The changing of the calendar is as much a time to reflect on the year that was as it is a time to look forward to a better life, to a better world. Many of us take this opportunity to start being better people ourselves. Often the word resolve is used.
The New Year’s resolution is a time worn tradition that many people stand by as a way of breaking old bad habits and starting anew. We resolve to take better care of ourselves, do things that we’ve always wanted to do, or just think differently in general.
The St. Albert Gazette asked several prominent local residents about their resolutions. This is how they responded.
Imagine, John Lennon's theme song – Barry Wowk, superintendent of St. Albert Public Schools
In recent years St. Albert's schools have paid particular attention to the subject of inclusiveness, particularly in acceptance of people of all sexual orientations. Bellerose Composite High School's Gay-Straight Alliance is a notable example. Two years ago, the club earned a pride certificate from Edmonton's Pride Centre.
While the district is making great strides, it’s not enough, says superintendent Barry Wowk, who said complacency must never enter the hearts or minds of students or faculty.
“I resolve to explore new ways to continue our journey of ensuring all of our students feel included, valued and respected,” he said.
The school system is also actively working toward programs to combat bullying in all of its forms. A brief survey of schools across the district showed greater multiculturalism with a broader variety of languages both being spoken in the hallways and being learned in the classrooms, Wowk said.
A logo made of straight 'A's – David Keohane, superintendent of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools
Students in the city's Catholic are no slouches of academia. Recent reports from Alberta Education show that 23.4 per cent of students from kindergarten to Grade 9 are achieving excellence in their provincial achievement tests, while 19.8 per cent of students in grades 10 to 12 are achieving excellence in their diploma exams.
However, numbers don't mean everything, says superintendent David Keohane.
“Looking ahead, our district wish is that all students will experience success in our schools in 2013,” he said, adding that the schools themselves need to up their antes in order to improve the foundations of education for students.
“In the coming year, it is also our hope to advance an important list of capital plans for our district that will help us to grow and enhance Catholic education in the region. To do this successfully, we know that working in partnership with our communities, staff, government and educational partners will be required to make this a reality,” he said.
According to its facility and capital Plan for 2013 to 2016, there are three main items that the school division is working toward. Modernization is the motivation behind the $21 million needed for St. Albert Catholic High School and the $4 million for Vincent J. Maloney Junior High School. Another $20 million is projected for the cost of a new school in Erin Ridge North, encompassing kindergarten to Grade 9.
An enormous arts and crafts room – art instructor Sharon Moore-Foster
Few people know as much about the value of a good, solid arts education as Sharon Moore-Foster. The longstanding community educator teaches various artistic methods through her own studio and through the city’s cultural programs.
She also works at the Visual Arts Alberta Association, the organization that promotes the arts to everyone in the province.
She strives to see that everyone has the opportunity and the support to live up to their artistic potentials.
“I personally resolve to continue to create safe places for people to develop and express their unique voices through art,” she began. “‘Art as a tool for transformation’ is my mantra for 2013.”
A long-term outlook and diversified housing – city councillor Cathy Heron
Politicians understand that terms in office have expiry dates. City Coun. Cathy Heron already has her thoughts focused on the upcoming election season, and beyond.
“2013 is an election year so I am committing to making decisions based on the next generation not the next election,” she said. “I said this in 2010 and hopefully have succeeded.”
Heron went on to say that she does have the topic of affordable housing high on her list of things to do, with a bit of a proviso on it.
“Make that more diversified housing. Some subsidized but also some that is market affordable (entry level) type housing while still allowing for moving up to larger homes as families and space needs grow,”she said. “I’d also like to see some innovative ideas come forward that maybe aren’t quite the normal single family home we are all used to in St. Albert, but may appeal to a younger generation.”
Developing the Kingswood Park was another of her resolutions to accomplish.
Focus – Mayor Nolan Crouse
While a fall municipal election will make 2013 a big year for politics, Mayor Crouse doesn’t want to get too sidetracked from the business of the day.
“During the first six months of 2013, as mayor, my role will be to be diligent in keeping council focused on the agenda and task at hand such that the mandate of the current council can continue without the politics of an election on the horizon,” he explained.
That’s his resolution … up until June 30th anyway. Crouse added that most people’s attentions can’t help but get caught up in pre-election activities. He expects that it will affect our neighbours to the south more than it will here in St. Albert.
“After July 1, however, the landscape changes in the city and the province when the attention begins to move toward the election campaign for many. In Edmonton, this will no doubt begin earlier than St. Albert because of the magnitude of the potential change if Mayor Mandel does not return.”