School saluted for its phys. ed. program

At last night’s meeting of the Northwest Catholic District School Board, Our Lady of the Way School principal Brendan Hyatt and teacher Kevin Knutsen briefly discussed the Daily Physical Education program there, which recently earned them national recognition.
Knutsen applied for the Recognition Award Program through the Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD) after he discovered the Stratton school met all the criteria.
They then were chosen to receive the Diamond Award—the highest level of Quality Daily Physical Education (QDPE) awards presented to schools.
The program identifies, recognizes, and encourages excellence in school physical education programs, while the Diamond Award acknowledges schools that provide all students with an exceptional program of physical education instruction “every day” of the school week, for the entire school year.
Diamond Award schools provide a minimum of 150 minutes of class instruction each week.
Knutsen explained Our Lady of the Way School offers more than 150 minutes of physical education each week, as well as providing lunch time and recess activities in the gym.
In addition, he noted the whole school focuses on daily physical activity together, such as all staff and students going on morning walks.
“It builds a lot of community,” he stressed, adding they also have offered swimming lessons and have brought community programs and individuals into the school.
“Because we live in a rural area, it’s more difficult to have some of the same opportunities as students in Fort Frances,” Knutsen noted.
But, for example, he noted Jackie Lampi-Hughes of Energy Fitness dropped by to teach hip-hop and dance. And later in the year, they will be having a man from Red Lake bring in a dog sledding team.
“Healthy schools are not just about physical activity,” stressed Hyatt. “I do as much as I can to make sure the school is a safe place.”
He explained they focus on anti-bullying, and have brought in speakers from the OPP, the Northwestern Health Unit, and First Nations communities.
Our Lady of the Way also has an excellent nutrition program, where students are provided with a healthy snack during the school day.
“It’s quite an achievement,” Hyatt enthused. “It’s a great honour for the students and staff, as well as the board. I’d like to thank them for allowing us the resources to do this.”
“We take physical education very seriously, and appreciate all the extra time and commitment that goes into providing quality daily physical education,” said Education Director Mary-Catherine Kelly.
“Your hard work is paying off for the benefit of the students in our care . . . thank you for putting us on the map provincially and nationally,” she added.
Our Lady of the Way School has the official title of “QDPE School” and is now recognized on the website. They also will be included in the CAHPERD magazine, along with a resource kit and award banner.
The school was acknowledged by the Ministry of Education in June for excelling in keeping students active, fit, and physical.
Also at last night’s meeting, trustees:
•heard an update on Special Education programming by Shelly Durance, Special Education co-ordinator;
•approved the 2008 board meeting schedule;
•approved the revised Governance Policy OU 1.0;
•heard a report from the director of education; and
•discussed Bill 212 and the Safe School Strategy, which effectively combines discipline with opportunities for students to continue their education (the changes will come into effect in February).
The next meeting of the Northwest Catholic District School Board is slated for Dec. 1 in Dryden.