An initiative to learn more about the Lunar New Year was embraced by students at Hudson Road Elementary in West Kelowna. (Contributed)

An initiative to learn more about the Lunar New Year was embraced by students at Hudson Road Elementary in West Kelowna. (Contributed)

Central Okanagan school briefs: Promoting inclusivity in the classroom

February is Inclusive Education Month at Central Okanagan public schools

February is Inclusive Education Month across the Central Okanagan School District (SD23).

Central Okanagan trustees were presented a video and were given an update on school district inclusivity initiatives at the board of education meeting Feb. 10.

The video showed Grade 6 students at Bankhead Elementary make an effort to help a classmate with vision and hearing issues feel part of the daily classroom activities in a meaningful way.

“We want to help Max and hang out with him,” said one student in the video. “I don’t want to have other kids feel like they are being left out…”

The school district plans to produce similar videos in other schools showing how students embrace inclusion.

The SD23 inclusion education committee is made up of various partner groups that meet once a month.

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The Lunar New Year saw students at Hudson Road Elementary participate in a program coordinated by the Asian Canadian Special Events Association, based out of Vancouver.

The West Kelowna students were able to create their town paper art “firecrackers” to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which is Feb. 13.

For the association, which normally focuses its initiatives in the Lower Mainland, reaching out to the Interior is a step it would like to pursue further.

This year is the Year of the Ox, which will bring good fortune to hard-working people as the ox is considered a hard-working animal that assists farmers in the Asian culture.

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February is also Human Rights Month across the school district, with the highlight event being Harmony Day celebrated on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The theme for events scheduled for this year is “courage.”

The Harmony Day organizing committee has provided a series of books to students at all levels for school libraries that address issues such as anti-racism and has organized a virtual conference accessible for Grade 6-12 students with several presenters, highlighted by keynote speaker Kevin Lamoureux, a University of Winnipeg teacher dedicated to reaching out to non-traditional students and provide more pathways in post-secondary education.

Leigh-Ann Yanow, chair of the Harmony Day committee for the past 13 years, said the virtual conference presentation has been a challenge to organize but will offer an opportunity for greater student participation whereas a single venue seating can place limitations on attendance.

Yanow also cited the support of the Central Okanagan Teachers Association for helping make events possible for Harmony Day, the schedule for which can be seen online at harmonyday.ca.

Harmony Day is an idea originally suggested by school district deputy superintendent Terry Beaudry after seeing it carried out while in Australia.

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Trustee Julia Fraser wondered if the recent weather deep freeze across the Central Okanagan affected the school buses.

“There were no delays and no interruption to service,” replied school district secretary-treasurer/CFO Ryan Stierman.

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The board of education has declared Feb. 24 as “Pink Shirt Day” in Central Okanagan public schools, an annual event held to draw public attention to bullying awareness.

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The school board has signed off on a new course, Global and Intercultural Studies 12, to be offered at Mount Boucherie Secondary.

The course is called a key component of a ministry of education pilot program created to promote and recognize intercultural skills and global competence for students, helping them to adapt to an increasingly globalized world.

This particular course is designed to develop intercultural skills and knowledge through an exploration of a student’s own cultural identity and the cultural identities of others.

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The graduation of students in the School District 23/BCIT dual credit program was celebrated Jan. 27.

One year go, 15 students from across the school district began their journey in the Electrical dual credit program.

The students and their instructor gathered for the graduation while parents, family members and guests participated via Zoom.

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Upcoming meetings via Zoom: finance and audit committee, Feb. 17, 4 p.m.; education and student services committee, Feb. 17, 6 p.m.; board of education, Feb. 24, 6 p.m.

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