Back to school

Some suggestions for students, parents and the public

Britt Santowski

Sooke News Mirror

It’s that time again: time to oil the school doors, so they can swing open and welcome back the students for another year. The beginning of the school year means many different things to different people, so we’ve included special suggestions for the students, parent and the public at large.


The staff at the schools are gearing up to welcome you back, and the principals offer up some words of advice.

Ann Baty, the principal at Saseenos elementary school, nips it in the bud with very useful words of advice: “Work hard, play hard, but don’t forget who sits beside you.  Be the best person you can be.”

Stephanie Hedley-Smith, formerly from John Stubbs and just beginning her first year as the principal at Poirier elementary, offers warm words of welcome: “The Poirier staff is looking forward to reuniting with returning students and meeting our new recruits.  We look forward to hearing of your summer adventures and generating new ideas for the coming year.  We look forward to helping you direct your energy and enthusiasm. JOIN IN at Poirier!”

Laurie Szadkowski, formerly from Poirier and beginning her own adventures as the principal of Journey middle school this year, invokes the exploratory call that education invites.

“What do you get when you put 500 adolescents in one building?  The answer is an excitement and energy that you have to experience to believe.  The great thing about being in the Middle is that, “We care where you’ve been and we care where you’re going!

“Middle school offers students a chance to explore new ideas, take on academic and physical challenges, and engage with the community.  We’re ready for the new school year to begin!”

And last but not least, Edward Milne community school principal Patrick Swinburnson calls on students to be spectacular.

“It is that exciting time of year again as another school year is about to begin. There are those students who will be coming to Edward Milne for the first time, those who will be entering their final year and of course all those in between. To all of you I send out this challenge: let’s make this a spectacular year. You have the power to do that through your attitude, your effort, and your character. I am excited to work with all of you to help you achieve your goals.”


Yes, it’s back to packing lunches, homework, and managing professional development and sick days.

Lorrie Chow, a Registered Dietitian with the Metabolic Clinic, Mental Health reminds parents of the importance of healthy foods.

“Lunches are important and by finding healthy foods and fun ways to share those foods, BC children will be better equipped to concentrate on school.”

Getting kids to eat the healthier foods is another challenge.

Carrol Pederson, founder of Lunchalicious (, says the key is to be organized.

“Planning and organizing are the two key words.”

Her recommendation is to include the children as much as possible. They are more likely to eat their lunches if they help pack them. Another suggestion was to let them include their preferred healthy items on the shopping list.

The BC Children’s Hospital adds these additional tips:

Keep it colourful, keep it fresh – fruits and vegetables are a great ways to boost the immune system. Consider chopping up green, red, yellow and orange peppers, carrots, green beans, and celery for crunchy snacks and add a healthy dip. Strawberries, kiwis, and oranges are also great sources of Vitamin C.

Make lunches virtual trips around the world – Canada is home to many cultures and that means a whole lot of food to choose from. Find easy-to-make dishes like chili, fried rice with chicken and peas, or a simple curry to supplement the regular sandwich options.

Think outside of the box – find ways to make food tasty and fun. Consider making bread dough with your children, rolling it into balls and stuffing it with your their favourite filling, such as pizza sauce and cheese. Bake and voila! – a fun addition to lunch.

Make things cool and appealing – literally. Find attractive reusable lunch packaging. Take the time to look for containers to keep food cool or warm depending on the dish. Presentation is important and sometimes more so for children.

The public at large

Two reminders are directed at the public: one involves traffic; the other involves mindset.

The traffic reminder is basic house-keeping information.

Once again, the school zone regulations come into effect. As is required by the Motor Vehicle Act, school zones are in effect between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. White signs (the ones that display the speed) are regulatory, meaning that you must abide.

A school zone is begins with the facing school-zone sign (yellow sign, with children on it), and ends with “the back of the sign assembly for the opposite direction of travel” (MVA). Sure, other provinces mark it with a facing “end of zone” sign, but in BC we do it our way.

Remember that the roads in Sooke get awfully congested in the hour preceding the start of school and in the hour after school wraps up for the day. If you must be on the roads during these times, allow for this extra time in your travels.

The mind-set component comes from the collaborative efforts of the principals in Sooke, and revolves around the notion of keeping the dreams of students alive, contributing where you can, and nurturing possibility.

They made these comments:

• It’s a new school year and there are some potentially exciting changes in Sooke with new teachers and new principals joining our existing hardworking staff. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech.

• So it’s a particularly great year for each of us in Sooke to choose to do something new to enhance our thriving community. It’s a year to help make our children’s dreams come true.

• It doesn’t have to be complicated. Each time you slow down when you see a child on the road or sidewalk, you remind yourself of the importance of our children.  When you save cans or bottles or metal for student drives, or buy a chocolate bar in support of a school activity, you not only help our students, but help secure our future at the same time.

•Educators cling to the dream that each child will have a chance to imagine his or her possibilities and will benefit from each new learning opportunity.  The principals and staff of Milne’s Landing hope that you will join us in imagining a vibrant future full of opportunity for all.

• May our dreams come true.”