2017 Friends of Education Award Recipients

Land of the Lakes Recreation Board

The Land of the Lakes Recreation Board has served the Iron River community for over 20 years. Generations of families have served on the board to provide safe and caring experiences for youth in the community.

Land of the Lakes supports the following initiatives at Iron River School:

  • Breakfast program;
  • Free swimming lessons, including transportation, for all students;
  • 20-foot Christmas tree every year;
  • Flood and maintain the outdoor skating rink;
  • Organize the annual winter picnic, which includes sleigh rides, tobogganing, sawing competitions, hot chocolate and hot dogs;
  • Fine Arts Appreciation Grants that have support Artist in Residence programs and Alberta Opera; and
  • Individual student grants that have allowed students to take part in activities such as a writer’s workship, hockey camp in Ukraine, wrestling tournament in Peru, and a youth social justice trip.

They also provide a baseball program, maintain the Manatokan Lake campsite, and hold community events such as a Canada Day oil-fashioned picnic.


Kids Are Worth It Nutritional Program

The Kids Are Worth It Nutritional Program whas been operating for over 16 years, supporting Northern Lights school in Lac La Biche. Hungry students at Vera M. Welsh Elementary School, Aurora Middle School and J.A. Williams High School are provided with food every day through breakfast and snack programs. Over the years the program has served over 64,000 breakfasts, 35,000 sandwiches and more than 3,000 bags of apples, oranges and bunches of bananas.

Kids Are Worth It works with other community partners to ensure the sustainability of the program. This includes the Metis Nation of Alberta Local #2097, Cenovus/Pare, ATB, Festival of Trees, Sobeys, Hamar’s Groceries, Independent Foods, Access Pipelines and TransCanada. These partnerships and continued fundraising through raffles, cereal drives, and volunteering at community events, keeps the program viable from year to year.


Tom Varughese

The Board presented the Varughese family with a Friends of Education Award in memory of Trustee Tom Varughese. Tom began his teaching career with Northern Lights in 1974 and later became principal of Grand Centre Junior High. After he retired, he worked as a substitute teacher and later was elected to the Board of Trustees.

Tom was a mentor for many students and staff, leading by example and inspiring people with his positive attitude, compassion and love of learning. In addition to working with students in his role as an educator, Tom also volunteered as a soccer coach for many years, sharing his love of the sport and active living with youth throughout the commu


2016 Friends of Education Awards Recipients

Laurent Marcil

Laurent Marcil was nominated by Bonnyville Centralized High School for his many years of dedication to the school and its industrial education program.

Laurent currently works mornings (half time) at the school and volunteers his time in the afternoon. His dedication to the school’s industrial education program is second to none. Not only does he contribute to the core programs at the school, but he is always willing to help when something needs to be fixed or built.

Laurent has become known as “grandpa” at the school and is a great role model for students as he demonstrates the importance of giving back to your community. He is truly an exceptional person.


Plamondon Co-op

Plamondon Co-op was nominated by Ecole Plamondon School for their support and advocacy for the school and the community of Plamondon.

The Co-op provides support for many school initiatives including the school’s breakfast program, Terry Fox Run, reading program, student portfolio judging, work experience, school celebrations, and two scholarships for students. 


RONA Cold Lake

RONA Cold Lake was nominated by Nelson Heights School for their ongoing support of the school’s curricular and extra-curricular programs.

Over the last few years, RONA has supported the school’s basketball program as well as their shop program. In 2015, RONA helped expand the Nelson Heights shop program to include a dremel work station. The school now has enough sets to allow each student to work on a project on their own. Students have had a great time learning about the equipment and using it to create their own projects.


Village of Glendon

The Village of Glendon was nominated by Glendon School in recognition of the ongoing support the Village council and its staff provide to the school. This support includes everything from painting crosswalks to supporting initiatives like the school’s Breakfast Program.

During the 2015-2016 alone, the Village paved over graffiti in front of the school; worked jointly with the school to address student driver issues in the Village; supported the school’s academic banquet; established communication channels that allowed the school to remain open during a water outage; supported the school’s Breakfast Program; supported the school’s Snow Angels program; and provided assistance and support for numerous school activities and initiatives.


2015 Friends of Education Award Recipients

Classroom Champions

Classroom Champions was nominated by Cold Lake Elementary School teacher Kate Pereira. In 2013, her classroom was selected as one of several across North America to take part in the Classroom Champions program. Classroom Champions pairs classrooms with Olympic athletes who teach students about things like leadership, goal setting, perseverance and living healthy, active lives. They provide each class with technology to allow them to interact with their champion throughout the year. Each month there is a new theme for the champions and students to discuss.

Cold Lake Elementary was paired with Olympic and World Champion speed skater Lucas Makowsky. The impact of program was immediate and enormous. Six year olds were setting goals, using vocabulary such as peserverance and defining themselves as champions. Parents remarked on the positive effects they were seeing at home and students were inspired by their mentor to try harder. The students created a video to cheer on Lucas at the Olympics and were rewarded with an in person visit from him at the end of the year. Lucas still maintains close ties to the school, checking in with the students from time to time to see how they are doing.

Year one was so successful that CLES was selected to participate for a second year and this time was matched with Paralympian Michelle Salt. Michelle challenged the students to become leaders and make a difference in their community. The students and the entire school participated in several community outreach projects as a result. She was so impressed with the students and school that she requested a special visit at the end of the year. The students were overjoyed to meet her and share with her how she had inspired them.

The students directly involved in the program became leaders in the school, sharing what they were learning in their classroom with other students. The entire school was motivated to read more through a reding program centred around the idea of the mentor travelling around a speed skating track the first year and a snowboarding trail last year. The more students read, the more the mentor moved, allowing the whole school to win various “prizes” along the way. 

Lac La Biche RCMP

The Lac La Biche RCMP was nominated jointly by the Principals at Vera M. Welsh Elementary School, Aurora Middle School, J.A. Williams High School and Lac La Biche Outreach School for their involvement in the Lac La Biche schools and commitment to making a difference in the lives of students.

The Lac La Biche RCMP members contribute to safety in the schools by taking part in lock down practice drills, reviewing Emergency Response Plans, and doing seat belt, car seat and speed checks near schools over the years. Members also do regular walkthroughs of playgrounds and school hallways, building relationships with students and staff. They also participate in assemblies and community activities, such as reading at Tropical Day or taking part in Sports Fun Day.

Constable Chris Prospero has developed very strong relationships and rapport with students at Central and now Aurora by instructing the Grade 5 DARE program. He has often surprised students by stopping by and joining them on the playground or visiting them in the hallway. Students and staff very much appreciate his humour as well as his genuine and caring personality. Constable Chris Clark attended the Dr. Swift YAP overnight campout. Constable Trevor Cardinal issued a cereal challenge to the other Lac La Biche members for the Kids Are Worth It program, which feeds hungry students at Vera M. Welsh and Aurora.

At the high school level the RCMP serve in various capacities from supporting administration and student services staff to classroom instruction through guest speakers in the CALM programs. Members also encourage positive relationships with students and staff by participating in the noon hour intramural program.

Participation in our schools is more than a job for them – not only are they an integral part of the wrap around services we have to support our students, they are also community members who have a vested interest in helping our community grow. Through their actions, we know that our local members believe that change happens through education.

Naim and Arabi Families

The Naim and Arabi families were nominated by Duclos School with the support of every staff member in the school. They were nominated for their conscious and sustained contributions to Duclos School and their focus on education, family, Recipient of the Premier’s Award for School Board Innovation and Excellence for our Literacy Programs community, active living and charitable acts.

The Naim and Arabi families have been involved as parent volunteers for bake sales, hot lunches, and other fundraising activities. Their Express Pizza restaurant has welcomed students on field trips to make pizzas, given classes discounts on pizzas or free pizzas for special events, and contributed annual donations to the school to purchase items for students. Purchases have included incentives for reading celebrations and treats for school Sports Day. They have also donated to the schools breakfast program.

The Naims and Arabis are not only kind and generous with Duclos School students; they also show appreciation for school employees. Whenever family members are in the school, they greet staff, ask how they are doing and thank them for their work. This may seem like a small thing, but it is significant to staff. Their positivity gives staff a boost of energy and lifts their spirits, which in turn benefits the students.

As business people in the Bonnyville area, the Naims and Arabis demonstrate leadership with their positive attitudes to NLSD schools, staff and education. In addition to Duclos School, the families also support many local charities and community events including Deeds Well Done, Santa’s Elves, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Kids in the Kitchen at the Boys and Girls Club, Become a Community Builder and much more.


2014 Friends of Education Award Recipients

Kikino Little Angels Daycare

Located on the Kikino Metis Settlement, Little Angels Daycare is an integral part of pre-K education for children in the community.

The daycare provides students with the opportunity to become prepared for head start and/or kindergarten as they structure their day very similar to a full-time education program.

Children between the ages of one and five take part in pre-writing and pre-reading activities as well as hands-on crafts and exercise to promote and strengthen co-ordination.

Little Angels Daycare also offers before and after school programs for students attending the Kikino Aboriginal Headstart and Kikino School.

Lakeland Credit Union

Lakeland Credit Union is active in our schools in the BonnyvilleCold Lake area through a number of initiatives.

Its Moonjar financial literacy brings volunteers into the classroom to help grades 5 and 6 students learn about the basics of money management. It teaches goal planning and budgeting skills, healthy spending habits and consumer responsibility, as well as community giving and volunteering. They also have a high school program that educates students on banking basics, the breakdown of interest, credit cards, loans, mortgages, credit ratings and more.

Over the last five years, Lakeland Credit Union has granted over sixty six thousand dollars in scholarships to students in the Bonnyville-Cold Lake area. They have also sponsored a number of school initiatives including Dare to Care and Santa’s Elves at Bonnyville Centralized High School, an anti-bullying session at Bonnyville Outreach School, the Building Bridges program at Cold Lake Elementary School and a number of playground projects.

Rotary Club of Lac La Biche

The Lac La Biche Rotary Club is a longtime supporter of schools in the Lac La Biche area.

For the past three years, they have donated 100 books to 10 families through the “Be A Friend” book program at Vera M. Welsh Elementary School. Families are identified by teachers and all members of the family receive books to fill their shelves.

Each year, the Rotary Club provides two scholarships to graduating students. They also provide support for student activities, such as Recipient of the Premier’s Award for School Board Innovation and Excellence for our Literacy Programs sponsoring the Reach for the Top Team from Plamondon and sending students to citizen camps in Ottawa.

The Rotary Club also recently donated $30,000 to the Active Kids Society for the playground at Vera M. Welsh.


2013 Friends of Education Award Recipients

Lac La Biche and District Music Festival Association

The Lac La Biche and District Music Festival Association was nominated by our Lac La Biche area schools.

As a volunteer organization, the Lac La Biche Music Festival Association supports and enhance the work that NLSD teachers do in their schools. Bringing in provincial adjudicators helps the stuents and teachers to learn and improve their skills. They also offer scholarships for individuals and groups. 

The annual festival engages parents and the community in the Fine Arts and provides children with an opportunity to perfom and showcase their talent. Performances enhance self-esteem, and through practice, studnets are imprioving a lifelong skill - singing, choral speech, playing an instrument or dancing. 

For its 40th anniversary, the Association collaborated with NLSD for one large final performance that combined the Festival's finale with NLSD's annual Fine Arts Showcase. 

OSUM Oil Sands Corporation

OSUM Oil Sands Corporation was nominated by Cold Lake High School for its ongoing support of initiatives at the school, including a partnership with its science department. An emphasis has been placed on providing students with opportunities to participate in hands-on activities and challenges to foster their creative thinking and highlight the importance of innovation in technology and problem-solving.

Osum and the Cold Lake High School Science Department have collaboratively planned several capacity-building experiences. This has included two-day innovation challenges with worldrenowned keynote speakers. This has already been successfully done twice. The first event focused on the Science & Innovation of Sport, the second event focused on The Science & Innovation in Hollywood Movies and Theme Parks; with this second challenge 0sum felt that it was important to include motivational speakers of aboriginal decent (Ashley Callingbull a Native Albertan Cree Model, Actress and University Student). It is planned that this school-wide experience will be held every two years for the remainder of the partnership in order to include as many students as possible from grades 9 through 12.

OSUM has also sponsored professional development opportunities for staff, field trips for students, solar panels for ht eroof of the school, and equipment for the school's science labs.

During the 2012-2013 school year Osum expanded their support of local science education, and met with all of the high school science departments in Cold Lake & Bonnyville to see how they could best support the different school communities. At Cold Lake High School the Osum CLHS corporateeducation partnership was further yet expanded to include sponsoring videoconferences with expert scientists. The first of these was held in November of 2012 with Mayim Bialik (Amy Fara Fowler from the TV series "The Big Bang"); she plays a neurobiologist on this TV show; however she is actually a neurobiologist. In this video conference she shared with the students her upbringing, about her childhood experiences in terms of her education, family background and being a child actress, and what led her to become a neuroscientist. She also shared about her current career as an actress, and work as a scientist and teacher. This was followed up by a Q & A session where students were able to ask her questions directly. All of the students who participated in this video-conference really enjoyed it and found it to be both educational and inspirational. This expansion of the partnership demonstrates the continued effort by both parties to evolve to best meet the needs of the respective school communities in new and innovative ways.



2012 Friends of Education Award Recipients

Cenovus Energy

Cenovus Energy was nominated by Duclos School Principal Richard Cameron for the Roots of Empathy Program.

Cenovus contributed and supported the Roots of empathy program in the 2011-2012 school year which brought 8 programs to NLSD schools: Duclos Elementary, Glendon School, Cold Lake Elementary and North Star Elementary.

Roots of Empathy is a program designed to reduce incidences of marginalization, aggression and bullying in participating schools by focusing on social emotional learning. After a successful first year with positive results in the participating schools, Cenovus has committed to support the program for three more years!

Cenovus has been an important partner with Northern Lights since 2007, contributing across NLSD supporting a variety of initiatives. The benefits of their contribution can be measured by the accomplishments of the students and their teachers. Not only do the programs supported by Cenovus provide students with hands-on learning opportunities, but many of the projects also help make students aware of their role in helping make their community a better place.

Ray Danyluk

Our second award recipient was nominated for a variety of projects and initiatives he has supported in our schools across the division. Ray Danyluk served as the MLA for Lac La Biche-St. Paul Constituency from 2001-2012 and was an integral part of numerous projects which have benefited the students in Northern Lights School Division.

Mr. Danyluk was instrumental in the construction of the new CTS lab at J.A. Williams High School and with his support and continued efforts NLSD is getting a new high school in Lac La Biche which will be attached to the Bold Center. Without his support and relentless championing of the high school project it would not have become a reality within the short time frame it has.

Mr. Danyluk has always been a passionate and strong supporter of Public Education and an even louder advocate for children and certainly modeled this passion for the students of Northern Lights School Division. He has always been approachable and visible with the Northern Lights school community and the LLB region. No conversation or idea was ever “off limits” particularly where students and community were concerned.

Ray Danyluk has proven to be a true and sincere friend to Northern Lights School Division. Although his presence and advocacy will be missed, he will never be forgotten for his work for our students.

Imperial Oil

Imperial was nominated by Cold Lake High School Vice Principal, Chris Holoboff for supporting the Education Partnership with Cold Lake High School.

Since its inception in 1996, the partnership’s success has depended on the active participation of the staff of Imperial Oil and the teachers of Cold Lake High School. The longevity of the partnership speaks to the commitment of Imperial Oil to help make education more relevant to students by providing opportunities for students to make real world connections. For over 16 years, it’s been a collaborative effort between education and business to help prepare students for the world of work and the partnership includes:

  • RAP; 
  • Economics of Staying in School;
  • Employability Skills; 
  • Science Literacy and Employability Skills Awards; 
  • Skills Canada; 
  • 4th Class Power Engineering Program; 
  • Support for Multi-Media projects; and 
  • Cold Lake Museum projects.

Imperial Oil Resources also supports our schools by providing funding for Energy in Action, The Mobile Trades Trailer, Student Leadership Conference and the new Recycle & Waste Management project at Cold Lake Middle School.

Portage College

Our fourth Friends of Education Award winner was nominated by Vera M. Welsh School Council and Principal Dana Robb. Portage College was chosen for playing an integral part in the community of Lac La Biche.

Portage College always contacts Vera M. Welsh for student practicum placements. Everyone benefits when their students are helping our students and in the end, we have trained individuals who are hired in our schools to make a difference. Students have had extra support in the classroom, there has been more adults for children to talk to and share new ideas and students have learned new skills and gained a better understanding of FNMI stories.

The students have had opportunities to visit the college, tour the Native Cultural Arts Museum and also be included in their sports program with the Voyageur Hockey team. The partnership has been long standing and recently an educational Assistant and Native Cultural Arts practicum student completed their coursework and hours at Vera Welsh.

Portage College is in the education business! They invite members of NLSD to be a part of their advisory committees, they seek input into programming, the college supports many organizations like Hope Haven by hosting the Walk of Hope. (our students walk to Portage and then congregate at Portage College)

They are an integral part of our community in Lac La Biche and their annual Sports Banquet and Golf tournament have become highlights for community members. Portage College is a role model for all of us. In 2011 NLSD signed a Business Articulation Agreement with Portage College. The agreement will allow students enrolled in the NLSD Business/Entrepreneurship Foundations Pathway and/or Program Specialist Pathway to earn advanced credits through Portage College. This program alignment will assist NLSD students in making a smooth transition from high school to post-secondary education in a specified area of study. This is the fifth Articulation Agreement with Portage College and is part of an on-going partnership with the college. Along with the Career Pathways, Portage College also partners with NLSD on other initiatives such as: The Trades in Motion Mobile Trades Lab and the Youth Achievement Program.


2011 Friends of Education Award Recipients

Devon Canada

Devon Canada Corporation was nominated by Central Elementary School Principal Blair Norton for the opportunities it has provided to not only his students, but students across the division.

Devon supports a variety of projects in NLSD schools including Green Learning, Seeds Water Challenge, Quest Theatre workshops, and Ducks Unlimited kits. They are also the corporate sponsor of the NLSD Division Science Fair.

In partnership with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Devon has also been a driving force behind several school beautification, outdoor classroom and tree planting projects at schools in the division – most recently at Cold Lake Elementary School and Iron River School.

In particular, Northern Lights School Division recognized the efforts of Tracey Thompson from Devon Canada. Thompson works directly with the schools to make sure they are accessing the programs available to them. She has also worked with schools to help them establish relationships with other companies in the area in order to access additional programming.

“If we have an idea and need support, Tracey is there to support us. Students do not always remembers the great math lesson taught in the classroom, but many students remember those special learning opportunities that happen outside of the classroom and this is what Tracey and Devon Canada have provided to our students,” wrote Norton in his nomination submission.

Cold Lake FCSS

Cold Lake & District FCSS was nominated by Cold Lake Off-Campus Principal Chris Vining.

Last year when it looked like Cold Lake Off-Campus and Bridges Outreach School would no longer be able to offer their successful Saddle Up for Success program, Cold Lake FCSS stepped up and helped the schools secure a $17,000 Community Development Grant to keep the program going.

The Saddle Up program provides students with the opportunity to work with horses. As the students develop new skills, they have to teach those skills to their peers. The program is therapeutic, hands-on and culturally sensitive.

The students work towards their Canadian Equestrian Federation Level 1, earn credits in Agriculture and Equine Care and work with a professional horse trainer. Students are also connected to postsecondary education through the Lakeland College equine program.

In addition to Saddle Up, Cold Lake FCSS also provided a grant to fund the school lunch program at Cold Lake Off-Campus.

As well, Cold Lake FCSS supports Northern Lights schools through a variety of partnerships, including funding for preschool screening, presenting parent education programs at our elementary schools and offering volunteer opportunities at the Parent Link Centre. Cold Lake FCSS is also the lead agency for Cold lake Bully Free, which hosts a Bus Driver Breakfast every fall, promotes Pink Day and organizes Bully Prevention Week.

MD of Bonnyville

The Municipal District of Bonnyville’s School Resource Officer Program received nominations from four Northern Lights School Division schools.

In 2007, the provincial government published 31 recommendations to improve community safety and reduce crime. One of the recommendations was to ensure that all schools have access to a school resource officer.

The MD of Bonnyville recognized this as an opportunity to provide a much-needed service to children and youth in the region. They offered to dedicate two peace officers to work full-time in schools in the Bonnyville-Cold Lake area so that all students would benefit from the program.

The program started in schools in January 2009. School Resource Officers Gord Brown and Trish Gillett, and interim School Resource Officer Chris Garner, provide a variety of programs and sessions at all grade levels at 14 NLSD schools serving over 3,500 of the division’s students.

Programs include the popular Crime Scene Investigation program, which links directly to the Grade 6 science “Evidence and Investigations” unit, and the Right Choices program for Grade 5 students that covers bullying and harassment, cyberbullying and Internet safety, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco, drugs and their effects, and peer pressure.

Sessions offered include Stranger Danger, Quad Safety, ATV Skills, Doppler Theory, Internet/Facebook Safety, Home Alone Safety, Hate Crime and Racism, and Bicycle Safety.

The officers also interact with students at a less formal level, taking part in field trips, visiting schools during lunch and recess and working one-on-one with students when requested.

Some comments from the nominations received: “The officer was very engaging and the kids were very interested and excited to use the hand-held radar. He also took students for rides in his patrol car and even turned on the siren and lights for them.” “When an incident occurs at the school and immediate support is needed, our School Resource Officer has committed to being there for us, even having to change plans at the last moment.”

Kikino Metis Settlement Council

For over 20 year, the Kikino Métis Settlement Council has contributed to education not only at Kikino School, but to students attending J.A. Williams High School in Lac la Biche as well.

Kikino council provides speakers for school events and assists with curriculum. Elders ensure they attend many, if not all, school events.

The council has also worked with the school to develop an education plan and the goals in that plan have been met 100 per cent over the last six years. The council has also played a key role in develop curriculum support materials to expand the Grade 6 local government unit.

Kikino council also provides financial support for the school library, school supplies and field trips, including the annual perfect attendance trip to the St. Albert Children’s Festival.

Council also pays the school fees for students who transition to high school in Lac La Biche, and when the students graduate, the council helps them with the cost of attending post-secondary education.