By Jeremy Appel on December 26, 2018.
From a local court ruling upholding students’ right to form gay-straight alliances in every Alberta school to the college’s Pride crosswalk being vandalized more than once, 2018 was a year of contrasts for education in the Hat.
In June, a judge denied the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms’ request to delay implementation of the province’s law preventing schools from notifying parents of their kids’ involvement in GSAs except in extenuating circumstances.
The JCCF’s position is that GSAs are “ideological sexual clubs” and that forbidding parental notification is a violation of parents’ Charter rights.
Medicine Hat Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Johnna Kubik ruled that the positive impacts of GSAs on LGBTQ students outweigh any alleged violations of their parents’ rights.
In October the Education Ministry released its draft K-4 curriculum update, which has been in the works for a decade.
The updated curriculum introduced the concept of consent in Grade 2, begins teaching art in kindergarten and places more emphasis on Indigenous concepts than the old curriculum. The changes were welcomed by the Medicine Hat Public School Division and Catholic Board of Education.
The curriculum’s preparatory phase will begin in the new year, which will determine how to go about testing it and what resources will be used.
The early implementation, or pilot, phase will go from September 2019 to June 2020.
By September 2020, thecurriculumis supposed to be fully implemented.
The update to the Grades 5-9curriculumis still in the works.
Rainbow crosswalk vandalized twice
Mere days after Medicine Hat College unveiled its rainbow crosswalk to demonstrate inclusion and support for LGBTQ students, the display was vandalized with white paint.
The next month, the crosswalk was defaced by tire skidmarks.
Police released surveillance footage of the first vandalism the day after it occurred in an effort to obtain public assistance.
As of writing, none of the perpetrators from either incident have been identified.
New Catholic school
Ecole St. John Paul II School, a dual-track English and French immersion school, had its inaugural day of classes on Sept. 4, replacing the old St. Thomas Aquin School.
The elementary school is home to 325 students in the Southlands neighbourhood.
Its grand opening ceremony was held Oct. 22, which coincided with the St. John Paul II feast day and the anniversary of its namesake’s papal inauguration.
The state-of-the-art building has specially-designed open-concept classrooms that provide for an optimal learning experience and allow students to spill into a large learning commons area where the library is.
It also has a “just-right” sensory room for kids who need a calming environment, which is an increasingly-used alternative to punitive seclusion rooms.
Teacher receives award from PM
Crescent Heights Grade 7-12 multimedia teacher Donna Armstrong was one of 11 Canadians to receive the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Armstrong, who’s taught at Crescent Heights her entire 20-year career, was flown to Ottawa to receive the award in-person from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who once worked as a teacher himself.
According to her, this was the first time the prime minister personally met with the recipients prior to the ceremony.
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