Top marks and sad goodbyes at the School Board meeting

By Laura Stovel

Members of the Revelstoke School Board paid tribute to an exemplary student, said goodbye to an exemplary principal and noted an impressive record of its own at its meeting Wednesday.

Ariel Christman (center) receives the Governor General's Medal from Revelstoke Secondary School principal Mike Hooker while her mom, Anne Wilson, who is also a school board trustee, looks on. Laura Stovel photo

Revelstoke Secondary School student Ariel Christman received the prestigious Governor General’s Academic Medal, recognizing her position as the student with the highest average grades in the school. RSS principal, Mike Hooker, who presented Christman with the medal, explained that this historic award dates back 125 years. The award has been won by such notable Canadians as Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas and writer Gabrielle Roy.

Shan Jorgenson-Adam, principal of Columbia Park Elementary and district principal of aboriginal education programs is leaving Revelstoke to take up a new job in Bonnyville, Alberta. Laura Stovel photo

The board also said a sad goodbye to Columbia Parks Elementary principal Shan Jorgenson-Adam who is leaving Revelstoke to take a new position as director of system improvement at Northern Lights School Division in Bonnyville, Alberta in January. Jorgenson-Adam, who also served as district principal of aboriginal education programs, updated the board on the Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement. While some school districts have experienced stagnation despite similar agreements, Revelstoke’s aboriginal education efforts have been successful, she said. She attributed this success to the passion of Aboriginal Education Committee members who have “taken the time to build relationships” and have ownership over the program.

Aboriginal student success rates are just one of the areas in which Revelstoke topped province-wide results. School district superintendent Anne Cooper presented her annual report, listing impressive results in literacy and numeracy levels among students in the district.

Among the results: 95 percent of grade three students met or surpassed the district benchmark for reading; 98 percent of grade four students met or exceeded expectations for writing in 2010; and numeracy levels in grades 4 and 7 were also in the high 90 percent range, showing a dramatic increase in student performance since 2001. Cooper also noted that Dogwood completion rates have increased dramatically in the last 12 years, rising from 64.4 percent to the current 90 percent. 69 percent of students with special needs graduated last year, up from 47 percent four years ago.

Cooper attributed much of the student success to the district’s early identification and intervention processes and the hard work of teachers and educational assistants and of members of the Aboriginal Education Committee, the Early Childhood Development Committee and the Revelstoke Literacy Action Committee, among others.

Further supports include special monitoring of the achievement of children in care, ensuring that these young people also experience success. “We have the fewest ever students with behavioral concerns,” Cooper said. There are “only six in the system” at the moment as opposed to more than 30 several years ago. “We aim to make it difficult for kids to fail. You have to work very hard to fail a course,” she said.