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Community Connexions News 2016-17

Recent Headlines

The Fraser Institute once again ranked Mulgrave number one in the province in its annual BC Elementary Schools Report Card released earlier this week. Although we are flattered, the Fraser Institute knows nothing about our school. Furthermore, the conceptual and statistical framework of its ranking system is deeply flawed, highly contentious and roundly discredited. For a detailed explanation of the shortcomings of its methodology and its egregious misuse of data, please read my previous blog post.

The Fraser Institute uses data from the provincial Foundation Skills Assessments (FSAs) mandated by the Ministry of Education in Grades 4 and 7. The FSAs are comprised of tests in reading, writing and math that include a combination of on-line multiple choice and open-response questions. The value of the FSAs to Mulgrave is the internal data they provide as we gauge our own strategic progress in developing core numeracy and literacy skills. To see that our results in grade 4, for example, are collectively the best in the province provides us with more substantive evidence of success than some made-up ranking.

There are far better measures of school quality than capricious rankings. Mulgrave's recent successful accreditations from the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Council of International schools (CIS) are prime examples. Both of these accrediting bodies employ rigourous standards for teaching and learning that far exceed provincial expectations. The article, Truth, A Hint of Hubris and the IB Evaluation, published last week, detailed the outstanding results of our IB evaluation – 105 commendations versus 15 recommendations. This is truly exemplary and something to be celebrated, a far more meaningful accomplishment than being ranked number one. The CIS evaluation was similarly positive, with over 50 commendations against 15 recommendations. This ratio again represents an outstanding quality of education.

We trust that parents at Mulgrave appreciate the limits and pitfalls of rankings. We also trust that they recognise that the learning and daily experience of their children at Mulgrave is far more complex than what can be captured in a single-score ranking. We know through our experience "What Truly Makes a School Great".

-Gordon MacIntyre, Deputy Head of School

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What a long weekend for the Sr. Boys, Sr. Girls and Gr. 8 Boys basketball teams! The Sr. Boys and Girls both won their respective Mulgrave Invitational Tournaments by a comfortable margin and the Gr. 8 boys took home the trophy at the Colin Jack Memorial Tournament at St. John's February 10th-11th.

Despite merging the Gr. 8/9 'A' and 'B' teams and having only one practice together, the Gr. 8 boys were able to win all three of their games in competitive fashion. In their first game against St. George's, the boys battled hard and player of the game was Owen M-B with 15 points due to his accurate 3-point shooting leading to a 52-38 Titans victory.

Vancouver College was their next opponent and Jed D. played a huge role in the 56-44 victory having to defend several post players on VC who were well over 6 feet tall. Player of the game however was Isaac M. who in the fourth quarter was able to weave his way through the much larger VC players for several layups in traffic and had some timely shooting near the end of the game.

This set up a final against St. John's in front of their home crowd and despite being down by 3 at half, the boys come from behind with a brilliant second half outscoring St. John's 44-21 en route to a 69-49 win. Player of the game was Jack W. who was a key contributor to the second half outburst using his speed and athleticism for several full court layups.

Tournament MVP was Isaac M. who played nearly every minute of every game and controlled the tempo as the team's point guard, defended the other team's best guards, and averaged just under 25 points per game! The Gr. 8 boys now focus their attention to the upcoming ISAA tournament which along with the Gr. 8 girls will take place at Collingwood Senior School this weekend (February 17th - 18th).


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During the past few weeks, we have all been dealing with a seemingly endless series of snow flurries followed by rainstorms. This week our G5 and G6 basketball teams ended their seasons with a flurry of games! On Wednesday, the annual ISEA Play Days opened with the G6 boys launching hoops at the Richmond Olympic Oval. On Thursday, our G6 girls played at the Oval, and our G5 boys were at Southridge.

Also on Thursday, Mulgrave hosted the G5 girls Play Day which featured 213 students on 20 teams from 12 schools playing a full day of games on four courts. Our Thunderbolts stormed through the tournament undefeated with decisive victories over Stratford Hall, Southpointe and Brockton, and a 2 point heart-stopping win over York House. Congratulations to the following dedicated and determined members of our G5 girls team on their great season:

Aria, Hanna, Ava W, Eva T, Genevieve, Ava A, Kennedy, Nika, Emma, Sophie, Jenna, Sara, Salihah, and Susie.

Our athletes were delighted to have the support of many family members cheering them on from the sidelines.

Many thanks to our hardworking coaches for generously devoting their time, energy and expertise throughout the season:

Grade 5 boys – Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Jamieson

Grade 5 girls – Ms. Rudek and Mr. Wan

Grade 6 boys – Mr. Thomson and Mr. Adam B. Morrow

Grade 6 girls – Ms. Yakachuk, and Ms. Black

Ms. Straub

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The ancient Roman historian, Tacitus, said that, "Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty." The accuracy of this statement was confirmed to the fullest extent in purpose and spirit during Mulgrave's IB evaluation visit that took place in the early days of October this school year. The truth is: Mulgrave is an outstanding school.

For three days, a highly experienced team of six IB evaluators representing the PYP, MYP, and DP poured over every detail of our curriculum, visited every classroom, examined every teacher's planning documents and interviewed panels of teachers, students, parents and Board members. They made measured judgements as to whether Mulgrave met the rigourous standards and practices the IB sets for schools. The IB delays these inspections to occur in the wake of a school sending its voluminous self-study documentation, hundreds of pages in the making, months ahead of the evaluation. Inspection and delay - this is the quality assurance of the evaluation process for an IB World School.

In its final 43-page report, the IB Evaluation team noted 105 commendations against only 15 recommendations. There were no serious matters to be addressed. The 7:1 ratio of commendations to recommendations is exemplary. The commendations were far-ranging across the IB standards, from the school's values and beliefs, to the leadership and governance practices, to the resources and supports to implement the programme, to the collaborative work of the teachers, to the strength of the curriculum, and not least of all, to the quality of teaching, learning and assessment practices.

The 15 recommendations contained no surprises, as they were items we had identified in our Self-study. Recommendations on how we can improve even further included continuing to strengthen the professional development of teachers, instantiating to a greater extent the library as a center of inquiry across all programmes, and further exploring meaningful opportunities for student service. These are all worthy recommendations, ones that we are already acting upon.

Under the school's new strategic plan, we will aim to make Mulgrave 'everything it can be'. Over the next five years, a Mulgrave education will be more personalised through curriculum, learning and support, more enriched with 21st-century skills, more extended through enhanced co-curricular provisions, more applied to authentic real world contexts, and more international so that students can live and work happily and successfully in a range of countries and cultures.

In my sixth year at Mulgrave, and having hosted hundreds of visitors, I have been at the school long enough to recognise a natural reaction. Spend enough time in the place and you develop an appreciation for its ethos steeped in learning and teaching, its welcoming and caring environment, and its vibrancy that grows out of the industriousness of the teachers and students - and all of it set against a canopy of sea, sky and sweeping interior coastline that is the envy of poets and artists. The place grows on you – and quickly.

The team of six IB evaluators spent three days with us. They came knowing little of the school other than what they had read in our self-study, or perhaps what they had seen online. They left knowing the purpose and values that drive Mulgrave. They left understanding the vision of the school community. They left appreciating the quality of learning and the overall environment.

There is, admittedly, a hint of hubris in writing this piece. Hubris - excessive self-confidence - should not be countenanced nor should it ever come to characterise the disposition of the school. But, once every five years – the length and timing of the IB evaluation cycle – perhaps we can tolerate it. Maybe it is okay every long now and again to shout to the heavens and take pride in a great school accomplishment. Thank you to the teachers who are the engine of the school, whose care and dedication are inspiring. Thank you to the students who make Mulgrave a great place to work and learn. And thank you to the parents, who trust us every day with your children and who give their unending support to the school.

Gordon MacIntyre,
Deputy Head of School

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This past weekend, the Sr. Lady Titans basketball team battled the elements in heading to Kamloops for the second cross zone tournament of the year hosted at St. Ann's Academy. Heading into the tournament, they knew it was going to be very competitive as many of the top 'A' teams in the province were competing.

As the #1 seeded 'A' team in the province, they faced off against Fernie Secondary School in their opening match. All systems were a go as they opened up an early lead that was never relinquished en route to a 83-45 victory.

In their second game, they faced off against the #10 seeded team in the province, Valemount Secondary. Valemount started off the game in an impressive manner by knocking down two three point shots on their first two possessions of the game. The girls quickly regrouped, though, and went on a run to open up a comfortable lead by halftime. Their strong play continued into the second half en route to a 89-47 victory.

In the championship game, they faced off against Agassiz Secondary (#3 seeded 'A' team in BC) who beat them by 1 point in the semi-finals at the Provincial Championships last year. The girls took to the floor focussed and determined to make up for last year's defeat and that is exactly what they did. Excellent defence combined with hot shooting and a sizzling transition game opened up a big lead early that was never relinquished. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 96-46 for Mulgrave!

Overall, it was a great tournament that highlighted the versatility, depth, strength and creativity of the Sr. Lady Titans. It also highlighted a great team attitude where everyone shares the ball and does their job to ensure that they play as well as they can. The MVP of the tournament was Jojo H.

Next up is their home tournament, MIT, this weekend followed by the Lower Mainland Zone championships during the week of February 20-24th where they look to continue and improve on the very strong play that has been demonstrated over the last month or so.


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It is never the role of schools to adopt a partisan political stance with impressionable young people. It is, however, important that when core, and arguably universal values are being threatened, that school communities such as ours are proactive in reminding everyone of what they stand for and have the courage to challenge behaviours that undermine core values. In a time when the media is comfortable packaging false narratives as news, it is sometimes difficult to make sense of what is happening but, beyond the headlines, we all have a responsibility to uphold and model our fundamental values.

It is our belief that the values enshrined within the words above are supported by the majority of people in Canada and are explicit within the mission and vision of the International Baccalaureate Organisation which guide our curriculum and our students' learning.

I often describe Mulgrave as a values-based school and, as a community, we often refer to our values statement below to guide us in what we do.

  • Individual values are based on personal integrity and acting with respect towards others.
  • Our sense of community and friendship is founded on humility, empathy, commitment and inclusion.
  • Lifelong learning is built upon curiosity, creativity and innovative thinking.
  • A global perspective and environmental and social responsibility are central to becoming true world citizens.
  • All members of our community strive for balance and understand that achieving one's personal best should be enjoyable.

It is through these values and the actions of our students that we strive to make the world a better place.

John Wray
Head of School

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Issue 20.16-17

FEBRUARY 10, 2017


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