Students return to a new school year

674 students once again crowded the school halls last week, ready for another year.

Last week, 674 students from Houston returned to school, ready for another year.

At Houston Secondary School (HSS) there are about 238 students this year, ten up from last year, says principal Scott Jackson.

There are three new faces at HSS this year, including two returning teachers – Mr. Currie who teaches P.E. and math and is the athletic director for the year, and Mr. Yeker who teaches in the shops – and an education assistant, Mrs. Meehan.

Besides the new faces, HSS offers new six week courses like golf, rugby, and angling, and it gives course credits to students in the hockey academy, said Jackson.

HSS also has a new timetable this year, so that classes happen at the same time every day, said Jackson, adding that it is arranged with academic classes in the morning and hands-on classes in the afternoon.

This is because the afternoon classes are often in partnership with community organizations, such as the hockey academy at the rink or the golf academy at the golf course, Jackson said.

It gives more flexibility with the afternoon programs, said Jackson, explaining that  courses like outdoor education can run longer if needed, and students doing work experience don’t have to come back to the school for a class afterwards.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the increased choice and flexibility we’ve given to kids is going to increase their engagement and enjoyment of their school experience,” said Jackson. “I think it’s really going to work for kids.”

Twain Sullivan Elementary School has 190 students this year, same as last year, said principal Dave Margerm.

They have new initiatives in anti-bullying and in supporting primary reading, said Margerm, adding that they are also purchasing new playground equipment this year.

Margerm says that he looks forward the new teacher initiatives, working in a “non-strike-action” school environment and seeing the effects of increased opportunities for students in personalized learning activities.

Silverthorne Elementary begins this year with 148 students, about the same as last year, said principal Mark Fehr.

The school is continuing with a lot of things they started last year that worked well, but new this year is a student self-regulation project that several teachers are involved in, said Fehr.

It has students become aware of their state and and bring themselves to the optimal level for learning, where they are alert and calm and focused, Fehr explained.

“We’ve had a really good start to the year,” said Fehr. “I’m excited because we’ve got a good group of teachers and a good group of kids who are all ready to go and learn.”

John Siebenga, principal at Houston Christian School, echos Fehr’s excitement for the new year.

There are 98 students this year, six less than last year, said Siebenga.

There is also a new grade one to two teacher, Cindy Vellekoop, he said.

Seibenga looks forward to learning as a community of staff and students to reflect God’s glory more, he said.