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Music, arts program set for September

Highlights from the June 16 School District 60 board meeting

School District 60 could be getting a new program to help expose young students to band instruments that they might not otherwise get.

At Monday's SD 60 board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Stephen Petrucci spoke to the board about their plans to bring in the "Students in Harmony" program to schools in Fort St. John for the next school year.

The program would bring in Grade 5 classes and let them play classic instruments, like flutes, and singing saxophones.

While the school has a band program that goes from Grade 6 to Grade 12, people must volunteer to join, while this one will have all children in the class take part.

These would go towards two to four schools in Fort St. John that the district has identified as "needier" and "vulnerable." These include Robert Ogilvie, Duncan Cran, Taylor and C.M. Finch Elementary Schools.

"We do have what we call inner city schools in Fort St. John," said Petrucci. "Some of our schools that have higher than normal vulnerable student populationsthat would normally not have exposure to playing band instruments."

The program will cost about $17,000, and the district is looking for corporate sponsorship as well.

Another new change set for September will help out local artists and schools. This will create an artists directory for those who work in a variety of mediums in the North Peace.

"The artist directory is absolutely a tool to bring together local artists and school educators," said Petrucci. "It's getting them to team up with the school and working with one class over a period of time."

Petrucci said the program will help raise the profile of local artists and help put more arts training into the curriculum. The program could see a grant of up to $3,500 per school, and Petrucci said he is currently helping schools apply for such a grant, along with money from other sources.

School trustee Heather Hannaford praised the idea.

"Arts are an economic driver," she said. "It's so often not recognized as such."

Horse training in Hudson's Hope

School officials are hoping new classes with horses and outdoor recreation will help declining enrollment at Hudson's Hope Elementary-Secondary School.

On Monday, council discussed a new BAA elective course for Hudson's Hope for Grade 7 to 12 students called BAA Outdoor Recreation and BAA Equine Studies.

The program will cover basic care, nutrition, and athletics of horses, using local facilities. Students can also participate in horse related activities outside of class time.

"Many students in rural communities have an interest in horses," according to a course description offered to the board.

"It serves Hudson's Hope well in being able to offer a full class elective with a teacher who is thoroughly excited about the prospect of working with students with these content areas," wrote SD 60 district principal of student learning Kim Boettcher.

The other elective course would be for outdoor recreation.

"The purpose of this course is to develop practical skills, attitudes and knowledge for students to experience outdoor sports and recreational opportunities," according to information given to trustees. "This course will develop their skils in canoeing, first aid, mountain biking, climbing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding, and outdoor survival training."

The program may help the school with enrolling students, according to Boettcher.

"(The school) has an enrollment challenge is the kindest way to put it," said SD 60 superintendent Dave Sloan at Monday's meeting.

Anti-LBGTQ bullying policy adopted

After months of debate over its specifics, SD 60 has finally adopted a policy designed to protect students who may be bullied for their sexual orientation.

SD 60 chair Jaret Thompson said that he thought the school district "had a good policy here," noting that it took a good amount of work to come to.

Previously, the policy covered other types of bullying, but did not specifically cover bullying that occurred because of someone's sexual orientation.

"Discrimination, assault, bullying, or harassment in any form against others on the basis of appearance, capacity, disability, color, ethnicity, religion, real/or perceived sexual orientation, transgender, transsexual, or any other reason set out in the Human Rights Code of British Columbia is not acceptable," part of the policy reads. "The board will encourage its employees to "work actively" with students and the community to accomplish this goal."

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