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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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December 20, 2016 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

December 21, 2016

With a short week to end 2016, I decided I would combine the last 7 days into this final edition of TWIH. It’s hard to believe that my favorite time of the year, and likely yours, has arrived so quickly. We are also so very close to yet another New Year. I look so forward to spending time with family and friends, enjoying great food and taking in the festivities only the Christmas season brings. I’m thinking about doing some ice fishing with my sons and watching Connor Ingram, Imperial School graduate, play goal for Team Canada in the World Junior Hockey Championships. It’s hard to believe that a community of 300 in rural Saskatchewan will boast two high school graduates at the 2016-17 championship. Assistant coach, Kris Knoblauch, is also a former Imperial grad and a member of our nation’s Junior Hockey team. I am also planning to catch up on some rest and I hope for the same for each of you. Christmas is a great time to recharge batteries and I know each of you, including our students and families, have earned every minute of relaxation you find. I’ve already planned my reading list over the time I get off and I encourage each of you to find a book you haven’t been able to get to. Reading is a very good relaxation activity and, as I have had a chest cold for almost 4 weeks, I am hopeful that spending some extra time “relaxing” will finally shake off the lingering grip of this nasty bug. Regardless of what your plans are, I am hopeful each of you have a healthy and relaxing holiday.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I want to take this opportunity to thank each of our school and central office staff members for your support of Horizon’s Christmas Hamper project. Your generous donations and support of our Board’s great initiative, has provided gifts and necessity items for 102 families and 254 Horizon children this Christmas. In this, the third Christmas since the project began, contributions totaling over $39,000 have gone to support 240 families and 562 children. With these contributions also came numerous donations and I can’t thank our communities enough for their support of our program. The quote from American author, Donald E. Westlake sums up the opportunity we provided our families. "As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same." On Monday, December 12, central office staff and trustees gathered to wrap and pack the hampers in preparation for their delivery to schools who have ensured they are received by the families. This is a busy time of year for everyone, so I greatly appreciate the willingness of so many to commit time to the purchasing, wrapping and assembling. I would also like to thank Elizabeth Schell, daughter of Horizon Admin Assistant, Shelley Schell, for joining us on Monday to help with the project. I would also like to thank Carson Sogge, son of Executive Assistant, Marni Sogge and Information Services Coordinator, Ken Sogge, who helped with the purchasing of gifts for the children. It is truly inspiring to see our young people donate their time and support to such a positive, community-minded effort. So many will be so much better off because of this effort.

Continuing on this theme of our youth, I want to share how incredibly proud I am of our Horizon students. On Monday, December 19th, at the Lakeside Colony School Christmas Concert, I put it this way, “Ich bin so stolz auf die Kinder und Ihre Lehrer”. This German statement meant, I am so proud of our children and our staff. I have been in our schools on numerous occasions throughout 2016 and have had numerous opportunities to interact with our youth through ROSE processes, extra-curricular opportunities and curricular opportunities. I have observed closely the results from OurSchool surveys and I have engaged them in significant discussion around their learning in our schools. They have engaged me by sharing their successes in our classrooms and have told me what we can do even better to support them. They’ve talked about how proud they are when they are reading at level or have hit the right note in a musical. They’ve also shared their disappointment when an assessment has not gone well or when their actions have led to a serious or even minor response from their staff and system. They have had ups and downs during the 2016-17 school year, but it is clear that they are appreciative of the adults in their lives who are working so hard to help them on their path to success. I was recently looking at my Christmas tree. Like an evergreen grows, I know that student success grows in much the same way. With each limb that helps to strengthen the base, other limbs grow and the needles of the pine tree, the success that results, never fades but only help to make the tree stronger. Those needles are like the learning opportunities that our children are provided. In reflecting on the impact each of you make in our schools and on our buses, I can’t help but think you are creating these pine needles, one by one and for each of our “evergreens”. I have seen it with my own eyes but I also can harken back to an example that I was recently reminded of.

As you know, Wall of Fame nominations are currently being accepted in anticipation of our 2017 Celebration Day and I encourage each of you to put forward names. The Wall of Fame has one very significant purpose…to recognize that past staff in Horizon made a difference for students and, that because of their efforts, these students go on to great things in our world. When a Wall of Famer is recognized, the message for current staff is that adults in schools made a difference for that individual and that we make differences today for those students who will be added to our wall in the future. I was once again humbled this past week when a parent of one of our Horizon students shared that her child’s goal is not to become a Doctor, a lawyer, a professional athlete or a Broadway star, it was simply to get on the Horizon Wall of Fame! I can’t help to recognize that we are different than we were 2 and a half years ago and we will be different 2.5 years from now. It has taken all of us to make this difference and I can’t thank each of you enough for your part in the change we see today and the change I know we will see tomorrow.

On Monday morning, I travelled to Watrous along with Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, Superintendent of Learning Services, Crandall Hrynkiw and Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN to hold our Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) review meeting with administrators at Winston High. Our thanks to Principal, Terry Braman, Vice Principal, Doug Thomas and their staff as they ensure their LIP is a living and breathing planning tool that it continues to meet the educational needs of their students. Following our meeting, I travelled to Viscount for a meeting with principal Ryan Heritage and members of his staff before heading back to central office to take part in the Christmas Hamper project. I had the pleasure to speak with our local media about the important project and the work of our staff to support Horizon families and kids.

Horizon’s Board of Education met on Tuesday for our regular monthly meeting. This was a very productive meeting, covering many important issues and discussion topics. The Board had the opportunity to hear two ROSE reports related to Cudworth School and Ituna School. Crandall and his ROSE team consisting of Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services and Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Learning Services, shared the reports with the Board and answered any questions that arose. The Board also heard about the new Hub & Cor at George Gordon, only the second First Nation authority who has made a motion to implement a Hub & Cor. They listened and responded to reports from the Governance Committee, Audit Committee and Joint Operation Committee. One of our newest Trustees, Christine Gradin, was away for our meeting, as she is celebrating the recent birth of her daughter, Presley. On behalf of the entire Horizon family, congratulations, Christine! The Board and central office also took in a holiday potluck lunch on Tuesday, and it was great for everyone to have a chance to gather and share best wishes for one another ahead of the New Year. With this in mind, I would like to share with you a brief message from Chairperson, Jim Hack, on behalf of the Board:

“I want to begin by thanking each and every one of our students and staff for your remarkable, ongoing work as we continue to realize Horizon’s three goals focused on Safe & Caring schools, Literacy and Assessment. 2016 has been another year of growth, achievement and learning for everyone in Horizon, and each of our staff members played a critical role in that success. On behalf of our Board, I offer our sincere thanks. I would also like to thank our many partners, First Nation authorities and communities for the positive collaborative relationships that we have enjoyed this past year. I am extremely proud that we have opportunities to work closely with so many organizations in support of students and learning.

I am also very proud of our Board. As this was an election year, we have welcomed a number of new trustees around the board table. These individuals have already shown incredible dedication to our students, staff and families in the two short months since our election. Thank you to my fellow Board members for your work, guidance and commitment in support of the great people of Horizon.

On behalf of the Board, I have the pleasure of wishing you all a safe and joyous holiday season, and the very best in the New Year! Merry Christmas, enjoy your well-earned break, and we will look forward to seeing you all back in January.”

On Wednesday, Crandall, Darrell and I travelled to Sask Central Hutterite School to conduct the final LIP review of the fall session. I would like to thank Principal Debbie Hollis for her time and work on her school’s LIP. As this was the final LIP review meeting for this round, I would like to reiterate my thanks to all our school administrators and their staffs for the work on these living documents that ultimately guide our efforts in support of student learning.

The Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division (EPSSD) Board met on Wednesday evening for their regular monthly meeting. This was a great opportunity to discuss such issues as Base Instruction review, early dismissal for Christmas break and a look at EPSSD’s monthly financials. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend Viscount School’s Christmas concert but, from all reports, I understand it was another tremendous evening. Thank you to principal Ryan Heritage and his staff for the invitation and I’ll look forward to attending next year.
On Thursday, I travelled to Drake School, Sask Central, Punnichy Elementary and High School and Raymore School along with Trustee for Subdivision 9, Jolene Koopman. This was an opportunity to tour schools with one of our new Trustees, and we’re hoping to have the opportunity to connect with more of our Trustees for school tours in the coming weeks and months. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jolene for taking the time to meet with our students and staff and further our Board’s connections in her Subdivision. While we were at Raymore School, we had the opportunity to be a part of the retirement celebrations for Ms. Wanda Sheils. Ms. Sheils has been an EA with Horizon and our legacy divisions for nearly 30 years, with a majority of these years spent at Raymore School. It was a pleasure to see how loved she is by her colleagues, students and community. On behalf of the Board and the students and staff across Horizon, we wish you all the best in your retirement, Wanda.

I dropped Jolene off at Lanigan Elementary in order that she could be part of their Christmas concert and, from all reports, it was another outstanding effort by the children, staff and community. I headed north (and a little east) to LeRoy for their community supper and Christmas concert. The gym was packed and everyone enjoyed a wonderful meal followed by the tremendous talents on display by the students of LeRoy School. I want to take the opportunity to thank Principal, Annette Zentner for the invitation to this tremendous event and for her work and that of her staff for making the evening such a huge success. Of course, there have been many such events and opportunities for students across Horizon in the last couple of weeks, and I would like to thank all our staff and community volunteers for making this time of the year special for Horizon children and families.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the Christmas dinner held over the noon hour at Humboldt Public School. You could certainly feel the holiday spirit as the school celebrated this festive season in style with a delicious meal. Thank you to Principal, Clayton Parobec and his staff for the invitation to attend.  

The Humboldt Collegiate Institute’s Drama Club held their annual production, this year performing “The Little Mermaid, Jr.” It was a fantastic showcase for our talented students, and I would like to say “bravo” to our student performers, crew members and planners. Congratulations are also in order for HCI’s staff, particularly teachers Glenda Lees, Jamie White and Shawn Meyers. Your efforts to provide these incredible opportunities for our students are always appreciated.

On Monday, December 19, I travelled to Watrous Elementary to attend a retirement luncheon for Ms. Joanne Gross. Ms. Gross is the Secretary at Watrous Elementary and recently celebrated 27 year with Horizon and legacy divisions. While there, I was also able to present Principal Pat Borsa with a Years of Service gift, celebrating 20 years. On Tuesday, December 20, I was pleased to attend another luncheon, this time at Cudworth School. I also know that central office staff attended a significant number of events over the last few days and it is always great to see people in our schools and experiencing the opportunities provided to our students.

On the evening of December 20, I received an invitation to take in the William Derby School Short Film Festival in Strasbourg, the Lakeside Colony School’s Christmas concert and Muenster School’s Christmas Concert. Each of these events were opportunities for our students to showcase their amazing talents and I greatly appreciated the invitations. Darrell Paproski and Crandall Hrynkiw were able to attend the Film Festival and, from all reports, it was an amazing spectacle demonstrating the efforts of our students and staff. I can say the same about the concert in Lakeside Colony and greatly appreciated the opportunity to be part of their ceremony. I’ve since heard that the Muenster concert was equally outstanding.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a quotation by the famed author, Dr. Seuss, who wrote in his children’s story we all know, “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Have a tremendous holiday season, everyone. May this joyous season bring happiness and health to you, your families and your friends. I look forward to working with each of you as you return safely to Horizon schools and offices in 2017.

- Kevin

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

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