As spring is finally trying to make itself known, we are coming upon a busy time at the school.  As I look at our calendar, I realize that we only have nine weeks of school remaining and the year is going to finish up quickly. For me it will go much quicker as I be taking a three-week medical leave after my ankle surgery on the 18th.

To kick off May we are pleased to present our annual Musical Production, SWITCHED, which was written by grade eight student Laura B. SWITCHED is an adaptation of the Freaky Friday movie where two fraternal twins switch bodies. Students have been busy rehearsing and getting everything ready since January.  This year’s production features original music written by our director, Miss Barr, and the students. The music is catchy and every time I hear the opening song, it makes me want to join in the dancing! Our first performances are free matinees for our Holy Spirit Schools on Wednesday May 2 and Thursday May 3 and evening shows are open to the public.  Cast 2 performs Wednesday evening and Cast 1 performs on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm at the University of Lethbridge Theatre.  Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for FLVT students.  Tickets can be purchased through School Cash Online for FLVT students, on our website (https://www.holyspirit.ab.ca/flvt/whatsNew.cfm?whatID=83), at the school office or at the door. I look forward to seeing the performances and to seeing you at our production.

Switched Poster

The rest of May is going to fly by as it is filled with a variety of activities.  The week after the production is over, our grade six and nine students will write Part A of their Language Arts Provincial Achievement Test. We will also be administering the Canadian Achievement Test for our grades 4-9 students and when we have the results at the end of the year, we will be using them to help inform our teaching practices. We honour the achievement of our junior high First Nations Metis and Inuit students with an awards evening at 5:30 pm at Catholic Central on May 17. The Edwin Parr nominees from the South Zone will be honored at a banquet on May 9th and I’d like to wish Miss Barr luck as she represents not only Van Tighem, but also the Holy Spirit School Division.

Other events going on in May are Jr. Hawks basketball for Grades 1-3, Track and Field meets for Grades 6-9, and our fabulous Marathon club for Grades 1-6. I have no doubt that we have the best club in the city due to our detailed training schedule and breakfast program.  The club finishes on the 30th with the Little Souls Marathon run at 6:30 pm at Chinook High School.  There are also book club meetings and numerous field trips going on all throughout the month. May culminates with the Grade 6 Camp at Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp.  Our Grade 6 classes will enjoy 4 days of fun-filled (and hopefully sun-filled) days of activities.  We hope that spring will have truly arrived so our campers enjoy beautiful weather.

At Convention in February I attended a session presented by Rocky View Schools titled Combating Student Absenteeism: Enhancing Systems to Improve Educational Outcomes. It was of particular interest to me as we had recently had conversations about attendance at our Learning Leadership meetings. At this session I learned about their Attendance Innovation Campaign and the practices they undertook to improve attendance at pilot schools and across their division. Their campaign focused on three main areas:  Educate, Empower, and Eliminate. You may have noticed over the past month a variety of messages from the school on Facebook and Remind as our Education Campaign on attendance kicked off.

Attendance is critical for success in school.  Students who attend under 90% are considered to be chronically absent.  While that may seem to be high, it means that with a school year of 180 days, students should miss no more than 18 days which equals out to 2 days per month.  Missing this many days puts student at risk of negative academic, economic, mental health and legal outcomes. Here are some attendance facts from the presentation by Rocky View Schools:

  • Absences are a problem if they are excused or unexcused.
  • Sporadic and consecutive absences negatively impact learning.
  • Parents signing off on school absences does not minimize the impact.
  • Attendance patterns matter in all grades, including Kindergarten.
  • Children find it difficult to catch up on missed work.
  • Parents underestimate their child’s absences by 50%.

The second phase of the attendance campaign is Empower and we have been working through the data using PowerSchool to find out what the attendance trends are for FLVT. What are the attendance facts for our school community?  One piece of data we have access to shows the attendance rate for each day of the week. The following chart illustrates the attendance rate for the students from September to March for all students. It is interesting to note the lower attendance rate for Friday and how close it is to being under 90%. A goal for the next couple of months would be to try to bring the Friday attendance rate a little closer to the rest of the averages

weekday attendance

Another piece of data shows student attendance broken down into percentages. The chart below summarizes attendance trends for this school year up to the end of March.  I think it is great to celebrate that 460 or 85% of our students are on track to be at or above the 90% attendance rate.

attendance pie chart

We still have work to do as 83 or 15% of our students are at risk for negative outcomes. As a result, we are currently piloting phase three Eliminate with a small group of students.  We have developed plans to target individual students and identify their attendance barriers. At our PD Day in April, we will be looking at developing an recognition program for the coming school year. We all want our students to be successful which goes hand in hand with good attendance. Let’s finish the year strong and aim for at least 90% attendance after the Easter break. 

Attendance Facts courtesy of Attendance Works

It seems that we just finished the Christmas season and it is hard to believe that we are now approaching the Lenten season. Throughout the forty days of Lent we are mimicking Jesus’ journey through the desert and are focusing on the three pillars of fasting, prayer and almsgiving.  Most of us sacrifice and give something up as a form of fasting which allows us to grow spiritually through discipline. Years ago I had a conversation with Terry Wilson regarding Lent where he talked about how he would do extra things for others. Doing charitable acts and paying attention to the needs of others falls under the pillar of almsgiving.  Last year Mrs. Hoveling introduced me to 40 Acts organized by the Stewardship group from the UK.  Each day during Lent I received an email that had a reflection on a specific word and then there were three choices of action you could take that related to the reflection. I really enjoyed the challenge and learned about myself and grew spiritually from the experience.  I am all signed up and excited to see what the new challenges will bring. If you are interested in learning more or signing up for the 40 Acts Challenge you can find them on the Web, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can do the challenge as an individual or a group so it might be a nice family activity to try.

40 Acts

Thank you to Parent Council for organizing our Shrove Tuesday pancake meal on the 13th and to all the parents who have volunteered to help make this day a success.  We will start the Lenten season by celebrating Ash Wednesday on the 14th at St. Martha’s Church.   Each week we will come together as a community to pray and celebrate during the Lenten season. All our celebrations are marked on the FLVT Events Calendar on the website and are on the calendar pages in the newsletter. I invite you all to come pray and celebrate with us.

February is also survey season and parents may already have received information on completing the Alberta Education Accountability Pillar Survey. Students in grades 4 and 7 and all teachers will also be completing their surveys online at school.  All surveys are anonymous and ask questions about experiences with the school.  In addition to English and French, the parent survey is available in Chinese, Punjabi, Arabic, Blackfoot, Cree, Korean, Spanish and Tagalog.  Your participation in the survey provides important information on the quality of education your child is receiving, so we encourage you to complete your survey promptly.

If you want to find out more information and get more involved in your child’s education, come out to our Parent Council Meeting on February 6th at 7:00. Our Superintendent Chris Smeaton and Director of Religious Education, Joann Bartley, will be at the meeting to discuss Bill 24. I encourage you to come out and become informed on the impact the bill. The meetings generally last an hour and I look forward to seeing you there.

For us as Catholics, the new liturgical year started with advent and the preparations for Jesus’ arrival. God sent His only son in human form to earth and did this knowing that we would eventually persecute and crucify Him.  Jesus’ willingly sacrificed Himself for us knowing how His life here on earth would end. As if this wasn’t hard enough, Jesus faced many hardships throughout his life.

He was born in a stable after his parents were rejected at the Inn. Not long after Jesus was born, the family had to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod’s paranoia and massacre of innocent children. During his ministry, Jesus was criticized by the religious leaders of the day, the scribes and Pharisees and was ultimately betrayed by one of his followers. What relevance does this have for our world today?  Are not people rejected by others and made to feel not to belong?  Are not people persecuted and have to flee their countries of birth?  Are not people criticized and ridiculed by the “in crowd”? Are not people betrayed by their friends?  With the advent of social media, it has become so much easier to criticize and reject others.

How do we combat our human condition? We follow the example of God and Jesus:  with Love. God wants us to be His hands and feet today on earth and treat one another with Love. According to Pope Francis, our mission is to obey God and give Joy to others: “Love and joy are gifts we must ask the Lord for.”  We spread Joy when we express gratitude for the blessings that God has given to us.  We spread Love when do things for others without expecting something in return.  For this calendar year, take a moment each day to spread some Love and/or Joy.  This is a huge task and we will not always be successful but it is a goal to strive towards each and every day.

pope on love

Christmas Wishes

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

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 


Rembrance: Lest we Forget

According to Mirriam-Webster for students, remembrance is the act of remembering or something remembered, such as a souvenir, that serves to bring mind. November is a month where we turn to remembrance and that is what we are doing here at FLVT.

We start the month with the Solemnity of All Saints Day on November 1. It is celebrated by Catholics all around the world and connects us to the communion of saints.  We look to the Saints, we celebrate their lives and ask them to pray for us. On All Saints day take a moment to pray to St. Kateri, our FLVT patron saint to intercede on our behalf.

St. Kateri@1x

The next day, November 2, is All Souls Day where we remember all those who have died but may not yet be in heaven.  We pray for them and ask God to take them to heaven.  Students will be creating “In Loving Memory” poems for those loved ones who have died and they will be displayed on the prayer board in the gathering space. On November 2 please take a moment and say a prayer in memory of a friend or loved one.

O Lord, please grant eternal rest unto (_____name_____).

Let Perpetual light shine upon him/her.

May the soul of ( _____name_____) and of all the faithful departed rest in peace.


On November 5th, we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday in Alberta.  We need to remember to celebrate the fact that we are one of three provinces that have publically funded Catholic education. With the recent controversy in the news regarding the health and wellness curriculum, it is important that we as Catholic school supporters become informed about the issues. Our Catholic schools are a gift to be celebrated.

On November 11th we remember our veterans from the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War who sacrificed for us so we could enjoy our freedoms and live in peace. To honour these men and women, we wear poppies as a symbol of remembrance and freedom. As we pause in our minute of remembrance on the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month, let us not forget to pray for the men and women who have served, those who have died in service and those who are currently serving in our armed forces.  Please come join us for our Remembrance Day Celebration on the 8th at 10:45 in the gym.

remembrance day

During the month of November there are also events going on where people can take part as their way of honoring or remembering someone.  All of our male staff members are participating in Movember to raise awareness of men’s health and to help raise money for our advent project Mission Mexico.  We have a dedicated FLVTMen page where donations can be made. Students will also vote for the best or worst mustache and at the end of the month, we will draw names from those who have voted or donated for the opportunity to win a prize and/or shave some staff members’ heads. For some of our staff members, they are participating in Movember as a way to remember a loved one. For me, I am going to honor my Uncle Don who passed away this Saturday by participating in World Kindness Day on the 13th and Random Acts of Kindness Day on the 24th. My Uncle Don was the kindest man I know and this is the perfect way to remember him.  How are you going to honor your loved ones this month?

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