December 2020 Newsletter
December 1st, 2020
Click each article below to read this month’s newsletter or read the PDF version.
Learning Without Limits
Whew! December is upon us, and not a moment too soon! Who would have thought a year ago that face masks would become fashion items and that “distance learning” and “virtual school” would now be household terms, not just in our world but among the general public? A return to some sort of “normal” in 2021 would be more than welcome!
As the holiday season approaches, we find ourselves in the midst of a new COVID-19 lockdown, and while VVS is far less directly affected by this than most other schools, we fully recognize the grinding toll this global health crisis continues to take on our students, families, and staff. We sincerely hope the holidays bring you all peace, happiness, and respite amid these trying times.
While COVID continues to place limits on our school activities, there is still plenty going on this month. If you have not already done so, subscribe to our website updates find out about upcoming student opportunities, including virtual work experience orientations, post-secondary fairs, student social clubs, awards, and more.
As always, we welcome your comments. If you have any questions or concerns, please phone us toll-free at 1-855-974-5333 or talk with your teacher. If you have any VVS-related stories you’d like to share, please contact Ben Freeland, our communications and marketing specialist.
We hope you have a wonderful month of December and a happy and safe holiday season. See you all in 2021!
New COVID Restrictions
Due to the Alberta government’s new COVID-related restrictions, all VVS support staff will be working home until Friday, January 8. The Calgary campus will remain open for exams and other business, but strictly by appointment. Those wishing to visit are requested to book an appointment in advance and to wear a mask.
Our phone line (1-855-974-5333 x5317) is being monitored but not answered in person. All voicemails are being redirected to the VV Support email inbox and are being responded to in the order in which they are received. Our support staff may respond to messages either by phone or email. All other phone numbers and extensions will remain the same unless otherwise noted.
Diploma Exam Exemptions
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta Education has announced that the remainder of the year’s Provincial Diploma Exams, which include the January, April, June, and August sittings, will be optional. Students still wishing to write Diploma Exams are encouraged to talk to their teachers. For more information on Diploma Exam exemptions, please read this web update.
Online Career Fairs with CAREERS: The Next Generation
CAREERS: The Next Generation will be holding two more interactive online career showcases this month as part of its Virtual Exploration Events, with a focus on mechanical trades. Students interested in automotive mechanic careers will not want to miss the December 6 event, while those interested in industrial mechanics will want to check out the millwright virtual exploration event on December 16.
CAREERS: TNG is also continuing its Young Women in Trades & Technology (YWITT) virtual mentorship series for female students in grades 9 to 12 with a December 15 session, also focused on the mechanical and automotive trades. For more information on all this, visit the CAREERS: TNG website or the Vista Virtual School website.
ShadOnline 2021 December 7 Deadline
Applications for Shad 2021 will close on December 7. Normally a live-in program, the nationwide STEAM and entrepreneurship program for grade 10-11 students will take place entirely online next year in virtual campuses from July 5 to July 30, 2021.
Calgary Fire Cadet Program
The City of Calgary’s Fire Cadet Program will be accepting applications from January 1 to March 31, 2021 for its 2021-22 training program. The program is open to high schoolers in the Calgary region who are between the ages of 15 and 18 (as of July 1, 2021) and ready to commit to an 18-month program starting in September 2021. Read more about it here.
Junior High Student Social Clubs
Vista Virtual School is launching its new online junior high social clubs on Friday, December 4. If you still want to register for a group or have questions about your first meeting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skills Investment Bursary (SIB) for Adult Students
The Skills Investment Bursary is a fund provided by Alberta Works for adults (aged 20 and up) enrolled in high school upgrading courses. Vista Virtual School has already allocated all its available SIB funds for the 2020-2021 school year, but funding will once again be available for the April–September 2021 academic session.
Adult upgrading students interested in SIB funding can start submitting their applications on Monday, December 21. Alberta Works usually takes about ten weeks to review SIB applications. The cutoff date for applications for April–September funding is January 22, 2021. More information on qualification criteria and the application process is available here.
Accessing the Student Information System (SIS)
Parents and guardians who have not yet logged into VVS’ Student Information System (SIS) should do so as soon as possible, as this is the best way to monitor your child’s progress, review correspondence, keep track of course timelines, and stay up to date with your child’s activities and submissions. You should have received an email providing you with login information for your account.
To get started, select the Course Login quick link button on the home page (below the rotational spotlight window) to be directed to the SIS login page. If you have forgotten your username and/or password, you can retrieve them by submitting your email address. You can also contact us at email@example.com or by phone at 1-855-974-5333 x5317 if you have any trouble.
Adult Learning at Vista Virtual School
School-aged registration for grades 1 to 12 are now closed for 2020-2021 (except for interjurisdictional and international students), but we are still welcoming adult students aged 20 (as of September 1, 2020) and up. For more information on our adult upgrading program, please visit this page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student ID Cards Available
Are you or your child interested in having a Vista Virtual School ID card? Email us at email@example.com with your (child’s) name and Alberta Student Number together with an appropriate headshot, and we will get this sent off to you.
School Council and Parent Input
Although we do not have a formal School Council, we welcome parents, guardians, and students to provide input on the operations of the school. Your suggestions can be directed to Mike Loitz, Principal.
Monthly Events Calendar
Check out our monthly events on our website. We update this calendar as events are added.
Important Dates in December
Safe Volunteering This Holiday Season
‘Tis the season once again to embrace the spirit of volunteerism, and not a moment too soon! 2020 has been a brutal year for people the world over who have had to deal with the double impact of a global pandemic and the resultant economic contraction that has left millions out of work and plunged countless families into poverty and hardship.
But while the need for charity has never been higher, so too has the need for caution when embracing volunteer causes. The decision to volunteer at a food bank or a soup kitchen during the Christmas holidays might be a no-brainer under normal circumstances, nobody could be blamed for having reservations about doing so in the time of COVID-19.
What, then, is one to do to help people in need this holiday season while also protecting one’s own physical safety and that of others? Here are a few ideas you might consider.
- Write letters for or have phone/video conversations with seniors. Many senior citizens struggle with isolation at the best of times, and the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated this type of isolation. Why not contact a senior citizens’ home and offer to be a pen-pal for a resident, or to brighten somebody’s day with a Zoom conversation?
- Sew masks for charities. Got a sewing machine and a knack for needlework? Why not carve out some time to make masks for people in need. Food banks and other charitable organizations always need masks for their own frontline workers, as do those people on the receiving end of charity. What better way would there be to get into the holiday spirit, 2020-style?
- Offer to clear snow for a neighbour. There is always a need for snow removal and de-icing this time of year, particularly for seniors in your neighbourhood, and unlike many other forms of volunteering, this can be done easily via social distancing. It is also easy to organize.
- Donate to your local food bank. Both the Edmonton and Calgary Food Banks are continuing to accept food and monetary donations throughout the holiday season, with extra precautions. Be sure to read up on food banks’ drop-off safety protocols on their websites. Financial donations can be made from the safety of your own computer.
- Be a virtual tutor. With all the educational disruptions the year has brought, there has never been a greater need for tutoring and peer support. Are you a high schooler looking for some teaching experience? Why not offer to tutor whatever subject you feel most confident in? The public library systems in Edmonton or Calgary are great places to start on this front.
- Blog or vlog for a cause. Are you animated by one or another social cause and want to be an agent of change? If so, all you need is a computer and an Internet connection to get the word out AND hone your writing or videography skills.
- Find out where the needs are. Volunteer Connector is a great starting point for people who want to contribute their time and talent but don’t know where to go. Visit the site to find out about current and urgent needs and what volunteer opportunities are a good match with your skills, resources, location, and time availabilities.
The need for holiday helping hands has never been greater. Fortunately, there is no shortage of safe ways to make the season easier and merrier for a neighbour or a total stranger.
VVS Student and Pop Phenom Named Forbes Top 30 Under 30
Vista Virtual School grade 12 student Tate McRae has just hit another major milestone in her already high-flying pop music career, with inclusion in Forbes magazine’s 2021 Top 30 Under 30 list. Not only that, but at age 17 she is the youngest nominee on the 2021 list in the music category!
The Calgary singer-songwriter may still be in high school, but you would never know it from her resume. At the age 13 she became the first ever Canadian finalist on the US reality TV show So You Think You Can Dance. From there she achieved YouTube renown with her 2017 hit “One Day”, which she released on RCA Records two years later before releasing her debut EP, All the Things I Never Said, in January 2020.
Tate’s latest hit single, “You Broke Me First”, went viral on TikTok over the summer, accumulating more than 250 million streams worldwide. The song peaked at number eight on the Canadian charts and won her top ten standing in ten other countries, as well as plaudits from MTV and Billboard. You can read more about her eventful pandemic year in her interview with Spin magazine in October.
Tate is currently scrambling to finish grade 12 ahead of a hectic 2021 schedule, which includes a European tour in the fall.
Congratulations on your latest milestone Tate! We couldn’t be prouder to count you as one of our own!