Monday, 26 March 2018

Our Lady of the Assumption JH students discover 2School!

I recently had the opportunity to participate in Calgary Campus Open Minds with all the junior high students from Our Lady of the Assumption School. Our teachers applied to six possible venues in hopes of allowing our students to experience these unique learning opportunities. Once the proposals to send the entire junior high class during the same week were approved, it was time to group the students. Teachers presented their sites to the students and allowed them to rank each based on their preference. I was unclear on exactly what 2School would entail, and worried it may not appeal to them, especially when Vivo and Telus Spark were in the running. Once the results were in, my fears were confirmed. My group of 20 skeptical students were disappointed and lost interest in the potential for an exceptional opportunity. After the first day at 2School, everyone's outlook changed. We were excited! We could not wait to see what else was in store for the week. Our experiences during this week exceeded my own, and my student’s expectations.

There were lots of questions prior to our experience. What does 2School stand for? What will we do during our week? Will my grades 7-9 students be engaged? Can we incorporate the ideas from the Calgary Separate School Division into this program, even though we are at the Calgary Board of Education? My questions were quickly answered throughout the week. To start untangling the many mysteries, 2School stands for exactly its name. Two Schools attached - the Dr. Carl Safran Center, an iconic heritage high school built of sandstone in 1910, and the current Calgary Board of Education Building.

At the Dr. Carl Safran center, we had amazing access to an historic classroom, and, although the desks are intended for elementary students, we had access to a nearby boardroom. My students loved the professional feel of this room, and, of course, the fancy chairs. Although the CBE building was our “home base” for the week, we spent our days at multiple sites. Being part of CSSD, we spent 2 half days exploring the CSSD building. We talked with Chief Superintendent Gary Strother, who gave my students a better idea of Calgary Catholic School District’s vision and took time to truly engage with the class. I had the enviable chance to see my students act responsibly and ask eloquent, meaningful questions. 

Prior to going to the site, biggest concern was how to engage my junior students. Although the CCOM site is called “2School”, it has a strong focus on urban living. Downtown Calgary, however, offers access to a plethora of activities, and can cater the activities to meet the needs of your class. I found that my students enjoyed each day as they were able to walk and explore new areas.

Aside from meeting with Chief Superintendent Strother and Trustee Wellman in the CSSD boardroom, some highlights from our experience included exploring the Buddhist religion at the Avatamsaka Monastery, discovering the +15 system in the core and viewing Calgary’s public art showcases. Our experience developed many new relationships, strengthened class bonds, offered new learning experiences, and changed perspectives. It linked us to our own community and opened our minds to the diversity Calgary holds. I strongly recommend 2School to all teachers thinking about applying for CCOM. My students and I took away a wealth of knowledge about our city and our education system. Students, parent volunteers and teachers all agreed that at week’s end, we were still eager to explore more of this rich and vibrant part of our city. 


“Overall, it was a fun and unexpectedly enjoyable experience. I was able to learn about Calgary’s core, revolving doors, Buddhism and #YYChotchocolatefest. Now that I’ve got to experience 2School for myself, I would now pick this site as my first choice.” - Grade 7 student.

-Marlies Harding
Grade 7 Teacher
Our Lady of the Assumption

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