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5 Ways You Can Make High River Schools Even Better This Year

Wrapping the community around our schools.

In these polarizing and passionate times there are still a few things we can agree upon.  One of them is that education is important.   An even greater unifier is that our kids are important.  It takes a village to raise a child is more than a great poster, it can be a rally cry! 

There are two school divisions that operate in High RIver, one public, one Catholic.  7 schools serving almost 2800 kids.

I had the privilege of working in these schools for 2 years. I’d like to share a few insights on how we as a community can embrace these schools.  How we can up the odds that High River kids are happy, healthy and successful.  

A few did you know’s:

Did you know that there are kids in High River who go to school hungry? 

Did you know that 1 in 5 children will have an onset of Mental Illness in their school years and only 10 percent of those will get treatment? 

Did you know there are resources in town that could use your help in supporting kids?

The relationship between parents and schools have changed incredibly since I was in school.  When I was in school there was still ‘the strap’, chances were good that if you got in trouble at school you were going to get in trouble at home too- no questions asked.  Corporal punishment in school is long gone, and unfortunately the trust between parents and teachers also seems to have slipped away.  Of course not everywhere, but I think all of us have had heated conversations over “schools these days”.  Particularly when my oldest children were in first and second grade I had opinions.  So many opinions, and so many fears, and so much finger pointing.  They are both graduated now, healthy, happy adults – thanks in part to the teachers and school staff who were partners in their growing up.  

From the inside it looks so, so different.  What I saw were people who are working incredibly hard (too hard even) to help kids be successful.  I saw genuine concern, and tireless efforts to improve and do more and more and more.  One thing schools are great at is taking ownership. But should we expect them to do it all on their own?

I also saw that it is not always easy for those who want to support schools.  I think it’s a matter of busy-ness.  Have you ever had people try to help you when you are already overwhelmed?  It’s easier to just say no!!  Schools are solicited by ‘helpers’ at an alarming rate, principals are flocked with groups who want to come in and give inspirational/motivational programming.  All of this while they need to meet every need of the kids in front of them AND deliver curricula.  Because of this most of the school year is planned far in advance and it can feel like there is an invisible force field around being heard at a school. 

This does not mean that you can’t have an impact – you can take some of the pressure off.  

Here is a list of High River specific ways you can support our schools – and in doing so – our kids:

  1. Compassion, understanding, trust for the professionals and support staff. It’s a huge job – I would never invite 30 of my son’s friends over, keep them in one room and try to teach them anything. 6 in my yard doing what they want would be a stretch! 
  2. School Council:  there’s usually a handful of people who do an enormous amount of work.  Fundraising, teacher appreciation, whatever needs done. These groups can have the freedom to help kids that schools don’t always have.  One small example- Senator Riley Junior High School Council paid for art therapy for 2 years after the flood. They also have the ear of the principal.  There are so many things you can accomplish as a school council that enhance the quality of education and the care of all of the people in a school building
  3. Volunteer with an organization that supports schools in High River (please comment if you know of others):
    1. Food for Thought:  Lunches for almost every school in High River
    2. Junior Achievement: financial literacy volunteers
    3. Big Brothers Big Sisters: youth mentorship –
    4. Literacy for Life – lots of opportunities, do you have a dog who would like to be a reading buddy?
    5. Foothillls Community Immigrant Services –
  4. Give at School Beginning or Christmas: many families struggle with the costs of school start, if you would like to donate for back packs and school supplies or at Christmas contact your schools Family School Liaison or Town of High River Family and Community Supports (FCSS- in Charles Clarke building).
  5. Share your special skill:  Did you work for NASA?  Know a second language?  First Nations? Musical ability? Beautification skills- painting or landscaping? Contact your school or school council and give of your greatness.                        

I challenge us all to think of High River Schools as “Ours”.  Let’s wrap these schools in the linked arms of 8000 adults who care.