Enrolment is up at the two southernmost schools in Stettler County this year, though both remain in the double digits.
In Byemoor, the student population is up to 32, up from last year’s 28, according to teacher Gwen Keith.
The school also has a new playschool teacher, Caitlyn Keith, this year.
Keith said that the small number of students at the school allow for interesting interactions. Older students learn leadership skills and responsibility when working with or looking out for the younger students, and the younger students learn to trust and work with the bigger kids, rather than being fearful.
Healthy living is a focus at the school, with the school’s events having a healthy foods, healthy activity focus, Keith said.
“For example, instead of sitting watching movies and eating junk food at Christmas, like we did for years, we go out to a nearby hill and go tobogganing,” she said. Students are often involved in preparing healthy meals and snacks for their fellows during special events.
The school involves itself in its community, and this past Friday, Sept. 19, ran the annual Terry Fox run. The day, which was expected to be a drizzly day, turned out to be sunny and quite warm, Keith said.
“We would have run anyway,” she said about the forecasted wet weather.
Though the final numbers aren’t in, the school raised more than $800.
North from Byemoor on Highway 56 is Big Valley, a lush community that is a hub for train fans and the area’s Métis. This year, Big Valley has 78 students, up from last year and on target.
“We have 15 kids in playschool this year,” Cheryl Bartley, the school’s jack-of- all-trades support staffer, said.
Charlee Mappin is covering Grade 3-4 while teacher Melita Sorenson is out on maternity leave, bringing one new staff face to the school.
Bartley said this year the junior high school students will be able to head to Alford Lake due to a community golf tournament. The money raised in the tournament has covered the cost for all students.
“There is a lot of community involvement in our school,” Bartley said. She noted that students themselves involve themselves in the community, doing a lot of community service, like community clean up, dirty jobs and dish washing. In return, the community is completely behind the students.
On Fridays, students from grades 5-9 head over the arena for hockey academy, and students who choose to not participate in hockey get to play other sports in the sports academy.
Parental involvement is high at the school, with hot lunches being provided by the parent council every Friday.