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Tag: Livingstone School

Raegan and Daina Lazarotto with brown-bag snacks

A small idea leads to food security for LRSD students

Last spring, Raegan Lazzaratto noticed some classmates at Livingstone School bringing lunches that lacked nutritional substance — sometimes only a banana or an orange. Recognizing a problem, the Grade 5 student set out to find a solution with help from her mom, Daina.

What began as a small mission to help other kids at her own school led to a $75,000 donation to the Livingstone Range School Division from Northback Holdings.

Last spring, the mother and daughter’s first plan was to overpack Raegan’s lunch. This provided an opportunity to share extra food with anyone needing it. Despite the best of intentions, Raegan learned that accepting generosity wasn’t always as easy for others as it was for her to offer.

“Then we thought, hey, let’s start this thing so everyone else can have food,” she says, reflecting on the shift from a small gesture of kindness to one with greater impact.

“It’s the first time I’ve actually wanted to do this,” she noted after the program was unveiled Monday. “It feels good that I could do something like that.”

What she did is definitely something Raegan, her family and her community can all appreciate and be proud of.

Her drive to support as many youths as possible led to an amazing outcome after Raegan and her mom put their heads together and came up with a proposal.

“I think I started noticing it [students in need of nutritious meals] around this time of year and we worked on it up until now,” says Raegan, who is now in Grade 6.

 

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They hoped to have assistance in place for September, but there was considerable legwork to do. Daina researched food insecurity in the school division and eventually requested a financial gift from her employer, Northback Holdings Corp.

She proposed a $75,000 donation and says CEO Mike Young got behind the project right away. The hope was that a donation of this size would meet Raegan’s goal of helping many students.

In December, the ask was made to Hancock Prospecting, Northback’s parent company. It was approved immediately and the money was available to Livingstone Range School Division in early January.

“They loved the proposal, in which I shared Raegan’s story, and jumped on it right away, no questions asked,” says Daina.

An announcement was made in early February and officially presented to the Livingstone School community during an assembly on Monday. The Sabres’ gymnasium was filled with teachers, the kindergarten to Grade 12 population and several special guests.

Raegan felt good about herself afterwards. Before the presentation, only a select few knew it was her idea and passion that had put the wheels in motion.

“I think they were a little bit shocked that I had done that but I think that they felt like, ‘Wow, we’re actually going to get some food,’ ” she says.

Northback’s donation will be an annual one for what Daina says is an undetermined amount of time. With the rising cost of groceries and the cost of living in general, knowing schools have nutritional resources could reduce food security stress for many families.

Northback has handed the reins to the school division, believing the administrators know best what resources are needed and where.

“There’s no catch,” Daina says. “The division has the opportunity to use the finances as it sees fit to offer nutrition programs to its schools.”

According to LRSD, the donation will provide food for about 1,000 students. Most schools in the division receive provincial nutrition grants from the Breakfast Club of Canada.

This new funding will support seven schools not receiving Breakfast Club dollars. Along with Livingstone School in Lundbreck, these include Canyon School in Pincher Creek, Horace Allen and Isabelle Sellon schools in Crowsnest Pass, West Meadow Elementary and Will Creek Composite High in Claresholm, and Stavely Elementary.

 

 

While Livingstone School makes food available in the classrooms, it does not have a formal breakfast program.

“In talks with our nutrition co-ordinator, she would like to implement a full breakfast program — that’s the kind of change we’re hoping to see,” says Daina.

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Chelsae Petrovic said Raegan’s story left her speechless and almost in tears. She believes children will have a greater opportunity to thrive and focus on academics and sports.

“I know the importance of what it truly means for the kids,” she said after Monday’s presentation. “I think, too, for parents to know that if they are facing food insecurity, to know that their children are going to be fed at school.”

“When we look at the small wins in life, even if we’re feeding one child or two children, that’s two less hungry children,” she added. “To feed 1,000 is a huge win.”

As evidenced by his expression in the front-page photo, Northback CEO Mike Young is excited about the project.

“We often underestimate the impact of a seemingly simple, yet essential, element — a nutritious breakfast,” he said Monday.

“By supporting the LRSD nutrition program we’re not merely providing a meal, we are investing in the future of our children.”

Twelve-year-old Raegan Lazzarotto has demonstrated that she understands this concept and that she is willing to do the work required to instigate positive change.

“I think she deserves so much credit for caring about her classmates and her school and wanting to make sure everybody is fed,” says her mom.

Raegan’s friends at Livingstone School and all other LRSD schools can be inspired by seeing a peer’s small idea generate a big outcome.

 

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Northback donation to Livingstone Range School Division — Mike Young, Raegan Lazzarotto, Daina Lazzarotto

LRSD receives $75K corporate donation

As many as seven more schools in the Livingstone Range School Division will now be able to provide breakfast and nutritious meals for students, thanks to the generosity of one locally operating business.

Northback Holdings Corp. has announced it’s providing $75,000 each year, over the next several years, to help fuel the bodies and minds of an additional 1,000 students.

”Many of our students face food insecurity at home,” said Richard Feller, LRSD’s associate superintendent of human and learning services, in making the Feb. 5 announcement.

“Our nutrition program helps ensure students don’t have to be hungry and can focus on learning.”

While close to 1,000 students in the division are already being supported by funding from the province and the Breakfast Club of Canada, this contribution will supplement schools that didn’t otherwise receive extra grant dollars.

“The story behind [the donation] is one of our employees, her child had started to notice that some of her classmates weren’t bringing what you’d call a nourishing lunch to the school, and she asked if we could help,” Northback CEO Mike Young told Shootin’ the Breeze.

“I have a sister-in-law in Kingston, Ont., who did a program like this and I remember visiting the school, and it really resonated with me when our employee came to me. I didn’t hesitate.”

In its 2023 annual Raising Canada report, Children First Canada listed poverty as the sixth biggest threat to kids nationwide, stating that nearly 1.8 million children under the age of 18 were affected by food insecurity in 2022.

 

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Ron Gillespie, smiling man with short grey hair and dark-rimmed glasses wearing a black shirt with yellow Livingstone Sabres logo

Livingstone teacher chosen as interim assistant principal

A Lundbreck teacher started off the new school year with a new role.

Ron Gillespie will be the acting assistant principal at Livingstone School until January 2024.

“Ron has been a leader in our school since his arrival,” shares the school’s principal, Sarah Holmgren.

“His passion for connecting with staff and students has contributed to Livingstone’s positive school culture and is one of many reasons that I am confident he will do an excellent job.”

Ron arrived at the school in the fall of 2021.

“I am excited for the new challenge of administration. It will provide me with the opportunity to apply my skills and experience in the new role.”

Ron has been teaching for nearly two decades and holds degrees in both the arts and education fields, and is currently working toward a master’s in education.

 

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A woman with long blonde hair and a woman with short brown hair and glasses smile for the camera.

LRSD hires mental health therapists

The pair will be tasked with providing culturally appropriate and evidence-informed practices in crisis intervention, assessment, referral and intervention services for students and their families. Additionally, they may support consultation and professional development activities within LRSD.

Students and their families can access this service through a referral process with a school’s family-school liaison counsellor. 

Through this process, the counsellor determines if the student and caregiver will be best served seeing an LRSD mental health therapist.

If it is determined to be the best course of action, a referral will be made and the mental health therapist will reach out to initiate the service moving forward.

Colette, who is Métis, will be working as the Indigenous mental health therapist for the division. Her focus will be primarily on the Fort Macleod and Pincher Creek areas, given their significant Indigenous populations.

Colette previously worked within the school division as the family-school liaison counsellor at Livingstone School in Lundbreck. 

She provided support to students and families experiencing hardships while acting as a liaison between families and the school system.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in psychiatric nursing from Brandon University and a master’s in counselling psychology from Yorkville University, Colette has the experience and education to excel in this role.

“I am extremely pleased to be chosen to fill this new role and look forward to gaining knowledge and sharing experiences with individuals and families in the Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod area,” Colette said in a press release from LRSD.

 

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Kristen will work in the northern and western corridors of LRSD. This includes schools in Nanton, Stavely, Claresholm, Granum, Lundbreck and Crowsnest Pass. 

Kristen previously spent over 10 years working predominantly for community agencies and Alberta Health Services. 

She holds a diploma in social work from Mount Royal University, on top of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Calgary. 

With a diverse education background and an affinity for helping others, Kristen is excited for this new challenge.

“I am looking forward to seeing the world through a student’s lens and helping support and nurture healthy and meaningful relationships in the process,” said Kristen in the same media release.

The mental health therapist positions are temporary roles made possible through the Alberta government’s Mental Health in Schools Pilot Grant.

LRSD recognizes the importance of having therapists available to its students and felt this was an opportunity the division could not pass up. 

“Oftentimes the ability to access these supports may prove difficult due to travel logistics or financial barriers,” says Holly Stewart, clinical team lead with LRSD, in the press release.

“Having Colette and Kristen join our division and be able to provide these essential services directly and in a flexible, timely manner to our students and their caregivers in the school setting is truly exciting.” 

Colette and Kristen will hold these positions until Dec. 31, 2024, barring any changes.

A high school student wearing a checkered jacket and black ball cap demonstrates his automotive servicing skills at a competition.

Students compete in regional skills competition

On March 18, students from Matthew Halton High School in Pincher Creek, Livingstone School in Lundbreck and Crowsnest Consolidated High School in Coleman participated in the regional competition.

The competition showcases trades and technology occupations, while rewarding students for their performances and commitment to these career paths. It is intended to help students develop a career awareness strategy to motivate them to pursue trades and technology occupations as a first-choice career plan. 

Matthew Halton High School results

Matthew Halton High School had five students at the event, with three finishing in the top three in their respective categories. 

Austin Willms competed in the automotive service category, where he picked up an impressive first-place finish. Competitors displayed their understanding of specific areas of an automobile, while demonstrating their ability to maintain and repair components of those areas.

Grady Mackintosh finished second in the cabinet-making competition. Students constructed a four-corner mitred box. This required them to interpret a provided drawing and perform various joinery techniques to construct the box.

Nathan Mitchell placed third in the carpentry competition, which evaluated students based on their ability to organize and execute a given work assignment both accurately and safely. 

“We’re thrilled that the students get to explore areas of passion that could lead to careers, and that they get to not only put this practice into everyday learning, but actually be recognized for their efforts,” says Bryan Burns, assistant principal at MHHS.

 

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Livingstone School results

Two students represented the Lundbreck school at the skills competition.

Neveah MacKinnon competed in the baking category, finishing in second place. She and her fellow competitors were tasked with producing a wide range of intricate baked goods. They were tested on ingredient selection, portioning, baking, presentation and more.

Sarah Yagos also competed for Livingstone, finishing second in the culinary arts competition. For this category, students were evaluated based on their culinary competencies and creativity. Competitors were tasked with preparing two specific menu items.

“These fantastic young ladies showed remarkable skill and talent in their respective disciplines and we’re thrilled to have them representing our school,” says Eliza Grose, the school’s assistant principal.

Crowsnest Consolidated High School results

CCHS had two students team up in the video production competition. Sophia Groves and Makayla Gustavson took home first place in this category, demonstrating a proficiency in the video communications field. 

The event gave participating students the opportunity to explore digital video production while creating a short video based on a topic and theme provided to them.

Since 2001, Career Transitions has teamed up with Lethbridge College and Skills Canada Alberta to host this skills event, one of nine regional competitions held throughout the province.

Congratulations to all of the local students who participated in this year’s competition and best of luck to those continuing on to provincials.