Lise Classen, a Grade 3 teacher at Sir Alexander MacKenzie School, preps her student's desks on Thursday ahead of the start of school this week.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette
St. Albert students head back to school next week, and St. Albert teachers have spent all summer and more getting ready for them.
Sept. 2 is the first full day of classes for thousands of local students in the St. Albert Public and Catholic school districts.
Many will have already been back in class this week to pick up supplies, timetables and to run through routines.
Grade 7 students at V.J. Maloney came in for their orientation Tuesday, said principal Greg Lamer. Some would have toured the school back in March or met Lamer during his winter visits to local elementary schools last winter.
“Our whole thing there is to make them feel comfortable.”
Kristy Dunn is coming back to school as a teacher at Sir Alexander Mackenzie after a one-year break.
She's been writing lesson plans since May, reading the latest research and decorating her classroom.
“I've cleaned my class from top to bottom with vinegar and water,” she says. She's painted the bulletin boards, assembled information packages, brushed up on literacy training and loaded up on vitamins to boost her immune system.
Throughout it all, she's been working closely with her co-teacher Lucy Raven and Misters Burrito and Taco, the class guinea pigs.
“I'm also trying to get my children ready for back-to-school,” she adds.
School custodians have been hard at work since the last day of school in June, says Al Olsen, facilities manager for St. Albert Public.
“The July and into August (period) is super hectic,” he says, as they have to replace roofs, upgrade labs and computers, test fire alarms, install lockers, wash and wax all the floors, and more.
Many schools will ease students back into the groove with welcome-back activities.
V.J. Maloney has a back-to-school barbecue next Friday, for example, as well as a tug-of-war contest between the homeroom classes, Lamer says. Winner gets to face the teachers.
“Last year for the first time apparently in eons the students actually beat the teachers,” Lamer says, so staffers have been training hard for this year's match.
“We're out for revenge this year,” he jokes.
Paul Kane is one of several schools doing a staggered entry Tuesday, says principal Duncan Knoll. Grade 10s will have the school to themselves in the morning as they test-drive a truncated schedule, with Grade 11 and 12 students arriving that afternoon.
“It makes the school smaller for the Grade 10s,” he explains, and makes them more comfortable in it.
A teacher's top priority in these first few days of school is to create a welcoming environment for the students, says Dunn.
“They learn the expectations of a classroom but in a warm and inviting, safe place,” she says.
“By the end of the year, (they) should feel this is where we were meant to be.”
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