Archive for the ‘December’ Category

Mary is an important person in the Advent season. She was open to and mindful of God’s presence.  Through our book study of Walking with Mary by Edward Sri, we have come to better understand her open heart. When the angel Gabriel greets Mary to tell her that she is going to be the mother of Jesus, he says, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). No one in the history of the Bible has ever been addressed like this before. “Hail” is more than a simple hello. It means rejoice! Gabriel does not call her Mary; instead he says “full of Grace”. This is Mary’s new title or name which reveals the mission that God is entrusting to her. Finally, Gabriel assure her “the Lord is with you”. These words have been used throughout the Bible as God’s greeting to people he calls and it lets them know He will be there to guide, strengthen and protect them.

Our challenge for our students and our school community this month is to mimic this by rejoicing and greeting people they come across in the halls. We want them to Hail one another and rejoice by looking at the person.  Mary was given a new name as Full of Grace and we want our students to smile and say the person’s name if they know it.  Finally, the Lord is with You is a reminder that God is always there with us so we smile and say hello to the person.  We acknowledge the presence of God by responding with a smile and a greeting to the person. We are challenging our students to try to be the first person to say hello. Parents, we welcome you to join in our challenge when you are in the building. Good luck in Acting Like Mary by opening our hearts to God’s will and presence within each of us.

The Advent Sock Drive kicked off on Crazy Sock day on November 28. Socks that are collected will go to support Harbour House, Salvation Army, Homeless Shelter and Woods Homes. Last year we brought in 1,977 pairs of socks and hopefully we can surpass that effort this year. The final day to bring in socks is December 12 which is when we have our Advent mass at the Church followed by our Christmas Event.  This year we are having a Snowball dance at the school.  The dance with feature hot chocolate and cookies, a family photo booth, a quiet coloring area, and numeracy and literacy dice and card games that you can learn and play with your family over the holidays. I will be sharing our family Christmas favorite card game, 7 Up, that my children started playing when they were around 5 and that we still play every year at Christmas.

The cake walk is back by popular demand, but will only run from 6pm – 7pm.  To stick to the hour time limit, we will be giving away multiple cakes for each round. The cost of entry is 1$ which will go to cover the expenses for the evening and any leftover funds will be donated to the sock drive. Thank you to a parent for a generous donation of hot chocolate for the evening! We are gratefully accepting donations of cakes for the evening. I look forward to seeing you at our Christmas dance on the 12th.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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It’s hard to believe that we have reached December, Advent and a new liturgical year. I was amazed when I walked into the Dollar Store in late October to get those last minute parts of my Halloween costume to see the Christmas section already up and dwarfing the Halloween section. Advent is supposed to be a time of quiet, joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We can get lost in all the hustle, bustle, and commercialization of the Christmas season, and are so busy preparing our homes and ourselves that we forget to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus Christ. For all of the Christmas cheer and joyful celebrations, this time of the year can also be one of the loneliest. What if you do not have any family or friends around? What if you cannot afford even the tiniest gift? What if you do not have a home? We can prepare our hearts by following Jesus’ commandment to Love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34). We can show our love to others through Sharing our Bounty.

This Advent season at OLA we are going to be witnesses to our faith through serving others by sharing our time, treasure and talents in a variety of ways. Staff is supporting Catholic Central’s Santa’s Anonymous program by donating toys for the families. Each week our students will be sharing their time and talent at our Advent celebrations. Please come join in our celebrations which take place the first day of the week at 9:00 am. We are also asking students to Share their Bounty this advent season by following the example of Ella Tyron and giving comfort to others. When Ella was hospitalized in 2016 she turned to one of her favorite activities: coloring.  She discovered that the hospital could not maintain a supply of crayons and coloring books due to cross-contamination concerns.  With the help of her mom, Ella started the Help Color Me a Rainbow project and has solicited donations and has donated thousands of crayons and hundreds of coloring books to hospitals. We are asking students to give comfort to others by creating Christmas cards for their family, neighbors and the elderly. Some of our cards will be going to Streets Alive Mission, our school neighbors and the elderly in homes.

Another way to witness and Share your Bounty is through our Sock Drive campaign that will run from November 28 – December 14.  We are collecting socks that will go to support the following local charities:  Harbour House, Salvation Army, Homeless Shelter and Woods Homes. I was amazed at the generosity of the school community for our Drive Away Hunger campaign and believe there are going to be similar results as on the kick off day, the students had already brought in over 200 hundred pairs of socks. At our Christmas Family Fun Night on the 13th from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. we will be having a Cake Walk.  People will have a chance to play a musical chairs type game and each round, someone will win a cake. An entry for a round will cost 25 cents and all the money collected will go towards our Sock campaign.  In order to make this game possible we would appreciate any cake donations that you could make for this event. You can send your cake to school on the 13th or bring it with you for the evening event. If you’ve never experienced a Cake Walk, make sure to pop into the gym as it is one of my favorite, fun events.  If I don’t see you at one of our activities this month, I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

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In the early weeks of December, it sure did not feel like we were approaching the holidays, but with the snow that has arrived the last couple of days that sure has changed.  I’m hoping that it wasn’t my “Let it Snow” earrings that I wore at the start of the week that brought on the snowfall.  Today, on red and green day, I decided not to wear them just in case as I didn’t want to add to the poor road conditions with families preparing to travel to be with family to celebrate Christmas.
We have been preparing for the Christmas season through our weekly Advent celebrations, prayer, and giving of ourselves by doing good works. Staff has been performing acts of kindness for others during the month of December. Our school community has also been doing activities to raise funds for charity: $1050 for Mission Mexico and $695 for Streets Alive Mission. Thank you so much to everyone who helped to make our social justice projects successful. While the focus can be so much on what we are getting for Christmas, remember that St. Francis said that “it is in giving that we receive.” God gave us the gift of Jesus. What can you do for others this Christmas season? I challenge you to perform one act of kindness over the Christmas break.
Finally, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May you have a blessed, relaxing and safe holiday season surrounded by friends and family. We will see you back here on January 8th.


God Bless
Denise Kobza

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As adults we are always taking care of others and can ignore taking care of ourselves.  In reality, we are better equipped to help others when we have taken the time to help ourselves.  We can take our health for granted until we do not have it anymore.  This is found out as I suffered from vestibular neuritis for the past couple of weeks and was dependent on others to drive me around.  It is a viral infection of the inner ear which inflames the nerve and affects balance and concentration. Being sick forced me to slow down, take care of myself, and allow others to take care of me. It is a little ironic though as my professional development for the past month focused on wellness.

emotional wellness site

One of our school’s Health and Wellness goals is to reduce the incidence of student anxiety. We are trying to promote learning by ensuring that students are emotionally regulated and that their brains are ready to learn.  One of our student nursing teams worked with Tracy Rocca our FSLC to develop resources for both home and school.  They presented their website to the parent council and to staff. Please take a look at it under the Resources and Publication/Counselling/Student Wellness Website section of our website. The site has many resources for parents on Understanding Emotions, Self Awareness and Social Awareness. In a similar vein, a school team attended training for the Mind Up program on November 8th. This is a research based program that teaches activities around topics such as gratitude and mindfulness.  The four pillars of the program are neuroscience, positive psychology, mindful awareness and social-emotional learning.  Students are taught about how their brain works and what is happening that allows them to learn and what can stop them from learning.  It goes along well with our zones of regulation that we have already been implementing as it gives us a practice to help students calm their brains from coming in after running around at recess time so they are ready to learn. A few teachers are incorporating some of the program’s practices into their classrooms and we tried out the core breathing exercise with staff.

mind up

Another goal for the school is to continue to promote and build student leadership for comprehensive school health. We started a new option class this year: Health and Wellness Leadership. The students in this option class created a website with activities covering the following four areas of wellness:  mental, nutritional, physical and spiritual. When you click on FLVT Health and Wellness under the Resources and Publications tab, you are taken directly to the site. Students also organized different wellness activities throughout the first quarter. The wellness team is also continuing with Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right program that promotes healthy eating.  Students can bring in a healthy yellow food in December and complete the form in the canteen for a chance to win a prize. The next project for the team is the development of school garden boxes in the new year and possibly a school wide wellness day.

student website

As astaff, we had a wellness retreat day last Friday so that we are better equipped to handle the challenges of the coming month.  We started the day focusing on Spiritual Wellness with Taizé prayer led by Peggy from L’Arche LethbridgeTaizé is short, chanting prayers that were sung and repeated many times with scripture readings, psalms, intercessions and a ten-minute silence in the middle of the service.  It was a beautiful service that was calming in its simplicity.  Next staff participated in a variety of wellness activities ranging from going for a workout to creating crafts to playing card games to listening to music and, above all, building community by visiting with one another.  We closed the day off with the fellowship of a beautiful meal.  It was a relaxing day as we prepare for the business of the coming Advent season.

At the Inter-Jurisdictional Health Champion Wellness Day on November 29, I learned about Intellectual Wellness.  Social connections are one way to support good brain health and wellness so I invite you to join us for our various activities this month. Music is another great way to support brain health so you could come out to one of our musical events. Our elementary choir will be singing at December 6 at City Hall from 12:00 – 12:30, and the grade 2 and 3 classes will be singing at the Evening of Christmas as St. Basil’s Church on December 19 at 7:00 pm.  Our Christmas Family Fun Night will be at the school this year on the 14th from 5:30 – 7:30. It is a wonderful event filled with many activities to promote brain health, such as, coloring, story telling, cake walk, cookie decorating and an obstacle course. Help boost your Spiritual Wellness by joining us for a Monday Advent Celebration. Finally, we invite you to come into the school on the last day of December as the staff serves hot chocolate and candy canes to parents and students. It has become one of my favorite traditions here at the school.  If I don’t see you at one of our events this month, I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

More Information on Wellness Education:

Alberta Education Wellness Education

Alberta Education Wellness Framework 


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Happy New Year! Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year for us.  It is a time of quiet, joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We can lose our roots and get lost in all the hustle, bustle, and commercialization of the Christmas season, and are so busy preparing our homes and ourselves that we forget to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Jesus. For all of the Christmas cheer and joyful celebrations, this time of the year can also be one of the loneliest. What if you do not have any family around? What if you do not have any friends in your life? What if you cannot afford even the tiniest gift? What if you do not have a home? If we are serious about rooting the Christmas season is Christ, we must be willing to be Christ for those who need Him most.


This Advent season we are going to be Christ for those who need him most by supporting a local cause: Streets Alive Mission.  Streets Alive is dedicated to bringing hope to those who have none by building relationships with the disenfranchised, through a variety of volunteer driven programs.  So often with social justice projects, we bring items but do not really think or learn more about the people we help.  This year, with our Rooted in Christ theme, we are going to ground ourselves by learning about the work of Streets Alive Mission by having them come in and educate us about the work they do. The staff is going to be going to the Streets Alive Mission on Friday as part of our retreat day so that we can see first hand the work that is done.  Each week at our Advent Celebrations, we are asking students to bring in different items that the Mission requires to do their work: dark colored socks, waterproof gloves, and toques or hats; and men’s underwear and jeans. More details on the project and items can be found in the newsletter.  For more information on Streets Alive Mission please visit their website.

If you can’t make our celebrations, please try to make it for the last day of school where staff serves hot chocolate and candy canes to students and parents as they enter the school in the morning.  It has become one of my favorite traditions here at the school and is a wonderful way to start the last school day of the year. If I don’t see you at one our celebrations this month, I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

Resource:  Jesus Daily by Aaron Tabor, MD



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As we approach the season of advent, I’d like to highlight a couple of programs to illustrate this years theme, Horizon of Hope. It’s important that we all are beacons of hope and we are letting our students shine through focusing on conduct and celebrating their cultures and stories.

OLWEUS  Program

On Thursday November 12, the entire staff was trained on the program components: individual, classroom, school, and community. The goals of the program are to reduce bullying problems among students, to prevent the development of new problems, to achieve better peer relations at school, and to provide students with skills needed to be leaders. A key component from the training forward is that our community have a shared understanding of what bullying is.  Three components of bullying behaviour are that is involves an aggressive behaviour, typically involves a pattern of behaviour repeated over time, and involves an imbalance of power or strength.

Currently we are working on putting together the school-level components.  We have established a Coordinating Committee with the following representatives:

Mrs. Kobza – Coordinator

Mr. Pollio and Mrs. Kremenik – Co-chairs

Kevin Verberk – Secretary and Divisional Rep

Mrs. Ponomar, Ms. Pilsner, Mr. Parr, Mrs. Hay, Mrs. Jans – Staff Reps

Mrs. Rocca and Mrs. Shore – Counsellors

Leroy CrazyBoy – FNMI Program Leader

Karen Kondor – Trainer

On Friday the 13th the committee met for the first time and decided to administer the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire before Christmas. The survey asks the students forty questions about their life at the school. The committee and staff will analyze the results of the survey and make changes to our supervisory system as needed. We will be moving forward with implementation oat our January PD Day.

Artist in Residence Showcase

We are excited to have John ChiefCalf, Blackfoot teacher at CCH, offer an Art Visualization and Writing Program to our junior high First Nations students.  John has had 6 sessions with our students where they worked on the following elements:

  1. Identifying how students create relationships with nature and how this impacts their identity and sense of belonging
  2. Writing about a shared experience and sharing emotion
  3. Responding with art, beading, or dancing

We will be showcasing our students’ work in a couple of ways this month.  First, our students will have a session at our Christmas Family Fun Night on Wednesday, December 9th from 5:30 – 7:30.  Come out and enjoy some frybread and berry soup!


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In response to feedback from students, teachers, and the community, programs were put in place at Father Leonard Van Tighem to engage students in their interests and passions, as well as foster community connections. In quarter one grade eight and nine students saw their physical education course offered with a new structure and focus. Students got to choose whether they wanted to engage in a competitive physical pursuits style course or were more suited for a lifestyle fitness approach. The intensity of the delivery of the programs was the biggest difference as students used their 90 minutes of class time being active, fostering lifelong fitness habits while experiencing community facilities and organized activities. Students frequently biked to the different venues, exploring activities such as swimming, racquetball, golf, wall climbing and scuba diving; activities that weren’t defined by traditional school gym space. Teacher Mario Pasquotti says “the course was a success, the kids were excited, engaged, and made lifelong connections with activities and individuals in the community.” For the remainder of the year students decide how they would like to stay active with courses such as fitness, yoga, golf, dance, and track and field to name a few.

Instruction with Jim Steacy

Instruction with Jim Steacy

One of the several new courses this year at FLVT is the track and field class. Excited to share her passion with students Patti Pilsner contacted Olympic throwing coach, Larry Steinke and set a partnership that would see Van Tighem students experience athletic events under the guidance of world class Olympians such as Jim Steacy and  Liz Gleadle. “Coach Steinke has extensive experience in long term athlete development. His work in the speed and power events with developmental progressions for young athletes has influenced policy changes in athletics across Canada. For our students to develop their raw athletic abilities under his tutelage was an arrangement that we sought and were excited to bring to life” says Pilsner. The option class was built knowing it would appeal to a group of students, and the response was overwhelming. A second class block was opened up to accommodate the interest, as well as 10 more class spots once the option started. “It is always fun getting to pass along knowledge about the sport I love and have been doing for the past fifteen years” comments Steacy. “The kids at FLVT are working hard and there is some real potential for some great results when their track and field season comes around in the spring!”

When the track and field course wraps up, a Dance Basics class begins. Miss Joy and Miss Aurielle from Joy’s Dance Factory will be leading the charge. Miss Joy and Miss Aurielle are both registered teachers with The Royal Academy of Dance and accredited ADAPT teachers. These ladies are more than shiny credentials, their extensive experiences and awards speak to their abilities and knowledge of tap, jazz, musical theatre, preschool movement, and ballet. FLVT also offers a Dance Elite course for students training for festival or seeking additional private lessons. This course is geared towards experienced dancers who would like to commit more time in their week to their dance career. Each class is about meeting students where they are and supporting their passions and being exposed to world class instruction and expertise.

Written by Patti Pilsner, Associate Principal at FLVT

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December Newsletter

It’s hard to believe that we have reached December, Advent, and a new liturgical year.  December is a short month that is packed full of activities.  We can get caught up in the craziness and commercialism that is Christmas. It always amazes me to walk into stores on November 1 and see the Christmas section going up as the Halloween section is being taken down. Advent is supposed to be a time of quiet, joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. As I am writing this, I am looking forward to starting my preparations by attending the Women’s Advent Retreat at St. Martha’s Church this weekend. This is my third year attending and am looking forward to the fellowship of women from Lethbridge and surrounding areas, the fabulous food, and time to experience and reflect on the theme: Spending TIME with Jesus. If you have not attended the retreat before, I invite you to think about attending next year.


As for the school preparations, we are going to be celebrating the theme of Walking Together through Advent.  Each weekly celebration will focus on Hope, Peace, or Love. We are working on a social justice program to raise awareness about cancer and to support cancer research through donations. Students are able to donate at the weekly advent celebration.  Our grade 9 students are doing morning prayer during Advent and will be creating prayers that reflect our theme. When you are in the gathering space look for the bulletin board display that will be put together that will illustrate how we are Walking Together through Advent.  We are going to be adding to this bulletin board throughout the year.


We have a couple of special events going on in December that I hope to see you at so please mark them down in your calendars.  Our school celebration this year is Christmas at the Fort.  It is on December 11 and runs from 5:30 – 7:30. This event is for the entire school and includes activities, such as, cookie decorating, making snowflakes, going on hay rides, learning about First Nations culture, caroling by the fire, and enjoying a cup of hot cocoa. The next school event takes place on Sunday December 14 at 4:00.  We are working with the Hurricanes to have a School Rocks Night. There are 14 other schools in Lethbridge participating and we are hoping to sell as many tickets as possible so we can fill a section full of red and black Hawkwear. This event is not only build community but also acts as a fundraiser for us as we receive money from the Hurricanes for every ticket sold. Money raised from this will go to meet our fundraiser target for school activities and clubs. Finally, we invite you to come into the school on the last day as the staff serves hot chocolate and candy canes to parents and students. It has become one of my favorite traditions here at the school.

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