The Lights On program of Hay River was named one of two winners of the 2017 Excellence in Education Award from the South Slave Divisional Education Council on Aug. 25.
“Lights On is a truly exceptional program in Hay River that is made possible with the support of well over a dozen outstanding community partners,” said Curtis Brown, the superintendent of the education council, in presenting Lights On the partner in education division of the award during an annual conference in Hay River of teachers and principals from around the South Slave.
“Now entering its 10th year, the program offers youth in the community a supervised, program-based, and safe environment in their school after hours on Fridays and Saturdays where they can play sports, make music, use the kitchen and enjoy a full meal,” Brown said. “The program has helped curb underage drinking and illicit substance abuse, as evidenced by the results of student surveys.”
The program may receive 50 students at a time at Diamond Jenness Secondary School on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Funding ensures paid staff provides a high level of supervision, while volunteers make it possible to always have five adults on site.
A sister program also opened at Princess Alexandra School so that younger students would also have a safe space to get together, stay active and have fun.
“Lights On is a success because we have kept our promise to provide a highly supervised, program-based and safe environment for youth that is fun. There is no magic – just lots of common sense and dedicated community members who keep the lights on,” stated Jill Taylor, the founder of Lights On and a co-ordinator with the education council, in a news release.
The winner in the program staff division of the Excellence in Education Award is Pam Walsh of Fort Smith.
Walsh has spent 27 years in education, including 25 years in the NWT, and most recently was literacy co-ordinator at the education council.
She played a key role in implementing the education council’s nationally recognized Leadership for Literacy initiative, and has been instrumental in the initiative’s success, joining the regional office just as it was being rolled out in 2007.
For the 2017-2018 school year, she will be returning to a literacy coach position at Paul William Kaeser High School in Fort Smith.
The purpose of the Excellence in Education Awards is to publicly recognize the sustained commitments and outstanding contributions made by staff, parents and community members at schools under the South Slave Divisional Education Council.