There has been a heart-warming buzz of excitement at CFIS these past weeks in all areas of the school, with many varied activities at all levels, from skiing lessons for the younger students, to preparations for the musical in the Secondary Division, and open houses and assessments for new-to-CFIS students.
On an administrative level, re-enrolment for the coming school year is now complete, with strong retention in all grades. I was especially pleased to learn that next year we will have two classes in Grade 10, with 27 students staying from Grade 9 and one new student.
I was also very gratified with the enthusiastic participation at two recent parent engagement sessions held at the end of February. The sessions focused on CFIS’s strategic direction, and more specifically, what to keep, stop, and start doing. (I must say that I was very pleased that there were very few items on the “stop” list!) I will be distilling the parent comments further, along with the results of the November parent engagement sessions on internationalism at CFIS, in the next weeks, and these will help to inform the school’s updated strategic plan which will guide our school in the coming years.
February also saw CFIS students and staff enthusiastically participate in Pink Shirt Day. There is an inspiring story behind this event. In 2007, a group of high-school boys in Nova Scotia all wore pink shirts to stand up for another young man, who had been bullied for wearing pink. At CFIS, our Elementary Division students took part in an assembly to learn about to learn about the importance of inclusivity, kindness, and acceptance. Educators in CFIS’s younger grades worked with the message of “friendship day”, to teach their students about being inclusive and kind to all, as an age-appropriate way to proactively prevent bullying.
Our school’s strong support of the message behind Pink Shirt Day is highly gratifying. I am also very proud of the fact that at CFIS, our educators focus on a daily basis on teaching the importance of empathy, which is the underlying value behind Pink Shirt Day, and an unspoken but key component of our school’s overarching mission of instilling a global mindset into CFIS students. Our educators teach their students about a wide variety of local, national and international initiatives: the importance of raising money for wells that provide water to people in far-off countries, service work through our Travel Studies program, and fundraising and “food-raising” for the Calgary Food Bank, to name a few. But much closer to home, the cultivation of empathy in our students, and the creation of a culture of kindness and caring, is just as important. At its simplest level, this is done by ensuring that our youngest students are kind to and inclusive of all classmates, and not just to those in their circle of friends. In the higher grades, teachers foster discussions with their students to explore other cultures’ similarities as well as their differences. As students enter into the Secondary Division, they are well prepared for Travel Studies service-oriented trips to connect with other cultures face-to-face. Not all families can afford to have their children travel abroad, but in the digital world in which we live, there are so many opportunities to connect with the world around us. Real connections with people in places that at first glance seem so different from Canada turns another a country’s name on a map into a collection of unique individuals with both differences and similarities, just as each one of our students and staff are both different from and similar to each other. Wearing a pink shirt symbolizes that the wearer will not tolerate bullying – of anyone, anywhere. As CFIS educators, we strive to ensure that our students take this message to heart, and practice it all year long.