Categories: Local News

School Notes

Young public school bards will have a new place to practise their ballads this fall under a new after-school choir and band program.

The St. Albert Public School board heard details last Wednesday of a new after-hours student band and choir program set to start this fall.

This program is part two of the district’s music enrichment program, said Daryl Price, music teacher at Paul Kane and chair of the board’s music steering committee. Part one was last year’s Night of Music, which saw some 450 public school students perform at the Winspear Centre alongside the Royal Artillery Band.

That night showed that there was great community interest in student band classes, but that there was a big gap in the board’s choral program, Price said.

“The choir program is dead after Grade 6,” he explained – there are choir courses in elementary and high school, but none in junior high. That three-year gap causes many singers to lose interest in choir by the time they reach high school.

Band students, meanwhile, are facing a time crunch. Band currently covers Grades 7 to 12, but that means students have just three years to master their instruments before facing the complex musical numbers of high school. If we give students two more years up front, they’ll be ready to play as a band by Grade 7 and be able to perform tougher pieces by Grade 10, Price said.

The steering committee has proposed to bridge the junior high gap for choir and to push back the start of band class to Grade 5, Price said. Since it’s expensive for schools to start new courses, they want to hold two district-wide after-school music classes at Paul Kane and Bellerose this fall as pilots.

The Band Enrichment Program will run Wednesdays nights and be open to grades 5 and 6. The Choral Program will run at a similar time Tuesdays for grades 5 to 8 students. Qualified instructors will teach both courses and lead students through two public concerts.

The exact details and fees for these programs are still in development, Price said. He expected up to 200 students to sign up for the choir class and about 100 for the band one.

“Music is a very common language,” Price said, and a cross-divisional music program like this could help students meet new friends and ease their transition into junior high.

“You’ll be able to meet students from everywhere in a real safe environment doing something you love to do.”

Like learning a different language, learning music does much to help brain development in youth, said trustee Cheryl Dumont.

“It’s a lifelong gift, this music that we give these kids.”

More details on these courses will be coming in April, Price said.

St. Albert and area parents will be able to track the exact location of their kids’ school bus this fall thanks to some new software, say board officials.

Transportation officials with the Greater St. Albert Catholic and St. Albert Public school boards confirmed this week that they planned to bring in new bus-tracking software this fall that will let parents track the location of school buses in real time on their smartphones.

The program, which will be rolled out this September, will give parents who have students taking a bus access to a password-protected website through which they can track the location of their child’s bus, said Lauri-Ann Turnbull, transportation superintendent for Greater St. Albert Catholic.

“They only get access to their child’s bus,” she added, and lose access if their child stops taking the bus.

Unlike the current system, which gives parents a general idea if a bus is on time or not, this one uses GPS trackers on the bus to show its exact position.

“They’ll be able to remote in and see, oh yes, it’s just around the corner,” Turnbull said.

The new software will also make it much easier for the boards to plan new routes and should help schools track which students are on what bus, Turnbull said. She also expects it to be cheaper to run than the current system.

Turnbull expected to get the new program in May and have it ready to use by September.

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