Likely no different than each of you, I was significantly influenced by two historical events that occurred this summer. Both created an ongoing emotional journey for our nation and for me, personally. As we head into a new school year and as I embark on my first year as the principal at École Pauline Johnson, I reflected upon the emotional journeys that occur for us all as educators, students, and parents. The school year will fly by, as it always does. However, the events that unfold will build our character and bring us closer together. This year will be about perseverance and celebration - and I invite you to join me with all you’ve got!
On May 24th, Gord Downie, lead singer of the iconically Canadian band, The Tragically Hip, announced his diagnosis of terminal cancer. The nation was rocked. However, the incredible thing about this news was that the announcement of his and the band’s inevitable end was just a beginning.
I am sure many of you joined me and the thousands across Canada to attend the Hip’s final tour. While I had been to many of their concerts in years past, I had never been in a stadium that felt quite like that before; I wonder if I ever will be again. The energy was unique. It radiated reminiscence, joy and grief all at once. We grew up with Gord and his crew. They were at high school dances, at weekend parties, in our dorms at university, on road trips, in hockey arenas, on all of our mixed tapes. The Hip was our youth; somehow the energy in Roger’s Arena in July managed to embody all of those things better than a yearbook ever could. It was real and it was raw. Not only for Gord and his band, but for all Canadians.
At the final concert in Kingston in August, the band led Canada by coming full circle. Where we begin we often end. Not only did Gord’s passion for music and performance allow him to persevere, it allowed him to celebrate. To the crowd that evening he announced, “We have always written our music and sang it with the idea that everyone is invited. Everyone is involved.” The CBC cameras panned to the crowd that wept, laughed, and cheered. It paused on a fan’s poster held high that read, “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.”
On August 5th the world tuned into the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As the twelve days unfolded I was glued to any screen anywhere I went. I am sure you were, too. Canada outperformed itself historically; twenty-two medals in twelve days was the final count. But that wasn’t the only good news story. We watched and cheered as our American neighbours also made new world records and as names we had heard little of in the past became common heroic parts of our household conversations. For me, the moment that was particularly poignant was Penny Oleksiak’s gold win in the pool. She touched the wall, came up for a breath, and her face said it all. How Canadian was her response? So humble, so incredibly shocked. Her family celebrated for her in the stands and we all stood to our feet to cheer in our living rooms.
I don’t like to see people fail and when people are disappointed I tend to empathetically wear some of it for them. As I watched all of those Olympic dreams come true on live TV, I also saw athletes fall. We saw their dreams shattered and we felt their hopes shatter. Aside from the strange outcome and reaction of the Mongolian wrestling coach when his athlete lost, everyone seemed to handle their failures with grace.
After years of training and making it to the Olympics as someone who can do something better than 99% of the world’s population, I can’t even imagine what defeat must feel like. But we watched and we learned that there is always a place for celebration, even when we don’t get the outcome we came for. We persevere because there will always be another shot at the gold.
As educators, students and parents we know that there will be times this school year in which we are called to persevere. Simultaneously, there will be many opportunities for celebration! We will work tirelessly as a staff to inform, engage and support our students and families as we make the Transformative Curriculum and Core Competencies come alive in our classrooms, learning commons and in our new garden and park. We will involve our parents in conversations around new ways of assessment and of communicating student learning. We will continue to develop our knowledge and skills in self-regulation so that our school culture is one that is caring and calm. We will continue to host the multitude of activities and programmes that enhance student engagement and celebrate the richness of French Canadian history and culture.
I am truly inspired as I move into my first year as Principal at our school. May we contribute with everything we have in us. May we persevere when the going gets tough. May we celebrate all of the good that is already happening and all that is yet to unfold. The gold is sitting there, waiting for us to take the challenge and go the mile. Shifts are happening all around us.
“Late breaking story on the CBC…
They add, “You can’t be fond of living in the past
‘Cause if you are then there’s no way that you’re going to last.”
(Wheat Kings, The Hip)
It is hard to find the
words to express how I am feeling right now, as I sit here to write my
final message to you as your Principal. There are no words, really. What
an incredible experience the last three and a half years have been for me! I have learned so much, alongside your
wonderful children whom I adore, and my amazing and hardworking team. I
am so proud of the many accomplishments of our students, of their growth
in all the different but equally important
domains; academic, artistic, physical, social and emotional.
I take away so many
fantastic memories. I have appreciated getting to know so many of you,
and all the support you have given me and the staff in guiding the
children. They each have such unique qualities and
gifts to share with the world as they grow up and find their passions.
Some of them have already discovered their future paths! It’s been truly
amazing to witness and I feel so blessed to have been a part of the
learning journey of so many young people day
in and day out.
I thank all the
teachers and support staff members of Pauline Johnson for their
unwavering commitment to the students and their success. Mme Susie and
Mme Kara have kept me organized. I owe a huge debt to the
one and only M. Chris Parslow. I’m sure that he must be proud of all
the things he has taught me these last 3 years! He’s given up teaching
me Excel, but I can now put together a decent slideshow thanks to him! I
cannot thank him enough; he’s been an amazing
partner. I am very pleased that he will be at PJ next year to welcome
Mme Zielinski to the fold. She is going to be so impressed by our PJ
I wish all PJ families a wonderful summer and the best of luck next year!
Dear students and parents, staff and guests,
Welcome to our grade 7 promotion, thank you all for sharing this important event with us! It is my immense pleasure to say a few words to our Grade 7 graduates this evening.
When I arrived at PJ, you were in Grade 4. It has been a privilege to see you grow as learners, acquire knowledge and develop skills in all areas of the curriculum.
Last week when I read Superintendent Chris Kennedy’s message about the amazing achievement of our classes of 2016 graduating from our three West Vancouver secondary schools, I reflected on what made those students so successful. Their performance and abilities have allowed them to get accepted in excellent universities all over the province, the county, and beyond. They didn’t just learn what they need to be successful in Grade 12. They started learning the foundational skills and attitudes required when they started Kindergarten. Play with others, use your words, develop your independence.
As you moved from grade to grade, you acquired a lot of knowledge in all the academic subject areas. Along with your teachers and classmates, you developed those core competencies that have been at the forefront of the new curriculum these last couple of years: communication, creative and critical thinking, personal and social domains.
As French Immersion students, you have mastered communication skills in two languages. You have worked in groups to learn to work collaboratively in so many great projects, and have grown in the social and emotional areas with all the work that we did at PJ on self-regulation. You have heard about the importance of being a kind and giving citizen, taking care of each other, animals and our planet, with 365give, the Virtues Project, and other classroom initiatives aimed at promoting citizenship and environmental stewardship.
At the core of a successful educational experience is the virtue of integrity. Make the right choices for yourselves. Knowing your needs as a learner is key to your success in high school and university. Surrounding yourselves with supportive friends is also crucial since it’s much easier to face new challenges when you have a strong network of support, which include your parents and close friends. If you make integrity your core value, you will be able to stay focused on your goals.
I encourage you to have a strong work ethic when you embark on this new chapter of your educational journey. The transition to high school is not an easy one, but with a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, a supportive network, you will be able to face challenges as they come your way. Just take one day at a time and ask for help when you need it. You’re not alone. You’re joined by all these classmates who have grown with you at PJ for a couple of years, or for 8 years.
Bravo a vous tous. Tous vos enseignants se joigent a moi pour vous remercier de vos efforts et vous feliciter. Bonne chance mes amis!
Kindergarten students are developing their phonological awareness, learning to count and converse 'en français', through movement, song and play. They learned about seasonal changes, habitats of various animals, the art of Ted Harrison, and aboriginal stories. They are working and playing collaboratively and enjoying their growing bond to their "grands copains", or big buddies from the intermediate grades.
Grade 1 students are reading French fiction and non-fiction books. They know how to find important facts about seasons, the community, and many other things. They are learning how to write stories with a beginning, middle and end, including interesting characters, and sequential events. Using graphic organizers is helping them create clear texts. They enjoy discovering numbers and patterns in their Math journals. They love dancing in PE! And other games too!
Grade 2 students were esconced in their inquiry projects on marine animals and they used Hundredth Day to showcase their creativity and understanding. Team work, critical thinking and effective communication skills were clearly evident during their presentations. They danced in class daily for their action breaks, and spent a lot of time learning about their environment, the impact of our actions on the environment, and raising awareness to climate change and other environmental issues throughout the school with their 365give Challenge and announcements.
Grade 3 students impressed me so much with their inqury projects on Aboriginal peoples! Along with their parents and guests, I visited the classes during the February celebration and had the pleasure of seeing the results of their efforts with their research and artistic creations. I enjoyed their musical talented throughout the day when they practiced the recorder and sang. They learned a lot about what matters in Science with their unit on matter!
Grade 4 and 5 students were very busy learning about resources. I loved hearing the debates where the students worked in teams to highlight the advantages of one type of energy source as opposed to another. I learned a lot! I was very impressed with the depth of their understanding, and their communication skills during the debate. In Science they became very familiar with the human systems. I know that their project on residential schools touched them deeply.
Grade 6 and 7 students in the early immersion program participated in the Vancouver Biennale Project on Fast Fashion. It has been wonderful to witness such engagement and collaboration. Working with artists and experts and making connections with people from South America is a powerful experience. The late immersion grade 6 and 7 students worked on their own inquiry project, learning through research and artifacts about ancestors and first peoples. All grade 6 and 7 students participated in our Concours d'art oratoire, a public speaking contest. What a great opportunity to dig deep and find out about a particular topic of interest, or share an important personal experience with an audience. Much work has gone into the research, the writing, and the presentation of their speeches. I can't wait to hear the finalists in early April! Other grade 6 and 7 highlights include Genius Hour projects, and the Rube Goldberg machines projects, perfect opportunities to demonstrate our term 2 core virtues of responsibility, perseverence and kindness.
We celebrated Pink Shirt Day at PJ, created a brand new student council, continued to highlight our achievement and initiatives in monthly assemblies, and buddy classes activities, building connections between students of all grades. Teachers are collaborating to explore the new curriculum, creating units of inquiry in various subjects. The core competencies are at the centre of our work, and the new reporting format at Kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 share the student's progress in a more meaningful way.
Culture continues to vibrate within our walls, from Fete d'hiver to other traditions like Le concours d'art oratoire and film festivals. All the intermediate classes participated in our Aladdin Musical production, a two-night affair with two different casts since we had just too much talent! It was a fantastic night where parents and teachers rejoiced in seeing the students shine on stage!
Our volleyball teams practiced twice a week, showing commitment and team work. We're thrilled to that our girls team brought the District trophy back to PJ, and proud of our boys who made such progress throughout the season.
Students had many opportunities to learn outside the classroom with various feild trips to The Vancouver Museum, the Aquarium, the Gordon Smith Gallery, the Museum of Anthroplogy, the Britannia Mining Museum.
I am so proud of the work, effort and performance of our students, and thank you for supporting them at home.
I wish everyone a wonderful and relaxing Spring Break! Bonnes vacances a tout le monde, élèves, parents et professeurs!
Here we have it, the last instalment in the blog series on Pink Shirt Day, from Samia Trottier, a Grade 7 student in Division 6!
The simple fact that this event started almos ten years ago and is still happening now shows how much this day means to everybody and how much it makes a change. There are so many cases of bullying around the world and if two teenage guys stood up for a bullied boy and it created an international anti-bullying symbol, imagine what would happen if everybody stood up for kids in their school.
This event tells me that if people stand up against bullies and come together as a community, it can make a change. Bullies won't bully if they don't have an audience and even if it takes a lot of bravery to do it and no one stands up with you, you made a change and at one point this will inspire others to follow you.
Someone I know got bullied for a whole year in my previous school and didn't tell anyone since she thought that it was her fault. After a whole year her parents finally figured it out but it was too late and she changed schools. I was quite young when that happened, but even then, I thought to myself "why did no one help her? How did I let this happen?" Now I realize that it takes a lot of courage to stand up but the results make so much difference that you shouldn't even think twice before reacting. I bet that if one person stood up for her and inspried other to do the same, the bullying would have stopped in a day.
Pink Shirt Day means that there is hope for change and that one simple action can make drastic changes.
It was wonderful to see so many students wearing pink yesterday for Pink Shirt Day! There were celebrations in classrooms and on the playground! See some photos and highlights on Twitter @chantaltrudeau
Today's article was written by Heidi Wilson in Division 3.
Pink Shirt Day is one day a year, a mere twenty-four hours, but it has a special meaning, not only to me, but also to millions of other people across the globe. To me, Pink Shirt Day means showing people around the world that they aren't alone with their problems. That there is always someone to talk to, to help you and support you. There is nothing worse than feeling all alone in the world and that no one understands you. Being bullied can ruin your life, as it already has done for many others. Pink Shirt Day also means letting those people who are the bullies know that what they are doing is wrong, and telling all those people who have watched someone being bullied and just stood there to speak up and stand up for the person who is getting picked on.
Thousands of people have seen someone getting bullied, and just watched or did nothing to help. They thought, "Oh, at least it's not me they're picking on. Sucks for them." But what if it was you, what if you were the one that no one stood up for? The one no one cared enough about to say something? It could be you. If more people stood up for each other and showed their support, the bullies would be the ones that are alone with their bullying and no one would pay attention to them.
In conclusion, Pink Shirt Day is one day a year, but it has a very special meaning. I think every day should be an anti-bullying Day like Pink Shirt Day.
Today's special write up is offered by Katelyn Carvell from division 1! Very thoughtful, and poetic!
It's Anti-bullying Day for all
Kindness: one size fits all.
Love each other and be kind
We all stand as one, keep this in mind.
Wear a pink shirt on this day
"Stand up to bullying", the teachers say.
Treat others the way you want them to treat you
We need this day and this is true.
To show others that you care,
Love is something we all wish to share.
Our second blog post this week was written by Razaan, a grade 6 student in division 5. Very well done!
Pink Shirt Day was instituted to prevent further bullying. Statistics show that 71% of students that are being bullied, keep being bullied, thus making it a problem with no end. The original Pink Shirt Day event was organized by David Sheperd and Travis Price of Berwick, Nova Scotia, who in 2007 bought and distributed 50 pink shirts after a male 9th grade student named Charles McNeil was bullied for wearing a pink shirt during the first day of school.This event has evolved to a point where 25 countries worldwide wear a pink shirt to symbolize a stand against bullying. Interestingly, according to the United Nations, Pink Shirt Day is held annually on May 4th.
Pinks Hirt Day is when many people worldwide wear pink shirts to prevent bullying. It's a day to recognize those who are bullied and to stand up for them. On this day, we all stand up united to stop bullying by wearing a pink shirt or a pink button to give recognition to this very serious problem. One individual who I feel really represents this day and is an amazing person is Lissie Velasquez: she was born with a condition where she never weighed more than 64 pounds, and started losing her sight at the age of 4. She was bullied since her childhood and "felt like a monster", and was named "The Word's Ugliest Woman" on a YouTube video. She didn't know how she would recover, but she did graduate with a degree in communications and became a motivational speaker and anti-bullying activist. I am so inspired by Lizzie's and other stories like hers for overcoming incredible obstacles in their lives(including being bullied) and using that experience to help others in similar situations. Having read about Lizzie and others like her, I have made a decision to follow those role models and make a difference.
How am I going to make a difference? I will stand up for anyone I see getting bullied, I will never encourage or be a part of bullying because I know that I can do better. I believe that if each of us does our part in our daily lives to stop bullying, then we can collectively change our thinking so it will no longer be cool to bully anymore. Hopefully, our anti-bullying actions such as kindness and thinking differently, such as being accepting of others, will reduce the sad consequences of bullying such as suicide, depressions, dropping out of school, and other such tragedies.
Pink Shirt Day is celebrated every year on
February 24th. We encourage everyone to wear something pink to show that
we are all working together to prevent bullying in our schools, in our
communities and online. Pink Shirt Day comes from two Nova
Scotia high school students, who decided to take a stand against bullying in
their own school. At Ecole Pauline Johnson, Grade 6 and 7 students
participated in a writing contest. The topic was "What Does Pink Shirt Day
Mean to Me?" We received wonderful texts from our students! We chose the
best ones to be shared with you on the Principal Blog every day this week! We
hope that all our students will wear pink on Wednesday!
The first student text was written by Parnian, a Grade 7 student in
To each person, Pink Shirt Day has a different meaning; however, what does Pink Shirt Day mean to me? Pink Shirt Day is a day when everyone is accepted and valued as they are. No one should be judging a person by what they wear or where they were born, because each person is unique. Pink Shirt Day celebrates and embraces the differences that each person has and teaches us not to make fun of one another, because being mean is not ok.
Pink Shirt Day is also a day to celebrate friendships and kindness. It is a day when we can support those who have been bullied. We can connect with one another and talk about bullying and how we can stop it. By sharing our experiences, we can give advice to people who need help and make closer bonds. We learn to be kind and brave. In my experience, having a workshop about bullying at school made a closer connection between my classmates and me. It creates a true understanding and that, although we are unique and are individuals, we share similar feelings and we all care about each other.
In my opinion, Pink Shirt Day shares different messages to different people. Its message to me is that 'anyone can make a positive change' and that inspires me to stand against bullies. It also inspires me to make closer bonds with classmates. Pink Shirt Day has made a positive change in our world by letting us empathize with each other. Now it's your turn to make the positive change!
Thank you Parnian!
What an exciting week! Yesterday was a big day for the primary students! They performed for their fellow students after the whole school marched to the beautiful Kay Meek Theatre for the dress rehearsal in the afternoon, then presented their Primary Winter Concert "Le royaume d'hiver" for their parents and guests in the evening. They were amazing! I was so proud of them!
Putting a show like that together takes a lot of commitment and hours of work and rehearsal from staff and students! Our primary teachers asked to book the Kay Meek last year so the commitment had been made quite some time ago. It is a fantastic place to showcase our talent, that's for sure. We are lucky to have a beautiful theatre like that at West Vancouver Secondary. The seating is perfect and the sound and lighting right on cue. Not to mention the knowledgeable and helpful staff! Mme Storry was in charge of the headset, and was at the ready to "cue music" during the whole show!
Students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 had learned and rehearsed their songs with their own class, and with the whole group, so they were prepared. Our grade 3s had the chance to demonstrate their recorder progress and they sounded fabulous! My favourite song was a whole group number. It's a song called "Un enfant de paix", a child of peace. Having over 130 voices singing such a beautiful message is heartwarming. I've been humming that song for weeks! I was so glad that the audience enjoyed the performance!
Today is our annual Santa's Workshop at PJ. An opportunity for students to buy a gift for their family members, a great "give" since it's also a fundraiser for the school and for the Syrian refugees. This annual tradition would not be possible without the hours of work from our parent volunteers who organize this incredible Christmas time event. Huge thanks to Robin Eisler and her whole team of "elves" for making this happen for our students. They are all excited to choose the perfect gift for their siblings and parents. The gym is looking like a winter wonderland! To some, it may look like total chaos, but to us it represents a great collaborative effort! Parent volunteers coordinating the sales, wrapping and displaying, and "buddy classes" helping their "petits copains" choose and wrap their gifts. We're all wearing our pajamas, (yep, I am too!) and we're in the holiday spirit here at PJ!
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and holidays with your loved ones!