The Estevan Comprehensive School's open house evening was a perfect opportunity for the general public to get an update on the activities to be found within the student body and the plans for this fall and winter.
The open house event on Oct. 26 began with introductory music provided by the ECS Jazz I ensemble led by music director/teacher Kyle Whitehead who noted that the band will be making their annual foray in the spring next year, heading to Seattle for some competition appearances.
Vice-principal Allison Holzer introduced the new staff members while vice-principal Walter Wood led the introduction of the School Community Council members. Const. Lana Gropp was introduced as the school's police liaison officer this year.
Teacher Joyce Mack took some time to talk to parents, students and guests about the school's trades programming that culminated in the appearance of the top students in each discipline in the annual provincial Skills Canada competition. She noted that in the past, several ECS students who have excelled in culinary, welding, carpentry, cosmetology and hairstyling, video technology, mechanical and technical skills earned their way to national finals on a number of occasions after finishing first at the provincial level.
She said she was thrilled to have attended the World Skills championship in England this fall as the proud parent of a Canadian champion in the hairstyling field, as her daughter Kaylyn finished ninth in a field of 25. (See related story in this week's edition).
Student counsellor Treena Zelyk spoke briefly about the upcoming Challenge Day involving youth advocates and a three-day conference on bullying awareness.
Teacher Stacey Dutka spoke about the upcoming Career Fair that will be staged in the school Nov. 9. She noted that this is an event that is planned every other year at ECS. Various post-secondary educational institutions plus trades and professional groups are invited to set up exhibit booths in the gymnasium or be involved in classroom informational sessions throughout the day. She said over 70 exhibitors have already confirmed their attendance at this year's event.
“It's an excellent opportunity for your sons and daughters to make plans for their future and parents are invited to attend the seminar sessions as well as the exhibits,” Dutka said.
Teacher Evanne Wilhelm said a school choir comprised of vocally skilled students from Grades 9 to 12 will be formed this year, and it will function in tandem with the regular music program.
The school is also planning a musical theatre production of Beauty and the Beast this winter (Dec. 8 to 10), with the cast members in full rehearsal mode already. The choir will also be involved in a number of musical clinics and a couple of travelling opportunities that will take them to other cities. She said the school's curriculum now includes a choral class that will offer new students different types of music from classical to jazz and popular vocalizing.
“We have at least four staff members with us who have worked with choral programs before, so we're well underway,” Wilhelm said.
Two music students, Josh Pele and Jacqueline Peeace, provided an entertaining musical preview of their roles in Beauty and the Beast.
The rest of the evening's program saw visitors and students make their way to a variety of venues in the school, to visit the student services centre to talk about graduation plans or to discuss the upcoming summer European tour to Spain and other European highlight stops, or the Christian ethics mission trip. The assistance that can be gained from the student services centre was also explained to those who were interested, and parents and 2012 graduands were invited to attend the first graduation organizational meeting.
While all this was going on, other parents and guests were invited to visit the courtyard to enjoy some baked goods and desserts from the commercial cooking and baking students. There were other exhibits arranged by the ECS Book Club, The Culture Crew and the ECS Radio Show hosts. There were also displays from the Students for Social Justice who are engaged in the Operation Christmas Child and Halloween for Hunger projects this year. Students and teachers who are engaged in the tutorial program were also on hand to lead tours of their space and programming.
Both staff and students served as hosts at the various locations and centres for the benefit of all visitors.