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Nov 14
'Classroom Champions' program available to more students thanks to Shaw partnership

Classroom Champions - Shaw donation.jpg

Shaw Communications presented a cheque at Surrey’s Green Timbers Elementary, with excited students on-hand, as well as (left to right) Chethan Lakshman (vice-president, external affairs, Shaw Communications), Surrey Board of Education chair Laurie Larsen, Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt, Scott Tupper (captain, Team Canada field hockey) and Steve Mesler (co-founder, president and CEO, Classroom Champions).

Surrey Schools and Classroom Champions are connecting thousands of elementary school students with world-class athletes thanks to a new partnership with Shaw Communications. The $720,000 investment from Shaw will enable students from across the Surrey school district to engage with Olympians and Paralympians through Classroom Champions award-winning scaled mentorship program.

As a result of Shaw's support, this partnership will engage over 6,000 students and 150 teachers over the next three years. Classrooms will be paired with athlete mentors for the duration of the school year, where they will participate in virtual mentorship sessions to help students strengthen their social and emotional skills, ultimately resulting in higher student engagement, improved academic achievement and a decrease in bullying.

"We are so excited to be expanding this program across the district" says Laurie Larsen, Chairperson of the Surrey Board of Education. "We have heard such positive stories from our teachers previously involved in the program, and seen firsthand the incredible impact this program has had on our students. We look forward to building on this success as we bring more Surrey classrooms into the program. With Classroom Champions, students are improving their goal setting and their perseverance and are more engaged as they see and hear from their athlete mentors the work it takes to succeed whether in sport, in the community, at home or in school."

"Shaw Communications came forward with an incredible plan of support, allowing us to make sure more kids in Surrey feel connected to a mentor who understands the lessons needed to succeed in school and in life," says Steve Mesler, Founder and CEO of Classroom Champions. "We wanted to expand in Surrey for a long time; the administration and teachers were excited, and we just needed the resources from the right partner."

"Classroom Champions inspires students and gives them the confidence and self-esteem to realize that they can do anything they set their mind to — no matter where they come from," says Chethan Lakshman, Vice President, External Affairs, Shaw Communications. "This partnership connects thousands more kids in Surrey with some of the world's best athletes while helping them recognize their own potential and learn that no dream is too big."

Classroom Champions is an international mentorship program that connects classrooms with incredible athletes to teach kids focus, decision making, and belonging so they can shine in and out of school. Over the past nine years, Classroom Champions athlete mentors have mentored over 2,800 Western Canadian students and have reached over 1 million students across North America. Through Classroom Champions Scaled Mentorship platform - athletes provide monthly videos to their student mentees on topics ranging from leadership to perseverance, connected via live video chats and in-person school visits, and messaged on public and private social media. Learn more about Classroom Champions here.

Nov 13
École Salish Secondary unveils welcome post & celebrates official opening

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A Coast Salish welcome post, carved by Gary Leon (pictured below, right), was unveiled during a ceremony which also marked the official opening of École Salish Secondary.

Though it has been open for a year, École Salish Secondary held its official opening Nov. 12, unveiling a Coast Salish welcome post that will open its arms to students and visitors to the school for years to come.

Katzie First Nation Band Councillor David Kenworthy welcomed guests and dignitaries to the territory prior to a witnessing ceremony involving Chehalis First Nation Chief Ralf Leon, École Salish Secondary teacher Crystal MacInnis and students Bree Bridgen and Diego Wolfvillage.

The red cedar figure was carved by Gary Leon ("Talekwitsen") and stands just inside the school's main entrance facing a wide-open common area.

Artist Gary Leon.JPG"I sure love the energy in this school. It's a beautiful school," Gary Leon told the hundreds of students prior to his welcome post being unveiled.

"When I worked on the post, I'd work on it early in the morning… and I always made sure I had a clear mind. When we chose the post out in the forest, we did a prayer for it because I knew if was coming into a school.

"Once I started, everything just flowed."

The figure is female, representing a mother of children, with arms extended to welcome and give gratitude to all learners in the school's care. She is wrapped with a traditional Coast post close up.JPGSalish blanket, woven by senior aboriginal support worker Paula James, which serves as a protective garment. The figure also wears a traditional skirt made from the bark of a red cedar – considered a tree of life by First Nation peoples.

"It is so appropriate – and significant – to have this wonderful Coast Salish welcome post at the entrance of this beautiful new school, welcoming our students every morning," said Surrey Board of Education chairperson Laurie Larsen.

"I thank the Coast Salish people for being so welcoming and so willing, to not only share the Salish name with this school, but also to share your culture, to the benefit and enrichment of our students and indeed, the entire school community. It's vitally important that all of us respect, engage and honour Indigenous communities, and this event is such a great example of that."

École Salish Secondary, a French Immersion school, opened in September 2018 with 850 students from Grades 8-11. This fall, following the addition of Grade 12, there are about 1,050 students and the school is excited to have its first graduating Class of 2020!

Principal Sheila Hammond noted what an honour it is to have been given permission to use the Salish name by Katzie, Kwantlen and Semiahmoo First Nations, noting the school is also home to several other pieces of indigenous art.

"The school district commissioned nine local Salish artists to provide pieces to be put on glass panels all around the school, signifying the coming together of the Cloverdale and Clayton communities to form our unique Salish community," Hammond explained.

With its modern design and flexible learning spaces, École Salish Secondary features innovative science, wood and metal labs, as well as a learning commons and fitness studio.

Larsen thanked staff, students and parents for their efforts during the past year in establishing a strong school community.

Official opening plaque.JPGTrustees with plaque.JPG

Nov 08
Update: Drinking water in Surrey Schools

Drinking water at all public schools in Surrey is safe, and regularly tested to ensure lead levels are lower than Health Canada's recommended limit of 5 parts per billion (ppb).

There has been a lot of interest from parents and the community about water quality within the Surrey School District. This interest stems from an investigation that Global News conducted in partnership with Concordia University's Institute for water droplet.pngInvestigative Journalism and other media organizations. The data used for this study is from 2016.

Lead is not naturally occurring in water but can leach out of plumbing fixtures as the water sits stagnant over long periods of time. Structures built prior to 1990 have a greater potential to have lead in water due to construction practices at the time. There are 65 schools across the district that were built prior to 1990.

Over the past three years, Surrey Schools has launched a comprehensive safe drinking water program that includes regular testing and wide-ranging mitigation strategies. This includes routine testing of more than 1,900 water dispensing sites at the 65 schools, installation of water filtration systems, new drinking fountains, faucets, and automatic flushing stations that run daily to limit the potential for water to become stagnant.

The district has also begun replacing pipes at the 65 sites, with one already completed. The 64 other schools will all have pipes replaced in the coming years.

"Surrey Schools is committed to fostering a safe and healthy school environment," explained Laurie Larsen, Chairperson of the Surrey Board of Education. "We made a decision in 2016 to improve the water systems in all of our schools and not just meet the minimum expectations, but to go above and beyond to reduce potential lead sources in our schools."

Nov 07
Retiring district employees honoured by Surrey Board of Education


Trustees congratulate one of the 190 Surrey Schools employees who retired in the past year. A recognition dinner was held Nov. 6.

Surrey Schools employees who retired during the past year were honoured at a recognition dinner hosted by the Surrey Board of Education on Nov. 6.

Approximately 190 educators, support staff and managers retired between Sept. 1, 2018 and Aug. 31, 2019, many of whom attended the celebratory event.

"This is a very special event and one trustees truly look forward to each year, as it allows us an opportunity to personally thank so many of our dedicated and caring employees as they retire from their careers with the district," said board chairperson Laurie Larsen in welcoming guests.

Attendees were treated to music by Trio + X, a new, self-directed group comprised of Fleetwood Park Secondary students Tim Park (bass) and drummer Bliss Park, as well as pianist and Guildford Park Secondary student Justin Juan.

In addition to an evening dinner and entertainment, retiring staff members received a gift and card in appreciation of their support and commitment to students and the school district.

If you are a Surrey Schools employee who is retiring this year and wishes to attend this event next fall, register HERE.


Nov 06
Clayton and South Surrey forums seek feedback on catchment boundaries

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Renderings of Site 206 in South Surrey (top, by Thinkspace) and Regent Road Elementary in Clayton (bottom, by CHP Architects).

As the walls are coming up at new elementary schools in South Surrey and Clayton, the process of establishing new catchment boundaries has begun – and we want students and parents to have a say.

In South Surrey, Site 180 (17325 2nd Ave.) and Site 206 (16666 23rd Ave.) are scheduled to open in 2021 and will have space for 1,177 students, easing overcrowding at nearby elementary schools. In Clayton, Maddaugh Road (19405 76th Ave.) is scheduled to open in September 2021 while Regent Road (18711 74th Ave.) has been through the design process, and once it goes through the tender process, an anticipated opening date will be announced.

The goal in developing new catchment boundaries is to ensure student numbers are balanced between nearby elementary schools. In Clayton, these include Clayton, Hazelgrove and Katzie elementary schools. In South Surrey, these include East Kensington, Hall's Prairie, Morgan, Pacific Heights, Rosemary Heights and Sunnyside elementary schools.

The district has created three options for the Clayton consultation and five options for the South Surrey consultation. All options aim to finding that balance, while also taking into consideration future residential growth and Choice Program locations.

These consultations will be an opportunity to define the culture and character of new school communities. Parent and student input are an important part of this process.

The catchment boundary options for Clayton and South Surrey can be reviewed HERE online and in downloadable Information Packages. There are maps illustrating the proposals, with accompanying charts that provide further details about each option.

Input is being sought via online surveys on the consultation website: Clayton survey | South Surrey survey

The surveys are also available in written form at the individual schools, or can be printed from the consultation pages and returned to your school. Feedback can also be submitted by email to

Two series' of community forums are scheduled to share information with the Clayton and South Surrey communities about the potential boundary changes. Each forum runs from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.:


South Surrey Consultation Community Forums

November 18 – Morgan Elementary, 3366 156A St.

November 19 – Hall's Prairie Elementary, 18035 8th Ave.

November 20 – Sunnyside Elementary, 2828 158th St.


Clayton Consultation Community Forums

November 25 – Hazelgrove Elementary, 7057 191st St.

November 26 – Katzie Elementary, 6887 194A St.

November 28 – Clayton Elementary, 7541 184th St.


The information presented will be the same at each forum. Feedback is being accepted until the consultation period ends December 18.

Oct 30
Defibrillators to be installed in all Surrey secondary schools

Surrey Schools will be installing Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) at all secondary schools, plus four other district sites, in the coming weeks.

The Surrey Board of Education approved installation of the AEDs in the spring of 2019. Since then, district staff have worked to develop a detailed implementation plan.

AED-Zoll3.JPGAEDs are portable devices that are applied to a person's chest to treat sudden cardiovascular arrest, caused when the heart's electrical impulses become abnormal and life threatening. AEDs are used to deliver an electric shock that can restore normal rhythm to a heart.

In addition to having the devices at all 20 Surrey secondary schools, the district will install one each at the Bell Performing Arts Centre, the District Education Centre (DEC), the District Facilities Centre and the Resource & Education Centre (REC).

"While not required by legislation, the Surrey Board of Education wanted to take a proactive approach on AEDs," explained Surrey Board of Education chairperson Laurie Larsen. "We made our decision to install these devices in the spring of this year. The motion was quickly passed as the safety of everyone in our buildings is our top priority. These devices need to be accessible when they are needed."

Installation of cabinets to house the AED devices began this week, and staff training and orientation is scheduled to start next week. The AEDs will be placed at each site on the day training is completed. It is expected that by the end of November, selected staff at all secondary schools in the Surrey School District will be trained on the appropriate use of the devices and each school will be equipped with a defibrillator.

The total cost for purchase and installation in all 24 sites was just over $50,000.

Oct 28
Our websites are now available in 103 languages!

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We are pleased to announce translation services across all Surrey School District websites, including our district website and all individual school sites.

Translate.PNGMaking use of Google Translate, the translation tool is available in 103 languages, including Punjabi, Chinese and French. The tool can be found in the top right section of the website in the blue navigation bar.

While Google Translate is intended to provide users with a basic translation of the information available on our website, it may lose some accuracy or context when translating into certain languages.

Surrey Schools cannot guarantee the accuracy of any translated information and it is highly recommended that users contact the appropriate departments or schools before acting upon translated information.

(Note for Surrey Schools staff: You must be signed out to see the Translate button).

Oct 25
Cambridge Elementary students help keep Surrey clean and green


More than 700 students from Cambridge Elementary joined parents, teachers and City of Surrey officials for a tree-planting and clean-up event to wrap up the city's Love Where You Live Campaign.

The campaign, which began in April, called on schools, residents, business owners and community groups to get involved in keeping Surrey clean and welcoming.

"Love Where You Live not only resonated with our residents, but it delivered solid results. 5,000 bags of litter have been removed from city streets and parks and more than 13,000 trees and bulbs have been planted," said Mayor Doug McCallum. "Without question, our collective efforts have had a huge impact and I thank everyone who participated across our community."

In addition to planting bulbs and picking up trash in the neighbourhood, classes at Cambridge Elementary also painted colourful garbage bins, which will be placed throughout the city.

 "Community engagement is so important for students – it provides them with the opportunity to become active members of their community and have a lasting, positive impact on our city," said Surrey Board of Education chair Laurie Larsen.

McCallum encouraged students and the community to make clean-up and beautification efforts part of their regular routine to keep neighbourhoods "cleaner, greener and healthier."

Oct 24
Halloween tips for children with autism or who are new to Canada

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-Autism Speaks

Halloween is a time of excitement for most children in North America. For children and youth who have special needs such as Autism, children who have experienced trauma, or children who are new to Canada, Halloween can be difficult to comprehend and fear evoking.  With this noted, in anticipation of the up and coming Halloween activities, please consider the following and feel free to share these resources with parents: 

  1. TRY TO STICK WITH NORMAL ROUTINES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.  If there are schedule changes, put those into a visual schedule and give the child time to adjust to something new.  Parents, to keep things running smoothly at home, always try to maintain bedtime and meal time routines.
  2. USE VISUAL AIDS.  Pictures and videos of what to expect may help alleviate anxiety.  It is a good idea to introduce the subject of Halloween a few weeks in advance.  If the child has been through Halloween before, it is always good to remind them that it is coming up so that they may prepare.
  3. REHEARSEIf there will be a school costume parade, pre-walk the route for a few days so students know what to expect.  If they are going trick or treating, encourage parents to pre-walk the route for a few days so that children know what to expect.  Practice social cues by rehearsing questions and answers children may hear on Halloween night, and going through trick-or-treating routines.
  4. TRY OUT THE COSTUME BEFORE THE BIG DAY/NIGHT.  Practice putting on the costume, and wearing it multiple times prior to the day/night itself.
  5. LET THE CHILD KNOW THE TIME FRAME FOR EVENTS.  If there will be a costume parade, show when that will happen on the schedule, when it will end, and what they may look forward to when it is over.  Similarly, if the child is going out trick or treating, show when that will happen on the schedule, when it will end, and what they may have to look forward to once it's over.  If the child is staying home to help parents with handing out candy rather than trick or treating, prepare them in advance for how long that will be and what they might expect.
  6. WORK AT THE CHILD'S LEVEL.  If you anticipate that the child will be extremely anxious about seeing others in costumes, have them watch from a distance until they decide if they want to engage.
    Parents, in preparation for the evening, prepare your child for unannounced visitors.  Children also may be very excited and want to greet everyone and hand out candy themselves.  They may run up to each house excitedly, or not want to go up at all, but may enjoy the walk around the neighbourhood.  Each child with Autism is unique and will enjoy and participate in Halloween in their own way.
  7. PARENTS, ALLOW FOR SOME DOWN TIME BEFORE TRICK OR TREATING.  Work some quiet time into the day to prepare, prior to the evening festivities.
  8. KEEP AN OPEN MIND ABOUT WHAT HALLOWEEN LOOKS LIKE FOR YOUR CHILD.  Some children with Autism love costumes, yet may make unconventional choices; others find wearing a costume uncomfortable or even stressful.  Some children will want to walk up to each house; however, they do not want to, or may not be able to say, "trick or treat"; if that is the case, please see below for a Trick or Treat Card that they may use.
  9. DON'T FEEL BAD IF IT IS EASIER FOR A CHILD TO SIMPLY NOT PARTICIPATE IN ANY GIVEN YEAR.  Remember, there is no "fail". Perhaps you had planned a parade around the entire school, however, the child only makes it outside the classroom, or perhaps they cannot make it out the classroom at all.  Perhaps parents have planned an entire neighbourhood walk, however, the child only made it to three houses, or perhaps they could not make it out the door at all.  There is no such thing as "failing a holiday".  Please reinforce to Halloween trick or treat autism.JPGparents that it is okay to close their door and draw the blinds, or to put up signs asking people not to ring the bell if that is what needs to happen this year.
    THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT THE HOLIDAYS IS BEING TOGETHER AND GIVING A CHILD A SENSE OF CARE, SAFETY AND SECURITY.  School and family holiday experiences are unique, so feel free to create your own.
    Feel free to print these Trick or Treat Cards and provide them to parents, and to use these social stories to prepare students for Halloween:

Some of the above recommendations are a modification of a resource provided by Autism Awareness Centre, Inc.

Oct 17
Surrey and White Rock students cast ballots in Student Vote Canada 2019

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Students at Ray Shepherd Elementary cast their ballots for federal candidates in a mock election at the school on Oct. 16.

Hundreds of students in Surrey and White Rock have been researching party platforms, questioning local candidates and discussing issues that matter to them as they participate in Student Vote Canada 2019.

Though most are under the voting age, the Student Vote program provides elementary and secondary students an opportunity to cast a ballot for the official candidates running in the federal election. Registered schools are supplied with free resources and materials geared to Grades 4-12.

More than 100 elementary schools, secondary schools and learning centres in the Surrey School District are taking part, voting during the designated time period of Oct. 15-18. About 9,500 schools (and approximately a million students) nationwide are doing the same.

In an effort typically facilitated by teachers, students not only vote in the mock elections at their schools, but serve as election workers, helping to set up polling stations, as well as supervising the voting process and counting ballots.

Ray Shepherd Elementary Grade 6 teacher Erinn Riley said her students had a great time learning about the party leaders and local candidates.

"It brought out great discussions and debate within the classroom," said Riley. "I think, whether or not they fully understand the platforms as this age, they still walk through the process and it becomes less of an abstract idea. When they turn 18, maybe they will think 'hey, I remember doing this in Grade 6' and it won't be so daunting."

Travis Mackenzie, vice-principal at Fraser Heights Secondary, thanked teacher Hardip Rakkar for organizing the vote at his school, calling participating students "active citizens practicing their right and responsibility to vote."

Watch for the Student Vote results next week. They will be tabulated riding by riding and released publicly after the general election polls close on Oct. 21.

See a map of participating schools across Canada HERE (zoom in to view Surrey and White Rock schools).

StudentVote2019 Fraser Heights.JPG

Students at Fraser Heights Secondary line up to vote.

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