Superintendent’s Update

Posted On Friday September 08, 2023

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

Welcome back to your first week of school. I send updates every Friday with stories based on my visits to schools or district events, and information about the district. I link these stories and events to the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan. Throughout September, I will highlight the core value of relationships and connections, the Grandfather Teaching, humility, and to the District Priorities.  

Chase Secondary School and Haldane Elementary School

Prior to school beginning, Mr. Greg Gartrell, Principal of Chase Secondary, and Ms. Colleen Topolovec, Principal of Haldane Elementary, met with District staff to develop communication to welcome students and staff back by creating normalcy and stability while their schools opened on Evacuation Alert.

At that time, they had already been calling families and meeting them in their schools to provide spaces for students to play in the gyms and to have a familiar environment to relax. They provided backpacks of supplies and food, and other resources (clothing, shoes). The Thompson Nicola Regional District and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District provided information that assisted us to locate families on evacuation. Collaborating with these partners and the Education Coordinators from the local First Nations meant that families were connected with multiple hands reaching out to offer genuine help that was responsive to families’ needs. The Ministry of Education and Child Care and First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) collaborated with District staff to offer transportation to Adam’s Lake Band and to Skwlax te Secwepemcúl?ecw Band to make direct contact with families. After the first week of everyone exchanging ideas and offering their help as students and their families entered their schools, the principals shared their experiences.

Mr. Greg Gartrell, Principal of Chase Secondary, shared:

School startup has gone well at Chase Secondary School. Many families and staff have been affected by wildfires but the support from the community has been amazing. Students who are displaced have been able to find transportation to and from school thanks to the support from the Skwlax te Secwepemcúl?ecw Band.

Ms. Colleen Topolovec, Principal of Haldane Elementary School, confirmed:

Our school has worked with Little Shuswap to ensure these families have all that they need. We offer food daily and have given out backpacks and school supplies to all of the families who need it. Teachers are doing regular check-ins with students and families to ensure the families have all that they need. We are a pretty close-knit group here at Haldane, so we are seeing an outpouring of support, compassion and offers of help from local families to all affected by the summer's fires.

Both principals emphasized that the core value of relationships and connections is what matters. Everyone recognized that we can’t know another’s experience without humility–that ability to stop, to be present, and to listen and learn in order to help in the way others require, which may or may not be what we had thought was needed. This is humility and it emerges in these times when we do not always know what to say or do to be most helpful.

“Despite the stress and anxiety of the summer, most students affected are expressing happiness to be back at school and back to a sense of ‘normal’,” concluded Ms. Topolovec.

Kamloops Pride Parade

Prior to starting school, many families, friends, and staff gathered together in the Kamloops Pride Parade. I want to thank those who came together and took time to show that in SD73, we value every person for who they are and welcome you with open hearts.

Administrators Gather to Prepare for a New School Year

Thank you to school and district administrators who came together on August 31, 2023, to prepare for a new school year and to review learning results. It is due to everyone’s hard work that we have witnessed steady growth in literacy and numeracy, graduation rates, and students feeling safe, welcome, and connected to two or more adults in schools. Read more.

Red Shoe Day

Today, September 8, 2023, SD73 joined together to celebrate and raise awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Students and staff were encouraged to wear red to show support for those living with FASD. Thank you to everyone who seeks to learn about difference as a location for humility. Learn more.

As parents and caregivers, you know how important it is for your children to enjoy reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. As you ease back into the pace of back-to-school routines, I hope that “it feels good to be back” and that you also enjoy taking a break this weekend.

Rhonda Nixon, PhD


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