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Students head back to class
Another school year starts up across the territory with many activities planned

Jeanne Gagnon and Tim Edwards
Northern News Services
Published Monday, Sept 03, 2012

Schools have resumed for another year in Nunavut with children eager to learn.

Nunavut News/North asked each principal to relay information about the first day of school, enrolment numbers, new staff and the general excitement of the first day back.

Principals from schools in Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Kugaaruk, Taloyoak and Gjoa Haven could not be reached by press time.

Hall Beach/Sanirajak

Arnaqjuaq School welcomed six new faces as five teachers and a principal joined the school which runs from kindergarten to Grade 12. Principal John Sarapnickas said the school welcomed roughly the same number of students as last year at 200 when it opened on Aug. 22.

"(Students were) very excited. Attendance is very high," he said.

"I enjoy the North and I enjoy a challenge."


Attendance was quite good as students walked the halls of Ataguttaaluk High School for the first time this school year on Aug. 23, noted principal Sean Broderick. He added they are welcoming six new teachers - social studies, shop, senior math, grades 8 and 9 as well as a student support teacher.

"It was a good first day. Students were very co-operative," stated Broderick by e-mail.

Broderick, who was the high school's vice-principal last year, is now in the principal's chair, an opportunity he stated he is excited to have. This is his fourth year at the high school.

The following day, about 360 students returned to class at Ataguttaaluk Elementary School on Aug. 24.

Principal Harold Deonandan said the students were glad to go back to school. This is Deonandan's first year in Nunavut. He comes from Ontario.

"I have decided to take on the challenge ... I think I am very strong in leadership," said Deonandan. "I want to do something in Nunavut, I wanted to run a school."

The school is welcoming a curriculum specialist teacher who transferred from the high school.

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

High school students got an extra four days of summer vacation because teachers were delayed arriving in the community.

Peter Pitseolak School principal Mike Soares explained students returned to school on Aug. 27, four days later than the original date of Aug. 23, because weather-related plane delays prevented teachers from arriving. He added about 160 students showed up on the first day.

"Lots of smiles in the school (Aug. 27) with students walking around," said Soares. "They were so happy to see their classmates back at school."

Several new teachers joined the high school, teaching across the curriculum, he added.

"We're very excited about the blending of new and old we have on staff," said Soares. "It's looking really good for a great school year with the mixture of experience of the older people and the energy of the new people."

At the community's elementary school, children had their first day of school on Aug. 27.

Sam Pudlat School principal John Wilson said enrolment is slightly up with 217 students. He added the school welcomed three new teachers - two in Grade 5 and one in Grade 6.

The principal's office also has a fresh face as Wilson joined Sam Pudlat School this year. He was principal of an elementary school in North Vancouver last year.

"I've always wanted to live and work up here, so, it's my chance," said Wilson.


The approximately 60 students at Qarmartalik School were excited to return to class on Aug. 23, said principal Vince Pickett. He joined the school this year, along with new teachers in Grade 5/6, Grade 1/2/3 and Grade 7. Pickett was principal at the high school in Iglulik last school year.

"We started off with a school assembly in the gym," said Pickett. "We had a lot of children who showed up, lots of students from kindergarten to Grade 12 and quite a number of parents who also came to the assembly."

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

School's been in for about two weeks at Arctic Bay's Inuujaq School.

"We had an opening on Aug. 17 and we had an opening breakfast and opening ceremony and it was very good," said principal Abdus Salam, noting parents and community members came out to help celebrate the new year.

This year's enrolment is close to 230, according to Salam, and there are around six new staff.

Kangiqtugaapik/Clyde River

The first day for students at Quluaq School in Clyde River was Aug. 17, although teachers came in to prepare on Aug. 15 and 16, according to co-principal Graham Field.

Enrolment is at approximately 330 from kindergarten to Grade 12, according to Field, and the staff are all familiar faces.

"Everybody came back from last year," said Field.

There will be a teacher orientation day on Sept. 4, which the school was unable to hold last year, where the staff will go out on the land with opportunities to hunt and pick berries. Elders will prepare country foods such as Arctic char and seal meat, said Field.

Ausuittuq/Grise Fiord

Students returned to Ummimak School in Grise Fiord on Aug. 27 for "a day to kind of mingle and get back in the swing of things," said high school teacher Cara Cormier.

"A lot of their sleep is upside down" from the summer of 24-hour daylight, she said.

Planned for Aug. 31 is a trip out on the land for students.

Enrolment is around 30 to 33 for the school which runs from kindergarten to Grade 12, she said, and the staff hasn't changed over the summer - the first year without any staff turnover that Cormier has seen in her six years at the school.

Iqaluit (Apex)

The first day of class at Nanook School in Apex is tomorrow, Sept. 4, and will be marked by a back-to-school assembly, a feast, orientation, "games and fun and then hit the books," said principal Mat Knickelbein.

Enrolment is between 35 and 45 from kindergarten to Grade 5, he said, and educator Jeremy Smith is back at the school after two years away, and is teaching Grade 3/4/5.

Knickelbein said the school hopes to take advantage of any nice weather Apex sees before winter to do some berry-picking and check out Tar Inlet for some "slimy, creepy crawlies."

"We are really looking forward to the upcoming school year," said Knickelbein. "We have lots of interesting, cool things planned - intense academics and fun physical activities."


School is underway at Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik in Iqaluit, after a staggered start as the Grade 6 students started with a half-day on Aug. 27 and the rest in the next day. The school holds grades 6 to 8.

The staggered start allows the news students to orientate, get familiar with the school layout and get set up with their new lockers, said principal Don Peters.

Sept. 13 will be the school's meet-the-teacher night, where the community is invited to come and meet the staff and put faces to names, he said.

Visitors will have a chance to see what a normal day in the life of a student might be like.

There are a few new teachers at the school: Jill Billington teaches Grade 6, as does Caryn Conley; Joey Rhodes teaches Grade 8, as does Natalie Panhuis; Josianne Beaumont teaches Grade 7 intensive French.

"We're very excited about being back and for the first couple weeks at the school we're encouraging the kids to go outside and enjoy the sun while it's out, enjoy the weather," said Peters.

Fall camps start mid-September, and extra-curricular activities like soccer and taekwondo will start later on.

At Ecole des Trois-Soleils, the halls filled up on Aug. 28 as the school's 95 students arrived to begin their studies, according to principal Serge Gagnon.

The day began with an assembly for all the students and their parents, and then there were activities for students in the afternoon.

There is a new Grade 9 teacher.

"We have activities all week," said Gagnon.

At Inuksuk School, grades 9 to 12, classes started on Aug. 27, according to principal Terry Young.

"We always start with an assembly, do a welcome, divide students into their classes," said Young.

Three teachers who were on leave have returned, as well as one teacher who'd previously been at the school, said Young, and enrolment is in the 376 to 400 range.

Young said extra-curricular activities, such as sports and an environmental club, are starting up right away.

At Joamie Ilinniarvik, school began at 1:05 p.m. on Aug. 27, according to principal Sonja (LeBlanc) Lonsdale, and the day kicked off with an opening assembly.

"We welcomed parents to come with their kids, said a nice hello and welcome to all new students," said Lonsdale.

She estimates enrolment at 220 students, give or take.

The assembly was also a chance to introduce new staff: Karen Carnahan is a program support teacher; her husband Justin is filling a one-year maternity leave contract as a kindergarten English teacher; Ria McGillvray teaches Grade 1-2 split English; Emily Joanasie teaches Grade 2 English; Cindy Arnatsiaq, from Iglulik, will teach Inuktitut stream half-time; and Jason Rochon is a student support assistant.

This Friday, a school-wide fall picnic is planned to be held at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

Students at Iqaluit's Nakasuk School began their year of learning on Aug. 27 with a welcoming assembly for students and parents.

Principal Tracey MacMillan said the school expects an enrolment in excess of 360 students. Registration is still ongoing.

She said there will be many literacy events planned at the school on the week of Sept. 24, in both English and Inuktitut.

"A committee currently formed and planning many activities for students to participate in," she said.


Lake Harbour

The first day of classes at Qaqqalik School was Aug. 27, and things began with an assembly in the gym to introduce staff and students, both new and old.

"Everyone was very excited," said principal Ron Pate. "I got a lot of hugs myself, shook a lot of hands."

He said quite a few parents attended.

"Not only parents who were bringing their kids for the first time, but parents who come to support their kids."

He said enrolment was sitting at about 130 when he spoke last Tuesday, but could go up or down as records are transferred.

On Friday, a healthy community breakfast was scheduled to take place, with foods like eggs, hashbrowns, toast, oranges and apples.

"We're trying to go healthy this year. We're trying to discourage junk food," said Pate.

There are three new teachers: Alison Vipond teaching Grade 5/6, Golda David teaching Grade 7/8 and Brett MacCullum teaching high school.

Pate said the school is currently getting its student council and sports clubs started up.



The first day of classes at Alookie School in Pangnirtung was scheduled for Aug. 31, according to principal Mary Etuangat. The school includes students from kindergarten to Grade 5.

Etuangat estimated the enrolment at 200, and said there are two new teachers at the school.

Students were scheduled to return to Attagoyuk School on Aug. 31, said principal Ernie Van Soest.

The school has classes running from Grade 6 to 12.

He put enrolment at approximately 208, and said there are a few changes this year on the staffing side: Nicole Davies has moved up to vice-principal from being a teacher; Mary Kawamura has arrived to teach high school math and science; Marianne Den Haan is teaching math and science for junior and senior high; Jolene Anderson is teaching high school English; and Olugbemi (Mack) Amurawaiye is a student support staff member.


Pond Inlet

The first day of classes at Nassivik School was on Aug. 16, and classes had a nice Friday outside the next day to get things started.

"In the afternoon we all went for a picnic and ... we had shoreline cleanup," said principal Meeka Qamaniq.

She said she did not have an enrolment number yet, since senior high school students were still registering, but there are four new staff: a Grade 8 teacher, a Grade 9 teacher, a senior high math teacher, and a vice-principal.

The students in kindergarten to Grade 6 headed off to Ulaajuk School on Aug. 16, according to principal Wayne Abbott.

"We opened up the day with an assembly with students from K-6 and their parents," said Abbott.

"We welcomed students, welcomed parents, welcomed teachers, and students eventually went to classes with their teacher."

He estimated enrolment at 240 students, and said there is one new teacher for Grade 2 English, one for Grade 1, one for Grade 4/5, and one for Grade 5/6.

"They're excited to be back after all summer," said Abbott.


Broughton Island

The first day of classes at Inuksuit School was Aug. 20, according to new principal Barry Oldford.

He said there are two new teachers and, as of Tuesday, 131 students in the school which holds classes for kindergarten to Grade 12. A staff outing is planned for Sept. 7 and a picnic day for students is also in the works.


There are about 120 students starting classes at Sanikiluaq's Nuiyak School on Sept. 6, according to principal Lisi Kavik, and one new teacher for Grade 5. The school includes kindergarten to Grade 6.

"We always have an assembly for parents and students on the first day of school," she said.

Nunavut News/North was unable to get in touch with principal Tim Hoyt of Paatsaali School, which runs from grades 7 to 10, by press time.

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