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Valedictorian Message from Gateway Christian School

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Gateway Valedictorian thankful for close knit school community

Having grown up in the Gateway Christian School community since Kindergarten, Caleb Marquart, has been named Valedictorian for the Class of 2022.

“It’s an honour to be named Valedictorian,” he said, adding the recognition is a testament to his hard work and dedication over his high school career. “It’s always been a goal of mine to do the best that I can.”

As Caleb looks back on his high school career, there are many moments he will remember.

“Some of the highlights for me were some of the events that we had at Gateway. When I was in Grade 9 we had Chill Fest and the Student Council planned a 12 hour event – that was the first real moment in high school when I realized the community at Gateway is very special,” he said. “We also do worship together as a school, and we have an opportunity to collaborate with younger students through the Buddy Program, which is really cool.”

He added the Buddy Program is a mentorship program within Gateway and includes students in older and younger grades being paired up and spending time together. This year, Grade 12 students were paired up with students in Grade 5. “Having that buddy experience and being able to connect and be a mentor for them is really great and definitely a highlight,” he said. “Having a buddy gives you perspective of what it is like to go through school and just connect with them. It’s not stressful and you can just share your experiences.”

Something unique to Gateway high school students is that they attend Gateway for their core classes, and Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School for their options. They are fondly known as ‘Gurber’ students. For Caleb, this has been a great experience.

“I like the fact of being at a bigger school like Thurber because there are a lot of opportunities with options and sports,” he said. “But then I also enjoy the smaller community that Gateway offers. It is a perfect balance.”

As for his speech to his classmates on graduation day, Caleb said he plans to talk about the value of the community that Gateway offers. “Every person in my graduating class has really contributed to that experience,” he said. “When you’re in a bigger school there is a chance that you are graduating with people that you may not really know. I’ve had the opportunity to have a full conversation with every single one of my classmates. I want to highlight that relationship between us in the Gateway community.”

This fall, Caleb will head to Red Deer Polytechnic in the Bachelor of Engineering program. He will eventually transfer to the University of Alberta.

Geannette Lehman, Principal at Gateway Christian School, said Caleb’s honour is well deserved.

“Caleb is a caring and compassionate young man, who is well respected among his classmates and peers. He has a natural ability to make others feel accepted, and is conscientious to not leave others out,” she said. “Caleb’s diligent work ethic and humble demeanor make him a worthy recipient of the honour of being Gateway’s 2022 Valedictorian! We are incredibly proud of Caleb and wish him all the best!”

Gateway will hold their graduation ceremonies on June 28 at New Life Fellowship Christian Reformed Church.

Alberta

Alberta ups ante in mandate fight with Athabasca University, threatens funding cut

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Alberta government has upped the ante in its fight with Athabasca University, directing the online-oriented school to get busy making sure more staff work in the small northern town or risk losing millions of dollars in funding.

“The university must end its pursuit of the near-virtual strategy and must deliver a new strategic plan to Advanced Education for approval by Sept. 30,” Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said in a statement Tuesday.

“Failure to comply will result in reductions to Athabasca’s future funding.”

Nicolaides informed the school of the changes in a letter sent over the weekend.

In it, Nicolaides tells the school’s board of directors that it has until the end of August to direct school president Peter Scott to stop implementing what is known as the university’s “near-virtual” strategy.

Further, writes Nicolaides, the board must then help Scott craft a new strategy “that expands and reinforces the university’s physical presence in the town of Athabasca.”

That new strategy must be submitted to Nicolaides for approval by the end of September.

Failure to do so, said Nicolaides, “would allow the Ministry of Advanced Education to withhold the $3.43-million monthly instalment for Athabasca University’s base operating grant.”

The letter also stipulates that all executive members of the university live in the town by no later than April 2025.

Kristine Williamson, the university’s spokesperson, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The letter escalates a standoff between the province and the university over the school’s mandate.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university instituted the “near-virtual” plan to give employees more freedom over where they carried out their work. That plan was accelerated when the pandemic forced people to work from home.

Scott has publicly argued the goal of the school is to provide the best distance education with the highest-quality staff — a mandate that would be hampered by a demand that employees work in Athabasca.

Nicolaides says high quality can still be maintained while adhering to the pledge of economic diversification that led to Athabasca being relocated from Edmonton almost 40 years ago.

Nicolaides directed the university in March to deliver by June 30 a plan to resume and expand in-person operations.

In May, the province replaced Nancy Laird as Athabasca University board chair to accelerate the shift. She was replaced by Calgary lawyer Byron Nelson.

Nevertheless, the shift has been rebuffed by Scott.

Scott, in an April email to staff, said “ongoing work with our near-virtual workforce will continue.”

He also noted the university shuttered satellites in Calgary and Edmonton to concentrate on Athabasca.

Nicolaides said Tuesday that the June 30 response did not pass muster, leading to “the need for Alberta’s government to take substantive action.”

Local residents have also taken up the fight.

The advocacy group Keep Athabasca in Athabasca University has argued for more local presence, concerned that a small fraction of about 1,200 staff are left in the town.

The group hired a lobbyist to plead its case and, in March, Premier Jason Kenney himself came to town to promise they would make changes to bring people back.

Athabasca University has about 40,000 students.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2022.

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Red Deer

Lindsay Thurber grad off to school in Ottawa and job in Parliament

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Local graduate to participate in prestigious Page Program

One Red Deer Public graduate will get an opportunity not many have had, which is to live and breathe the history and action of one of Canada’s oldest political institutions.

Elena Bakker, who graduated from Lindsay Thurber in June, is one of 40 students from across Canada who will be off to Ottawa later this summer to participate in the House of Commons Page Program.

“I heard about the program through my Principal Mr. Good and it sounded like something that would be up my alley,” she said. “It’s for students who are politically inclined and anybody who wants to know more about the parliamentary system. It was appealing to me and I was really interested in trying it out.”

Duties of a Page include performing tasks directly related to the sittings of the House; working with Members of Parliament in a non-partisan role; experiencing debates live in the Chamber; meeting with student groups in the Chamber; and participating in the Speaker’s parade, among other duties.

The process to apply was lengthy – Elena first applied in October and found out she was accepted in April. As part of the application process, she had to send in a cover letter and resume, and her second language ability was tested to ensure she could communicate confidently in both English and French.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity. You are guaranteed a year of work, and it opens the door for a lot of opportunities going forward,” said Elena. “There are many Pages who have gone back to work on Parliament Hill for various people in various different sectors. It connects you with a lot of people.”

While fulfilling work as a Page, Elena will also be entering her first year at the University of Ottawa as she works towards her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. “I am not 100% sure where my degree will take me, but I am using this first year to explore all opportunities and that is really exciting,” she said.

As for her upcoming role as a Page, Elena said there is much to look forward to.

“I am most looking forward to meeting the other Pages,” said Elena. “They are from all across Canada, come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives. It will be really cool to meet all of these people who are there for the same reason.”

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