“It is really nice,” said grade 9 student Anika P. “It makes me feel like I am part of a community.”
Recognizing students and their achievements was the focus of the 2018-19 Vista Virtual School (VVS) Awards nights, held in Calgary (October 18) and Edmonton (October 25). Families and VVS staff recognized the hard work our students have put in over the last school year, recognizing over 500 award recipients in 12 categories across the entire school.
“It really brings out the individual students’ true self. Unlike the (traditional) school setting, where you become a number, or a student without a real face—they know you, but they don’t know you,” said VVS parent, Tuyet Fray. “But here [at VVS], that recognition—even though you don’t sit in a classroom—shows you are a true person, you have true values, and you are recognized [for that]…it is wonderful!”
Student achievements are an important part of learning, it helps students see that they can be successful, that they can achieve top marks or overcome challenges to succeed, and it is a great way to recognize the hard work students put in each year.
“Any recognition feels good, a pat on the back feels good,” said VVS parent Carrie Carr. “Us, as parents, can say ‘great job’ as much as we can, but it doesn’t really mean anything—when it comes from someone else, it [seems to] mean a lot more.”
By recognizing students for their achievements, it showcases our top mark earners, honours achievement and graduates, as well as special distance learning, Citizenship and Principal’s awards. Each student that achieved an award this past year proved they can achieve success through distance learning.
“I like the fact that I was acknowledged for doing something, instead of [not], as that always seems to happen to me,” said Rowan C., a grade 8 student with VVS.
“I really liked hearing when the teachers were answering the questions in the videos, as it was nice to see they were students like us too,” said Aurora F., a VVS grade 12 student. This was echoed by her brother Benjamin as he “liked how funny they [the staff] are!”
It was even a time to recognize our staff for their continued efforts, including English teacher, Aletta Seward, who received a Pembina Hills School Division Exemplary Teacher award—as nominated by parent Abby Marchant, for consistently going above and beyond what a teacher is expected to do. And students and families were also recognized with the Principal’s award for outstanding involvement and achievement.
“I found the introduction speech [for the Principal’s Award – Family] that was given, was really heartwarming and unexpected,” said Jeremy P., a grade 10 VVS student and Principal’s family award recipient.
The awards nights were also time to display the many talents of VVS students—from artwork and design, to martial arts demonstrations (Talent 1, Talent 2, Artwork)—each of which, have VVS students successfully balancing their schoolwork with other extra-curricular activities.
“Taking time to celebrate successes, big or small is so important,” said VVS Academic Counsellor and presenter Lise Pethybridge. “Awards nights allow us to celebrate in a big way. It is awesome [to see the students achieve at a high level].”
The awards nights are an annual gala for students and families to celebrate their achievements from the previous school year.
“It’s a fact that in a virtual school we don’t see the teacher all the time or attend like a traditional school,” said VVS parent, Caroline Peterer. “When we attend an awards ceremony or an event like this, it is an opportunity to meet everybody and feel that we a part of something, and a part of the school. We all recognize we are not a stranger on the other side of a screen—and we can be recognized as well, even when we don’t expect it. I think that was very precious.”