Students of Distinction and SEA STARS awards presented last week by Good Spirit School Division

            One student in each of the four Good Spirit School Division schools in the Kamsack district was named a 2015 Student of Distinction, while three teachers at the Kamsack Comprehensive Institute received the Sea Stars Making a Difference Award.

            The fifth annual Student of Distinction awards were made last week, which was Education Week in Saskatchewan, by Bryan Cottenie of Kamsack, a member of the GSSD board of education.

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            At the KCI on October 21 Cottenie presented the award to Kaylie Bowes and the SEA STARS Making a Difference awards to teachers Ryan Gareau, Kevin Kitchen and David Placatka.

At the Victoria School on October 22, Cottenie presented the Student of Distinction award to Dustin Gamble, while on Friday at the Fort Livingstone School in Pelly, he presented the award to Tamara Auchstaetter, and at the Norquay School, to Elena Gustafson.

            The Student of Distinction award is presented every year during Education Week, Cottenie told the staffs and students of the schools as he made the presentations.

            “This year’s theme is Celebrating Each Student and we love coming to schools to celebrate,” he said. “This is one of the best things about being a board member: spending time in school with you. We take every chance to highlight your achievements and it’s amazing to be able to do this in a big school division with 28 schools and students of all ages.

            “Another very important day this week is Bus Driver Appreciation Day,” he said. “Bus drivers are very important in education and a part of the team that makes sure school is the best experience it can be for you. The next time you get on a bus say ‘thanks’ or simply smile; it means a lot.”

            Cottenie presented a plaque to each of the recipients in each of the schools and gave another plaque for the school to keep.

Kaylie Bowes

KCI Student of Distinction

            Presenting the award to Kaylie Bowes, Cottenie said that she contributes to school and community spirit through work on the student representative council, is president of the KCI Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD) group and president of the Free the Children group. She has been an active participant in the SRC since Grade 5 and has held executive SRC positions for the last three years.

            Bowes stepped up when no one else was available to coach the junior B girls’ volleyball team, is involved in many extra-curricular activities including volleyball, basketball, curling and badminton, maintaining a high academic average throughout junior and high school, he said. She is a member of the Community Health Advisory Committee with the Sunrise Health Region and attends board meetings for the Affinity Credit Union as part of a scholarship program.

Bowes has extended her contributions to include other parts of the world, travelling to Nicaragua in 2014 with the Me to We humanitarian group to help improve schools in that area, working hard to build the actual buildings by painting, mixing cement and pouring cement so that children in that country could get an education.

            “Kaylie is hard working and cares about other people and the people who are less fortunate than she,” Cottenie said. “She makes a difference in the community.”

Dustin Gamble

Victoria School

Student of Distinction

            On October 22, Cottenie presented the 2015 Victoria School Student of Distinction award to Dustin Gamble.

            “(Dustin) is a quiet student, but don’t let this quiet demeanour fool you,” Cottenie said. “His presence in the classroom, out on the playground and out on field trips with his class was always noticed.

            When past teachers were asked how to describe him, they said the following:

            “Grade 1: he was a very shy student. He was respectful, responsible and mature. You could always count on him to get his work done.

            “Grade 2: He was a quiet and positive member of the class. He is a good influence to those around him. He is very respectful, good academic student and loves his sports. His family is very involved in his schooling.

            “Grade 3: This student would be described as respectful, thoughtful, pleasant, proud, humble and kind. He is very good at sports and is co-operative and fair. He is a role model for his classmates. A few times throughout the year, he would surprise his Grade 3 teacher with homemade cards.

            “Grade 4: This student is quiet, participates in class discussions and often writes about his family. He has a wide range of interests; examples are sports, science and video games.

            “(Dustin) exemplifies the values of the Good Spirit School Division. He takes on the role of being nurturing, respectful and responsible. He demonstrates that we are a learning community and that all diversity belongs in our school.

            “This young man’s caring and respectful attitude goes beyond the school to his family. He has a sister in Grade 1 that when she sees him she will shout ‘DJ.’ He is quick to respond to her with love and affection. He is very proud of his culture and his family.”

Elena Gustafson

Norquay School

Student of Distinction

            On Friday, Cottenie presented the Norquay School Student of Distinction award to Elena Gustafson.

This award goes to a student who quite easily and naturally stands out simply because of who she is, he said, explaining that Gustafson is a leader academically, socially, athletically and in many other ways in and out of the classroom environment.

“(Elena) continually demonstrates a very strong work ethic, refusing to settle for anything less than her best,” he said. “(She) is quick to jump to the aid of a peer needing some help or maybe just to provide simple words of encouragement.

“When you watch (her) partake in athletics you will find a smile on her face far more often than not.”

Gustafson excels in her own athletic accomplishments and is a tremendous role model for the younger student athletes in the school. Words of encouragement are the norm as is a willingness to help out others whenever possible, whether that be her own teammates or the next generation of student athletes looking to extend personal skills and abilites.

“Being a positive role model is also something which helps this student to stand out. This individual’s caring, helpful and compassionate nature not only helps to create a warm and accepting school environment, but also helps lay the foundation to ensure the next generations of Norquay School students continue to be caring and respectful students both in the school and community.

“All of these qualities not only set this young student up for success in the future; (she) has gone to great lengths in helping to develop a climate and environment all of Norquay School is proud to be a part of.”

Tamara Auchstaetter

Fort Livingstone School

Student of Distinction

            During an assembly at the Fort Livingstone School in Pelly on Friday, Cottenie presented the school’s Student of Distinction award to Tamera Auchstaetter, a Grade 8 student “who is valued in school and in the surrounding community as well.

“(Tamera) constantly displays a positive attitude and shows hard work, respect, and dedication in every task she takes on,” Cottenie said. “She regards others with care and respect, making everyone feel as though he or she belongs in our school community.

“Not only is she actively involved in the schools’ ‘Wildcats at Large’ group, but is first to volunteer with any project going on in the school, and is currently showing interest in helping continue the ‘We Create Change’ group in the school.

“(Tamera) can always be counted on to get things done, and done well, whether it be her school work or helping plan school events. On top of her dedication to the school as a whole, Tamera is always giving her best effort to succeed.

“She exemplifies the values of a Student of Distinction and we are honoured to be presenting this award to her.”


Making a Difference

            While attending the assembly at the KCI on October 21, Cottenie said that he was honoured to talk about “three very deserving employees of the school,” who on the weekend at a staff appreciation awards banquet, were presented with the SEA STARS Making a Difference Awards.

            A SEA STAR winner is a “Sparkling Example of Accomplished Skilful Talented And Radiant Staff” in the GSSD, he said as he introduced Ryan Gareau, Kevin Kitchen and David Placatka and then presented each with a pin saying he hoped each would wear it proudly.

            Gareau worked on research during his master’s class of education law, Cottenie said. “He reflected that teachers have relatively little training or insight into the one area that has the largest effect on their lives and careers: the world of law. He focused his research and wrote Educators’ Lack of Knowledge in Educational Law. This essay was chosen by Professor William Smale for his new book Twenty-five Issues in Educational and Administrative Law. The book is currently in print and will be available shortly.”

            Kevin Kitchen has gone above and beyond with technology integration, he said. “Kevin was one of the first teachers to insist that social media sources from the school are an excellent way to link school, families and community.

            “At KCI, social media, which Mr. Kitchen looks after, has built a strong bridge among the school, parents and the community. He has actively researched this area as part of his educational administration master’s class in which he wrote a paper entitled Connecting School and Parents with Social Media. It was recognized as exemplary and insightful and published in a book called Connecting Schools and Parents with Social Media.

            Dave Placatka represents the true meaning of being a teacher, Cottenie said. “For him it truly is all about relationships. He is a positive driving force behind every one of his students, developing strong relationships and building trust with them.

            “A parent stated: ‘He establishes positive relationships with each student; the students respect him and do not want to disappoint him. His ability to adjust learning styles of each individual is evident in the success of his students.’

            “One student said: ‘He is kind, caring and easy to talk to. He cares for students inside and outside of the classroom.’

            “Another student said: ‘Mr. Placatka can relate to mostly every kid in the school and connects with them on a personal level. He is a very energetic teacher and always keeps kids focused and on task.’”