Coping with the loss of a student; exams start Friday; and planning for next year

Principal’s Page
By Jeff Reaburn

Last week was a very difficult one for students, staff, and families of the South Huron community as we struggled to come to grips with the loss of one of our students, Ryan VanValkengoed. Ryan was a fun-loving student with a great sense of humour who was well liked by all who knew him, and his death has caused us much sadness. The huge number of students, staff, friends, and community members who attended the visitation and funeral attests to the positive impact that Ryan had on our lives. He will be deeply missed.
We will be meeting with students this week to plan a memorial service for Ryan, which will be held early in the new semester to celebrate his life and share our thoughts and stories so that we may keep him alive in our hearts and in our memories. Further details regarding the memorial will appear in next week’s column.
Final exams for Semester One courses run from Fri., Jan. 25 to Wed., Jan. 30, with a P.A. day Thurs., Jan 31. Semester Two begins Fri., Feb. 1. The exam schedule is posted on our school website as well as in classrooms throughout the building. In the event of a snow day during exams, that day’s exams will be moved to the following day and the whole schedule will be moved back by a day. Students are advised to take home study materials in advance of exams so they have notes and texts for study purposes in case we have bad weather.
The end of the first semester also means that it is time to start preparing for next year’s course selection. Our guidance staff have already visited our public feeder schools and provided Grade 8 students with a course calendar and other materials needed for selecting courses for Grade 9 next year. Unfortunately, this year we have not been permitted to send our staff to the Catholic elementary schools; however, we are able to make our course selection materials available to students in these schools and they and their parents are most welcome to attend our Grade 8 Night presentation next month. The same holds true for Grade 8 students in Grand Bend Public School.
Our Grade 8 Information Night and Open House will be held on Wed., Feb. 13, with a snow date of Wed., Feb. 20. The evening will commence with an informal tour of the school at 6:45 p.m. Students and parents will have the opportunity to see our facilities, meet our staff and some of our students, see examples of the great learning opportunities and extracurricular activities, and ask questions about courses and programs. At 7:30, we will have a more formal presentation in the large gym.
Students in Grades 9 to 12 have already received course calendars and pathway planners to assist them in choosing courses for next year. We encourage parents to sit down with them to review the materials and help students to make wise choices for next year. The Pathway Planner is a very informative document that provides excellent information about course selection as it relates to various post-secondary options, from the workplace and apprenticeships to college and university. Course selection for current students starts February 7. Any students who have questions or are uncertain about their choices are encouraged to consult their guidance counsellors.