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May 20
Career inspiration takes to the sky


Adults regularly encourage young people to aim for the sky when considering career choices – and that’s literally what happened for a group of Lena Shaw Elementary students.

A group of Grade 5 students enjoyed an amazing day of aircraft-related activities thanks to the Cmolik Foundation’s Expanding Horizons program and pilots at Boundary Bay Airport. The pilots volunteered their time and aircraft fuel to take students for a tour in their small aircraft and helicopters.

The students also received a pilot lesson in a flight simulator, had a session explaining the role of air traffic controllers and took part in a seminar on making wise choices. 


They went from the airport to the BCIT Aerospace Technology Campus, where they received a tour, boarded a WestJet plane and watched a demonstration about jet engines by BCIT student mechanical engineers. The student engineers also explained what they were learning, what it took to study there and what their future careers will be. One of them told the Lena Shaw students about the challenges and rewards of being the only female in her class, inspiring them to follow their dreams and try their best.

The day ended with a three-course fine dining meal at Pier 73 restaurant near the campus, where students could use the table manners and cutlery lessons that Community-Schools Partnership staff at Lena Shaw had given them. At each table, adult volunteers spoke to the students about wise choices, future career choices – many students chose “pilot” – and how to pursue those careers. They also discussed the day’s fun activities.

The trip was one of two that happen each year for Grade 5 students at Lena Shaw. They can also potentially receive $1,000 bursaries from the Cmolik Foundation toward post-secondary training or education if they attend a summer program at SFU Surrey.


May 15
Surrey Connect takes SAIL


Surrey Connect, the district’s online learning environment, has been transformed into the Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning (SAIL).

SAIL, which has its base on the second floor of the District Education Centre, will launch new Grade 8 SAIL academies based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM and STEMX for gifted students), Arts (STEAM) and an Athletics, Performing Arts and Excellence Academy (APAX).

SAIL’s K–7 school will focus on the STEAM program in a blended (multiple grades working together) learning environment.

The academies supplement Surrey Connect’s traditional online courses for grades 10 –12 (Surrey Connect); however, these courses now have an enhanced curriculum featuring projects and inquiry-based learning. SAIL’s STEM curriculum offers a particular focus on creating, inventing and tinkering in a MakerSpace environment. Students explore real world topics through independent learning and critical thought.

“Our goal is to engage our students’ inherent passion for learning,” says principal Peter Johnston. “The SAIL programs encourage learning that develops creative thought, independence and critical thinking alongside like-minded students in a blended learning environment. Students imagine, design, make prototypes, redesign and repeat.”

SAIL is hosting two open houses at the District Education Centre in Surrey (2nd floor 14033 – 92 Ave.) and one open house at Brookside Elementary (8555 – 142A St. Surrey). All three events start at 6:30 p.m. on the relevant day. The public is invited to come and learn more about SAIL and the new academies.

May 21

Grade 8 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and STEMX Academies at the

District Education Centre
(2nd floor, 14033 – 92 Ave.)

May 28

K-7 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) at

Brookside Elementary
(8555 – 142A St. Surrey)

June 3

General information night Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning (SAIL) at the

District Education Centre
(2nd floor, 14033 – 92 Ave.)

May 15
Surrey Schools’ energy use lowest for a decade

​Surrey Schools’ energy consumption is lower than at any point in the last decade despite the district having more students and facility space than ever.

A third consecutive year of reduced energy use means the district is consuming 10 per cent less electricity than it did in 2011. Furthermore, natural gas consumption dropped eight per cent compared to the previous year.  

Combined, these reductions helped drive the district’s greenhouse gas emissions to the lowest point in five years, down 15.5 per cent from 2010. Last year, district greenhouse gas emissions fell by the equivalent of 1,897 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is comparable to the annual emissions of 400 cars. The figures are contained in the Carbon Neutral Action Report 2014, which was presented to the Surrey Board of Education in May.

The commitment of the Surrey Board of Education and the support of senior management have been crucial to this success. The Energy Management program works with relevant departments in the district to ensure power use is managed on computers, new buildings are energy efficient and energy-intensive systems like boilers in older schools are upgraded. Through initiatives like the Energy Conservation Cup, Surrey Schools is also building a culture of conservation.

Surrey Schools will have to pay $441,500 for its carbon emissions in 2014, but that is $47,425 less than it would have been without the district’s efforts to reduce emissions. Those efforts have also saved more than $160,000 in avoided energy costs and secured more than $500,000 in incentive funding for energy efficiency projects from the Carbon Neutral Capital Program, FortisBC and BC Hydro Power Smart.

May 14
Secondary students take AIM in special games


The annual Athletes In Motion (AIM) Games for students with special needs was hosted by Princess Margaret secondary school this May; the same venue where the event kicked-off in 2005.

About 200 athletes from 14 district secondary schools, as well as two Delta elementary schools, took part in a variety of sports and activities, including dance, bocce, soccer, yoga and adapted games. The games included an athlete’s procession, medals and opening and closing ceremonies.

The event is truly a community affair with support from more than 100 student volunteers from Princess Margaret and Johnston Heights, as well as many district staff and departments. Several sport and health agencies participate and assist as well:

• Special Olympics
• B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association
• Bollywood Hungama
• Semiahmoo House
• Surrey Parks and Recreation
• B.C. Wheelchair Basketball
• Centre for Child Development
• Whalley Challenger Little League
• Surrey  FC Pegasus
• SportAbility
• SportMed Council of B.C.

Besides providing a healthy and fun experience, the goal of the games and other adapted physical activity programs in the district is to connect students to the sporting and recreational organizations that provide programming for youth with disabilities.

May 13
Special Track Meet keeps growing


A Surrey sports event for students with special needs has become so popular it has become a two-day event this year.

Hundreds of students from Surrey – plus some from neighbouring districts – came to South Surrey Athletic Park to take part in the fun and games at the Special Track Meet. The event generated great excitement and plenty of smiles among those taking part.


After a zumba warm up, there were races over 80, 150 and 350 metres on the track with 4x80 metre relays to wrap up the day. Field events included long jump, obstacle course, softball throw, Frisbee toss, hitting off the tee.

A lapel pin trading station furthered the spirit of friendship the competition produces as it gave the athletes the opportunity to chat and trade pins with track officials, fellow competitors, coaches, volunteers and special guests.

The Special Track Meet was started by Margaret Geddes, who is now principal of George Greenaway Elementary, in 2009 with 60 students attending.


May 07
Surrey Schools wins top international award for tech innovation

Surrey Schools has won a major international award for its innovative use of technology in education.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), a non-profit organization serving more than 100,000 educators around the world, has announced Surrey Schools has won the 2015 Sylvia Charp Award for District Innovation in Technology. Surrey Schools was the only district to be named an award winner by the Virginia-based organization this year.

Presented by ISTE and T.H.E. Journal, the award recognizes a school system for exhibiting effectiveness and innovation in the application of technology.

ISTE says, “Surrey School District is honored for focusing its technology planning on transformative learning with the student at the centre. All of the district’s technology decisions are made in the service of the needs of learners and educators with a commitment to ensuring all students can learn on any device, anytime, anywhere.”


Surrey Schools’ journey to becoming a globally-recognized technological innovator began more than a decade ago with its Information Management Services department working to put in place the technological infrastructure that allows teachers and students to confidently use technology in the learning process.

The district began encouraging educators to explore using technology in their practice and share their experiences with others. By 2010, all district schools had to develop site-specific plans focused on innovative learning. These “smart plans” and learning opportunities were shared using social media to spread ideas, projects, stories and best practice. A series of strategies and initiatives, like inquiry projects and school “learning commons” where students could gather with connected devices to share work and exchange ideas, promoted a passion for transformation and innovation in the district.

“Our district supports networks of educators who have great strength in inquiring, challenging conventional thinking, and sharing and supporting each other,” says Surrey Schools superintendent Dr. Jordan Tinney.

“The growth in the number of teacher-driven collaborative inquiry projects focusing on using learning technologies in transformative ways is profound. This work now touches each one of the over 129 learning communities in our district. The buzz in our professional practice is louder than ever, with sharing as a welcomed expectation.

“This latest acknowledgement is a celebration of the work of so many people. Our application was about a learning ecosystem and there are so many people around B.C. who do great work. We are proud to have the work of so many people recognized by an international body such as ISTE.”

The ISTE award is the latest recognition for the Surrey Schools’ innovative use of technology. In April, the district won Simon Fraser University’s Cmolik Award for innovative educational practices in K-12 schools in British Columbia for the district’s pioneering work, with Kelowna-based company FreshGrade, to provide parents with digital portfolios of their children’s learning. Last year, the district won an Apple Distinguished Program Award for its innovative use of technology in engaging students and improving learning outcomes. Also in 2014, Linda Dyck, a Maple Green Elementary Grade 4 teacher, won ISTE’s Outstanding Teacher Award.

Apr 23
Weaving to mark Earth Day


​Students from North Surrey and City Central learning centres have marked Earth Day by weaving baskets and mats.

With guidance from Semiahmoo First Nation artist Roxanne Charles they crafted their creations using red cedar bark, a material traditionally used by First Nations, and recycled material.

“I found it really enjoyable,” says Grade 12 student Bob Muskego. He says using a mixture of materials is better for the environment than weaving from cedar alone.

Charles, who tries to source bark from trees being felled for other reasons, says using the two different types of materials also raises awareness about the packaging that comes with products.

“It makes you really conscious about how much you’re consuming,” she says.


Apr 23
Spartan power wins cup for North Surrey

​A daily diet of energy saving measures has won students and staff at North Surrey Secondary the district’s Energy Conservation Cup.

From Cordless Monday and Cool Caf Tuesday through Warm Sweater Wednesday, Turn if Off Thursday and Black-Out Friday, the students and staff saved 2,159 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in one week – equivalent to the power needed to drive an electric car more than 13,000 km from New Brunswick to Surrey and back again.

“We had a lot of fun last week, our staff and students really like to go all-in with events such as this,” says North Surrey Secondary teacher and Earth Club leader Andrew Landry. “Perhaps even more importantly, we are starting to notice long-term changes in the small things such as prep-room and bathroom lights being turned off when not in use. It takes time to change habits, however, we seem to be getting there one small step at a time.”

North Surrey ECC_news.JPG
(North Surrey Secondary’s Earth Club, back row, with the energy conservation cup and, front row, staff from the school, BC Hydro, Surrey Schools, and energy intelligence software firm EnerNOC)

Teams competing for Surrey Schools’ Energy Conservation Cup score points in three areas. The first is a continuous savings from November through March, the second is energy conservation projects and the third is the final week shootout. North Surrey’s success in the final week helped them beat Semiahmoo Secondary, the leaders from the first two areas.

A dedicated tracker showed the schools how much they saved during the final week shootout, displaying the kilowatt hours of energy (kWh) saved as kilometres that an electric car could be driven with that same energy.

That only three of the 15 teams taking part in the final week shootout surpassed the ambitious target of saving enough energy to power the virtual car 6,000 km demonstrated how impressive North Surrey’s results were. A great effort by Elgin Park Secondary students and staff almost doubled their energy savings compared to the final week last year, but 8,550 km still left them well behind North Surrey. Enver Creek Secondary pushed 316 km beyond the 6,000 km target, while Sullivan Heights Secondary almost got to the mark too by saving enough energy to power a car 5,570 km.

Combined, the 15 schools taking part in the final week challenge saved 6,727 kWh of electricity, which would power the virtual car once around the world.

As well as reducing carbon emissions, the competition also saved the district money. During the persistent savings portion of the competition, the 15 schools who participated managed to reduce their energy consumption by 691,600 kWh – a saving of almost $70,000.

Apr 21
Silver lining for students at skills contest

​Students from Surrey Schools came away from the Skills Canada BC provincial contest with eight silver medals and three bronze medals.


Among the silver medal winners was Alyssa Presnillo, of Johnston Heights Secondary, who achieved the distinction in Workplace Safety in the first year the category had been part of the competition. Taylor Fleming (pictured above), also of Johnston Heights, took bronze in the same category.

Also winning silver were Yves Sebastian Ador and Deny (Viloun) Senesouma, of North Surrey Secondary, in 3D Computer Animation; Lucas Swaddling and Richard Laszcz, of Fraser Heights Secondary, in TV and Video Production; Mitchell De Sousa, of Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, in Automation and Control; Nick Parsons, of Guildford Park Secondary, in Architectural CAD; and Ali Tariq (pictured below), of Sullivan Heights Secondary, in Mechanical CAD. There were bronze medals for Daniel Nasato, of North Surrey, in Graphic Design and Braeden Fairbridge, of Lord Tweedsmuir, in Automation and Control.

In total, 600 competitors from across the province took part in the skills competition at Tradex Centre in Abbotsford.


Apr 17
Science fair flair

​Students from Surrey and Delta have showcased their scientific knowledge at the South Fraser Regional Science Fair.

The 123 students from grades 7-12 presented 88 projects, with eight gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze medals handed out for junior, intermediate and senior projects. The eight gold medal winners will advance to the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in May.

“The quality and originality of projects at this year’s fair were very high,” says chief judge Karen Morley. “Many judges commented that they were among the best they had ever judged at our fair.”

More than $11,000 was awarded in cash and scholarships at the competition, which attracts some of the most talented student scientists from the two school districts.


(Cedar Hills Elementary student Tayyib Chohan with his experiment The Real Asthmatic Attack)

Cedar Hills Elementary student Tayyib Chohan, 13, was among the Surrey students attending. He brought along his experiment, The Real Asthmatic Attack, which proved asthma has a negative effect on cognition.

Also at the fair was Semiahmoo Secondary student Natasha Burgert, 13. Her experiment, Testing a Gut Feeling, showed a non-rinse disinfectant will regain its toxicity when introduced into a low-pH environment, such as human stomachs.


(Semiahmoo Secondary student Natasha Burgert with her experiment Testing a Gut Feeling)

The South Fraser Regional Science Fair is jointly sponsored by the Surrey and Delta school districts, Kwantlen Polytechnic and Simon Fraser universities, Advanced Systems Integrators, Southpointe Academy and the Science Fair Foundation of BC.

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