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RDP Queens take their 20th ACAC title at home. Off to National Championships


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Queens drop Rustlers in four, earn ACAC gold and trip to nationals

Brent Forster – Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics

Red Deer, AB – For the first time since 2014/2015, the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens Volleyball team has won Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) gold.

“I’ve always wanted to win a provincial title,” said Tess Pearman, a Bachelor of Education Elementary student. “The last regular season we had, we came so close. Coming into this year, that was our goal the whole season.”

In 2019/2020, the Queens earned ACAC silver and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national bronze. Then COVID-19 shutdown the 2020/2021 season.

In front of an energetic home crowd, the Queens were even with the Lakeland College Rustlers after two sets, but found an extra gear to win the next two sets and match (25-23, 23-25, 25-14 and 25-20).

“When you get down to the last match of the year between two first place teams in the league, it’s going to be a battle,” said Chris Wandler, Red Deer Polytechnic Queens Volleyball Interim Head Coach. “From the end of our last regular season match when we went five [sets] against Lethbridge and they battled us in the quarter-final, and again last night, that prepared us for this atmosphere.”

Pearman (8)

In a close first set, a stuff block from outside hitter Pearman bumped the RDP Queens ahead 11-10. Lakeland’s Jenay Varga kept her team close. With her fifth kill, the outside hitter had the Rustlers even 22-22. Ultimately, a dump ball from RDP setter Emma Letkeman sealed a 25-23 decision.

Lakeland outside hitter Mackenzie Yole’s third kill knotted up the second set 7-7. The teams traded points to 18-18. Rustlers setter Jana Laing continued the strong connection with Varga, who rattled off three consecutive kills to solidify a 25-23 win.

With a trio of serves from middle Sydney Rix, the RDP Queens captured a 9-4 edge in the third set. RDP’s Vanessa Loos entered the match and had an ace, which pushed the Queens ahead by nine (18-9).

“In a tough situation, we executed at a high level when we needed to and that was the key piece,” added Wandler. “It shows the experience and tenacity that this group has.”

The home team maintained that momentum and a late kill by Jaiden Ferguson, her ninth, helped the Polytechnic pick up a 25-14 victory.

Ferguson (9)

“Fergie had a hot hand last match, so she deserved the start,” said Wandler. “She got off to a little rocky start, but she persevered through that. She just needed to chip in where she could.”

Lakeland’s Avery Bates lifted her team to an early 5-3 margin in the fourth set with her seventh kill. The Queens started to climb back into the frame. RDP went up 14-10 off Pearman’s 12th kill from the left. The Polytechnic continued to push and solidified a 25-20 win, earning ACAC gold.

“To win this championship and to win it at home … I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Pearman.

The Lakeland College Rustlers picked up silver.

Ferguson contributed 13 kills for the Queens.

North Star Sports Queens Player of the Game Pearman totaled 13 kills, 10 digs, one block, one assist and one of the team’s 10 service aces.

“When we needed a big kill, Tess got it,” said Wandler. “That just gave everyone a spark.”

Domoney (3)

When Pearman went up to accept her top player award, she insisted that Domoney join her.

“Kaylee, player of the game, for sure,” added Pearman. “She saves our butt every game and she holds our team together. She is an amazing player and deserves the recognition.”

Libero Kaylee Domoney was outstanding and picked up 17 digs.

“We haven’t played defence like that all year, mainly because we executed offensively so well. When you match up in championship time versus three defending teams, you have to match them dig for dig,” explained Wandler. “Our back row did a phenomenal job. Kaylee is our rock and everything we do is based upon her.”

Anna Carlson had 12 kills (0.455 hitting percentage) and five of the Queens’ 10 aces.

Rustlers Player of the Match Laing accumulated 35 assists and four digs. Teammate Varga had 18 kills, 10 digs and three of the Rustlers’ six aces. Yole added nine kills and Bates chipped in with eight.

The RDP Queens have won 20 ACAC gold medals.

“We had to earn this spot and that gives us a sense of pride to represent our conference – the best conference in the country,” said Wandler of the team’s trip to nationals. “It means a lot to represent those other 13 colleges in Charlottetown.”

The Red Deer Polytechnic Queens will compete at the CCAA Women’s Volleyball National Championship from March 25-27 in Prince Edward Island. Holland College will host the prestigious event.

“Our game against TKU really helped us. That was probably the hardest game I’ve ever played in my entire life – mentally draining and being down and able to come back set us up well for today,” said Pearman. “No more easy games. We have to fight for every point.”


Alberta premier defends new rules on in-person learning, no mask mandates in schools

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By Dean Bennett and Colette Derworiz

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is defending new rules ordering schools to provide in-person learning during the current wave of viral illnesses, saying a clear, measured response is crucial for students and parents.

“We need a normal school environment for our children, and we need to make sure that the classrooms stay open to be able to support our parents,” Smith said at a news conference in Medicine Hat on Friday.

“That’s why we made the decision that we did — to give that clear direction.”

Her comments came a day after she announced regulatory changes saying school boards must provide in-person learning. Schools also can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

The changes take effect immediately.

“Anyone is welcome to wear a mask if they feel that that is the right choice for them, but we should not be forcing parents to mask their kids, and we shouldn’t be denying education to kids who turn up without a mask,” Smith said.

She has said mask rules and toggling from online to in-person learning adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and strained parents scrambling to make child-care arrangements when schools shut down.

That’s over, Smith said.

“We’re just not going to normalize these kind of extreme measures every single respiratory virus season,” she said.

School boards have been asking for more direction as a slew of seasonal respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, along with some COVID-19 cases, have led to high classroom absentee rates and have jammed children’s hospitals.

In Edmonton, Trisha Estabrooks, board chair for Edmonton Public Schools, said the decision provided the clarity that the board was seeking.

“All Albertans now understand that it’s not within the jurisdiction, and nor should it ever have been within the jurisdiction of individual school boards, to make decisions that belong to health officials,” said Estabrooks.

She said the province has made it clear that any future public health order would supersede the new rules.

The in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

The Opposition NDP criticized the new rules, saying it’s unrealistic to force schools to be all things to all students while also handling a wave of viral illnesses and not providing additional supports to do it.

Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the government needs to work with school boards to figure out how to make this work.

“You have schools that are struggling to staff the building, (they) can’t get substitute teachers, teachers are sick, they’re covering each other’s classes, principals are covering the classes,” Schilling said in an interview.

“And then to say if you go online, you are to still offer the same programming in person — we just don’t have the people to do that.”

Wing Li, communications director for public education advocacy organization, Support our Students, said it will be difficult for schools to offer hybrid learning without any additional resources.

“There are no teachers,” Li said in an interview. “Pivoting online was mostly due to staffing shortages, which is worse now three years in.”

Li said online learning is challenging for students but, when temporary and supported, can keep schools and communities safe from spreading illness.

“This is a quite aggressive use of the Education Act to enshrine an ideology,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022

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Don’t have a cow: Senator’s legen-dairy speech draws metaphor from bovine caper

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OTTAWA — Haven’t you herd? A dramatic tale of 20 escaped cows, nine cowboys and a drone recently unfolded in St-Sévère, Que., and it behooved a Canadian senator to milk it for all it was worth.

Prompting priceless reactions of surprise from her colleagues, Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne recounted the story of the bovine fugitives in the Senate chamber this week — and attempted to make a moo-ving point about politics.

“Honourable senators, usually, when we do tributes here, it is to recognize the achievements of our fellow citizens,” Miville-Dechêne began in French, having chosen to wear a white blouse with black spots for the occasion.

“However, today, I want to express my amused admiration for a remarkably determined herd of cows.”

On a day when senators paid tribute to a late Alberta pastor, the crash of a luxury steamer off the coast of Newfoundland in 1918 and environmental negotiators at the recent climate talks in Egypt, senators seated near Miville-Dechêne seemed udderly taken aback by the lighter fare — but there are no reports that they had beef with what she was saying.

Miville-Dechêne’s storytelling touched on the highlights of the cows’ evasion of authorities after a summer jailbreak — from their wont to jump fences like deer to a local official’s entreaty that she would not go running after cattle in a dress and high heels.

The climax of her narrative came as nine cowboys — eight on horseback, one with a drone — arrived from the western festival in nearby St-Tite, Que., north of Trois-Rivières, and nearly nabbed the vagabonds before they fled through a cornfield.

“They are still on the run, hiding in the woods by day and grazing by night,” said Miville-Dechêne, with a note of pride and perhaps a hint of fromage. 

She neglected to mention the reported costs of the twilight vandalism, which locals say has cost at least $20,000.

But Miville-Dechêne did save some of her praise for the humans in the story, congratulating the municipal general manager, Marie-Andrée Cadorette, for her “dogged determination,” and commending the would-be wranglers for stepping up when every government department and police force in Quebec said there was nothing they could do. 

“There is a political lesson in there somewhere,” said the former journalist.

Miville-Dechêne ended on what could perhaps be interpreted as a butchered metaphor about non-partisanship: “Finally, I would like to confess my unbridled admiration for these cows that have found freedom and are still out there, frolicking about. While we overcomplicate things, these cows are learning to jump fences.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2022.

Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

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