With almost three full school weeks complete in the new building, Fireside School held its official kick-off celebration on Nov. 30 at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLFSC) and cross-school relationships were the focus.
“They were excited to come today, ” said Jackie Root, assistant principal. “One of the parents were saying someone was up at four in the morning excited to be coming to Spray Lakes today. They’ve been really looking forward to this. ”
Students from Grade 1 to Grade 7 enjoyed a physically-active packed day including group yoga, soccer, bouncy castles and ice-skating.
The students were divided into four houses, named as a group effort by staff – River, Mountain, Sky and Forest – to fit with the school’s team name, the Hawks.
“It’s kind of Alberta – it’s what we have and it fits our outdoor learning, so that’s how we came up with it, ” Root said. “We love taking our kids outside. ”
The school will also be putting an emphasis on cross-school groupings throughout the year.
“They are doing assemblies and activities and different events throughout the year and that will culminate with Sports Day so they really get to know everybody all year long. ”
School principal, Thomas Elbel, said students have the opportunity to gain skills outside of the classroom by working with students in other grade levels.
He pointed out two children sitting together in the stands of the Totem 1 ice rink where students were skating.
“There’s a Grade 7 kid sitting with a Grade 2 kid because she didn’t want to skate, so she’s hanging out with her, ” Elbel said. “It provides a leadership opportunity for kids that are older and we think that will benefit and build a positive school environment. ”
Elbel noted that many of the Grade 5 to Grade 7 students took it upon themselves to stay with the younger students when they needed company or needed help during the day.
Though transitioning from grade groupings to cross-school groupings isn’t always the easiest, the students are adjusting.
“They’re getting used to it – (they’ve had) fantastic behaviour and are really positive about it, ” Elbel said, adding that the school has had an overall good vibe so far.
Students also have the opportunity to work outside their classrooms in the new school building, which they moved into on Nov. 14.
“Lots of kids have been exploring alternate learning spaces so not just their classroom. Some of the teachers have been putting their carpet out in the hallways so that can be another space, ” Elbel said. “The school provides lots of different learning spaces. I think they’re fully taking advantage of that. ”
The day wrapped up with a school-wide Zumba class on the indoor soccer turfs with some parents and staff joining in too.
“We wanted to build a school community, we thought that was really important. ”
More than 40 parent volunteers also came to help out for the day.
“We couldn’t have done it without them, they stepped into roles throughout the day as required and seamlessly so; accepting duties to make it work, like lunch, ” Elbel said.
He also commended the students for their behaviour.
“At the end of this busy day our staff were so happy with and proud of our students, ” he said, adding that sports centre staff commented on the Fireside kids being very well-behaved and co-operative.
“It was a great event. I already had some staff advocating to make this an annual event. ”
Kindergartners are not included in the grouping program due to their program being a half-day and Grade 8 level classes will begin next fall to avoid the older students having to switch schools twice in two years.