The Central Okanagan Public Schools theme for the 2021-22 school year of ‘Hope’ was reflected in this garden bed at the grand opening of the Outdoor Education Centre at Pearson Elementary School on Oct. 27. (Contributed)

The Central Okanagan Public Schools theme for the 2021-22 school year of ‘Hope’ was reflected in this garden bed at the grand opening of the Outdoor Education Centre at Pearson Elementary School on Oct. 27. (Contributed)

Central Okanagan school briefs: Immigrant families helped to assimilate to Kelowna

English Language Learners program offers empathy and inclusion to students and adults

Central Okanagan Public Schools has taken a leadership role to help new immigrants settle within the school district.

The English Language Learners (ELL) Program offered last summer is one example of providing assistance to participants, both adults and students, in both improving their English speaking skills and developing an understanding of the similarities and differences between their home culture and Canada’s culture.

The Central Okanagan Board of Education was given a presentation about the ELL at its meeting Wednesday (Oct. 27), a program held over two weeks last summer, funded by the federal government, which had the participation of more than 30 students.

The trustees were told the school bus was near empty at the outset of the program for daily afternoon field trips, but as word spread about the opportunity presented by the program, the bus quickly filled up.

On hand to share their views of the program were Rutland Senior Secondary Grade 9 students Hosam Al Msaliam and Hakem Al Elsmer, joined by parent Saffaa Alahmed Alibrahim and interpreter Nadine Hassanalli.

School district officials described the program as reflecting empathy and inclusion to new immigrants as they begin their journey to assimilate into a new country and culture.

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While details of a framework school boards have been ordered to follow by the ministry of education in deciding whether or not to adopt a vaccine mandate for school district staff were included in the meeting agenda, but board of education chair Moyra Baxter noted no immediate decisions will be forthcoming.

” We know the issue of a mandatory vaccination requirement for our employees is of great interest to the community,” said Baxter in a prepared statement.

“As this matter has labour relations implications, any board discussions are more appropriately dealt with in-camera at this time.”

Last week, BC Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring released the results of a BCTF health and safety membership survey, which indicated 94 per cent of teachers are fully vaccinated, another one per cent are awaiting their second dose and that 82 per cent of B.C. teachers support a provincewide vaccine mandate.

Mooring said any vaccine mandate for K-12 must be provincewide, as a “district by district patchwork approach does not make sense.”

Mooring said the survey also revealed that 79 per cent of the survey respondents said their mental health has worsened throughout the COVID pandemic, with 46 per cent of teachers reporting they feel safe and 71 per cent feeling they don’t get enough information about COVID-19 cases and exposures in their school districts.

“We have consistently heard that this lack of transparency has been a significant source of anxiety and stress for parents and teachers alike,” Mooring said.

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The new vice-principal of Indigenous education for Central Okanagan Public Schools is April Strickland.

She started her new position in August, continuing her career in the public education field which has included most recently working in Burnaby and before that, a five-year stint in Nunavik.

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The latest school to add a GaGA Ball Court is École Belgo Elementary, a project initiated by the school’s parent advisory council.

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Part of their role as trustees is to attend school activities and show support for student and classroom accomplishments from the board of education.

Trustee Wayne Broughton, the byelection winner of the seat vacated by the passing of Rolli Cacchionni earlier this year, made his first foray into the school visit aspect of his duties, attending the annual Green Day recognition at École KLO Middle School last month.

The focus of Green Day is to raise awareness of ecological issues and how students can contribute to a better future.

Broughton was exposed to sustainable living and environmental education initiatives taken on by the school, Indigenous land-based learning, recycling programs and work carried out on the Fascieux Creek and Wellness Walk pathway project on the south side of the school.

“I had a great time and it was interesting to see the work being done by the students,” Broughton said.

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The grand opening of the Outdoor Education Centre at Pearson Road Elementary was celebrated on Oct. 27.

The centre is a culmination of a community effort to increase natural vegetation on school grounds, raise environmental awareness and create new opportunities for land-based learning.

The project was inspired by long-time school kindergarten teacher Isabel Alves-Vicente, who is afflicted with the incurable Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).

The Outdoor Education Centre comes equipped with two greenhouses, 16 garden beds, an outdoor classroom setting and an Indigenous garden.

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École Kelowna Secondary School hosted the 2021 Best of the West Volleyball Tournament for senior and junior boys’ and girls’ teams on Oct. 15-16.

The KSS senior boys’ and girls’ squads each won gold medals in the tournament.

On the girls’ side, KSS defeated cross-town rival Okanagan Mission Secondary in their final, while the senior boys’ were undefeated posting a tournament posting win over Langley Christian from the Fraser Valley.

The board of education acknowledged all those who supported the tournament, citing, in particular, the efforts of Tony Sodaro, Mike Sodaro and Kelly Hettinga.

READ MORE: Kelowna school to build outdoor exploration centre

READ MORE: Vaccine mandate deferral upsets school board chair

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