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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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October 28, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

October 31, 2016

With an extremely heavy heart, I want to begin “This Week” by offering my thoughts and prayers to all those who are part of Muskowekwan First Nation, Punnichy Community High School and Horizon School Division on the loss of our family member, our student and our friend, Hyson Dubois. Hyson was a grade 10 student from PCHS who passed away tragically a little over a week ago. While riding his quad, he ended up driving the machine into a slough near his home community of Muskowekwan. While trying to get the quad out, Hyson succumbed to the cold water and cool weather. I have said in the past that I consider Horizon School Division to be a large family. When catastrophe strikes our family, the shock and sorrow is felt by everyone. Although we can never know the depth of heartbreak and grief felt by those who are closest to Hyson’s death, we share in the great sense of loss his death has brought. Matt Haig, author of “A Boy Called Christmas”, puts our feelings into perspective when he states, “To lose someone you love is the very worst thing in the world. It creates an invisible hole that you feel you are falling down and will never end. People you love make the world real and solid and when they suddenly go away forever, nothing feels solid anymore.”  As each of us mourns Hyson’s death, please know that Horizon has supports in place for anyone who needs them. Most importantly, I ask that we continue to look out for our students…and for each other. Listening is a necessary gift each of us can provide another and, as a representation of our care, it may aid in taking at least a small part of the pain away. Hyson will be fondly remembered and deeply missed by all who knew him.

Horizon School Division’s Board of Education election concluded on October 26, and the successful candidates have been declared by our Returning Officer as follows:

Subdivision 1 – David Holinaty, Subdivision 2 – Linda Mattock (acclaimed), Subdivision 3 – Jennifer Lemky (acclaimed), Subdivision 4 – Mark Fedak, Subdivision 5 – Lori-Anne Proznick, Subdivision 6 – Christine Gradin, Subdivision 7 – Wil Lengyel, Subdivision 8 – Cheryl Vertefeuille, Subdivision 9 – Jolene Koopman, Subdivision 10 – Jim Hack (acclaimed), Subdivision 11 – Nathan Bitternose, Subdivision 12 – Paul Crow-Buffalo (acclaimed), Subdivision 13 – Albert Pinacie (acclaimed) and Subdivision 14 – Sheryl Kayseas (acclaimed).

I want to extend a huge thank-you to Horizon’s Election Team, led by Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO, Marilyn Flaman, who served as our Returning Officer. Marilyn’s dedication to this role was second to none and she ensured the effective running of the entire election process. Marilyn’s election team also included Executive Assistant, Melanie Gray, Administrative Assistant, Stacy Anthony, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Services Jeff Swanson, Communication Services Officer Lance Hiltz and Assistant Returning Officer, Rosie Ottenbreit. Election Officials, Doris Hoffman and Peter Stroh, were also important members of Horizon’s election team as they facilitated election training for our staff. A great deal of work went in to ensuring this critical democratic process went smoothly for candidates and voters and it is greatly appreciated. I would also like to take this time to congratulate our new and returning trustees. We look forward to your leadership as we begin our continued work together in support of our students and staff. Lastly, I would like to offer a heartfelt thank you to our trustees who will not be returning this year. Leslie Lewis, Denis Bergerman, Darcy Swiderski, Murray Proznick, Ian Kelln, Kevin Grieman and Melva Desjarlais have been outstanding Board members and outstanding leaders throughout their tenure as trustees in Horizon. Each has left a legacy as trustees where systemic improvements have resulted throughout Horizon and our students and staff are in a much better place thanks to their efforts and dedication.

On Monday, I travelled to George Gordon Education Centre for meetings with Principal, Jocelyn Armbruster and a few of her staff. GGEC is a beautiful school and I appreciate greatly the long-standing relationship with George Gordon First Nation Chief and Council members. I had the opportunity to stop at Raymore School and have a short meeting with Principal, Gene Unruh before returning to the office late in the afternoon for a meeting related to Transportation Services. As is necessary at all times, seeking to understand before being understood is an important responsibility for each of us and, as is expected, I learned a great deal from exercising this important skill during each of my meetings.

On Tuesday, my Central Office Administration Team (COAT) met to continue our review of Horizon’s strategic plan. During our meeting, we reviewed our A3 planning documents related to Horizon’s Literacy and Assessment goals. The planning sessions we have engaged in have been beneficial for myself and everyone around the table, as they allow each staff member to share and recognize how their work and the work of their service areas contribute to each of Horizon’s goals. Only by working together and collaborating can we achieve our goals, and this process is a great way to observe that in action.

As a result of Hyson’s tragic passing, I spent much of the morning on Wednesday in the community of Punnichy, speaking and listening to students and staff as well as the local RCMP. As the school came together during this terrible time, it was deeply inspiring to see staff and students supporting one another. I checked in with Principal, Dawn Liska at Punnichy Elementary before heading back to the office to support school board elections in Horizon. It was a late night or early morning as Marilyn and her staff learned of each of the eight election results from the 28 polling stations located throughout Horizon.

I met with Kenda Thimm of Myers Norris Penny (MNP) on Thursday morning. Our meeting was a chance to discuss Horizon’s ongoing external audit being conducted by MNP, covering the fiscal year of 2015-2016. The audit is an important aspect of Horizon’s reporting and accountability, and I appreciate Ms. Thimm taking the time to meet with me and go over MNP’s progress thus far.  

My Senior Leadership Team met on Friday as we took the opportunity to discuss our DLT meeting agenda as well as our Board agenda items. On Friday afternoon, I joined Table Officers, Jim Hack and Wil Lengyel, Marni Sogge, my Executive Assistant, Melanie Grey, Executive Assistant to Marilyn, Lance Hiltz, Communication Services Officer, Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Operation Services/COO and Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director, as we planned the agenda for next Wednesday’s Board meeting. Marilyn joined us via phone from North Battleford as she was watching soccer provincials where her daughter was competing. This was an especially critical agenda meeting as we prepared for both the Organizational Meeting and the Regular Meeting of our new Horizon Board. As a result of Wednesday’s elections, we will be welcoming seven new Trustees to the Board table and plans have been established to provide an orientation session with Dr. Leroy Sloan following the Board meetings. Dr. Sloan regularly conducts the Board and Director evaluations and has facilitated the Board’s Policy Handbook development over the last number of years. We certainly look forward to his expertise in providing support to our Board’s governance practices.

2016 Provincial Soccer Championships took place last Friday and Saturday, with several Horizon school teams in contention. With the season wrapped-up for another year of high school soccer, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to our staff and volunteers who make these sporting opportunities available for our students. Of course, our students do a remarkable job of representing their schools and our Division and their athleticism and dedication inspire all of us. 

Finally, I wish everyone a safe and fun-filled Halloween. Have a great week.

- Kevin

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