December 17, 2021 – Parent Update

Good afternoon Connect parents;

As you wrap up the first day with your children off school, and staff begin their much needed winter break, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the school year to this point and take a glimpse behind the curtain into 2022. Certainly one of our highlights has been Connect’s acquisition of the FEC at Sibbald Lake and the fall field experiences that have taken place there. As our students and staff spend more time with the land, they are starting to identify ‘special’ spots; places they will look forward to revisiting for years to come. Many classes have scheduled additional trips since our introductory fall day camps and there are some deep and meaningful learning connections that are made with each visit to the site. It has also been gratifying to have parent volunteers accompanying the FEC trips as well as shorter jaunts leaving from the school. Our reliance on volunteers (and your response to our need) is a hallmark of the success of our outdoor and experiential education programs.

Attempting to redefine ‘normal’ as it pertains to in-school activities has been more challenging, as we have retained COVID safety protocols to support the health and wellness of our community. Despite the need for masks, cohorts, designated entrances/exits, and the absence of electives, our staff and students have demonstrated their collective resilience and innovative spirit in starting cohort-based clubs and taking full advantage of taking learning outdoors whenever possible. The reintroduction of the fun lunch program and school council’s commitment to continuing fundraising efforts have  us once again planning for future projects that will enrich student learning experiences. Our Parent Society has recently completed two casino nights that will help tremendously in fundraising for the FEC and other enhanced programming for students. Our thanks to everyone involved in these important activities.

As you will know from the email sent to our community by Superintendent Chris Gilmour earlier this afternoon, I will be retiring from my position as Principal of Connect Charter School at the end of this school year.  Words cannot begin to describe the immense gratitude I have for the opportunity to be part of this amazing school community for the past 17 years. With six months still to go before I vacate this role, I wish to assure you that I will remain committed to providing leadership and guidance to the best of my ability. My reasoning in announcing retirement this early in the school year is to provide as much lead time as possible to seek a new principal. I am hoping to see many of you in person as 2022 unfolds.

Peace Festival

Our grade 9 students and teachers did an outstanding job of leading the school through Peace Festival, staying true to the chosen theme of “Even in these times, we can come together as a community”. The guest speakers, activities, and spirit days reflected not only the strong sense of community at Connect, but also the importance of kindness, empathy, and mutual respect. Here are a few photos that capture the essence of the Peace Festival better than any words can…

Message from AHS

Please see the attached message from Alberta health Services regarding COVID-19 immunizations for children

connectcharter.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/2021-December-15-COVID-School-Immunization-Letter.pdf 

Travelling Outside Canada During Winter Break

If you are considering travel outside of Canada over winter break, you may find that new restrictions have been implemented for returning travellers. Government regulations currently state that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students cannot attend school for 14 days after their date of return from outside Canada. Parents will be required to pick up students from school if they fall into this category.

Spread of the omicron variant and uncertainty about its virulence means that regulations may be adjusted on very short notice. The screen shot below is current as of December 16th, however the travelling public should consult the Government of Canada website at travel.gc.ca/travel-covid for the most up to date information.

Devices over Winter Break

As a reminder from last week, devices are coming home for the break. Most apps are restricted, however, several grade teams have provided some limited app access. We want to emphasize that access is optional and solely at your discretion while the iPads are at home. Should the COVID situation change, including if your child is unable to return in January for reasons related to isolation, quarantine, etc. – iPads will be ready as long as they are connected to WiFi on January 3. Please keep them charged (or turned off after charging) so that when they come back, they are ready to go!

Annual Education Results Report (AERR)

Each fall, school authorities across Alberta are required to submit an Annual Education Results Report (AERR) to Alberta Education as part of the assurance process that provides accountability and performance measures for school stakeholders. The AERR is an important reflection on the successes and challenges experienced by our students, staff, and parents during the 2020-21 school year. The full AERR may be viewed at: connectcharter.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2021-Annual-Education-Results-Report.pdf 

Our Board of Directors and school leadership team use the data contained in the AERR to contribute to strategic planning for the future. A review of the report with Alberta Education liaison managers also provides us an opportunity to share our challenges and aspirations with the ministry. During our review with AE earlier this week, the liaison manager commented on how thorough and comprehensive our AERR is and how clearly it identifies our successes, challenges, and goals for the future.

Proposed K-6 Curriculum Update

As reported by mainstream and social media this past week, Alberta Education has revised the expectations for implementation of the proposed K-6 curriculum. A letter from Education Minister Adriana LaGrange detailing the revisions and adjusted timeline for implementation is available here – connectcharter.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Curriculum-Feedback-letter-1.pdf .

We strongly encourage parents to become engaged in the curriculum development process by reviewing the proposed content and implementation plan at www.alberta.ca/curriculum-have-your-say.aspx 

Edmonton Community Foundation Grant

For the last few years we have received an annual donation of $10,000 through the Edmonton Community Foundation. The donor has remained anonymous but has stipulated that the donation be used to enhance experiential education programs at Connect. We can only assume this ongoing generosity comes from someone who is associated with our Connect community and I wish to express our gratitude for these funds as they are applied directly to enhancing our outdoor and experiential programs at the Field Experience Centre.

Looking for Lego – from Ms. Pereverzoff

Have you been wondering what to do with those bins of Lego collecting dust in your garage? If so, the 5.1/5.2 Lego club is happy to take them off your hands. This club meets once a week to participate in building challenges while being creative and collaborative. We are looking forward to when cohorting regulations ease and we can welcome more members of our community. 

Please feel free to donate these items in boxes, bins, or bags. You may drop them off at the office labelled Ms. P. 

Thank you in advance.

Parent Society Update

Coming in January, the Connect Charter Parent Society will launch our first-ever 50/50 CASH Raffle! The jackpot could reach $10,000 for the winner – how great is that? Tickets will be available online and can be purchased by any and all friends of the Connect Charter community, so be sure to share the links when we go live. All proceeds from the raffle will support educational initiatives and equipment purchases for our school. Stay tuned for details!

‘Tis the season…

We would like to extend our heartfelt wishes to all of our students, parents, staff, and directors for a safe, healthy and happy holiday season. In spite of the limitations dictated by the continuing pandemic, we hope you can still find time for family and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Have a wonder filled winter break. The first update of 2022 will be sent out on Sunday January 2nd. 

All the best,

Phil Butterfield, Principal

Shashi Shergill, Assistant Principal

Shannon Bennett, Assistant Principal