For the first time in three years, Horizon School Division teachers gathered together in the same physical location to celebrate a return to class after summer break. Celebration Day for Horizon teachers has been a long standing tradition, and this year's return to face-to-face gathering had a special feel after several long years of restrictions and distance education. Horizon teachers met for the event at the Humboldt Curling Club on August 30. MC for the event was Horizon’s newly appointed Superintendent of Human Resources, Cory Popoff.
The morning session opened with students from George Gordon Education Centre singing “O Canada” in Cree. Elder Stuart Bitternose of the George Gordon First Nation offered the opening prayer, again presented in Cree.
Board Chair Jim Hack welcomed the return of teachers to the Celebration Day and recomitted the Board's efforts to supporting teachers toward student learning in the classroom.
Director of Education Kevin Garinger stepped to the mike to deliver greetings and reflect on the special reunion for all the staff members in attendance. Following on the heels on a clip from a 70’s R and B classic, Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited”, Garinger offered his thoughts on the challenges of the past three years.
“What a fantastic song for what this is really all about, bringing us all together for the first time in three years. Thank you to our medical professionals in the world, thank you for everyone who has had a hand in our return, to all you, being the heroes that you are, who have made sure that our world could be safe, for yourselves, for our kids and our families and communities. Thank you to every one of you.”
Garinger invoked the words of educators and professionals who espouse the idea of focusing on the people who focus on the clients, in this case, the teachers who care for children. He assured those in attendance that it’s the “why” for the Celebration Day, and it’s reflective of the Board’s ongoing commitment to its teachers and staff.
“We love you; we love you for what you do. That’s an important piece we always need to think about. We have a thousand amazing staff members in the system. We’re certainly glad you’re part of it.”
After an opportunity to shake some moves to Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”, Garinger presented some thoughts on the strength and commitment evident throughout the pandemic months.
“The fact is that you were able to bring resilience to yourselves and your colleagues, but to your children and their families. I can’t say enough about the work you’ve done.”
The event continued with the presentation of years of service awards, musical performances by Grade 10 students from Three Lakes School and Megan Brooks, former Horizon student, and the always anticipated Excellence in Teaching Awards. Recognized for 2020-21 was Katherine Schapansky of St. Brieux School.
Acknowledgements for recipients in 2019-20, another year in which teachers could not gather, included:
Glenda Lees - Humboldt Collegiate
Lanny Saretsky, Wadena Elementary
Graham Farrell - Foam Lake Composite
Cindy Yanko - Ituna School
Michelle Daubenfeld - St. Brieux School
A major part of the Celebration Day included the induction of two outstanding alumni of the Horizon Division to its Wall of Fame. First was noted fashion designer Becky Bitternose of George Gordon First Nation, followed by Craig Reynolds, CEO of the Saskatchewan Roughriders from Foam Lake. Discover Humboldt will take a closer look at these two deserving recipients in upcoming segments.