Superintendent’s Update

Posted On Friday February 17, 2023

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

As we start the Family Day Long weekend, we continue to celebrate stories emerging in our schools about acts of kindness and care. Sharing stories about connecting, developing relationships, nurturing wellbeing, and ensuring equity illuminates our mission, which is to support learning opportunities and environments which inspire students to thrive (2022-2027 District Strategic Plan).

A.E. Perry Elementary School

Two students from Student Council, Tanish and Karen, along with Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Nesci greeted me with smiles and kind words in a Valentine’s Card attached to treats as I entered the school. Principal Sewell began our tour at the glass cabinet with soap carvings which were done by students that were shared as a Cree tradition by Mr. Drew Rose. We continued into Ms. Hansen’s room, where Gr. 2-3 students were sharing Valentine’s Day cards and treats.  Ms. Anderson introduced students to a lesson on chocolate, and Ms. Matuschewski’s and Ms. Cowan’s classes were working in literacy groups focused on activities related to Valentine’s Day. Ms. Ashworth’s Kindergarten students were decorating hearts, and Ms. Abate’s Kindergarten students were learning about symmetry. We stopped to see the 30 mountain bikes that Ms. Cattermole and Ms. Cowan received based on a successful grant application to Outride Riding for Focus Grant. Four of five of these applications were successful and impacting schools in our district.

Mr. Sofiak’s class was working on “catch up”, and Mr. Nesci’s Gr.5-6 class sang a French song about pizza. Mr. Endacott’s Gr. 5 students were writing, and Ms. Telford’s Gr. 4-5 class was focused on competing to win a challenge– who could fit the most hearts on a piece of paper. Ms. Shull’s and Ms. Cattermole’s classes are cross-age buddies. The  younger buddies had sent written invitations to their older buddies to play a game in Phys. Ed. They had just played together as we walked into the gym. We ended our tour in the library with Mr. Rhynolds reading a picture book about friendship to Ms. Lulu’s class, and enjoying riddles and jokes about cats.

Starfish Backpack Volunteers

The Starfish Backpack Program started as a pilot project with six backpacks as a response to an Abbotsford teacher’s experience feeding her Kindergarten students who were coming to school on Monday hungry. It expanded provincially, and in Kamloops, the Starfish Backpack program typically occurs at the Kamloops Food Bank. A group of volunteers go to the Food Bank on Friday mornings, and they have an assembly line where they stock backpacks full of food for students and families who need it. In the picture to the right, are staff from SD73 who volunteered recently.                                       

In the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan, one of our core values is equity, which requires our communities to work together to identify and remove systemic barriers that prevent students from thriving in school. One of those barriers is not having enough food on weekends. When students come to school hungry, it is hard for them to focus and to be mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to learn. Volunteers who give their time to help to pack the backpacks and deliver them are contributing to the support that some families depend on and need.

Principal Conroy (left) with two students, Jackson (middle) and Terry (right) celebrate Jackson’s and Terry’s efforts to make and deliver Starfish backpacks to schools. When Assistant Superintendent Mochikas delivered the certificates, she spoke with Terry and presented him with his certificate. Terry said, "To be honest, I don't help out thinking I would get a reward of any kind. I do it because it makes me feel good knowing I'm helping people get fed. It feels good to help and we all should help people who need it."

Principal Conroy spoke to Jackson and asked what inspires him to help with Starfish Backpacks, and Jackson shared, “It feels good helping other people.”  Volunteers who give of their talents and time are invaluable to making lives better.

I hope that you experience kindness and friendship as we move from Valentine’s Day into the Family Day long weekend.


Rhonda Nixon, PhD


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