SCI Snowmobile Club focuses on safety

High school offers many opportunities for students to get involved and participate in extra-curricular activities that pique their interest, such as track and field, yearbook, choir or student council. Now, students at Stayner Collegiate Institute (SCI) and Eastview Secondary School (ESS) can enjoy snowmobiling with their peers thanks to two Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) teachers.

Fraser Burton, a construction teacher at SCI and Jason Beer, a teacher from ESS, have started snowmobile clubs at their schools. With trails surrounding SCI, it’s not out of the ordinary for some students to ride a sled to school in the winter months.

“The goal of the club is to teach students that it’s a really fun sport if done safely and properly,” says Burton. “It’s a great winter outdoor activity, and our school happens to be in a beautiful area with trails available,” he adds.

The SCI club has nine students who have completed mandatory safety training, allowing them to go on group outings on the trails. The three-hour training involves topics such as speed, potential dangers, hand signals, safe trail riding and included a presentation from a member of the Huronia West OPP.

Along with having their own snowmobile, helmet and gear, the students need a Motorized Snow Vehicle Operator’s License (you can get one through the Ministry of Transportation and Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs [OFSC] at age 12). So far, the club has gone out on one outing.

“On our outing, the students were very respectful about driving at a safe speed, and they worked well together,” says Burton. “They demonstrated excellent ridership and took precaution to have a fun, safe ride.

Safety is a focus of the club. They want students to have a positive experience and ride safely with the club or without. With the continued reporting of snowmobile accidents and fatalities, it’s as important as ever to ensure students are well informed about best practices when riding. As such, Burton is teaching the importance of staying on OFSC trails, having a permit and insurance, and following proper guidelines.

To get the club started, Burton worked with SCDSB staff to get proper permissions. He also worked closely with Erin Schwartz, the SCDSB’s Corporate Risk Officer. One key element that helped get the club off the ground was the integration of volunteer hours and supporting local community snowmobile clubs.

“The students make orange snowmobile trail stakes for a local Barrie Snowmobile Club, and this past fall, they worked closely with the Collingwood Club – The Blue Mountain Snowdrifters –  to help prepare their trails for the season,” says Burton. “From placing open trail signs in, putting stakes in ground in the fall, and collecting them again in the spring – it’s all volunteer work,” he adds.

The students are enjoying their experience and are glad they have the Snowmobile Club as an option for an extracurricular activity.

SCI student, Ben Taylor states:

“This new club has allowed me to meet other students with similar interest as I have. This is a sport that I enjoy and it is nice to have it at my school as an extra-curricular activity.”

SCI student Aaron Verra says:

“I have learned a lot about the snowmobiling community since this club has started. We have discussed a lot about why trails are closing and how people need to be more respectful to the landowners in order to keep the trails open. We’ve learned that we need to stay off the trails until they are open and make sure we have all the proper permits in place.

SCI student Jonathan Taylor says:

“Being part of the SCI Snowmobile Club has made my experience here as a student fun and more adventurous. As a young guy who loves many sports, but is unable to play them due to a lifelong bleeding disorder, it’s hard to find activities I am able to do and enjoy. So being able to be part of the Snowmobile Club has let me interact with others and join a sport/activity that I enjoy so much and have adventures and an experience I will never forget.”

Next year, Burton plans to coordinate with the ESS Snowmobile Club and have a combined club outing.  For now, they are keeping mindful of the conditions and are hopeful for another fun and safe outing this season.

CBC Broadcaster and Olympic athlete deliver important message to Birchview Dunes ES students

How often do you receive an inspirational message personally from an Olympic athlete?

Staff and students at Birchview Dunes Elementary School in Wasaga Beach received just that at their Character Through Sport assembly recently. The event was organized by the school’s physical education teacher, James Carson, and attended by keynote speaker and CBC sports broadcaster, Scott Russell.

Russell showed footage from both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio and enjoyed the opportunity to speak to a younger audience.

“To be able to speak to (these students), who have an emerging understanding of the importance of sport, is really important to me,” he said. The students “come at it with a very fresh face and an open mind, and they are looking for people to model themselves after, so when you haul out the name of (Canadian Olympians) Penny Oleksiak, Andre de Grasse or Derek Drouin, Erica Wiebe, Christine Sinclair, any of those people, they’re role models worth looking up to and I think they understand that.” (Adams, Ian, 2017,

Canadian national women’s soccer team player and two-time Olympic bronze medallist, Melissa Tancredi, spoke to the students via a video message and talked about the importance of character through sport, especially honesty.

“The most important thing is to be honest with yourself and be true to your friends and family,” said Tancredi. She explained that receiving criticism from coaches was difficult growing up and hurt her feelings, but it was what she needed to improve her skills. (Winton Sarvis, Gisele, 2017, The Enterprise Bulletin)

Carson has a number of athletes lined up to provide a series of video messages throughout the year, including bronze-medallist rugby sevens player Megan Lukan, bronze-medallist wrestler Jasmine Mian and bronze-medallist soccer player Deanne Rose. All three athletes went to schools in Simcoe County.

The Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) has been highlighting 10 character traits through the Commitment to Character education program. These traits include integrity, responsibility, cooperation, caring, respect, optimism, honesty, empathy, courage and inclusiveness. As part of the Board’s core values, the goal is to teach the importance of these traits and showcase students, staff and volunteers who exemplify them and lead by example. It takes an entire school community to work together to make an impact and meet the highest standards of student citizenship.

Do you know a SCDSB staff member, student or volunteer who demonstrates good character in their daily lives? You can nominate them to be celebrated at the Commit to Character Recognition Night taking place on May 18, 2017 at the Education Centre. Nominations are due by February 24.

To nominate someone and/or find out more about the Commitment to Character program, please visit our website:  

Commit to Character: Inclusiveness

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as our character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month on the blog, we are highlighting ‘inclusiveness’.

Inclusiveness: We include everyone in what we do and value their contributions

Some examples of how we can be inclusive are:

  • listen to and consider everyone’s ideas
  • don’t exclude anyone
  • let others join in when playing games
  • don’t discriminate or judge
  • be open to everyone and consider their feelings
  • include everybody!

Some ways that students in our schools learn about and develop inclusiveness include:

  • create a T-chart with Inclusion and Exclusion as column headings. Work with students to complete the chart by listing some of the consequences of each (i.e. hurt feelings, violence, and friendship)
  • encourage students to interview a classmate, a staff member at school or someone within their family circle. Have them focus their questions around the topic of inclusion

“Practice tolerance and live together as good neighbours.” – The United Nations Charter

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB. 


Five tips for making literacy a priority

In many homes throughout Simcoe County, families are finding it difficult to take time out for literacy activities. Most parents want their children to be good readers and writers since they know it will pave the way for better opportunities, yet… life…is…busy. It’s so hard to fit everything in!

Here are five tips for making literacy a priority:

Make it a habit – Spending a few minutes reading together, around the same time every day, is a wonderful way to nurture a love of reading. It doesn’t have to be bedtime.

Keep it light –  If your child is reading and gets stuck on a word, wait three seconds and then say the word. That way, your young reader won’t lose the flow of the story. If they make a mistake but don’t notice, wait until the end of the sentence before drawing attention to it with a question like: “Did that make sense?” or “Did that word look right?”. Otherwise, you’re taking away the opportunity for them to self-correct.

Get into the story – The most important goal of reading is to gain understanding of a message. Encourage your child to preview the pictures and talk about what they represent. This will help support your child’s understanding of the storyline.

Write with a real purpose – Reading and writing go hand in hand and help to support each other. Challenge your child to write for a real purpose, to a real audience. Notes to family members, grocery lists or journals are examples of ways that kids can be motivated to write.

Listening is literacy – Families who are running their children to various activities have limited time to sit down to read and write. Why not get an audiobook or a podcast to listen to on the drive? Pause the recording to make predictions and discuss what you’ve heard.

Whatever you do, don’t stop reading with your child. Even when they are able to read and write independently, children still benefit greatly from stopping to talk before, during, and after you read or write together.

Here are two great resources to use:

  1. Teaching Kids News – for Canadian current events
  2. Safe Search Kids – to help children follow their interests

Pedometer project inspires students to get moving and make math meaningful

The start of a new year often places health and fitness at the top of everyone’s priority lists. The Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) in partnership with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities is beginning a challenge that is sure to inspire students, teachers and families to include exercise in their daily routines.

Students from 45 schools across the SCDSB are participating in the Pedometer ProjectLearn to Move, Move to Learn. The initial goal is to collectively walk the entire perimeter of Simcoe County. The use of pedometers will be integrated into learning during the school day and classes are to submit their data to contribute to the overall goal.

“Our hope is that the students will be motivated to move more, to set their own goals, and to contribute their steps to our collective goal,” says Deborah Shackell, Innovation IRT – Healthy Active Living K-12. “Physical activity makes us feel good and enhances the ability to learn, which is why this initiative is so important,” she adds.

The data collection will put a special emphasis on math skills as well, according to Anita Simpson, Superintendent of Program and Innovation.

“Using data from the pedometers, students will make connections between movement and mathematics,” says Simpson. “They will use the data to analyze, interpret, calculate and predict how far they have come and where they can go, as part of a team. We’re challenging students to be active every day for a minimum of 20 minutes. We know Daily Physical Activity (DPA) improves physical and mental well-being as well as thinking and memory,” she adds.

The project kicked off on Thursday, Jan. 12 at W.H. Day Elementary School in Bradford with remarks and participation from:

  • Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation and MPP, Vaughan
  • Peter Beacock, Chair, SCDSB
  • Janice Medysky, Acting Director, SCDSB
  • Anita Simpson, Superintendent of Program and Innovation, SCDSB
  • Landon French, President, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities
  • Canadian Olympic boxing athlete, Mandy Bujold

Students started off learning how to use the pedometers and then got some new moves from the Olympian.

Over 21,000 students will be involved in increasing their daily physical activity through the Pedometer Project.

We look forward to providing updates on this exciting initiative and wish all students, classes and schools the best in reaching your goal. What a great way to get moving and to make math meaningful!