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Weekly Update | January 15, 2021

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January 15, 2021

Dear UA Parents,

It is amazing how fast the weeks seem to go by at Urban Academy. It is such an active place, even in the midst of the pandemic. I am so thankful and appreciative of all the efforts our teachers, students, and staff are putting in to maintain both the health and safety aspects required at this time in the school, but also their willingness to engage in the activities that help us keep things close to normal. One highlight for me this week was getting in the gym and being a guest coach with the Grade 7-11 boys’ basketball group on Tuesday morning. It has been a few years since I have had that opportunity, so thank you to Mr. Twaites and to the boys for letting me join in.

New Counsellor
I am excited to let everyone know that we have hired Ms. Tara Worth to join the UA staff as a counsellor. Ms. Worth will be working 2 days a week (Tuesday and Thursday) from February through June. The counselling position is one that we feel is very important to have at our school, and we look forward to Ms. Worth building on the foundation of the counselling services that Ms. MacLeod has built over the years at UA.

Black Shirt Day
As you may have heard on the news this week there is a petition to have Black Shirt Day recognized. The Anti-Racism Coalition of Vancouver is petitioning the provincial government for this day to be introduced in BC as an official day to commemorate the ongoing struggle for civil and human rights fought by Black and racialized Canadians. Their goal is to have January 15 (Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday) declared an international day of recognition and to push to improve school curriculums to include this history, with the ultimate goal of raising awareness and fostering solidarity against all forms of racism and hate.

Our school community is full of diversity and this is an issue of which we all need to be aware. As the Black Shirt Day movement has only come to light this week, there has not been adequate time for us to raise the issue in conversations in all classrooms in meaningful ways. For this reason, we decided at our Team Leader meeting on Wednesday to not make this a schoolwide initiative for this year, but rather to allow individuals (students and staff) to decide whether or not to participate on their own initiative. It is important that regardless of whether it is Black Shirt Day, Pink Shirt Day, or Orange Shirt Day, our students and staff understand the context behind the cause or issue that these special days are trying to address. These days cannot simply be opportunities for students to come to school wearing clothing other than their uniform. We would like these days to be educational opportunities for building a greater level of understanding and compassion throughout our community. We will continue to work toward that goal.

Parking and Construction Update
I would like to remind all parents that it is very important that we all follow the expectations at drop-off and pick-up in terms of where you park, and also how you use the roundabout in the parkade when dropping off your students. This will become even more important as construction begins and space becomes restricted. You will first notice changes during the week of January 25 when Wesgroup is scheduled to install fencing in the parking lot that will limit our access to only the parking spaces that we currently lease from Wesgroup, this includes staff parking against the fence and the multiple spots in the adjacent row. We will send out more information including maps next week. In the meantime, please make sure that you are aware of the drive-through expectations which are available for your review here.

Have a wonderful weekend. Next week is bound to be one that will be written about in the history books. Let’s hope it goes smoothly south of the border.

Yours in education,
Mr. Slinger

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