New playground equipment, innovative programming, greet students returning to school


By Pauline Kerr

It’s the most exciting week of the year at local schools.

Returning students are being greeted by some new staff, as well as spruced-up facilities and innovative new programming.

Although final numbers of students won’t be known until later in the month, some schools are seeing a number of new enrolments and are predicting increased numbers from last year.

Local schools - Huron Heights,KTTPS and Ripley-Huron –were named in the recent announcementof provincial funding for renovations and repairs to make the schools secure, accessible and energy efficient, while St. Anthony’s receives funding for a new roof. It’s part of a $420 million provincial investment in 54 major renovations, additions and new schools in communities across the province.

A government press release stated these projects are part of the largest infrastructure investment in schools, hospitals, public transit, roads and bridges in the province’s history.

At Kincardine Township Tiverton Public School (K-G3), principal Graham Martin said the school has been in a growth pattern for the past several years, with enrolment increasing annually by about 20 students. He anticipates the same growth for this year.

Martin is new to the school, and was previously at the school in Ripley.

“I’m excited to be here,” he said.

At Huron Heights Public School (G4-8), principal Colleen Maguire said the custodians have done a wonderful job of getting the building ready for the students.

“It’s polished to perfection,” she said, noting you can see your reflection on the hallway floors.

As for numbers, “We’re where we thought we’d be, around 320,” she said.

Elgin Market Public School (FI K-G8) principal Marga Wilson said overall, numbers at the French Immersion school are up, from 203 students to 235. This has created the need for what she termed “some reorganizing.”

The exciting news at the school is this year marks the 10th anniversary of French Immersion in Kincardine. There’s going to be a big celebration at the school at the end of October – check for more information around the middle of September.

The school gym has been painted and looks “beautiful – brand new,” said Wilson. To further enhance the physical education program at the school, five staff members have been trained to run the new archery program that will begin in October.

St. Anthony’s (RC K-G8) principal Janey Campbell principal wasn’t available for comment – the week before school is a busy one – but new full-time vice-principal PapyMukenge said he’s excited to start the new school year. He has taught with the Waterloo Catholic School Board, and internationally. His family has vacationed in the area, he said. “We’re very happy to be here.”

The students will have new playground equipment to encourage physical activity.

Several new students registered the week before the start of classes, indicating an increase in numbers this year.

Ripley-Huron Community School (K-8, principal Tanya Leppington) has about the same number of students as last year - 285 - with several new teachers.

Kincardine District Secondary Schoolprincipal Mark Ozorio said little was done to the building itself over the summer, apart from some roof work, but inside it’s another matter.

This is the second year for the French Immersion program, and the number of students has increased from five to 12. The school will be participating in apilot program in blended learning, he said. The second semester will see KDSS students join their counterparts in three other area high schools via Skype, with teacher Sarah Schlorff. She’ll spend time at each of the schools. The concept allows for more variety in French Immersion programming.

“It’s quite exciting,” the principal said. The library seminar room has been renovated to accommodate the new programming. “Everything’s ready to go,” he said.

There’s also exciting news regarding numbers. The school is welcoming the largest class of Grade 9 students in 10 years – 120 of them, up from 90 last year. In addition, there’ll be students from Brazil and several other international students. The total number of students at KDSS will be around 425. Because some are part-time, this amounts to about 410 full-time students.

Ozorio said the trend over the past several years has been declining enrolment, leading to closing of classrooms, but this year the trend has been reversed. “We may even be opening a classroom,” he said.

Back for its 11th year is the popular Link Crew Day, for Bluewater District School Board Grade 9 students.

All nine secondary schools in the board offered a number of orientation and welcoming activities on Sept. 5 for incoming Grade 9 students. Senior students acted as mentors for the new students by providing guidance for them to help ensure a smooth transition to secondary school.

The first day of classes for students in other grades at high school is Sept. 6.

“We know that entering secondary school for the first time is a significant adjustment for many students,” said Blair Hilts, the board’s learning services administrator – student success. “Link Crew Day is specifically designed to help break the ice and alleviate some of that stress by providing new Grade 9 students with an entire day of team building activities.”