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Horizon School Division
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This Year in Horizon - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education - June, 2021

June 30, 2021

I want to begin this final weekly message for the 2020-2021 school year with a few words from Horizon’s Board Chair, Jim Hack:

“On behalf of Horizon School Division’s Board of Education, we want to say, once again, thank you.

Thank you to our students, families, partners, and communities. We are proud to serve you throughout this very challenging school year.

To our teachers, our administrative staff, our caretakers, our facilities staff, our numerous professionals and paraprofessionals, our bus drivers, our office staff and senior leadership, partner First Nations and community organizations, our SCCs, partner organizations in the education sector, and my fellow Trustees – thank you.

Words do not do justice to the gratitude we feel for everyone involved in making this year happen. So many challenges, so much change, and you all handled it with grace and unwavering dedication to learning. 

 As we head into the summer months, I wish you all a very well-deserved break. We look very forward to returning this fall to a new level of normalcy for students and staff.”

In the many months since this pandemic began, not one day has gone by that I have not been deeply grateful for the team we have in Horizon School Division. We have been faced with many challenges, but we have persevered. While we have not yet eradicated the virus that causes Covid-19, we are in a much better place than we have ever been. Staff responded swiftly to instances of the virus within our buses and our buildings, often at all hours, to ensure health and safety was a top priority. When we needed to, we adjusted routes, created learning from home opportunities, and pushed forward with our learning agenda, and always with a focus on keeping our children, families, and each other safe. Your relentless focus on the goals of our Board – Literacy & Numeracy, Safe & Caring Schools, and Graduation Rates was evidenced in your attention to our collective moral imperative…doing what is in the best interests of students.

Each of you did this. You are to blame for the amazing success we have experienced through this extremely challenging time. You are to blame for our society getting a handle on this pandemic. I remain in awe of your strength and your resilience and I am humbled by your care and compassion for others. Because of you, we are able to remove masks indoors as of July 11 and Canadian citizens who have both vaccine shots will be able to travel between borders, still with checks for Covid-19 at either end of the trip, but no mandatory 14-day self-isolation period. Our world is opening up, Horizon…and I blame you!

Speaking about our Board, this year marked a new beginning for our system as municipal elections took place and we welcomed 6 new members to the governance table. Rhonda Kayseas, Dana Stefanson, Jenna Hale, Jim Lissinna, Doug Armbruster, and Eddie Bitternose joined returning trustees Linda Mattock, Jennifer Lemky, Christine Gradin, Dr Cheryl Vertefeuille, Paul Crow-Buffalo, Albert Pinacie, Mark Fedak, and Jim Hack in November of this year. We bid a fond farewell to trustees Sheryl Kayseas, Jolene Koopman, Lori-Anne Proznick, Dave Holinaty, Nathan Bitternose, and Wil Lengyel. We certainly thank those trustees who are no longer on the board for the important impact they have had on the lives of our Horizon children. David and Wil were on the Horizon Board right from the first year of our inception, an incredible commitment to the lives of students. We continue to be so fortunate to have strong leadership from our current Board members as they continue to help move our system forward. The election this year saw Jim Hack and Linda Mattock return as table officers (Chair and Vice-Chair respectively) and Christine Gradin, for the first time in my tenure, was elected to the provincial executive of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association. I have said it before and I continue to express it loudly that Horizon has the best board in the province and we are all fortunate for these people who govern our organization.

Over the last few weeks, I have had many meetings wrapping up this school year and continuing the preparation required for the 2021-2022 school year. As our plans continue to come together for the fall, we will be sharing more details with each of you and our families. The beginning of the 2021-22 school year is currently looking to begin at level one of the provincial Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan for schools. This would mean that masking would not be required but some additional safety measures will be in place. You can expect that we will continue to sanitize and practice hand hygiene. Physical distancing may be another aspect of the plan to help ensure we do not continue to spread the virus to those more vulnerable. There is still work being done on the vaccine for children under 12 years of age and this work will be shared by the provincial government when more is understood. We know we will have children and adults alike who will not have immunity and we will need to continue our efforts to ensure those around us are protected. As I say this, I also want to acknowledge the many families in Horizon and beyond who had to endure the direct impact of Covid-19 including the greatest challenge of all, dealing with the loss of life. Our thoughts and/or prayers will remain with those citizens.

On June 29, the Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) met virtually for our year-end meeting. We welcomed new members to our DLT – Jacquie Bergerman, moving into the role of Wakaw School Vice Principal, Justine Wheeler, who will serve as Bulyea School Principal, Michael Jordan, Wynyard Elementary School Principal, Crystal Schindal, who will be Principal at Punnichy Elementary Community School, and Nadine Jennison, who will be taking over as Principal of Three Lakes School. We also congratulated Lester Gardiner on his new role as Culture and Language Coach, Jan Paproski, who will help us out on a half-time contract for the year as Mental Health Coach, and Donna Appel, who is moving into a Graduation and Career Coach role. We removed the Assistant title for Katherine Oviatt, Jason Neville, and Bryan McNabb and they will exist in our flat-line organization as Superintendents beginning next year. We look forward to their continued leadership. We bid farewell to Mr Dwane Burke of Three Lakes School and Mr. Joe Filson of Wynyard Elementary School who did tremendous jobs as principals and are moving on to other endeavours. We certainly wish them great success.

We also congratulated Keith Hassman, who will be retiring this year following a stellar career as an educator and administrator for 41 years! I also want to extend these congratulations to every individual who has retired across our system. It is hard seeing so much experience leave our system. You have left big shoes to fill and that is a tremendous compliment to each of you. And to each of you who have spent a portion or all of this last year supporting our children and staff in Horizon and who are moving on to other opportunities, thank you for making a difference in our system. When I think about amazing careers, I think about those who sometimes go unnoticed…people like our Horizon substitutes. This year, after a 50-year career of driving a bus for children in our system, Mr Michael Medvid passed away. Our thoughts remain with his family and although we could not thank him in person, he ensured the safety of so many of our children over the years. And after a 52-year career, Mrs. Linda Lanigan retired having taught and substitute taught in Horizon schools. They rival the likes of Mr Wil Lengyel, teacher, principal, and trustee who spent over 45 years supporting Horizon students. It is hard to fathom those levels of commitment to this amazing profession.

Horizon’s final graduation ceremonies for the year have or will be taking place in Wakaw School, Cudworth School, Foam Lake Composite School, Viscount Central School, Rose Valley School, Schell School, Humboldt Collegiate Institute, Three Lakes School, Watson School, Annaheim School, and Kelvington High School. Congratulations to the Class of 2021 for Horizon and thank you to the staff, parents, and volunteers whose efforts not only helped our students get to graduation, but were instrumental in providing a wonderful celebration for our most senior students!

Well, everyone. It is June 30. WE MADE IT! 

To be honest, I had zero question we would. As I have said many times, our Board and our staff are the greatest in Saskatchewan. Thank you for being part of our team and putting your best effort forward at every turn. As we head back to the 2021-22 school year, we will be looking to a strong focus on supporting literacy and numeracy, any learning gaps that may have occurred, addressing the mental health needs of children and staff, and ensuring a strong focus on graduation, all within our safe and caring environments that you help create. We will also continue a major focus on Truth and Reconciliation and supporting the responsibilities we all have to this most important work. We are all treaty people, and our individual and collective responsibility to accepting the truth and supporting reconciliation will help us and our country on this necessary journey.

Families will be picking up their report cards and heading off for a very well-earned summer vacation. I hope each of you enjoys the company of loved ones and the beautiful weather. We will be looking very forward to welcoming you back to schools in late August. Have a wonderful and relaxing holiday, Horizon! 

I want to leave you with this prose by author Steve Maraboli that I think speaks to the souls of each of you and what you do for children. Thank you again for all you have done and, most importantly, for who you are. #HORIZONSTRONG

DARE TO BE - Steve Maraboli

When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.
When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.
When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.
When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.
When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.
When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.
When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.
When times are tough, dare to be tougher.
When love hurts you, dare to love again.
When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.
When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.
When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.
When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.
When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.
When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.

Dare to be the best you can –

At all times, Dare to be!


Kevin C. Garinger  B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205