Back to school for Benalto, despite low enrolment

Benalto Elementary School teachers and staff welcomed students back to school early this week, proving that the school is very much alive.

Benalto Elementary School teachers and staff welcomed students back to school early this week, proving that the school is very much alive and well, even amidst low enrolment numbers.

The school currently has about 25 students enrolled, a decrease from last year’s 32 students.

These low numbers have been a concern for the school’s teachers and staff as well as students’ parents in the past, with the worry of the school’s future operations.

A viability process was recently completed by the Chinook Edge School Division (CESD) due to low enrolment, which took a look at the educational environment to see if students’ needs were being met.

Superintendent Kurt Sacher commented on the decrease of student enrolment and the outcome of the viability process and said there has been no decision made as far as anything other than the school moving forward with all the other schools in the division.

“The school has always moved forward with fairly small numbers relatively speaking, but they have been under 100 for many years,” Sacher said.

What has kept the school going, he said, is having supportive parents who have raised a significant amount of money to support some of the extras for the children.

He also commented on how the teachers are there for the children and work hard to provide a good learning environment.

Due to a lower number of students, the school can facilitate and accommodate the playschool, parenting sessions and a playgroup.

These efforts are aimed at meeting the needs of all the families and children in the community, said Benalto School teacher Betty Brassard.

The school accommodates Kindergarten to Grade 6, and students learn in multi-grade classrooms from teachers with many years of multi-grade teaching experience.

Brassard said the school has the capacity to educate 70 children, with around 50 being ideal.

She suspects a big part of the reason why the school continues to decline in student numbers is because of the town’s age demographic.

At one time there were many families with many children between the ages of five and 12 years old, she said, but now the children have grown up and are middle- and high-school ages.

“I think for the most part it’s due to the families in our community not having as many school-aged children,” Brassard said.

When the children reach middle school, they often attend a school in Sylvan Lake or Eckville, with many students going to École Fox Run School in Sylvan.

Brassard said the community seems to be attracting more young families, but those families have younger children that are not old enough for school yet.

She describes Benalto Elementary School as being very student-centred with a real family atmosphere, and is always open to accepting more students.

What makes this school unique is the small class sizes, which allow the teachers to get to know every student, therefore being able to build a strong relationship with the students and their parents.

“It truly is more of a family-type atmosphere and very much student-centred,” Brassard said.

This school is not without modern technology either as the students have access to either an iPad or a laptop.

Brassard said the technology tools help the students learn in different ways, such as reading or listening to books and using different educational applications.

“(We’re) just integrating technology into where it’s necessary,” Brassard said.

“I think it’s the way kids want to learn. It’s very motivational and it will become the norm.”

 

Just Posted

Eckville and Sylvan Lake areas under thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada placed the region under the watch just before noon on Friday

Sylvan Lake takes first step towards Pogadl Park

A planning meeting was recently held by Council and user groups

Peavey Mart donates $100,000 to install LED lighting at River Bend

Enhancements will help support 2019 Canada Winter Games

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake elects its new MLA

The by-election was held in the riding on July 12

Angry giant baby Trump balloon makes him feel ‘unwelcome’ in London

Trump told The Sun newspaper that he felt unwelcome in London because of protests, including a giant balloon that was being flown over Parliament on Friday.

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

Belgium finishes 3rd at World Cup, beats England 2-0

France and Croatia will play in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

Police arrest Indigenous pipeline protester occupying B.C. park

Led by Kanahus Manuel, the Tiny House Warriors moved into park in Clearwater last week

‘Flipping Amazing’ Pancake Breakfast welcomes 6,000 Central Albertans

Westerner Days is, unofficially, underway after Bower Place held their annual Pancake Breakfast.

Most Read