The 2018-2019 school year at Collège Jeanne-Sauvé was unlike any other with the construction of new additions and renovations to the school, the Grand Opening of which was celebrated on October 17, 2019. We were without a cafeteria and offices throughout the year to make way for a new expanded foyer, modernized and expanded main offices, and a new, spacious, inviting and light filled Commons area which includes a stage for student performances and new kitchen facilities.
Still more, the school’s Art room was completely rebuilt from top to bottom providing students with a bright and modern new space to be creative. The renovations to the school also included a new classroom dedicated to our guitar and theater programs. Included in the scope of the work was a work space for our teachers to use during their preparation time.
The renovations also saw significant changes and improvements to our Student Services areas. These included reconfiguring our existing Student Services room and creating an entirely new space for our students. We now have two spaces for our students to receive the services that are provided by our dedicated Student Services teachers. These rooms are bright, inviting and inclusive and have future growth in mind. This also allows us to work towards two of our schools’ priorities that are: well-being and inclusion.
Equally as impressive have been the improvements to the exterior of the school. These include extensive landscaping to both the front and the back of the school. In the back, an outdoor stage that mirrors the indoor stage fronts a more formal exterior classroom that allows teachers to bring their classrooms to the great outdoors. As part of the landscaping, an Indigenous themed garden was created based on the Circle of Courage. This area has seating made of tree trunks sunk into the ground. The new area further strengthens our commitment to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The school recognizes the Treaty One land on which we are located every day during morning announcements. With the help of the Divisional Indigenous education team, all our staff and grade 9 students have taken part in the Blanket exercise which is an interactive educational experience that teaches the colonial history in Canada. It was created by Kairos in response to the 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Indigenous Peoples and is used as a teaching tool across Canada. Moving forward, all grade 9 students will get to experience the blanket exercise. During the 2019-2020 school year we will also have our teachers experience the Circle in a box exercise. This activity is a teaching tool to share the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.
Raised garden beds were also added to the rear of the school. As part of this, composters have been purchased and will be installed allowing our school to further its commitment to a more sustainable future. We have many dedicated students who are quite active citizens in the community. An example of this has been the active participation of our students with regards to the effects of climate change on our planet. Last school year, many of our students participated in the Climate Strike. This has led to even more activism on the part of our student body this school year, including approximately 125 students and several staff members taking part in the world-wide climate strike on September 27, 2019. You can read more about our participation in these events in the LRSD annual report to the community.
Two of these students and one of their teachers have since taken part in a collaborative effort in the 2019 National Dialogue on Biodiversity as the lead school from Manitoba. The focus of this collaboration is to review and assess the ‘2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada, developed by federal, provincial and territorial governments.’ Part of this project is to understand the importance of Canada’s biodiversity and to see how well we are doing at protecting it. The project will culminate with a conference in Edmonton where students from across Canada will work on a National Policy & Position Paper that will be presented to the Federal Government of Canada.
The above project comes on the heels of our participation last year on the 2019 National Dialogue on LGBTQ2+ Health, Wellness, and Gender-Based Violence. The result of the work by our students was a National Policy & Position paper that will also be presented to the Federal Government. You can read more about this activity on page 24 in the LRSD annual report to the community.
Now that we are enjoying the renovations, we have often reflected on the special nature of our students, staff, and families who showed such tremendous patience and sense of community as the sounds and signs of construction became part of a “normal” school day during the 2018-2019 school year. Nonetheless, it was once again an exciting year full of successes, challenges and learning for students and staff alike.