School board looking for public input on changes to course offerings at Aldershot high school.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 21st, 2017



It was close to a throw away idea, something that was put on the table, almost as a distraction.

The Halton District School Board trustees were debating the staff recommendation to close two of the city’s seven high schools.

No one was sure quite what to call the initiative: was it to be a theme school, an incubator, a magnet to attract a specific group of students.

Part of the reason for coming up with an idea was to give the Aldershot high school more of a purpose. There are elementary schools in Burlington that has a larger enrollment than Aldershot.

Despite how low the enrollment at Aldershot was – it wasn’t going to be possible to close that school.
Especially when during the early stages of the PAR process when Central high school was recommended for closure.

Exploration working logoThe idea for something different in Aldershot got included with the resolution the trustees were debating – it both didn’t have traction in the minds of any of the trustees and several didn’t event understand what the idea was about.

With the decision to close Pearson and Bateman done – the parent groups at both schools shifted their energy to getting a request for an Administrative Review approved by the Ministry of Education.
The schools that were to remain open settled back and resumed a normal life.

Terri Blackwell Mar 7-17

Superintendent Terri Blackwell talking to a parent during public meetings on high school closings.

Superintendent Terri Blackwell was given the task of overseeing the transition of the schools that were being closed into schools that were being kept open. She was also given the task of handling what became known as the Aldershot Exploration.

They started out by asking people for ideas – what did people want?
Blackwell was working with a clean slate. There was no agenda – it was almost as if they threw the spaghetti against the wall to see what stuck.

And a lot of that spaghetti did stick.  There were more than 200 ideas sent in.

And they were good – so good that Blackwell and her team found that they had to create themes and came up with 15 of them – which is really quite remarkable.

Alternative calendarEntreprreunership-businessFinancial literacyHigh perf athInnovation-techThe public got to see the themes at an Open House on November 13th. The ideas were set out on tables at stations where the themes were displayed.

The next step for the Blackwell is to narrow the 15 down to a manageable number. “We don’t have to choose the one theme – this is a wide open situation” said Blackwell. “We want to see where the interest is and then begin thinking how we could make what the public has suggested work.”

Making it work is not a simple matter – curriculum material has to be created, figuring out where the staff will come from and understanding where the students will come from are just part of the challenge.

Some of the parents who were on the PAR think the idea is a great one and has the potential to offer courses that meet the needs of the changing world high schools are going to be going into.

Post secondary partnerships Social justiceStudents who learn diffArtsEnvironment - EcoHealth - wellnessLive at high schoolHuman artsProject - problem basedBlackwell is excited and the people working on the project are just as excited.

Steve Armstrong thinks this is an idea that could define what the Halton School Board is all about.

The final recommendation to the Board of Trustees will be a concept developed from one of these themes, a morphing of multiple themes or a yet to be developed theme as a result of continued input, ideas, and research.
The Halton District School Board has created a survey for the public to provide input on the themes identified.

We encourage parents/guardians, students and community members from Halton and beyond to give their input as it will further inform the Exploration Committee.

• All responses will remain anonymous.
• The order in which the themes appear in the survey is alphabetical.

TimelineThe HDSB has sent an email to parents/guardians of all current elementary and secondary students, as well as staff, with a link to the survey. Members of the public can complete the survey directly

The survey is available from Monday, November 13 to Monday, November 27, 2017.

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