As part of a delegation on Dec. 13, principal Rosalee Floyd and vice-principal Karl Kowslowsky of Hope Secondary School presented a review of their year to the Fraser-Cascade School District 78 board.
The first slide of their presentation talked about the challenges they have had, which Floyd highlighted as apathy, mental health challenges and poor behaviour.
Floyd defined apathy as some students not doing all their assignments on time.
Her data showed over 300 remarks of incomplete work, although that could also be because of illness or family issues.
On mental health, she noted an increase in referrals and she is not sure why, despite counsellors and their First Nations mentor “working really hard with our students.”
On behaviour, Floyd noted that junior students presented a challenge.
She noted nurturing good work ethic and good manners is challenging with junior students.
“They are fun, don’t get me wrong,” said Floyd. “Sometimes they need to be reminded that they are at the big kid school.”
Grade 7 students, she noted, struggle with the 81-minute blocks of classes, although teachers have flexibility with the time table and HSS tries to keep them with one teacher to help them transition.
Going forward, HSS has created a committee to look into how they can get equipment to create activities for students, with a focus on Grade 7s, at lunchtime.
Trustee John Koopman said he believes that if students see the relevance of what they are learning to their post-schooling goals, “that should, in hindsight, diminish their apathy.”
Floyd and Koslowsky noted that “old-fashioned grit” plays an important role in a students character development.
“We need to learn how to manage those difficult times, overcome, look back and say, ‘I did it.’ ”
Teaching mathematics presents a “struggle,” Floyd said. She said her math teachers have tried different things in their pedagogy and have made phone calls to students’ homes.
Floyd noted that past surveys do show that students have a positive experience overall in HSS.
Trustee Heather Stewin asked Floyd how trustees can help. Floyd said she would welcome trustees to come to classrooms to share their views.
Replying to The Standard’s request for clarification on the biggest developments in HSS, Floyd highlighted how HSS has conducted learning outside of the school, pointing to their student exchange with students from Quebec, leadership conferences in Edmonston, N.B., and Princeton, band students performing in various communities and sports teams travelling to tournaments.
“Students are able to network, showcase their skills, learn about history and culture, teamwork, and the power of positive relationships,” said Floyd.
She also highlighted post-secondary institution partnerships as “very valuable.” Students can enroll in a Try-A-Trade program in areas such as automotive, welding, electrical, aesthetics and professional cooking.
She also highlighted the quality of teachers at HSS.
“We believe that through daily encouragement, and being available for extra assistance that each student will see the value in hard work and determination and develop the grit to meet any challenge head on and be successful,” said Floyd.