The demographics for Crestomere School are changing.
There used to be a strong farming community in the area, but principal Penny Mueller said many of the new families own acreages. She gave Wolf Creek School (WCPS) trustees a snapshot Dec. 17 of how the school year has been.
“I would love to have you out at the school,” she said. “You can’t really explain it unless you’re there.”
There are a large number of young families with young children in the Gull Lake area and Mueller expects growth at Crestomere School in the near future. Despite a small parent council, she said many parents are involved in the school activities.
“They help our school with coaching and hot lunches and lots of different activities,” Mueller explained.
The Friends of Crestomere School fundraising group raised more than $200,000 for a new playground, which she feels is a strong sign of support.
Mueller and teachers try to be role models for students because, “We want them to take ownership for the school.”
Teachers have used WCPS’s Excellent Learning Environment (ELE) programs to educate students, which is something they have worked on for the last two years. To determine how well the project has been going, staff and students have filled out surveys and Muller finds the results encouraging.
“That helped us define some of the goals we wanted to work on this year,” she said.
Using these ELE programs has also brought students from different grades together; one of the principles of the program is to let students investigate a subject at their own pace. A presentation on depression by one group impressed trustee chairperson Trudy Bratland. She liked it well enough that she hoped the rest of the trustees could see it.
Students are also proving themselves in Provincial Achievement Tests. Many, if not all, are meeting provincial standards and a small group is even excelling. The school has 122 students and 79 families and surveys to parents — 67 per cent completed — show a positive response to Mueller and staff.
Mueller said Crestomere School has a high population of special needs students, 18 per cent, which has affected their spending as one education assistant has received sign language training to help a deaf student. Despite the extra cost, she enjoys having a diverse student population.
“They’re integrated right into the classroom,” said Mueller.
She said some years showed less special needs students and there was no real trend in how many come to Crestomere School.
Three cases of vandalism last year caused some concern. She said it was a significant safety concern but appears to be over.
The school also has a large garden that has produced so many potatoes staff can’t keep up. They have had a French-fries festival and the next day had shepherd’s pie lunch.
Teachers, parents and staff have also begun training in the Olweus program, which is targeted at bullying in schools. Meuller was unable to say how things had progressed as they were still learning about it, but felt there was potential to benefit the school. Bus drivers will also be trained in Olweus.
“It’s an awareness project as much as it is a prevention project,” she said.