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Peace Wapiti Public School Division
Educating today for success tomorrow
Peace Wapiti Public School Division No. 76
News Item

Trustee tour and engagement activity at Penson School

March 31, 2017

PWSD trustees toured Penson School and met with students for an engagement activity on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

At Penson School, Principal Jenny McAusland and Grade 7 students Keyton Murray and Reece Hutchinson (pictured left-right) led two groups of trustees on a tour of Kindergarten - Grade 8 classes.

The group visited Mrs. Van Natter's Kindergarten class, followed by visits to Mrs. Hutchison's Grade 1A and Ms. Dalen's 1B classes. This year marks the first time Penson School has seen a spike in enrolment numbers to warrant dividing a grade. Students in 1A were eager to show off their reading skills to Trustees Stefanie Clarke and Wendy Kelm (pictured).

While touring classes, trustees were drawn to the gym where a lively game between Mr. Foisy's Grades 7-8 students was underway.

The group posed for a quick photo at the 'Pete's Code of Conduct' wall that reminds students of the school's core values.

Students in Ms. Hemmingway's Gr. 4 Social Studies class were busily researching projects. The class uses green, yellow and red plastic cups to indicate their need for assistance – green means things are going well, yellow means things are going slowly, and red means they are stuck and need some guidance to get moving again.

Mr.Warr's Grade 3 class was engaged in quiet reading time prior to morning recess.

While students played outside during recess, Trustees learned about the exciting work happening at the Penson School library. The library features a stunning mural by local artist Trudy Wade, funded by a donation from Whitewater Management. As an ongoing fundraiser for the school, community members, parents and students can purchase "books" within the mural and have their name applied to the spine. Students enjoy gathering to read at the mural on benches made by a local carpenter. Another fundraiser covered the cost of sofas and reclining chairs that offer additional reading nooks throughout the library.

School librarian Cheryl McCarthy spoke about the library digitization project that began three years ago and required the help of a number of volunteers to apply bar codes and catalogue more than 13,000 books. The 'L4U' customizable library and resource management software assists students and staff in locating and managing library materials. The searchable L4U software has encouraged students to become independent, and the school has seen circulation and readership increase four-to-five times that of the former library format.

The introduction of illustrated graphic novels has enlarged the scope of less confident readers to segue into larger novels, such as the Harry Potter series. Mrs. McCarthy also reads to specific grade groups on Wednesdays and is able to focus on reading assessment during this time.

"I consider library a class at Penson," says Principal Jenny McAusland. "Mrs. McCarthy makes sure each student has a good experience at the library, no matter where they are on the reading continuum."

Penson School has played an important role in the community of Grovedale for some time, and both Trustee Stefanie Clarke (pictured) and Ms. McAusland were able to point out their class photos from their early years as students at the school.

The group circled back through some classes for special performances in celebration of spring and Easter. Kindergarten students recited and signed a poem (pictured). The Grades 2-3 class also performed a poetry recital. In the music room, Grades 3-4 students played songs on their recorders (pictured). Ms. McAusland's Grades 7-8 Language Arts class has been working on a Readers Theatre project in which students divide and read parts from a script. Three groups presented video recordings of their performances. Trustees were treated to a live performance by Keyton, Liam, Elana and Gracie (pictured left-right).

Mr. Foisy's science class shared their robotic creations with PWSD Superintendent Sheldon Rowe and trustees, and explained their Mesoamerican microcosm project in which the introduction of issues, such as famine, require students to react using their knowledge of the society's beliefs and skills (pictured).

After the tour, Trustees met with Ms. Buck's Grade 6 class for a question-and-answer session and engagement activity on School Board governance, and gathered feedback on what is working well at the school (pictured). Groups worked together to come up with three words to describe what makes their school special. The words were entered into a 'Wordle' – a digital application used to create a visual word cloud in which words that appear most frequently are given greater prominence – that can be printed as a poster for the school (pictured).

A delicious lunch, prepared by Mrs. Petteplace's Life Skills class, received high praise from the group.

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For more photos from the tour, visit PWSD's Facebook page.

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