Superintendent’s Update

Posted On Friday June 21, 2024

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

As we are coming to the end of June, many of you, along with students, are finishing projects and attending goodbye celebrations. I hope that you are enjoying these celebrations and the time to reconnect and spend quality time with friends and family. 

Four Directions Program

District Principal Mike Bowden, District Vice Principal Mike Faisthuber, and I were fortunate to take part in the annual report on the Four Directions program. This program is for Indigenous students who seek to have individualized programming that is relevant and engaging curriculum infused with cultural experiences, knowledge, and teachings. Ms. Courtney Bruin, Ms. Jordan Smith, and Ms. Laverne Tremblay are a strong team who are committed to ensuring that every student in the program has experiential learning (creating concrete planters and wooden birdhouses, as examples) that enables them to thrive academically, socially, emotionally, and physically.

They also attended a trip to Vancouver where they met the owner of Salmon and Bannock Restaurant, who welcomed the students to help cook and to learn about key menu items. They engaged in a traditional welcome to the territory by Dallas Gus from the Squamish Nation, and then they made cedar bracelets using traditional Indigenous practices. They engaged 34 students (5 from Grade 9, 8 from Grade 10, 11 from Grade 11, and 10 from Grade 12) in curriculum-based projects that emerged from the theme, “thriving”.

Skylar Isador-Oakes (Grade 12) is one of the Four Directions students, and he willingly posed for us because he recently won the Vincent Spina Award, which is for “a young person who has faced many obstacles in life, but has demonstrated that a positive attitude and true effort can bring personal joy and fulfillment.” In honour of Vincent’s effort, his parents, Ross and Marg Spina, have created this award to recognize others who have faced obstacles on their way to attaining their educational goals and dreams.

Skylar shared how he plans to continue in post-secondary, and he would not have been able to do that without taking part in Four Directions.

Twin Rivers Education Centre

Principal Mike Johnson and Vice Principal Cherie Finley and I first met with “Chef Robear,” Robert Arychuk, who was making a chicken dish in preparation for serving lunch to students. Students look forward to the delicious dishes served daily and enriched because of the Feeding Futures funding. When I asked how this funding has helped, Chef Robear shared, “It has enabled me to offer more selections, more often.”

Mr. Noble’s Grade 9–12 Humanities class was working on Social and English assignments to finish the year. Izzy (Grade 11) had taken part in Youth Train in Trades, and she explained, “I took most of the certificates offered such as First Aid and WHMIS training courses to add to my CV.”  Rayna (Grade 11) shared how when the TRU adviser came to their school, she discussed the possibility of taking programming to lead towards a career in Digital Arts. She found out that Valleyview offered the DATA speciality program, and she was accepted to attend next year.  Trae (Grade 12) is hoping to get into a trades program to get his Red Seal in Carpentry. He was finishing English 12 and will soon graduate.

Rayna, Annabelle, and Jayce are three students who worked with Ms. Geri Thomas and Ms. Lisa Bucher to design and prepare a mural for the outside of the Aboriginal Education Portable. This mural was thoughtfully developed with a book (to represent learning and knowledge) and with animals that represented the Seven Grandfather Teachings.  They worked with a local artist named Nate who helped to teach them about the artistic use of spray paint to create a professional graffiti design. Each of the students shared how they chose to design the inside of their animal with symbols that were meaningful to them. For example, Rayna made white water rafting inside of the bear because to go white water rafting takes “courage” which is what bear means. Jayce described how he chose two hands together to show what it means to be humble. They had decided to use a sasquatch animal and he chose it because of what it represented, “Humility”.

The students in the Humanities class, including these three students, shared how being at TREC has been what helped them succeed. When they each elaborated on why, the key ideas shared were that this environment is calmer with fewer students, they can get more help when they need it, and they choose where and when to work on courses at their own pace.

Mr. Cody Hilton was teaching Math and Science, and he had only a couple of students finishing their assignments for the year. I spoke more with Annabelle who is taking Physics 11 and Chemistry 11, and she has already been accepted at TRU to take her Bachelor of Science Degree. Her goal is to study traditional and Western medicine to see where they intersect. “I want to make a bridge between the two, to help Indigenous people who do not alway trust Western doctors to see how they can make connections to Indigenous approaches.”

Ms. Amanda Big Sorrel Horse and Ms. Geri Thomas, and other staff members worked on making 22 food hampers to send out to families over the summer. They have been instrumental to support families throughout the year. Feeding Futures funding has supported this initiative. Ms. Fletcher and Ms. Kehler were working hard to prepare for the Grandparents’ tea which was set to take place in the afternoon.

Barriere Mural Unveiling

Barriere Elementary School is celebrating their 60th Anniversary. Students, staff, and community members have created tiles to show their love of the school—when placed together, the individual tiles make a beautiful mosaic.

Y7ucwmentwécw (pronounced Yucw-men-twe-kuh)—translated from Secwepemctsín, meaning “getting used to one another”—is an art project intended to symbolize acceptance and reconciliation. The Y7ucwmentwécw mosaic is the result of a collaborative project that involved students, staff, and PAC families from Neqweyqwelsten School and Barriere Elementary School. Read more.

Band Graduations

We experienced band graduations to celebrate the Grade 12 students who are moving into the next chapter of their lives at the Adams Lake Band (June 17), Skwlax Te Secwepemculecw (June 18), and Neskonlith (June 20). The gift of the blankets for each grad is a tradition of honouring them and their achievements. Thank you to the band managers and coordinators who organized these beautiful ceremonies.

KTTA Retirement Recognition

We experienced the wonderful words of teacher retirees who came together to celebrate their careers in which they gave selflessly to students and families, and expressed their gratitude for doing what they loved every day. Thank you to Ms. Darcy Martin (President) and Ms. Teri Allen-Innis (Vice President) who opened with remarks that truly honoured teachers.

National Indigenous Peoples Day

On June 21, for National Indigenous Peoples Day, our District recognizes and celebrates the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across Canada. Every school in the District described what they are doing to commemorate this important day. Some examples include field trips, sharing the Welcome Song, and starting the day with the acknowledgment of National Indigenous Peoples Day and its importance as part of the Canadian government’s commitment to “Celebrate Canada”. Teachers will be doing various lessons acknowledging Indigenous Peoples and cultures that have made significant contributions to our society. Read more.

I hope that you enjoy a wonderful weekend.

Rhonda Nixon, PhD


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