Benalto School’s Grade 6 students and their families gathered last Wednesday evening to celebrate the time they had spent together and the friendships they have made.
Held in the basement in the school’s art room, each of the eight students created a special section on the wall, covered in photos and things that interested them.
“Looking at the pictures of you guys when you were little, it’s amazing how much you’ve grown,” said co-administrator Kevin Frey, who also teaches at the school.
Each student was called forward, and presented with a scroll, a card, and a photo page of themselves made by co-administrator Betty Brassard.
“Everybody who leaves Benalto School comes back and says, “Wow, it’s small here,” said Frey, causing those in the room to laugh.
Frey, who has been with the school for 15 years, says the best thing about it is the way its size allows all the teachers to get to know the students. He said he has also been able to develop good relationships with the students’ families.
“Getting to know them through the years, that’s just a fantastic experience,” said Frey, adding that he often hears about students” activities once they have left the school.
Kyle Zenert, 12, is one of these students. He has attended the school since kindergarten, and has enjoyed his time there. He likes the school’s size, because it has allowed him to have friends from other grades, and because he has been able to take part in whole-school activities. He has mixed feelings about going to a bigger school in Sylvan Lake.
“It’s going to be fun because we can have bigger field trips, and I get to meet new friends,” he said.
His mother, Diana Zenert, has another son who will begin Grade 11 at H. J. Cody School. She said he loved the experience of going to a new school and making more friends. She thinks her twin sons Kyle and Brett will do well with the transition.
“They’ll start getting more individualism. I think it’s going to be good for them to have a bit of that separation,” she said. “They’re so used to these small classes.”
She said she thinks attending Benalto School has made her sons better able to recognize their own needs.
“I think it’s made them a more caring, more intuitive child,” said Zenert. She added that there have never been any issues with bullying at the school, because all the students know they have to get along.
“I have many times commended Benalto School for their size, because they can get the help they need, and if they work at a higher level then they can get the challenges they need,” said Zenert.
Kevin Frey said that while he thinks there is definitely an adjustment period that comes with going from Benalto School to a much bigger one in Sylvan Lake, he thinks it serves the students well.
“They have lots of opportunities to gain confidence here and that serves them well in the future.”
Benalto’s departing Grade 6 students are Rebecca Belton, Isaiah Furman, Mason Hermanutz, Josh Parenteau, Tyler Peever, Corey Stan, Brett Zenert, Kyle Zenert.