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Sep 27
Where Has September Gone?

It is hard to believe that we are into the last week of September.  The kids are once again settling back into their school routines.  The x-country and volleyball teams have been busy practicing for meets and games.  The We Club has been meeting and assisting with planning the Terry Fox Day for Friday, Sept. 28.  I have to say that it has been a wonderful start to my first year as principal at River West Park School.

I would like to thank the Parent Council for once again planning and supporting the spaghetti dinner (coordinated by the Church family) for our Meet the Teacher evening.  It was a wonderful evening and so nice to have a chance to visit with so many of you.  I am now looking forward to the River West Park cook book fundraiser.  I have seen a few of the recipes come across my screen and have been tempted to try a couple prior to the publication of the cook book.  I will wait for the print version.

During the first day as a school team, we emphasized the value of building relationships, connecting with and engaging the kids and developing a strong sense of community. I believe that all children can flourish and become the best they can be when we all work together and communicate. With the first set of tri-conferences on October 11 and 12, parents, students and teachers will have the opportunity to discuss the first month of school and to set goals and plan for success.  More details about the tri-conferences will be coming out shortly.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to working together to provide our children with a safe and caring environment so they can shine.  To assist with communication between home and school, I have set up an account on  An email with information on how to sign up for River West Park Remind will be sent to all families.  You can also open the link below to join our community remind.

This app, will allow me to send updates on school events and share information that will help keep everyone organized and in the know.

Take care, stay warm and dry, as fall is proving to be a bit cooler with a lot of precipitation.

Darren Oughton


Jun 06
June Buzz...

I had no idea how busy things were going to be after I announced my retirement.  Not only is there all the work that normally takes place in June but there is also the added layer of setting things up for the next person and doing all those little things that normally you might have put off until the fall.  It has been brisk but I am still having fun and particularly enjoying the kids for this last June season. 

On the staff front, lots has happened and I think we have the full next year teaching team assembled.   Mrs. Nicole Rivalin is lined up for our grade 3 classroom and we have ordered new furniture and a new projector for her. Mrs. Alexandra Seymour will be teaching half time in the middle years doing some Social Studies and ELA. 

The big change that has occurred rather quickly is that Ms. Renee Opperman, our Resource Teacher, is relocating to British Columbia. Her spouse was transferred to Kelowna and the original plan was for her to stay for one more year but the stars aligned and she has been offered a Resource positon there.   Everyone is sad to see her go but we are happy she will be with her family.

Our new principal, Mr. Darren Oughton, and I were very busy last week interviewing candidates for the vacant Resource position.   We are pleased to announce that Mrs. Amber Finch has accepted the position. Mrs. Finch is coming to us from Henry G. Izatt School where she has worked for the past number of years as one of their resource teachers. She will be a great addition to RWP and has already been in conversation with Ms. O to facilitate a seamless transition.

Mr. Oughton and I likewise have been hunting for time to ensure his transition to principal is a smooth one. He is currently working as vice-principal at Arthur A. Leach School and I am sure we will be spending a number of June evenings to make sure everything is set to go in September.

With the teaching staff in place we are now waiting on the school division for clarity on how many Educational Assistants will be assigned to RWP and who those individuals will be. Their decision process takes place in early June so we should have this area clarified in a week or so.

School wise, things have been humming right along. Our track meets are completed, middle year exam dates are set, plans are in place for our annual Parent Council BBQ, the Water Fun Day for the early years students, Grade 8 Farwell is planned and ice cream has been ordered for the last day of school Canada Day celebrations.  

It has been a pleasure going out to the yard for recesses to see the number of students having fun playing basketball and tennis in addition to the usual soccer and four square. Thank your city counselor if you have a chance, the revitalized sports area is certainly getting used. In fact, we have a group of seniors who come out once a week to play Pickle Ball. Maybe I will join in next year and I promise I won't park in the staff parking the way they do!

Enjoy the month of June.




May 04
May Musings...

Life has had a wonderful buzz at River West Park during the month of April. The weather has warmed, the yard has dried, the days are getting longer and spring is truly in the air. To add to these positives, we learned that our enrollment is projected to go up and that we are not anticipating combined classes next year. We also learned that Mrs. Rivalin will be returning to teach grade 3 and, just to round things off, I have announced my intention to retire at the end of the school year.

Deciding to retire has not been a quick, or easy, decision but now that the word is out it really feels like the right one. I am most appreciative of all the affirming words that have been shared by members of the community and especially those from the kids.

I was very pleased to hear that Mr. Darren Oughton has been appointed as my successor. I have had the privilege of working with Mr. Oughton as Pembina Trails School Division representatives on the provincial Council of School Leaders and I know he will do a wonderful job in his new role.

Earlier in the year, I reported that the school is involved in a demonstration project using some additional digital technology to help leverage literacy learning. Grades 3/4, 4/5 and 7 all received 6 Microsoft Surface Pros along with various pieces of software to assist in implementing the school division's Standards for Success in Literacy (SSL) initiative. Along with the hardware, teachers have been involved in focused SSL professional learning sessions and are supported by a divisionally based educational assistant who is a master of the various software platforms.   

The initiative has challenged our thinking and really opened the door to expanding the role of information technology in literacy learning. Our teachers will continue with the project as part of the first six school cohort and another six schools will join the project in the fall. It has been exciting to visit classrooms and see the technology being used frequently by students. The era of taking a full class of students to the computer lab is now shifting to having the technology present in the classroom and available as a tool that fits the particular task at hand. It is fascinating to see how the role of technology is continuing to evolve to effectively expand student learning.

The school division is rolling out some new technology to support the teaching and learning process.   For the past few years, the division has been strategically implementing a new eShare platform and RWP is one of the early adopter schools. This June, all teachers will have a new "portal" for a one stop log on for all their teacher needs.  One piece of this package will show up on our school website soon in the form of a new, more efficient, digital school calendar. Parents will especially like the athletics calendar which will enable parents to easily subscribe and filter out only the sporting events in which their children are participating. Next on the eShare agenda will be parent and student portals which will provide a one stop for everything needed to keep people informed and engaged.

The school division is utilizing technology to connect with our parent community via a platform called ThoughtExchange. All community members will have received an invite from our Superintendent to respond to a question regarding our school. I would encourage everyone to respond to provide our incoming principal with a sense of what our community really values.   

Clearly, with all the exciting uses of technology it seems to be time for this analog principal to step aside and let a younger, digital model take the helm!

Enjoy your spring and the last few months of the school year…I fully intend too!

Feb 23
The Principal Says...The February Edition

​The winter is flying by and it has been a busy, productive time at school.  We are so hoping that the worst of the high wind chills and indoor recesses are behind us. I know everyone is looking forward to longer days, warmer weather and heading out to the playground with a lot less winter gear!

February has started off well and it was a pleasure to see so many families out for our second set of tri-conferences. I know the students and teachers were very busy getting ready to showcase all the learning that has taken place this term.   Teachers will be working on our next set of written progress reports in mid-March and they will be going home just before spring break.

February has seen our school basketball program moving full speed ahead with students from grade 6 to 8 involved in various teams. Mrs. Hawley is doing a fine job coordinating all the games and a special thanks goes out to our volunteer coaches. Lots of hours goes into all the practicing and games and we are grateful for the time and commitment that is being put into our teams.

Our school WE Team has also been active continuing doing philanthropic work for our community. They would like to thank everyone in the community for the support of their campaign for the Willow Centre.   Boxes of donated materials were loaded up last week as a wrap up to this very successful social cause.  The crew has been working hard to support the town of Churchill and the recently completed campaign raised $1000.  Special thanks goes out the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for helping out with this initiative.

On Friday, February 2nd, the teachers were involved in a day of professional learning. Our morning focused on supporting our struggling readers and was facilitated by the division's literacy consultant.  The afternoon saw the staff from Beaverlodge School join us in a session put on by Elder Harry Bone from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. The session was part of our overall response to the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. Elder Bone really opened our eyes to what it means to be Treaty People and he invited us to ensure we teach a balanced history so our kids will know the past and work to build a stronger Canada for all.

Our grade 7 & 8 students had a frosty but enjoyable outdoor activity day at Birds Hill Park on Thursday, February 8th.  Mrs. Hawley is passionate about getting our students outside in nature and our kids had a fun filled day and the school smelled of wood smoke when the group returned later in the day.  Hot dogs on an open fire in the woods was a memorable part of the experience.

The school's annual ski trip took place on Monday, February 12th.   Students from grade 6 to 8 boarded the bus for Holiday Mountain just before 7:00 am with a wind chill in the -30 range. By the time we reached the hills the winds had died down a bit and there was not a cloud in the sky.  It was a cold day of skiing but by 2:30 pm there was a sadness when we had to announce we had reached the final run of the day. Special thanks goes out to the Parent Council that annually help make this event happen by providing a generous subsidy to help defray the transportation cost. A huge thank you goes out to all the parents that took the day to come out and ski along with our kids. It was a great day and it was a very tired crew that got off the bus at 5:00 pm.

February is I Love to Read Month and this year there have been all kinds of reading activities going on in the school. We also have a number of guest readers coming in to help us celebrate reading with our students. An extra level of excitement has been added with the theme interwoven with the Winter Olympics. We hope families are finding time to enjoy some reading at home during this special month.

Finally, Mondays after school are a very enjoyable time for all our students that are involved in our Cross Country Ski Club. Mrs. Hawley is making good use of the cross country skis provided by the parent council and I know the kids are also hoping for good weather and a fresh dusting of snow.

Enjoy the last stretch of winter as we look forward to the coming of spring.

Dec 14
December News

The first term of school is fast coming to a close, our annual Holiday Concert has taken place. Soon progress reports will be going home and the community will be gathering for our annual Community Breakfast in support of school nutrition programs. The school year is flying by!

A big thank you goes out to all the staff who helped make our K to 5 Holiday Concert a big success.  Our gym was filled for both the afternoon and the evening shows and a number of parents and grandparents expressed their gratitude for the students' fine performance. As principal, I get to accept the compliments on behalf of the school but I know that the real work was done by Mrs. Friesen in her selection of the concert, the teaching of the songs and the practicing of lines. She is not alone in the task with the middle years Art students preparing the backdrops, Mrs. Hagues accompanying the students on the piano and Mr. Whittom setting everything up and taking it all down. It is a lot of work putting the concert together but there is a real joy that comes when you see the children showcasing their talents and the community enjoying the presentation.

Teachers have been busy preparing our first set of progress reports and they should be printed and ready to go home on December 15th.  We hope that the reports will provide parents with a realistic snap shot of student learning to this point in the year. Our next set of Tri-Conferences are scheduled for early February but should you have questions about the progress report, feel welcome to contact the teachers.

At Halloween I sent out a note about some changes to the school division's Food Safety Procedures.   Since that time, some revisions to the procedures have been put in place that clarified many of the questions we had. The revised procedures have made things easier for schools while stressing the importance of appropriate food handing.  The new safety procedures are available on the division's website at:

I mention the Food Handling Procedures because of our upcoming Community Breakfast. It is with great pleasure that I announce Mr. Church, who annually caters our Meet the Teacher/Spaghetti dinner, has offered to cater our annual Community Breakfast. Not only has he offered to prepare the food, he has also successfully secured the donation of all he plans to cook. With the food being professionally prepared, we will once again be able to serve the community a wonderful breakfast for an excellent cause.  What else could a school principal ask for? I look forward to assisting Mr. Church….and in not having to spend hours making pancakes with Mrs. Hawley and Mrs. Hagues! The breakfast costs $5.00 per person and we ask that you bring a box of cereal as a donation. Last year we raised over $800 and donated close to 100 boxes of cereal.

In other school news, we were excited to see our girls' grade 7 & 8 volleyball team win the divisional "Diggers" championship. The final was an exciting affair at Arthur A. Leach School. A very special thanks goes out to Mrs. King for an excellent job coaching.  Thanks goes out as well to Mr. Johnson for his time and efforts with our grade 7 & 8 boys' team. While not as successful as the girls, the boys had an excellent season and we are very proud of their performance.

Basketball season is just gearing up and Ms. Opperman will be busy coaching our teams. We are thankful that her fractured ankle, which she got playing basketball, has healed to the point where she can put our teams through their paces.  We are looking forward to an exciting season of basketball.  Go Warriors!

Our WE team has been busy this past month supporting both the Salvation Army and the Christmas Cheer Board. All WE Team activities are student planned and organized and it is a pleasure to see our students take up the challenge to make a difference in our world.

On the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) front, we have received delivery of our eco-friendly lunch bags. Thanks to everyone who joined in and purchased these handy bags.   Our other EDS news is that we have installed a new water fountain in our front hallway that enables students to fill their water bottles. The fountain includes a counter to keep track of the number of plastic water bottles we have not used by filling our own bottles. It is fun to hear the kids commenting on the ever increasing number.

As the school term comes to a close we are hopeful that all in our community with have an enjoyable Holiday season. I know the teachers and the students (not to mention one principal) are all looking forward to a little time off to celebrate the season. Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year.

Nov 08
November News

​Halloween has come and gone and it looks like the colder, snowy weather seems to be here to stay.   With the cooler weather comes our annual reminder for parents to check out their children's clothing in the mornings.  This especially goes for our younger students because we have a few showing up in clothing too light for the cold outside weather at morning recess.

The month of October seemed to buzz past and was a particularly busy one for our school WE Team.   On October 25th, thirty-five students attended the annual We Day event at BellMTS Place.  The energy filled day was a celebration of all the philanthropic work done by students throughout the province and an invitation for students to take a leadership role in making our world a better place.   Over 15,000 students heard motivational speakers, were entertained by various performers, and stood, clapped and cheered.   The students responded vigorously every time they were invited to make some noise.  Needless to say, this rapidly maturing school administrator was a little done when the day came to a close.   A great cause, lots of energy and hopefully it will fuel concrete actions by the students in attendance.  

Our We Team completed their second undertaking by raising $360 for Winnipeg Harvest as part of the WE Scare Hunger initiative.   The students are in the process of planning other activities and the great thing about WE Team is the kids come up with the ideas and do the organizing.

Our school Eco Team has combined with our We Team to undertake a fundraiser selling reusable lunch bags.  Proceeds will go to support childhood cancer research and The Dream Factory.   Our Eco team has set a goal to reduce the volume of our school garbage and recycling so this initiative will support a number of good causes including our environment.

Preparations are underway for our annual Remembrance Day Assembly which is set to take place at 11:00 am on Thursday, November 9th.   It was originally planned for the Friday but we realized both our Music and Band teachers were away so we have shifted to Thursday because of the important role both play in the event.   Community members are invited to attend and join with our school community as we remember the sacrifices that have been made for our country and commit ourselves to be peacemakers in our world.

We will be closed for a teacher in-service day on Monday, November 13th.   RWP will be hosting Westdale and Westgrove teaching staffs for a day focused on literacy instruction.   The session is aimed at supporting our schools implement the school division's Standards for Success in Literacy document.

Finally, the end of November will see teachers preparing our first term student progress reports.  The school will be closed on November 24th so teachers can work on their progress reports and we anticipate they will be going home on or around December 14th.

Sep 19
And they're off.....

​I am always amazed how busy a school gets as soon as the doors are open and the summer vacation comes to an end. The two weeks prior to the start of school there is a steady stream of teachers coming in and custodial staff doing the final touches as we all get ready for the opening day.   During that time, the administration and office staff work on all the fine details that need to be in place for the school year to begin with the odd phone call or office drop in to change the pace. Then comes the big day everyone has been waiting for and very quickly the school moves from zero to sixty as we are launched into a new school year.

The return from holidays and the opening of the office had a similar flavor this year and the start of the year has seen things really start to hum. We had a wonderful beginning and it was wonderful to see so many parents out on the first school day. Special thanks to our Parent Council for providing coffee and treats in the library on the first morning so our parent community could gather, new parents could make connections and summer stories could be shared. Thanks as well to our parents for participating in our flag raising ceremony which annually kicks off our school year.  Thanks also to the weather man for the sunny weather once again.   We are on a ten year run, gathering in front of the school to raise the flag and celebrate the start of our school year.

For those parents who attended our June 30th Canada 150 celebrations you would have heard my story about having wanted to celebrate Canada's 100th birthday by going to Ottawa and Expo '67 as an elementary school student only to have my parents take the family to Spokane, Washington on the excuse we had to visit my oldest brother who was studying there.  I am pleased to report that 50 years later Mrs. Burns and I made it to Ottawa on Canada Day to celebrate Canada's 150th on Parliament Hill…along with 400,000 of our fellow Canadians.  After 2 ½ hours in line and a torrential rain storm, Mrs. Burns stated that she must really love me!  I responded that is what happens when you marry a Canadian History teacher.

I was wondering a lot during August how our year would begin with combined classes, a few new staff members and no grade 9 students.  I am pleased to report that we are off to an excellent start.  The classrooms are busy and "on task" and the playground is a vibrant place with many new friendships being formed.  Our Kindergarten is also a busy spot with 22 students making up our class this year.   All in all we are off to a very good start to the school year.

A special thank you goes out to Leonard and Chantell Church and the Parent Council for feeding the community at our annual Spaghetti Dinner/Meet the Teacher evening.  Once again this year the dinner was superb and helped set a wonderful tone for meeting the teachers and starting off the school year.  I am always amazed at the efficiency and the food quality when Mr. Church caters an event!

On the sporting front, cross country running and volleyball season are underway.  Let's hope that the weather is nice for all of our cross county meets that will be taking place over the next few weeks.  A big thank you goes out to Mrs. Hawley for all her efforts coaching and organizing all our school's sporting events.

October will have a different start this year.  Just before spring break is usually when Artists in the School occurs but this year because of scheduling we will be hosting Alicia Taylor, a Hoop Dancer.  Students will showcase their learning for the rest of the school in the later afternoon on Friday, October 6th.

We ask parents to mark October 12th and 13th on their calendar as our first set of Tri Conferences will occur on those dates. Information regarding setting up a conference using our online scheduler will be out about a week before so watch for that email notice.  We like to set conferences early in the year so the home can develop a positive working relationship with the school.  We are looking forward to seeing the parent community out for conferences.

Our library will be holding its annual Book Fair in conjunction with our first set of conferences so know there will be many young readers hoping to add to their personal libraries during conference time.

We hope everyone involved with RWP has a great school year and we look forward to seeing the parent community out for conferences.

Jun 07
The Principal Says...

River West Park has had a first class website for a long time thanks to the efforts of Mr. Todd Johnson. When Mr. Johnson isn't teaching, coaching or tinkering with students' Makerspace projects he is looking after all things digital at RWP, including our website. The school division has embarked on an ambitious eShare project which will change the way we connect with our stakeholders and operate in the digital world. An initial step in the process has been inviting all schools to create new websites on the division's platform.

After many hours of behind the scenes work we are now going live with our new website. We hope it provides families with the information and news needed to keep families connected with our school community.

This blog section will be the area where you will find the principal's message that has traditionally anchored the front page of our school newsletter. I will be counting on our Administrative Secretary, Mrs. Kathy Penner, to continue to remind me that my monthly article is due and I am hoping that as I get into the swing of blogging that I may be posting my thoughts and comments more frequently.

We hope you enjoy our new website and we would love to hear your comments.

With kindest regards,

Bill Burns,


About this blog
No, this isn't actually my picture. I just haven't gotten around to updating this section. It's good to know that someone is reading every last word though. Thanks!