PHSS Class of 2018 – Kimmy has Graduated!

June was a very exciting month in our family (more on that here).

June 27 marked a special day as Kimberly completed her secondary education and graduated from Pender Harbour Elementary-Secondary School.

It was my honour to deliver a message from the school board, I’ve posted it below.

This photo was taken by Carly Fielding, I’ve scooped it from her Instagram. I was standing in the receiving line, so it a bit difficult to snap a shot.

I’m very proud of Kim for completing this portion of her education. As she spent her grade eleven year in the Netherlands, Kim compressed three years of high school into two. It was a challenging journey and not always easy but, with the help of the Pender Harbour staff and hard work, she made it happen. Congratulations, Kim.

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Here’s my address:

On behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast, I bring greetings and congratulations to the 2018 graduating class of Pender Harbour Elementary-Secondary School.

The board and staff love this time of year.   We celebrate your achievements and educational journey to this moment and, along with your community, wish you well for your next steps.   Pender Harbour and Egmont are very special places and you have made it better by your dedication to this community.

The Pender Harbour and Egmont Community has been incredibly generous to this class – cheering on at soccer, basketball and rugby, attending concerts and performances, donating their time, energy, bottles and money to help these students not only make it to the stage, but follow their dreams after.   Thank you all for all you do to support PHSS youth.

To the staff at PHSS, and all the way back to Serendipity with Gwen and Patricia, MPES days with Mrs. Stinson and Mrs. Kammerle, thank you for all you have done for these young adults.  Your efforts have been so appreciated.

To switch gears slightly, I’ll tilt my trustee hat back and be a mom.   This class has a special place in my  heart.   Having known many of you since baby drop-in and preschool days, one of you a bit longer, you’ve become part of our family and your parents have all become friends, or rather “comrades-in-arms” as we have navigated these past years.   These are our Y2K babies – the children that arrived after the apocalypse that was going to end civilization as we know it.   And to paraphrase Ian’s speech from last night, this group has been .. interesting? difficult? challenging?

The best anecdote to describe this class happened earlier today.   I called Kim at 11:40am to find out where she was, as time was running out to leave home to be at the high school for 12:30pm.   Her answer?  “I’m in Roberts Creek.”   That’s a forty-five minute drive away from the school, plus time to stop at home and get dressed and ready.

While thinking about what to say today, there were two themes that popped up for me.

The first is this – the beautiful welcome that was installed earlier this month has a wolf carved at its base.   Our Master Carver Arnold Jones chose the wolf with the graduating class as their symbol.

The wolf itself is a symbol of loyalty, intuition, intelligence, independence, compassion and communication, all qualities exemplified in this group.   The wolf may have a reputation as being a solitary creature as in “the lone wolf” due to its independent nature, but is actually a very social and communicative creature.     And as Tami describes the wolf on the welcome pole “it was difficult to emerge from the wood”.   It needed to come out in its own time.   This is so true of this group.

The second thing is this.   It is a tradition at Pender that grade 7 students write a letter to their future graduating self.  These letters were delivered last night at banquet.  In kim’s was her letter, a 2007 penny, a photo of herself, a coupe of other items and a fortune from a fortune cookie that read, “You will earn success at whatever you attempt”.   This is so true.   Show up and work hard for what you want and you will achieve your goals.   So often fear, self-doubt or external voices creep in and shut you down before you begin.  If you attempt something, work at it and you will be able to accomplish great things.    Whether it be veterinary, teaching, driving truck, logging, fishing, anything you choose to do.    This is growth mindset.

You’ve already accomplished amazing things – some of you have spent a year away, learning other languages and cultures; a couple of you have helped build a school in Ecuador.  We have volunteer firefighters, peer mentors, and just enjoyable human beings here, pushing the envelope, challenging the status quo, questioning things that do not make sense.   Please continue to do this as you venture into your steps.

Thank you for being unapologetically and unabashedly yourselves.

Go continue to be amazing.

Congratulations.

Grad 2016 Speech for Pender Harbour

I had the great honour of addressing the 2016 graduating class of Pender Harbour Secondary School on June 28, 2016.   This class is one the smallest in recent years; TEN young adults received their certificates today.

Here is the transcript of my speech.

On behalf of the Board of Education, School District 46, Sunshine Coast, I am proud to bring greetings and congratulations to the Pender Harbour Grad Class of 2016.

When the school district launched our new strategic plan last year, it was titled “Excellence in All We Do”.

We focus on three main goal areas:

Our Staff Inspires – as a district, we are proud and grateful to have personnel throughout our that are dedicated to each student that walks through our doors.

We Embrace our Community – Public Education could not exist without the partnerships support and dedication to youth our community provides.   Thank you for your generosity in donating not only funds, but other resources and of yourselves.

But our most important goal:

Our Students Excel.  You are the reasons why we celebrate today, why we have schools, why we strive to continually do better.

The mission of our School District is to enable and inspire our students to realize their full potentials as knowledgable, confident and contributing citizens in the global community.  Being a parent of students at Pender allows me to learn more of each of you, your families, and me a glimpse in to the citizens you already are, and will continue to be.  As a class, from when you first started school, you have had an effect on my family.   You have been leaders, offered mentorship, friendship and challenges in academics and athletics to each one of my children.

The camaraderie and leadership shown to the younger students at Pender Harbour, including and encouraging them to do their best is a great legacy for your class.    Your grade 12 year has been an interesting one with the complete change in class structure.   The change in structure has allowed for X Blocks, enabling students broader choice for electives, finding and following their passions.

Thank you for welcoming this new structure and being leaders for your peers not only at this school and district but across BC.  This model is being watched, adopted and adapted across the province.

From your first day at school

To this day, this minute, this second

Knowledge and skills have been learned, you’ve used many a tool

Your courage has grown, you are a force to be reckoned

You have learned to take a chance

Tried gold, welding, hiking

Spent time with seniors in Latin Dance

Gained confidence to try any subject of your liking

iPad users from way back

Technology helped you your grade nine math

(selfies, Instagram and the release of Snapchat)

Have all been part of your educational path.

Beyond your classrooms,

Many a teacher’s lecture

Your mind blooms

The ideas that conjecture.

Your journey to this point

Has been full of grades, teachers, friends

the accolades today will hereby anoint

the significance of where your K to 12 ends.

You’ve been heroes here at PHSS

Leaders with capes unfurled

We celebrate you and your future success

Now go on, put your mark on the world.

Congratulations!

Chatelech Secondary Graduation Speech June 25,2014

I had the pleasure of attending the Chatelech Graduation ceremonies on behalf of the Board on Wednesday evening.

Here’s my speech to the Grads.

***
Family and friends, honoured guests, staff, community members,
Graduates.

It is with great honour that I bring you greetings and congratulations on behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast. As trustees, we are so very proud of all of our students and their successes, many of which we get to celebrate this week – graduation.
As trustees, it our students that drive us to better for you all.

Chatelech is home of the Eagles. The Eagle is a fitting mascot for this school. From its physical location, perched on a cliff in the trees, to the nesting support of the incredibly dedicated teachers and staff that protect, nurture and guide you on your educational journey that allows you all to soar in the great sky.

You are an amazing group. I know but a few of you personally, but I have witnessed your great talents and prowess for the boardroom. We hear of the athletic achievements, the academic successes, of the kind hearts and great leadership.

As a Board, we thank you for lending us one of your own to become one of us, sitting at the governance table to give Students voice in their education. Maya, it has been a true delight to have you as a colleague and watch and support you as you have advocated for your peers and successors in our province and across our country.
Thank you Maya.

So, what’s next? I know that you have all been asked this question at least once. Is it university, work, or are you going to find an air current and glide?
The great thing about being an Eagle is that you can choose.
You can soar as high as you wish and with your strong wings you will fly far.

We are so proud of you all, watching as you spread your wings away from us: your family and friends, your teachers, the community that has watched you hatch in to these beautiful magnificent beings.

Please know that your nest on the Sunshine Coast will still always welcome you home.

Grad Speech for SCAS June 23, 2014

I had the incredible honour of representing my Board at the Sunshine Coast Alternative School Gradation celebrations earlier today at the SC Golf & Country Club. The students and staff of SCAS are incredible. Their dedication is amazing to get students through school which is why the school motto is “Whatever it Takes”.

I think that would be a great motto for BCEd.

Here’s my speech.

***

Parents and family, staff, community members.
Graduates

On behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast, I bring greeting and Congratulations.

I have to be honest, this is the first time that I have attended the SCAS graduation since I became a trustee. What a great venue and how wonderful to be surrounded by all of your family, friends, community members and teachers.

The Motto of the Sunshine Coast Alternative School is “Whatever it takes”. As trustees at the board level, we do not witness your day to day struggles, triumphs and successes to get you through your coursework and homework.
We do not know of your personal stories – why you chose SCAS, how it works for you and why it kept you in school.
But the teachers and support staff around you do. They have witnessed and coached and struggled with you to get you to this point: graduation.
Your families and friends have been there for you as well and with them you have made it here.

Through the generous donations from our community, you will be awarded bursaries and scholarships. Thank you to the generous support of the entire Sunshine Coast Community for all of our graduates.

Between the staff at SCAS and your families and support system, you have this wonderful network that has brought you to this point and will assist to give you the wings for your next steps.

As trustees, it is our job o create the environment for this to continue through our advocacy and policy directions. We are extremely proud of all of our graduates and for me, especially of our SCAS grads as your path has not always been the straightest line to this finishing point. For me, school was easy – I was the peg that fit in the hole, but many of my friends were not, and they ended up dropping out and not finishing. They did not have the staff and structure of a school like SCAS to do “whatever it takes” to get them to graduation. You have an incredibly dedicated teaching staff that helped you to get you here to this day.

Your success and engagement drives us at the Board table to do better for you all.

We wish you all the best in the next step of your life’s journey.

Congratulations.

Today I am a Mother

This morning I am a mother.

I am comforting my grade seven child. She’s upset that her class field trip to Victoria has been cancelled due to labour disputes. A field trip that has stemmed from her science class talking about the Sakinaw salmon months ago.

The Sakinaw salmon morphed in to a discussion on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and how the Federal Government introduced legislation to drastically change the structure the DFO. This led to my daughter and a classmate initiating a letter writing campaign amongst their other sixteen classmates to their local, federal and provincial politicians. Their teacher was incredibly engaged, able to use the students’ enthusiasm to promote cross-curricular competencies in social studies.

The students met with their local MLA Nicholas Simons.

Their MP John Weston visited them just last week in their classroom, interviewing a few on their thoughts.

The trip to Victoria was to be a two day event to tour the Legislature and see the seat of government in our province, and experience Question Period. This is a trip that the students have been fundraising for weeks to make happen ; through car washes, sponsorship requests, bake sales, face-painting, and bottle drives.

As a trustee that is involved in local and provincial advocacy, and well versed in the current situation, I can explain all the issues to my daughter. I can tell her how the Province is trying to balance their budget in order to maintain BC’s high financial rating.
I can tell my daughter about how the Liberals campaigned on a ten-year deal with teachers during last year’s election, but how minimally education came up during debates and through all sides during the election campaign.
I can explain how in balancing the provincial books, this means that Education funding is remaining static to districts, which leaves school districts across the province with a shortfall as they try to staff classrooms, cover rising costs of Hydro and BC medical insurance premiums; maintain aging facilities; and deal with the ever-changing provincial directives on cash management and labour policy.
I can tell my daughter about how the publicly elected trustee governance board at BCPSEA (BC Public School Employers’ Association) was fired last summer and how Minister of Education Peter Fassbender appointed a public administrator to oversee the organization, which then resulted in a scramble by BCSTA (BC School Trustees Association) to consult with boards across the province to establish new bargaining structure suggestions prior to legislation regarding BCPSEA was introduced, legislation that has not materialized, nor is it on the immediate horizon.
I can tell my daughter about the bargaining positions of the BCTF and BCPSEA are incredibly far apart, ranging in cost estimates of the millions to billions of dollars, and how depending on which side is presenting the information, the amounts fluctuate.
I can explain how many days the bargaining teams have met since last year, approximately sixteen months ago; how many nights they have spent away from their families, trying to find common ground in the chasm that separates them.
I can explain to my daughter how her teacher is caught between very difficult pressures between his employer and his union, which is why the trip was cancelled.
And even though we have had all of these discussions in my home, the conflicting messages that are circulating regarding strikes, lockouts, and the labour dispute are confusing to us all, let alone my daughter that is missing her trip to Victoria.

But this morning, I am a mother – I have loved up my kids, and given them hugs, cuddles and kisses, and reminded them to be kind to their teachers and fellow classmates, to the staff at their school. I am frustrated for my children, for their teachers, for the trustees and districts across the province, for all of us caught in the middle.

Let’s hope for a negotiated settlement that is fully funded by the province.

Christmas Poem – RePost from 2012

I had attempted to write a Christmas Poem for 2013, but after several attempts, I decided to shelve the thought for the time being.

So in the Spirit of the Holidays, I will re-post the poem I wrote in December 2012 for your enjoyment.

Thank you all and I wish you all the best for a safe and happy holiday. Best wishes for 2014

Twas the Week before Christmas in SD 46

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the schools
the principals were considering a relaxing of rules
The teachers were teaching with all their might
In hopes students could retain knowledge for the holiday fortnight

The students worked hard and their talent did grow
As they practised for performances and matinee show
how well they could act sing and play,
for their parents, neighbours and Great grandma May

From Port Mellon to Egmont and all schools between
The gyms were alive with many a Christmas or Holiday Scene
Superintendent Bocking drove forth and back
To hear the bands play and watch those kids act.

Even with the Snow, ice and rain and new hires as well
Greg Kitchen could be found in the gyms after bell
And interspersed in the audience in the facilities
Were the seven trustees enjoying the festivities.

With a young witty leader, so lively and slight,
you could tell in a moment it must be Chair White
More rapid than eagles his letters they came,
And he encouraged and moderated, and called them by name!

Trustee Baxter! Trustees Dixon and Pratt,
Younghusband, Mewhort Russell, where are you at?
We shall write To the province! to the minister
Let’s lobby for our district, those cuts are quite sinister”

“Rob Collison needs dollars for the Maintenance department
We will lobby for more than our usual allotment
His team does great work without a full AFG
They keep things humming, and looking great to a “T”

Our SETAs, custodians and admin assistants
Look after our students with no resistance
We are grateful to them and the service they provide
As they help our teachers get students grad-certified

So quick, you would miss him if you didn’t turn ‘round
Down the street Nic Weswick comes in with a bound.
He was dressed all in leather, as he zoomed up on his bike
A Honda brand , that is , not “little tyke”

His Assistant John Pritchard sported a ‘stache
Leftover from Movember’s efforts to raise cash
And in the board office on South Fletcher Road
spirits were bright and positively glowed

All the staff were so happy and joyous for the season
(actually they are always that way, they don’t need a reason)
From Bev and Teresa at your first sight
Such lovely smiles will always make your day right

And Anne at her desk helping out with staffing
And pleasant Colleen with her occasional laughing
With Tara on HR with her great people skills
And Erica has joined us to experience new thrills

Lai Piera and Carol help keep us all paid
Which may explain all the friends that they’ve made!
Deb, Shannon and Lorna help to round out the team
But we can’t forget Di who runs things without seam

Our employees as we don’t need to be told
All have the biggest hearts filled of gold
Which you can see in students that they hold dear
Which is what keeps us in education year after year

This poem may never end up published
Especially from all of the rhymes that have been flubished
But know that we all see how great
Our district is; this it is no act of fate

From our dedicated principals and teachers
Inspiring our students to become far-reachers
Our support staff does whatever they can
To keep our systems humming for success of our clan

On behalf of the board, I wish you a holiday merry
for whatever your days over Christmas may en-tarry
Let it be known that we have little to fix
And we are all quite happy in SD 46
-L. Pratt

PHSS Grad 2013 Speech

My eldest daughter graduated from Pender Harbour Secondary earlier today. As the local school board trustee, I spoke at her graduation.

Here is the transcript of my speech.

***

Friends, family, community members, staff. Graduates.

On behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast, I bring greetings and congratulations.

This is a favourite time of year for our Board as we celebrate the accomplishments and successes of all of our students, especially our graduates. In public education, our students are our focus and from the moment they first set foot in one of our facilities either through one of our early learning programs such as StongStart(r) or SPARK!(r) or at some other point of the K to 12 hierarchy, our staff and our board work our hardest to help them to realize their full potential.

In Pender, the community rallies around its youth through their presence at this celebration and the presentations of the generous bursaries and scholarships that support these young men and women in their post-secondary education. Thank you for tremendous show of support for these graduates.

One thing I’ve always loved about the way Pender holds its grad is the entrance- the symbolism of the graduates walking through this room of well-wishers: the families, friends, staff and community members that have supported, loved and encouraged the students for years. How incredible to be surrounded by all this happiness, and as you depart at the end through those doors, you leave us behind, but know that we will always be behind you, supporting the next step of your journey.

The PHSS student community is no different; they are a family, with multi-grade sports teams, peer tutoring, mentoring and an acceptance of each other that transcends differences.

These graduates have been student leaders and a family of their own for many years. I have witnessed this first hand as I have a personal connection with this class. My eldest daughter is on this stage and so many of these young adults have been a part of our family for many years, starting with Serendipity Preschool, moving through the classrooms at Madeira Park before transitioning to these walls at Pender.
I have witnessed first hand the friendships, mentoring, the squabbles, teamwork, the unfriendships, refriendships, tolerance and acceptance within this group.

On behalf of us parents, I would like to say good luck, and for the most part, you’ve been good kids. You are now adults; and to paraphrase Erma Bombeck, to have a child is to forever have a piece of your heart outside your body. We are so proud and very happy for you and a piece of us is screaming “Hallelujah! My child has graduated!!”
We have loved you from birth to first steps, from the first day of school to now, the first day of your adult life.

As Broffenbrenner states;

Every child needs at least one person who is really crazy about him or her.

. I have been so honoured and truly blessed to have been one of these supporters, as ‘crazy’ as I am.

I will continue to be that person for each and every one of you. Keep in touch.

I love you all, and one of you, just a little bit more.

Congratulations!