Students at Botha and Donalda schools are settling in to their third week of classes, picking up old friendships and habits from the previous year.
Over in Botha, new principal Mike Flieger oversees a school of 51 students, a number that is down slightly from last year’s 59. With such a near proximity to Stettler, the school partners with the Stettler schools to do some of the more major events, like annual trips to Circle Square Ranch.
However, it’s the school’s project-based learning approach that has Flieger excited about this year. Every Friday starting in October will be “project day,” and the school will work on different projects. The first project will focus on Alberta’s indigenous First Nations.
“Botha has great parent support and a great parent council,” Flieger said.
This fall, also starting in October, parents will be providing students with a warm lunch on Wednesdays.
“We’re small but our community is really involved in our school,” he said.
Roughly 50 kilometres north of Botha is Donalda, where students are enjoying a brand new playground, installed over the summer.
“For kindergarten to Grade 6, I’d say this has been so much fun,” principal Mark Siemens said.
Last year, Siemens taught mathematics at William E. Hay Composite High School, but transferred to the school and now is in his first year as principal.
“(Our enrolment) is in the mid 60s this year, around 65,” Siemens said. “It’s about the same as last year.”
Siemens isn’t the only new face at Donalda School. He’s joined by new Grade 1-2 teacher Teresa Andersson, and by new playschool teacher Coralie Cherewko.
“There’s lots going on at the school,” Siemens said, adding that the school faculty and student body is mad for volleyball.
“The school is a very big volleyball school,” he said. The team has had members practicing throughout the summer and is now playing in exhibition games and tournaments all over central Alberta. They recently played in Forestburg, and this coming weekend play in a tournament in Red Deer.
On the weekend of Sept. 27, the school plays host to its own tournament, though the tournament itself is being held at Erskine School, to take advantage of the larger gymnasium.
“They just love the game here,” Siemens said.