of the survey and discuss things that can be addressed at their schools. The students also reported that some of the schools have already responded to the survey results by making positive changes at their schools.

The Board has provided the students with a third question: Thinking about life after high school, what can we do to better prepare you for work or post-secondary education? The students will tackle this question, along with student representatives from grades 5-12 from all NLPS schools at the division's Student Voice conference in May.

NLPS students also have the opportunity to share their thoughts and learn how to use their voice to influence change at two upcoming provincial conferences:

Students interested in attending either of these conferences are encouraged to speak to their school administration.

Board Chair Arlene Hrynyk told the students that while they may not see immediate changes that are occurring as a result of their work, they are influencing change by providing the Board with information it uses to make decisions.


Capital Plan

The Board approved a new Three- and 10-Year Capital Plan to be submitted to Alberta Education. The department requires boards across the province to submit their capital priorities prior to April 1 of each school year.

A replacement school for Vera M. Welsh Elementary School in Lac La Biche remains the Board's top new infrastructure priority, with the modernization of Ecole Plamondon as the top modernization priority. The third priority is a new school at Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement. Buffalo Lake is currently the only Metis settlement in the province that does not have its own school. Many students from Buffalo Lake currently attend Caslan School. A modernization at North Star Elementary rounds out the three-year portion of the capital plan. A modernization at Iron River School was removed from the plan as a large part of the work has been done by NLPS facilities staff over the last couple of years.

The 10-year plan also includes audit upgrades at H.E. Bourgoin School in Bonnyville, Kikino School, and Wandering River School.

For more information on the NLPS Capital Plan, please visit the Accountability section of our website.


First Nations, Metis and Inuit Report 

Jimmi Lou Irvine, Associate Superintendent - Teaching and Learning, provided the Board with a report on the many initiatives underway in the division related to First Nations, Metis and Inuit students. 

Irvine noted that NLPS is somewhat unique in the province in regards to the number of First Nations and Metis communities that are within its boundaries. Northern Lights serves students from six First Nations and four Metis Settlements. Close to 30% of NLPS students identify as First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

On March 26 and 27th, teachers from throughout NLPS were gathered at the division's Trades Exposure Centre for a First Nations, Metis and Inuit kit building session. The teachers were putting together kits and lesson plans to supplement curriculum that focuses on First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

Irvine noted that the division has been able to access funding for 11 students through Jordan's Principle and the supports have been well received by families. 





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