Saturday, March 28, 2015

Busy March

The busy month of March continued with midterm report cards & parent-teacher interviews on Wednesday, March 11.  Parents & guardians were invited to come in the afternoon to pick up report cards and talk to teachers about any irregularities and life in the classroom.  Naturally, afternoon classes were cancelled.  Four hours were set aside for the occasion.  Unfortunately, I didn't meet the parents/guardians of all my students, but I was glad that I met a few.

Arrivals Lounge. Winnipeg Airport.
I flew down to Winnipeg in the middle of the month for a short weekend conference that centered on the Canadian cadet program.  Officers from various cadet corps across the prairie provinces and territories were coming together to plan for the 2015-2016 training year.  I was representing 3045 Army Corps, Canada's most northern cadet corps.  I was a little nervous because this would be my first time travelling abroad as a member of the Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC).  But I was also excited to be flying to Winnipeg because 17 years have passed since my last visit to the city.  The arrivals lobby at the Winnipeg Airport looks more colourful and circular. The planning conference took place at the military base next to the Winnipeg Airport.  The Department of National Defence (DND) paid for the flights, accommodations, and meals.
I had to take two days off work for travel.  I prepared the necessary teaching materials for the supply teacher before I left.  Everything was looking good until I got stranded in Iqaluit for two days on the way back to Arctic Bay.  Poor weather conditions were affecting the towns of Arctic Bay and Resolute (Bay).  First Air booked me on the next available flight but left me to find my own accommodation.  Thankfully, there was a spare room at the Discovery Lodge.  I kept in touch with the supply teacher via phone and advised him on what to teach my students.  The DND would reimburse me for the added hotel & food expenses.          
(If Arctic Bay and/or Resolute (Bay) is/are hit with adverse weather, the First Air flight from Iqaluit is cancelled.  It's more frustrating for Arctic Bay travellers because the flight will get cancelled if the weather is only affecting Resolute Bay.  Resolute Bay is to the northwest of Arctic Bay.  I've been told that flying just halfway would be a waste of fuel.  The set routine is that the First Air plane flies all the way to Resolute and then back down the following day.)  

When I was flying back to Arctic Bay, I decided to travel in my CADPAT military fatigues for the first leg of the journey.  I wanted to observe/experience the reactions of the general public.  CADPAT stands for Canadian Disruptive Pattern and is a "computer-generated digital camouflage pattern designed to reduce the likelihood of detection by night-vision devices."  The Canadian military implemented this new system in the early 2000s.  There are currently four variations of the pattern.  In short, I got a lot of looks from travellers.  Thankfully, none of them appeared to be negative.  One gentleman actually stopped and spoke to me about all the good things Canadian soldiers were doing around the world.  I thanked him for his support.       
A Grade 9 student poses in front of the posters she & her classmates made.
I returned to Arctic Bay right when Inuujaq School was in the middle of Drop the Pop (DTP) Week.  DTP is an annual health promotion campaign that began in Nunavut in 2004.  Its goals are "to increase students' awareness of how sugary drinks affect their health, and to encourage students and their families to drink/eat healthier beverages and foods, and make healthy lifestyle choices."  The promotion campaign targets students from kindergarten to grade 12.  Yukon & the Northwest Territories adopted the initiative in 2005 & 2006.  Many other Canadian jurisdictions followed suit.

The week culminated in a school-community breakfast & poster challenge on the morning of Friday, March 20.  The staff came to school very early to set up the gym and prepare breakfast for students and community members.  The menu consisted of: grilled cheese sandwiches, hardboiled eggs, cheese, apples, crackers, carrots, juice, Yop, coffee, and tea.  The students had been busy all week creating eye-catching posters to dissuade people from drinking sugary drinks, and instead consume more nutritious beverages, such as water, juice, and milk.  The posters would be reviewed by a panel of judges and several winners would be chosen.

Several teachers & I prepared plates of food so that it would be easier to serve.  Having a buffet-like breakfast would have created long lines and taken too long to complete.  We delicately stacked the plates so that they wouldn't spill onto the floor.  When the breakfast began at 9am, the gym was filled with students, parents, and elders.  DTP posters lined the walls of the gym.  The teachers served the food and beverages to everyone after an elder said a prayer.  While everyone ate, the small panel of three judges walked around the gym and selected the best posters.  The winners received gift certificates from the Co-op store.  At the end of the breakfast, teachers & students returned to their classes.  Several people stayed behind to help the custodial staff clean up the gym.

During the last full week of March, the school hosted two instructors from ACTUA, a registered charity that provides "interactive education enrichment experiences in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics."  The instructors had originally prepared a variety of workshops for the K-9 students, but managed to find the time to organize an extra workshop for the high school students.  They would be learning about simple machines and how to build them.  (I'm not sure what the K-9 workshops were specifically about).
Two students work on designing their
simple machine.
The high school students & teachers assembled in the science classroom during third period.  I stood at the back of the classroom taking photographs as the instructors introduced themselves and launched into their workshop about simple machines.  They began by reviewing the six simple machines that people use to lift weights.  They are: pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, screws, levers, and axels.  The students were then presented with the challenge of designing and building a simple machine using the materials provided by the instructors.  They could either work alone or in pairs.  Before the bell rang, the students managed to build some impressive looking machines.
One of the 40+ submissions entered
into the contest.
And finally, on Friday, March 27, an afternoon assembly was held in the gym to announce the winners of the "My Dream Home Contest".  The contest was organized by Aga, the high school art teacher.  "The idea came from Kataisee's class," she explained.  (Kataisee is the high school Inuktitut teacher).  "Her students had been talking about the housing shortage in Nunavut and in Arctic Bay.  The other focus of the contest was to get students thinking about long range planning.  What would your house look like if you were planning to start a family and have kids?"
The contest was open to all grades, but they were divided into three categories: K-4, 5-8, & 9-high school.  K-4 students had to design their own dream room and had to submit a drawing or diorama/model.  The 5-8 students also had to design their own dream room but had to submit a floor plan.  The 9-12 students were required to design a whole house and submit the floor plans.  Participants were given one week to complete their designs.  At the end of the week, Aga received 40+ submissions.   

Piuyuq addresses the audience.
The designs were posted around the gym for everyone to see.  As the student body sat in the middle of the gym, the four judges walked around the perimeter and judged each plan.  The four judges were: the mayor, representatives from the Hamlet Office & District Education Authority, and Kaitlynd, the school's student support teacher.  Aga presided over the assembly as the English emcee and Piuyuq, the Grade 1 teacher, was the Inuktitut emcee.  The third, second, and first place winners of each group were called up to the front to receive their prizes.  The prizes were Northern Store gift certificates and art supplies.

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