RDPC principal previews school’s new arts program, staff and Holocaust project

Students of R.D. Parker Collegiate are just now wrapping up their first full week of school, and principal Rob Fisher sat down with the Nickel Belt News Sept. 11 to let the public know about some of the things the administration has in store for the next 10 months.

Programming

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In terms of the high school’s curriculum, Fisher said that the administration will continue to put a heavy emphasis on its vocational programming and the core subjects of English, math, social studies, science and phys-ed.

However, Fisher also said that the school will be expanding its arts programs by adding a new “introduction to dance” class, which will be taught in the Letkemann Theatre and serve as a nice addition to RDPC’s existing drama and music courses.

“The arts is something that I think Manitoba schools have done a great job at preserving,” said Fisher. “Wherein some provinces it’s the first to go because of funding cuts and that hasn’t happened in our province and I don’t see that happening in Thompson ever because of the strength of the program.”

Staff and students

Despite talk about declining enrolment due to Thompson’s ongoing economic hardships, Fisher said that the total number of their students and staff is holding steady from the previous school year.

While RDPC currently has around 1,024 students registered, compared to 1,005 pupils in 2017−18, the number of staff evens out to around 120 people, including some fresh new faces.

This includes former Deerwood principal Bonnie Rempel, who now serves beside Fisher as his vice-principal, and a new crop of teachers who hail from Cross Lake, Gillam and northern Quebec,

Fisher said that part of the reason why RDPC is able to attract educators from outside of Thompson is through good word-of-mouth on social media.

“Our new teachers from last year are broadcasting out in their social media channels … telling their friends to apply and to come here and that Thompson is a good place to work,” he said. “So it helps us get good candidates that we can interview and get the best teachers for our kids.”

Anne Frank project

One of RDPC’s more ambitious projects for the 2017−18 school year is housing an elaborate Anne Frank exhibit, which will be set up in the RDPC library throughout the entire month of October.

According to Fisher, the Anne Frank House museum will supply the displays and send a curator to help train a handful of local students on how best to present the story of this famous wartime Jewish diarist.

“There’s a 20-minute video when you come in, just like you would see in a museum to get background information,” he said. “And the kids will be the tour guides and help people when they’re looking at stuff, answering any questions that they can. It’ll probably take about an hour to look at the exhibit.”

Fisher also mentioned that curating this exhibit will be part of the students’ history curriculum, since one of the core themes they are trying to tackle in this class is “social justice.”

Message to parents

Finally, Fisher wrapped up this interview by stressing the importance of good attendance and how parents play a vital role in ensuring that their children show up to class consistently.

“Sporadic attendance cause kids to get behind, causes gaps in learning and we’re seeing it across the district,” he said. “We want to keep kids in school more in order for them to be successful and parents need to do what they can to get them here.”

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