Division News Article

Barrhead Elementary: So much to celebrate

December 10th, 2019

This year we are publishing a series of stories about our schools. Read them all here.

Great schools cannot exist without great students and staff. According to Principal Dale Bujold, École Barrhead Elementary School (BES) has both.


One of the school’s main goals is to foster positive relationships between students and teachers. The staff at BES are kind and respectful to all children and are wonderful role models. On a daily basis they purposefully build accepting, caring classroom environments in the school. “Our staff are the ‘glue’ that holds the building together. They work endlessly to provide a positive learning experience for our students,” says Bujold.

Focus on Reading

Through the school’s literacy lead teacher JoAnn McGarva, teachers at BES have been able to enhance their understanding and skills related to teaching students how to read. Teachers have the opportunity to discuss and explore best practices with administrators and the school’s literacy lead teacher. Mrs. McGarva collaborates with classroom teachers to identify and work with students who need extra support. She also plans BLITZ sessions that are focused on targeted areas, supports and helps with LLI groups, and is available for literacy assessments.

Celebrating Diversity

“The diversity of our kids is what makes BES a great place,” says Bujold. The staff and students are very accepting of the diverse population of kids in the school. The staff go above and beyond to support each other and the students they serve. He says, “Every adult and child is enriched by just being part of our school.”

BES also offers French Immersion from Kindergarten to Grade 6, and the French Program hosts an Annual French Carnaval. In the past few years the whole school has taken part in the many French cultural activities—always a fun day!

Parent Communication

BES staff work hard to keep the lines of communication with families open and active through their use of newsletters, telephone calls, emails and increasingly through the use of FreshGrade. With these different means of communication, the teachers and the school are able to provide information to parents quickly. FreshGrade is a relatively new tool that engages teachers, students and parents in a digital dialogue focused on each student’s progress. Although most FreshGrade posts are made by teachers, BES students are also able to upload and share items. Parents can stay current with what their child is working on by regular review of the posts.  BES teachers encourage parents to comment on posts made in FreshGrade.

Giving back to the community

Since 2002, BES has been part of an Intergenerational Program with the Barrhead Continuing Care Centre (Keir Care). Students from Grade 6 classes visit the Keir Care to take part in activities such as adapted volleyball, hockey games, karaoke and other intergenerational learning opportunities.  Students are paired with the residents by matching personalities that complement each other and promote success to the program.

Keir Care Recreation Therapist Bill Knudsen says, “This is the 17th year in a row this program has been held and it is really something special for both our residents and the students involved. At the school’s year end in June, the residents travel to the school for a tour and to socialize with the students. Residents are always amazed with the school as it is so much different than the rural one-room schoolhouse that they attended. Going from slate boards to Smartboards is quite the upgrade! This program has always been a win-win situation for the residents and the students and I expect and hope it will continue for many years to come!” Knudsen also commented, “Mrs. Dellainie Waters was a grade 6 student who participated in the program, and now brings her own class in as a teacher!”

Mrs. Shelley Oswald, Activity Manager for the Barrhead and District Senior Housing Association expressed her appreciation for student visits to the Hillcrest Lodge, Klondike Place Lodge, Golden Crest and Jubilee Manor. She says, “For many years now we have been visited by students and we appreciate the visits, cards and singing from the BES Choir at Christmas time. These students bring energy, enthusiasm and curious minds. Each visit creates opportunities for young and old to connect, form friendships as well as foster learning through sharing and play.”

35 years of Club Moo

This November, the school was recognized for 35 years of participation in the Alberta School “Club Moo” milk program. Every student and staff member received a snack sized carton of milk and wagon wheel, and the school received a new double door cooler to store their milk products in.

20 years of Running Teams

BES has had a Girls and Boys Running Team for over 20 years. It was started by former teacher Mr. Laurin Lamothe and is currently being coached by Miss Martha Friessen, Mrs. Amy Swan, Mrs. Jaylene Blum, Mrs. Coreen Harrison and Mrs. Kelly Klein. Miss Friessen says, “For many years, our student athletes have been recognized for their excellent behaviour and good baton passing abilities. The Running Team is a great legacy that Mr. Lamothe started and I hope that it will continue for many more years.”

20 years of Hot Lunch

BES has been very fortunate to have a Hot Lunch Program for approximately 20 years. Students have been enjoying homemade foods prepared by Mrs. Sandy for the past 9 years. She says, “I listen to the kids as to what they like—I add lots of veggies and make healthy and good tasting food for the children.” Two volunteers come in one day each week to help Mrs. McCarthy get the food out on the trays and carts. She has also been doing a Hot Breakfast for the last 3 years. Each day, one class in the school receives a hot, homemade breakfast. She also has fruit and other items available for students who need a little extra in their lunch.

Caring and Sharing

BES has always been a very caring and generous school. They have fundraised for organizations such as the Terry Fox Foundation, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart. Recently the Grade 6B class held a bake sale for two days that raised $960.50. They will use the money to buy toys and games and donate to the local FCSS Toy Drive. The school has just wrapped up a Reverse Advent Calendar this holiday season and donated so much food to the FCSS Foodbank that it took 4 vehicles to deliver!!

Bujold says, “Our school is a perfect example of how different people can live together, work together, learn together and support each other as we all enthusiastically create a productive, positive, and rewarding atmosphere in which our students will learn and grow. Our staff work hard to create lasting memories through quality learning experiences and special events for our students.”