Education Week 2002: Learning is Power
By Katie Norman, SNN Editor, Bishop's College, St. John's, NF in collaboration with junior reporter, Heidi Miller, Mount Pearl Intermediate School, Mount Pearl, NF
Every year this province celebrates education during the annual Education Week. It is a time to reflect and join in fun activities all week long. Such events help boost morale in schools and focus positively on learning. The purpose of Education Week is to focus attention on education, the education system and educational issues.
This year's opening ceremonies were held at Mount Pearl Intermediate, in Mount Pearl on March 4th. This year's theme was "Learning Is Power."
The ceremonies were broadcast live over the Internet (thanks to STEM~Net) to all schools in the province. This message is an important one for the children of our province and helps to emphasize the importance of education.
In the spirit of lifelong learning, they started a new tradition this year: Bernice Morgan, author of Random Passage, became the first honorary chairperson for Education Week. This ceremony consisted of speeches and performances. The Honourable Judy Foote, Minister of Education, Winston Carter, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association (NLTA) and Bernice Morgan gave speeches.
The event opened with Kayla Ridgeley, a grade 9 student, giving a bilingual welcome to all. Then the Mount Pearl Intermediate Band performed three songs: one that depicted Newfoundland heritage – I'se de Bye, and Ode to Joy and Rock Around the Clock Tonight. It was a wonderful performance by the students.
After the band performed, the Mount Pearl Show Choir took to the stage. The students involved had to audition to get their spots in this choir. Not only did they sing but they danced as well. It was quite obvious that they were seasoned performers. They staged two songs, both of which were huge crowd pleasers.
Next was the address by The Honourable Judy Foote, Minister of Education.
Minister Foote opened her remarks by speaking highly of the band and choirs. In fact she cited "Learning is Power' as a personal motto. She spoke of the importance of lifelong learning from birth to death, the need to be independent and that learning is freedom. There were a few plugs for her program "Read and Succeed" in the speech - a provincial program focussed on literacy. Another common topic that she brought up was the need for career planning programs in schools. She hoped that everyone listening would take it upon themselves to learn and to share skills and teach each other. Learning from your peers and family is important. The main final remark she made was the growing importance of school councils in Newfoundland.
Winston Carter, President of the NLTA spoke next that morning. He told everyone how this was the 66th Education Week in Newfoundland. Again he thanked some people, including STEM-Net (Newfoundland's Student-Teacher Education Multimedia Network), the students and Bernice Morgan. He stated that Education Week is a time of reflection and urged people not to give up trying to increase the quality of education in the province. I spoke with Carter after the ceremonies. Here is my interview.
The last speaker for the morning was Bernice Morgan. This was perhaps the most moving speech. She related education to literature and told a true story to the children. She enforced the importance of a good education. "Without learning we lack control over our lives," stated Morgan. "The more you learn the more control you will have," she told the students. She encouraged all the children to protect themselves from being undereducated. Since she is an author and a literary guru it was no shock that she focussed a lot on reading, as it is a base for all other learning to grow upon. Reading truly is a gift that can open doors and expand our horizons.
Following Morgan's speech the St. Francis of Assisi Choir performed the Education Week song titled "Give me the power, let me be." It was a sweet performance with the children dressed in costumes singing about the tools they needed for their future careers. This performance emphasised the importance of creativity in schools and creative environments in which to grow and learn.
Mount Pearl Intermediate Grade 5 Drama Group performed next. Their entertaining performance reiterated all the points of Education Week and also focused on creative learning. Then came the Mount Pearl Intermediate Elementary Choir and Grade 6 Recorder Group. This was another excellent performance. This year's ceremonies definitely had a strong focus on the arts.
Ford Rice, principal of Mount Pearl Intermediate, thanked all the participants in the morning's activities as well as the audience for attending. He encouraged everyone to take an active role in Education Week and in creating a proper learning environment. Following Rice's speech, the Proclamation was signed declaring the opening of Education Week by The Honourable Judy Foote, Winston Carter, and Bernice Morgan.
The Master of Ceremonies, Tim Loomis and Kayla Ridgeley then gave closing remarks before the singing of the "Ode to Newfoundland."
Newfoundland Department of Education
Mount Pearl Intermediate School
PHOTOS from Opening Ceremonies: (Click on photos to enlarge)