What do we do well? What can we do better? How do we ensure academic excellence, rigour, and deep learning remain at the core of what we do? And how do we gauge how STS is meeting its mission and value-driven goal of continuous improvement across multiple fields?
Research findings demonstrated that even our youngest students could articulate a deeper connection to the campus, a need to steward it, and that the spaces themselves could be known and understood through different perspectives. It is probably no surprise that teachers and students alike reported increased levels of wellness during these experiences as well.
Speech taught me how to harness my natural “motor mouth,” but most importantly, speech afforded me the ability to connect with older students who I knew would support me. Because of speech, I learned to be comfortable in my own skin, “motor mouth” and all. I learned how to deal with difficult social situations, how to approach teachers and adults, how to manage co-curriculars and school work, how to win, and most importantly how to lose. Many of these lessons came from my coaches, peers, and older students whom I looked up too, which makes these memories very special. Even now as I graduate, I am still in contact with those older students whom I formed connections with and I still find myself turning to them for advice about the transition to post-secondary school.
At Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, one of the ways we view innovation is as a means to add value to our excellent programming. In the Senior School in particular, new programming offerings for the 2023-2024 school year will add value by increasing student choice and enhancing the student experience. Specifically, students can look forward to electives that complete course pathways in Musical Theatre 25/25, Outdoor Education 20/30, Sports Medicine 30, Personal Fitness 20 and Computer Science and Entrepreneurship II.
Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) places the wellbeing needs of students at the center — and it begins with teachers. Walk into any Kindergarten to Grade 12 classroom and you will notice authentic and meaningful connections established between students and teachers. Why? Because at its core, every educational encounter is a relational one that is anchored in trust-building. STS teachers understand the critical role they assume in providing a safe space for students to take well-supported risks in the classroom and on the field. Raising a hand to ask a question in calculus class and trying out for a new co-curricular activity are made possible when students trust the adult overseeing the experience cares about their learning experience.
Students and parents at STS have continued to show strong support for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), the culmination of the IB educational continuum. Through this Programme, students have the opportunity to go deeper and ask insightful questions, to add to their own perspectives through problem solving, and develop independence and confidence by applying themselves to a wide variety of academic challenges. Not only does this add to their enjoyment of school now, but this leads to success in post-secondary studies and a drive for life- long learning.
A teacher, historian, storyteller, and visual artist - Saa’kokoto is providing STS students with a deep understanding and appreciation of Indigenous culture. His lessons carry a wealth of first hand experience, drawn both from his years as a business leader in his community and as an ambassador of his culture. “I learned a lot about the people, the land. I come from the largest First Nation in Canada which is Kainai west of Lethbridge, and we have two elementary schools, a middle school and high school, and our own college. In my last term in office, I taught a course there at the college and it was accredited through the University of Lethbridge. It was on governance - (a concept) that I could share.”
For me, International Baccalaureate (IB) Music was special because it was a subject I chose purely for myself. It offered me a place in school where I could explore a passion and take a break from the stress of Senior School.
Now, that’s not to say it wasn’t difficult. It’s a subject that requires a lot of time to complete assignments and create work. Still, I think out of all my subjects, music is the best representation of what IB means to me because it continuously challenged me to test my limits.
In the Speech program there are many different categories of public speaking but the category that challenges even the most seasoned of public speakers is probably Impromptu Speaking. The Impromptu category is completely unprepared. After you are given a topic you’ve never seen before with only two minutes to prepare, you deliver a speech for up to five minutes that is essentially created as you perform it. As a young public speaker, this category terrified me, and I avoided it at all costs. However, encouraged by my dad and my coaches, I worked at the skill, and naturally, it improved over time. The differences between me at the beginning of my STS journey, and who I am now are many.
In July, twenty STS students headed off to Geneva to attend Swiss Summer School in the picturesque mountain town of Gstaad. After landing in Geneva, the group wasted no time and headed from the airport to the waterfront to see the Jet d’Eau. Then they strolled over to the old town to visit St. Pierre Cathedral and tour the downtown district.
After the end of a grueling series of IB exams several weeks ago, sixteen Grade 12 students and three teacher supervisors (Mr. Bennett, Mr. Boulianne, and Ms. Grant-Watt) flew off to New York City to cram as much culture into a two-and-a-half-day period as possible. We saw the MET, an off-Broadway comedy called The Play That Goes Wrong, the New York Stock Exchange, the UN headquarters, the 9/11 memorial, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, Time Square, Fifth Avenue, and more. All the while taking breaks to eat at some of the most amazing food I have ever tasted, no matter if it was pasta in Little Italy or Texas-style family barbeque. It was a hectic rollercoaster, but even if our abused feet would say differently, none of us would have traded a single moment.
From April 28 through 30, STS hosted the Zone 5 High School One Act Play Festival, providing an invaluable opportunity to connect with the larger high school fine arts community. In addition to hosting, STS also produced two plays for the competition, Bluebirds by Vern Thiessen and Mirror Game by Dennis Foon.
"What drew us in was the global application of the project. Since we have honeybee farms so close to our campus, learning that they could also be found in South Africa, and that they faced similar issues was very interesting. In other preliminary research, learning about the economic benefits and support honey farming could provide for strengthening quality of life was something that drew us in. Knowing that the premises of this project could be seen only a few kilometers away, and the initiative supporting not only the environment but also people’s wellbeing was key in our choice to take on this project."
STS Middle and Senior School Speech students have been enjoying great success this year, winning various medals, trophies, and awards including placing second in Impromptu Speaking at the World's Debating and Public Speaking Championships on April 17.
On Thursday, February 24, 26 STS Grade 11 students accompanied by three STS faculty met at the Calgary International airport for the 2022 B.C. Universities Tour. Over the course of three days students toured multiple universities including Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, the University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus (UBC-O) in Kelowna, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Capilano University in Vancouver, Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, and the University of Victoria (UVIC) in Victoria.
On March 3-6, three STS students, Sophia L. ’23, Raza S. ’23 and Alia N. ’22 participated in the IISPSC which was hosted by King’s Edgehill School in Halifax, Nova Scotia; however, because of COVID-19, the tournament took place virtually. This year, six countries, 42 schools and 120 students participated making this tournament the largest of its kind in the world. Three students only can enter from North American schools and international schools are represented by six students. Each student must choose three categories to perform from a total nine.
Each year recent STS graduates come together to share their stories about the rewards, surprises, and challenges of university life with our Grade 12 students. This year ten young alumni from around the world were brought together virtually for STS’s Tales from Undergrad Years session on February 17, 2022. Grade 12 students filled the C.A. Smith Arts Centre to listen to each alumna/alumnus guest speaker share their unique and varied experiences as freshman.
As many of you may know, February is Black History Month! This month is all about recognizing, amplifying, and celebrating Black voices both in the past and the present. Three Grade 11 students, Bolu K. ’23, Anaya T. ’23, and Tanusri B. ’23, have created a working group to share some of the messages and themes of Black History Month with the school community.
Students of Mr. Saccucci and Mr. Peterson’s Grade 10 English classes have been focused on a new unit, ‘Words Have Power’, the focal points being The Book Thief, The Zookeeper’s Wife, and Life is Beautiful, each a key example of historical moments when words had power.
The theme this year is “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day.” I find this a very valuable statement. Take the time to learn about the many accomplishments and important stories of the Black people of Canada. The Government of Canada website includes lots of information to get started with. After discovering these, keep them in your heart not only during this month but remember them every day!