| Posted: Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 06:00 am
PK students eat right
Paul Kane students are trading fries for fruit this week as part of a Christmas-themed campaign to encourage healthy living.
Paul Kane High School is in the midst of its first-ever 12 Days of Nutrition campaign. Funded in part by a $50,000 grant (split between Paul Kane and Bellerose), from the Alberta Healthy School Community Wellness Fund, the campaign is meant to teach students healthy eating habits.
This is the first big initiative the school has done with the grant, said Natasha Hutchinson, teacher at Paul Kane and advisor to the school’s Health and Wellness team.
“Over the Christmas holidays, there’s always a lot of treats, goodies and junk food,” she said. “Hopefully, we can teach kids to eat that in moderation.”
The wellness team held daily contests all week to promote healthy diets, said Grade 12 student and team member Rhianna Toop, giving prizes to students that were spotted eating whole grain bread, nuts or fresh vegetables and holding quizzes on the risks of sugar.
High school means jobs and cars for many students, Toop noted, and more freedom to eat fast food. She also sees a lot of French fries and pizza pockets at her school – processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium, all of which are linked to health problems.
“The habits that you learn when you’re younger can follow you when you’re older,” she said. That makes it important to teach students about the dangers of fast food now.
The team has revamped the school’s cafeteria menu so that it now serves fries just twice a week, Hutchinson said, and serves fruit cups and soup at a lowered price. Healthy specials such as Thai stir-fry and pulled-pork sandwiches are also offered.
The team plans to focus on proper hydration next week, Hutchinson said, and to do a school-wide fitness challenge in February.
“Healthy eating isn’t just a concern to high school students,” she said. “It’s a concern for our population as a whole.” She hopes the campaign will help students make positive diet choices in the future.
The campaign runs until Dec. 17.
Public teachers ink deal
St. Albert public school teachers will have labour peace for the next three years, the public board announced this week – even if the province had to force it upon them.
The St. Albert Public board ratified a memorandum of understanding with the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) Local 73 late last month, and was set to formally sign it next week. The agreement, much of which was dictated by the province, sets out salary increases for teachers in the public school district for the 2012 to 2016 school years.
The province passed Bill 26 earlier this year to impose a framework agreement on wages and other matters on Alberta’s school boards and their associated teachers’ unions. ATA Local 73 was one of the few unions that voted against the deal.
Local 73 president Ellen Snaith and then-board-chair Joan Trettler criticized the deal at the time because they preferred to work out their own deal through local bargaining.
Others might criticize local bargaining as unworkable, said current board chair Gerry Martins, but the board stands by it. “It’s been very effective,” he said, noting that this most recent deal shows that local wages were within 0.03 per cent of the provincial average. “Local bargaining does work.”
The deal enacts a three-year wage freeze for teachers followed by a two per cent raise in 2015-2016, in addition to a one-time lump-sum payment from the province equal to one per cent of a teacher’s salary in 2015.
Under the deal, St. Albert Public and Catholic teachers also get one-time raises of 0.03 and 0.57 per cent, respectively, to bring their wages up to the provincial average.
Snaith and Martins said they hoped the province would let boards go back to local bargaining for the next deal in 2016, and said the relationship between the board and its teachers remained strong.