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October 09
The Art of Thankfulness

There were lots to be thankful for at University Hill this week.  Teacher sponsors of the Track and Field team braved the cold with students to help students develop endurance and running technique.  Teachers, parents, students and cardboard came together for the Cardboard Challenge – an afternoon of creativity, innovation, and frustration unfolded before our eyes along with the stories of the process and perseverance required in the pursuit of completing projects housed in the imagination.  Turkeys danced, songs were sung, and poems were performed for parents in Ms. Dakin’s room.  The smell of fresh applesauce wafted from Akemi’s room.  Andrea’s Grade 2’s made the lightest and fluffiest pumpkin tarts.  Ms. Marlis sent home students with their new recorders to begin the task of learning how music is made.  It is quite appropriate that we also celebrated World Teachers’ Day on Thursday.  We are thankful to our teachers for the wealth of opportunities they provide for students to engage in their learning.  

 

I look forward to seeing you at fall conferences on October 24th and 25th.   Be sure to keep on the lookout for the form with your time to attend.

 

Please encourage your child to practice gratefulness on a regular basis.  Research tells us that daily thanks gives us a sense of optimism, good mental health and positive relationships.​ 

September 30
Learning Through Musqueam Art and Language

Children grow up with the mantra that "Honesty is the Best Policy."  Orange Shirt Day is about truth.  The reality is that in the earliest days of our Canadian history, people made the decision that we were better off without Indigenous culture as part of our path forward as a country.  It was a poor decision.  It was followed by more poor choices that hurt Indigenous families, cultures and language use.  We are now able to identify that Indigenous people have a right to define their own culture and how they exist within Canada.  We are now ready to listen and look and learn from Indigenous people and Indigenous ways of knowing.  This was celebrated on Friday at UHill Elementary by wearing orange shirts, pins, dresses and scarves.    

On Friday, we also had the honour of welcoming Richard Campbell and his daughter Vanessa Campbell to the University Hill School community.  Richard Campbell is the Musqueam artist who was commissioned to do a piece of art for the University Hill community with money from a grant, a PAC donation and school fundraising last year.  Students have spent the last several weeks studying the spindle whorl he created and learning about the significance of cedar, salmon, story and the use of shapes in Musqueam culture.  They have also learned that art evokes feelings and movement and sharpens how we look at the world.  Richard Campbell is a man of few words but his work speaks volumes.  Although Richard experienced the pain of residential schools, he has not been silenced.  His voice is loud and clear through his art.  It will be displayed in a place of honour at the front of the school for all to enjoy.   


Students began the assembly with the acknowledgment that the land on which we gather is the traditional unceded territory of the Musqueam Nation.  Vanessa Campbell was able to follow that with a welcome in the Musqueam language.  There is such power in hearing Indigenous languages spoken.  At University Hill Elementary school, 33 different languages are spoken at home.  Our students understand that their language is part of their culture and take hearing Musqueam language in stride.  As a Vancouverite and a student of history, I find the experience of hearing the Musqueam language profound because I never even knew it was a language in the community when I was growing up.  I have since discovered there are 32 Indigenous languages and 59 dialects spoken in British Columbia alone.  I had the grand aspiration this summer of learning how to say the Indigenous acknowledgement in Musqueam and teaching it to our students.  Last weekend at The Truth and Reconciliation walk, I was overwhelmed when I heard Vanessa Campbell saying the welcome in Musqueam up on the stage with Chief Wayne Sparrow.  It is long and difficult.  It is going to take some time.  For now, we are raising our hands and saying Huy chexc and our thank you is heartfelt. ​

September 18
Huge PAC Support at University Hill Elementary School

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The University Hill Parent Advisory Committee has a strong reputation for having a big heart and parents willing to devote time and energy into supporting the children, teachers and administration. At the first PAC general meeting of the 2017-2018 school year, 50 plus people filled the room. The room included people like Lingyu Zhang, the PAC secretary, who has consistently volunteered time and energy over many years, as well as parents with students just beginning kindergarten. A parent has been using information provided by teacher, Kate Foreman, to plan and coordinate the upcoming PAC Barbeque prior to the Open House at UHill this coming Thursday, September 21. Another parent volunteered to work on an Emergency Preparedness committee. Another volunteer offered to work on the committee chaired by teacher, Melody Ludski, to plan the unveiling of the carving by Richard Campbell to honour our Indigenous peoples. Another parent requested the list of languages spoken by University Hill Elementary students so he could create a welcome message in every home language. The energy in the room was palpable. Check out the UHill PAC website to sign up to receive PAC email (requied by Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) s well as to discover information about PAC and ways to get involved. 

Eric Douglas, the current chair of the UHill PAC, entered the position with determination. He initiated a meeting with me while I was still at Norma Rose Point in June and continued emails and meeting in the summer months. The Norma Rose Administration and PAC continues to be enthusiastic about developing a closer connection between our two school communities. Jody Yau, longtime NRP executive member and dynamo, has been very helpful with information to formalize the UHill PAC structures and provide the template to create bylaws. Many of our students will enter Grade 6 at NRP and we look forward to continue to build a mutually supportive community school team. 

Gary Leitch, the current vice chair, has stepped up to represent University Hill at the District ParentAdvisory Council​. The role of DPAC is to improve the experience of children in Vancouver public school system. He will be working with Rob Peregoodoff, the current chair. You may remember Rob Peregoodoff as a former UHill parent who has championed the partnership between Vancouver Schools in our community school team and UBC Sauder School of Business. 

Teachers are continuing with their goal to using technology as a tool to develop critical thinking skills and collaborative problem solving ability throughout the curriculum. This has been supported for many years by two more former UHill Elementary parents with an enduring soft spot for UHill and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). Ana and Barish Golland of Daedalus Enrichment Programs​, have fostered curiosity and a STEM skillset that is very much a part of the new curriculum in British Columbia. The program has benefitted participants in after school programs and the teachers and classrooms they have supported. 

I am thrilled that we are off to a promising start this year.  We hope to see our families at the PAC Barbeque this Thursday at 5:00 pm and for the Meet to Staff Event beginning at 6:00 pm.  Cross you fingers for sunshine!

September 10
Back To School

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What a wild and crazy ride this week at University Hill Elementary!  The news has been filled with the challenges of fulfillng the class size and composition language in the provincial contract.  The good news is that class sizes are smaller and support is in place to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students.  University Hill is a very desirable place to work and we are pleased to welcome teachers: Megan Lowrie, Gurinder Aujla, Holly Broadland and Pam Schofield; counsellor: Celia Lyons; School Support Workers: Haidee Tang and Megan MacLeod and Office Support: Ursula MacLeod.  From my short time at University Hill, I have been impressed with the professionalism of teachers, the plethora of amazing programs, the work that has been done on the implementation of new curriculum, as well as the eagarness of teachers to continue their inquiry of new possibilities and get down to the work of creating classroom communities.  

We have welcomed back students attending UHill last year, several students from other countries, a large influx of students from the Norma Rose Point catchment and several staff members new to the school. The good news is that there are many new people with different perspectives.  The challenge was that teachers had to return to the drawing board to re-organize many of the classes in the school.  Composing classes for the school year is a complicated venture.  Teachers from the sending classes get together to discuss the best learning situation for the children who they have gotten to know over the course of the year.  This includes information gleaned through classroom interactions, the student's learning profile and information from parents.   This information about returning students and information about new students is used to create classes that align with the context of the receiving classes, as well as the contractual class size and composition information.  The tentative organization published in June needed to be revisited to include new additions to our school community throughout summer and early September.  

We appreciate your support in helping your child to come to their new classroom with the best possible attitude.  Unfamiliar children and adults are new opportunities for learning and new friends.  On Friday, a little bat flew into an unexpected window and ended up flat on the ground.  The children and I gave that little bat some space, a place to regroup and some time to get his bearings.  The little bat hid behind the flower pot for awhile and then tentatively flew up over our heads, gained speed and height and soared throungh the tall trees towards the beach.  I am confident that even those children who need some support getting adjusting to their new classrooms and new students will be soaring in no time.

Thanks to Ms. McEwen's efforts, the Vancouver Whitecap's arrived on Thursday to do a great session on team building with University Hill students. Sam Lenarduzzi and his team focused on including many of our students in the session focusing on how we support our team members while developing new skills.  Of course, Spike, the Vancouver Whitecap's Mascot, was a huge hit.  You do not need a Twitter account to check out @UHillElementary on the school website - uhill-elem.vsb.bc.ca  Only students who have a completed Media Release form on file in the office will have their pictures posted. There are three opportunities to attend a Whitecaps game with your child.  Students brought home a voucher for a free ticket when an adult ticket is purchased.  Enjoy!

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Thanks for your patience and diligence in completing the many forms that require you attention for school supplies, current information, media release and the hot lunch program.  After this initial organization, we can go about doing our job.

Due to our RCMP liaison officers doing traffic management, teachers, ICBC signage and great parent cooperation, we are off to a safe start for our students, as cars drop off and pick up students for school each day.  The PAC Safety Committee did a lot of work in this area last year and their flyer with translation will be attached to the first newsletter sent home and posted on the PAC website.  

On Monday we will be fully implementing the District Safe Arrival Program.  It is detailed below so you can easily post on the fridge or copy/paste this information into your phone. You must report absences and lates by 9:30 am or you will be receiving a call inquiring about whether your child is safe. ​ Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

District Implementation of the Safe Arrival Programme:

 

Reporting Student Absences:

Student safety is of paramount importance at the Vancouver School District.  Ensuring student safety is a shared responsibility.  In order to assist schools, we ask parents to notify schools of student absences. If your child will be absent from school, please phone the school to report this absence as early as possible. Parents should leave a message on a dedicated answering service by calling 604-713-5159. Messages will be received before the office is open. School offices are busy places: consistently notifying the school in advance of your child’s absence will significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Safe Arrival Morning Routine.

To Report Your Childs Absence – Please Call 604-713-5159 prior to 9 am on the first day of the absence.  You will need to enter the phone code for University Hill Elementary School  - 89.

 Student Sign Out Procedure

When you pick up your child during the school day, please ensure that you sign them out at the school office. If you do not sign out your child, they will be unaccounted for, and the school will identify your child as a ‘missing’ student and will commence a search of school grounds. If the school staff do not locate the child, and are unable to reach a parent promptly, the school will call the Vancouver Police Department. Therefore, clear communication is essential for ensuring the safety of your child and to prevent unnecessary searches.

​Thank you for helping us keep your children safe!​


August 24
The Last, Lazy Days of Summer

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​I hope you have been having a wonderful summer holiday and have been able to take in the many opportunities Vancouver has to offer.  My husband and I were hiking up Whistler last weekend and discovered that the alpine flowers were far more plentiful than when we were hiking in the Tuolomne Meadows of Yosemite!  Who knew?  Our blackberries by the school parking lot are also in good supply.  The recent solar eclipse was also an added bonus.

I love having the chance to read a variety of books during the summer holidays.  My very favorite place to read is the beach or a lake, close to the water.  I'll be looking forward to hearing about what students have been reading and any programs they have participated in at the West Point Grey, Kitsilano or Downtown Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library.  It's great being able to talk to people who are familiar with Children's books and can help you to find books that are interesting to your child and a good match to their reading level.  Staff at Vancouver Kids' Books also have a lot of background knowledge and are helpful when purchasing books.

I am very much looking forward to getting to know the staff, students and parents in the University Hill Elementary School Community.  Our first day goal on September 5th, 2017 from 9:00 - 9:30 am is to check the numbers of returning Grade 1- Grade 5 students and students wanting to register.  I understand that Mrs. Coopersmith sent home an anticipated organization for this year.  Please keep in mind that this may change if necessary based on new numbers.  Kindergarten students will attend based on their Kindergarten September 2017 schedule.pdfKindergarten September 2017 schedule.pdf, starting on September 6, 2017.

Just a heads up that there are only two spaces left if you are interested in registering your child in the Vancouver Chess School After School Program.  Register online by following the link and following the path  ->Groups ->Chess in Schools ->Vancouver ->University Hill Elementary School.

Our award winning University Hill Kinderclub Before and After School Care Program​ is currently full but you are encouraged to put your name on the waiting list if you are interested.  The Preschool Program is still taking registrations for 2 1/2 year old to 5 year old children.  The U-Hill Kinderclub was selected for the Vancouver Courier Readers' Choice Awards - Stars of Vancouver 2017 in the Preschool/ Daycare section.  Well done Natalia, Jamie and staff.  We are lucky to have students in our school community in your care.

Enjoy your last days of summer whether that includes more travel, play dates, beach time, bike rides, library visits or wild rides and hot, mini donuts at the Pacific National Exhibition!  


June 26
Good-bye Everyone!

We are now in the final week of school.  How time has flown these past few months.  Many of you have made your summer plans and some of you have already left for the holidays.  

I truly feel privileged having been a part of your children’s lives and I thank you all for keeping my days bright with lots of laugher and fun.  I look forward with the next stage of my life which will include spending more time with my 2 grandchildren, Amelia (4 years) and Everett (2 years), travel to warm places in the winter months, more outdoor pursuits and maybe back to my younger years of rowing.  Take care all of you!

Warmest regards,

Val

May 29
INTRODUCTION OF CARRIE FROESE - NEW PRINCIPAL

Ms. Carrie Froese has worked with elementary, middle and secondary students in three school districts.  She has also taught at SFU, worked with teacher candidates in the PDP program, and at the Fuyang Bureau of Education in China. 
She is a proud Mom of two children and is married to a computer guy.  Her son is a fashion designer and her daughter is teaching English in Vietnam.  She LOVES to read, ski and travel.  She is very excited about becoming part of the University Hill School Community.
 
May 10
FRIDAY MAY 19 SPORTS DAY

A reminder parents that it is an early dismissal day on Friday May 19th.  We ask that you pick your children up at 2:00pm.  School supervison will end at 2:15pm   Please do not leave your children on the playground unsupervised. 

Thank you!

May 10
TRACK AND FIELD MEET TOMORROW

A reminder to our grade 3-5 students in Track and Field that the meet scheduled for Thursday May 11th will be rain or shine Queen Elizabeth track.

 

March 09
SPRING BREAK

The staff at UHill School hope all our families have a wonderful Spring Break.  We will see you back on Monday March 27th

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 About this blog

 
Welcome to the University Hill Elementary School principal's blog.