Thinking back on the first day of school in 2021, I’ll never forget the bent form of vice principal David Hamblin. In the soccer field behind Delton Elementary School, his tall back was curved low as he spray painted hundreds of lines on the grass for students to safely queue up before heading single file into their classrooms.
Many of us parents in that field, saying goodbye to our masked children, felt relief they would learn in the classroom again. But we also felt worry, fear, trepidation: How often would they be sent home to learn? Were our kids and staff safe? Could our kids pass the virus to our parents? How behind were they in reading and math?
Participating in the school council has helped me feel better about these uncertainties. Every month, principal Christine Simmons informed us of new protocols, shared successes, and kept us aware of PD days. We were invited to ask questions and these conversations relieved many of my worries.
Because Delton Elementary School is part of our larger community, we wanted to share what our council worked on this year.
We continued our Covid Emergency fund, which provides gift cards to families with urgent financial needs. The school’s Roots and Wings worker delivers the gift cards and can connect the family to ongoing supports. This critical and timely support to families experiencing stressors from the pandemic has improved school attendance.
To fund this, we had a variety of fundraisers including selling deal deck cards in October, tea in December, and an ongoing, online bottle drive through Skip the Depot. Follow us on Facebook to participate.
Thanks to casino funds obtained during pre-pandemic times, we continue to purchase school “extras” (are Chromebooks really “extras” in 2022?) intended to bring additional enrichment opportunities to the classroom. This year, we’ve purchased 30 Chromebooks, recess equipment, and literacy and numeracy tools to help kids catch up after pandemic interruptions. Further, we’re sponsoring the school garden club, so veggies and flowers can brighten the outdoor classroom spaces.
It has been difficult for many parents not to be inside the school because of pandemic regulations. However, our advocacy to the City of Edmonton regarding the streetscape redevelopment around the school has made connecting outside a lot safer. A new bus lane on 89 Street and sidewalk on 90 Street were added last summer, increasing safety for our kids during pick up and drop off. We had less luck with our advocacy to the Minister of Education for a reset on the new curriculum.
Partnerships and community
Despite the pandemic, our families and kids had fun this year. We were grateful for the free youth hockey program our community leagues ran. Over 100 Delton students participated. Some learned to skate; others developed skills.
We also introduced The Güd Box, bringing fresh, seasonal, affordable produce to our school families and community. Every two weeks, pre-ordered fruits and veggies are delivered to the school and families pick them up from our volunteers. While partly a fundraiser ($5 from every $30 box goes to our council), it’s helped us connect to families practically and a little differently than in the past. Order yours (now with home delivery) at thegudbox.ca/products/the-delton-school-gud-box).
Thanks to all the teachers, school staff, parents, guardians, grandparents, and community members who helped make 2021-2022 a success.
Looking ahead, we are concerned about space. While a new Delton Elementary School has been a top priority for Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB), the provincial government has shut out EPSB from its capital budgets for two years running. The fact is that our school is bursting at the seams. The library’s been cut in half to make space for classrooms, and the daycare has been displaced while we anticipate welcoming more kids from the growing Blatchford development. A new school would ensure our building is accessible for all and continues to engage the many school partnerships, while creating space for more students. This will be a focus of our advocacy work going forward.
We are also working hard to secure funds so we can support Delton School’s first artist-in-residence in 2023. If you want to be part of this, or any of the other work we do, join us for our AGM in September. Details will be available at the school or on our Facebook page.