Doing What’s Best for Kids

Composite High School’s EAL Open House for Newcomers and EAL Learners

Posted on: General News

(Fort McMurray, AB - February 23rd, 2024) On the 13th of February, Composite High School opened its doors wide, welcoming a vibrant community to its English as an Additional Language (EAL) Open House event. Designed to highlight the extensive support provided by the Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) to students learning English, the event was nothing short of a thorough success.

The evening kicked off in the school's auditorium, where organizer Crystal Perry, Principal Craig Upper, along with EAL teaching and support staff, extended a hearty welcome to all attendees. The introductory speeches laid out the evening's agenda and emphasized Composite High School's commitment to fostering an inclusive learning environment for EAL students.

Composite High School ELL Teacher Crystal Perry, the evening’s sole organizer, enthusiastically reflects on the Open House.

“At Composite High School’s inaugural EAL Open House, we didn't just open our doors; we opened our hearts to a world of connection and belonging. It was a joy to witness our EAL students and their families forging bonds with our school staff and local partners, weaving a tapestry of community that bridges cultures and languages. As our multilingual students proudly showcased their Miner's Pride as guides and translators, their dedication illuminated the spirit of our school. What truly filled my heart was meeting each family, sharing in their stories, and seeing their radiant smiles that lit up the room. In those moments, we didn't just create an event; we nurtured a home-to-school link grounded in warmth, understanding, and shared purpose of belonging.”

The EAL program showcased its comprehensive curriculum, aimed at enabling English-language learners to achieve academic success and meet graduation requirements. The programming at both elementary and secondary levels adapts to the unique needs of each student, with specialized teacher support playing a crucial role. This is a testament to FMPSD's commitment to an education that champions inclusivity and individuality. Factors such as age, language ability, prior schooling, and personal goals are meticulously considered to tailor a learning experience that best suits each student.

Composite High School offers direct instruction classes at the secondary level focusing on language proficiency, covering crucial areas such as speaking, reading, writing, and listening with comprehension. Pulling themes from English language arts, math, science, and social studies, these classes aim to equip students with the vocabulary and academic skills needed for a seamless transition into regular classrooms. What’s remarkable is that most of these direct instruction classes offer elective credit and are accessible to all students across all grades, regardless of their language proficiency level.

Additionally, EAL support periods provide vital extra time and assistance, helping students excel in their coursework. Utilizing the Alberta ESL Curriculum for English Second Language (ESL), Levels 1-5 highlights the structured approach to language learning, with each course offering a valuable five credits towards graduation. Alberta ESL Locally Developed Course (LDC) further bridge the gap towards mainstream courses, paving a more straightforward path for EAL students.

The EAL Open House event was a fantastic exhibition of the school’s diversity and welcoming spirit. EAL students guided tours in multiple languages, showcasing the facilities and the supportive, multicultural community that Composite High School prides itself on. The presence of community partners providing resources for newcomers in the school and across the region was a stark reminder of the value of collaboration and mutual support.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Kehinde Saka highlights Composite High School’s Open House as a prime demonstration of FMPSD’s dedication to fostering inclusive and safe learning spaces for students and staff.

“In pursuit of educational excellence and inclusivity, the EAL Open House at Composite High School is a shining example of our commitment to welcoming and supporting every student. By celebrating and embracing our diversity and providing equal access and learning opportunities to all, we weave a stronger community fabric. Our aim is to create a nurturing environment where each student, no matter their linguistic heritage, is encouraged and equipped to reach their highest aspirations.”

Events like Composite High School’s EAL Open House are pivotal; they not only illuminate the extensive support systems in place for English-language learners but also celebrate the diversity that enriches our school communities. Composite High School, alongside FMPSD, continues to stand as a beacon of inclusive education, where every student is given the opportunity to thrive, irrespective of their linguistic background.

For additional information, contact:

Momin Syed                                                           
Communications Coordinator
Fort McMurray Public School Division