Semiahmoo Secondary is an integral part of the White Rock/South Surrey community. Established in 1940, Semiahmoo has a strong tradition of rigorous academics along with first-class programs in music, arts, athletics, technology and culinary skills. In 1980, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program was established at Semiahmoo, making it one of the oldest IB programs in British Columbia. In the past few years, the Semiahmoo school community has collaborated with the Semiahmoo First Nations to educate students on the rich history of the past and to make connections to the present and future.
"Collaborations of this nature are vital in sharing the impact of the past on our communities and raising awareness of future generations." - Chief Harley Chappell
The Semiahmoo school community has continued to build a collaborative relationship with the Semiahmoo First Nation, on whose unceded territory the school resides. This school year began with a new mascot, the Thunderbirds, and a new logo to represent this change. Changing the mascot from Totems (which were not used by the Semiahmoo nation) to the more authentic Thunderbird is an example of this collaboration. Our learners have responded in a variety of ways to demonstrate their commitment to reconciliation and to recognizing the history, traditions and contributions of the Semiahmoo and other First Nations people. For Orange Shirt Day, students wore special buttons, designed by Semiahmoo staff, to remember the Indigenous children who attended residential schools. Students participated in the Moose Hide Campaign to draw attention to stopping the violence against Aboriginal women and girls. Finally, Semiahmoo staff and students attended a ceremony in which an apology was made to the Semiahmoo people for using Semiahmoo as a school name without permission and consultation. The traditional name for Semiahmoo is SEMYOME. A cedar sign, carved by a Semiahmoo staff member will commemorate the name SEMYOME, and two student awards, one named in honor of Grand Chief Bernard Charles, will be introduced this year.
"I can tell you, without diversity, creativity remains stagnant." - Edward Enninful
Semiahmoo Secondary students represent many ethnicities, cultures and languages. As a result, Semiahmoo students learn to connect with peers from diverse backgrounds and abilities. These connections bring strengths, experiences and ideas to the classroom and school community as a whole. Throughout the year, Semiahmoo students are provided opportunities to consider opinions and perspectives that perhaps differ from their own viewpoints. This engagement allows for the building of skills that will carry with them throughout life such as communication, critical-thinking and problem-solving. Diversity helps to prepare our students for the workplace and life experiences. Exposure to the rich fabric of our student population helps to promote the creativity and innovation that Semiahmoo is known for throughout the South Surrey area.
Citizenship and Community Involvement
"Citizenship is the chance to make a difference to the place where you belong." - Charles Handley
Semiahmoo students are proud of their contributions toward creating a better community and world through service projects, fundraisers and experiences. Our International Globalizers group raised funds for Access Kenya, an organization that provides scholarships to African students. Students participated in Model United Nations to build leadership skills, debate and work together to solve current global issues. These students stepped into the roles of world leaders, representing countries from around the globe. Grade 12 students completed Capstone Projects and our IB students prepared for final CAS (Community and Service) projects. Projects and clubs this year include a book drive to raise money for literacy projects; an Earthworks club to promote environmental awareness, and a Mental Health club which provides games, informational talks and activities throughout the year. Finally, four of our Semiahmoo students were awarded Surrey's Top 25 under 25 awards for their efforts in taking action to better their community
Academics and Extra-curricular Programs
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin
Overall, Semiahmoo students demonstrated strong performances in academic courses such as English, sciences, mathematics and social studies. Senior level students completed their CAS service projects in IB or their Capstone projects for graduation. Our students competed in Math and Physics competitions, the national Poetry in Voice program and other academic based activities. In courses such as Marketing, Pastry Arts and Baking and Foods, student completed projects that showcased their talents. Many Semiahmoo students participated in band concerts and the Jazz Festival held this year in North Vancouver. Semiahmoo Yearbook and Photography students spent tireless hours to create long lasting memories. Many scholarships were awarded to our graduating class.
"A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever." - Mary Lou Retton
Team sports provide Semiahmoo students with opportunities to excel in their abilities and to bond with peers. Semiahmoo students trained hard and the proof was in the results. Semiahmoo boasted strong finishes in provincial matches and placed within the top teams in a variety of sports. Along the way, students developed mental toughness and physical endurance, not to mention just having a great time. Our athletes proved that not only do they have the skills, they also have the spirit of the game.
Semiahmoo learners understand that learning is found not just in academic texts, but also in developing skills sets to navigate the world around them. Our learners enter a post-secondary world with a strong foundation in literacy (the ability to read, write, think and speak effectively); a deepening understanding and connection to the First Peoples Principles of Learning, and a strong sense of self-identity by the linking of social emotional learning (SEL) and core competencies to key aspects of the curriculum.
Semiahmoo learners participate in a variety of learning activities to actively engage in and to strengthen their literacy skills. Our learners design posters, write blogs, film and produce digital media presentations, create and publish podcasts, write essays and poetry, and present speeches . By exploring different methods of communication, our students are able to connect the impact their work has on an intended audience. Students also understand that texts are used for specific purposes, whether to evaluate, make judgments, entertain, inform or persuade.
Semiahmoo students understand that learning is focused on connectedness and a sense of place, and that learning is embedded in memory, history, and story. Indigenous ways of knowing are encapsulated across academic and extra-curricular courses. Our students understand that learning is holistic - it is not about the "I" but about the "we". Through activities such as creating a Reconciliation bulletin board in Social Studies or learning about waterways used by Aboriginal peoples on an outdoor education field experience, students can link traditions, rituals, practices and stories of BC's First Nations peoples to their modern learning. By understanding indigenous perspectives, our students can also recognize consequences of past actions and work toward created a safer and more inclusive environment for all. An example of this would be the changing of the school mascot from Totems to Thunderbirds.
Semiahmoo students know that belonging and individuality is a result of the language we use, whether that is oral stories and speeches, social media and/or recorded histories or texts that carry meaning. Associated with the understanding of one's identity is also knowledge of one's cultural background. Across subject areas, our students explore cultural aspects through language. Semiahmoo's diverse population provides a rich backdrop for students to delve into the language of their identities and heritage. Students engage in self-expression through art, debates, oral presentations, and written story-telling to delve into their own histories and backgrounds.
Literacy is the act of being able to read, write, speak and listen to communicate effectively in order to make sense of the world and is critical for academic success (https://literacytrust.org). Many factors come into play when focusing on literacy skills for our students: a student's background, possible gaps in schooling, language proficiency in English, diverse learning needs, attendance and mental health. For many of our at-risk learners, social-emotional learning, which is the ability to develop skills in self-awareness, self-control and communication goes hand-in-hand with the development of strong literacy skills. Semiahmoo is known for is strong commitment to rigor in academics, but for our cohort learners, those who are most at-risk, the ability to build skills in both literacy and SEL learning is key.
An examination of data has identified a cohort group of approximately 429 students (5.3%) at Semiahmoo who are considered academically vulnerable due to a variety of factors. This identified cohort group primarily includes students whose first language is not English and those with diverse learning needs. Analysis reveals that almost one-third of our ELL learners are at a developing level or lower in English proficiency. For many of these students, the development of academic vocabulary and the connection with school culture, along with relationship building, is a focus for our school.
"I was scared about making friends or speaking in class. When I met someone who spoke the same language, I felt good about coming to school."
In addition, over one-half of all students considered academically vulnerable have diverse learning needs. Attendance data revealed a much higher rate of absenteeism for this cohort group as well. Putting more universal supports in place for these students will help to strengthen our goal of strong literacy skills.
" Helping someone to read and write effectively or acquire the basic math skills so many of us take for granted, improves the future of everyone in society. Literacy is critical to economic development as well as individual and community well-being." - https://projectliteracy.ca
Further school-based data such as logs from our Youth Care Workers, counselling appointments, and disciplinary referrals, reveal a connection between academic vulnerability and the need for a focus on social-emotional (SEL) learning to develop communication skills; to build relationships; to understand themselves and to self-manage. Students who possess strong skills in SEL tend to do better academically than those who do not have these skills in place. Students with low SEL tended to have more issues with class attendance and low academic performance, as well as more check-ins/visits to counsellors, youth care workers, aboriginal workers and administration.
Learning goals for our cohort group include:
Our cohort learners collaborated on projects, presentations, and activities. In science class, students worked together in small groups to determine answers to a hypothesis. In English 8, students interacted through a variety of apps to share their writing with the whole class. Math students worked together to solve advanced problems and used whiteboards to race each other to the answers. In social studies, group presentations using PowerPoint and Sway, provided an opportunity for students to use digital media. Finally, in Fashion Design, student collaboration led to the design and creation of hoodies and full dress forms.
Semiahmoo students were able to analyze cause-effect relationships and think critically to develop new ideas. To present their learning, students also learned how to access information from a variety of sources and to evaluate the information to create something new. Social studies students developed flip books that outlined important aspects of past and present Canadian society and history; science students created graphic organizers to explain systems, and art and media students designed and created free-form cities to represent different geometrical shapes.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL):
This year, our cohort group worked on understanding and appreciating how many factors can lead to a healthy sense of oneself. Students wrote self-reflections in classes to set and then re-evaluate their learning goals. Students practiced team building and built self-confidence at a Wild Play field experience. In PHE, students connected with other cultures through activities such as Bhangra dancing. In English, students wrote self-identity poems and created memoirs based on life experiences. Also in PHE, students in this cohort completed self-assessments to connect their overall learning to core competencies such as communication, thinking and personal and social interaction.
PHE Self-Assessment - Click on this link to view a PHE Self-Assessment connection to Curricular and Core Competencies
Strengthening literacy skills for our cohort students will be a top priority as literacy impacts all areas of academic and personal life. In our literacy focus, Semiahmoo will take a two pronged approach involving both staff and students.
Semiahmoo staff will continue to both design and to attend Professional Development sessions that focus on the following topics:
Our Communicating Student Learning (CSL) Coordinator will continue to provide opportunities for teachers to collaborate including book studies and Lunch and Learn sessions. Topics covered in these sessions have been on reporting changes, assisting students with transitional years (for example, grade 7 to 8 and grade 9 to 10), and the creation of templates for student goal setting and reflection.
Our EA and ABA support staff will continue with campus-based, quarterly Pro-D meetings to share strategies for working with our diverse learners; communication and collaboration with teachers, and other student-centered topics. These staff members work closely with our diverse learners and are part of the school support team.
For this coming year, our cohort students will continue to focus heavily on continuing improvement in literacy skills. In classes, students will continue have multiple opportunities to demonstrate learning in a variety of ways. For example, many students are now presenting their learning through multimedia and digital literacy as an alternative to traditional pen and paper tasks. Click on the link below to see a digital assessment: May's Journey in Foods class.
Semiahmoo senior students helped to support literacy goals for our cohort group as peer tutors. This year, and next, we have a large number of senior students serving in this role. Peer tutors worked closely with our Grade 8s and 9s. As tutors, these students provide mentorship and role modeling for our junior grades. The majority assist in academic classes such as English, mathematics, science and social studies. This coming year, our peer tutors will also hold homework clubs before and after school.
SEL continues to be a high priority for our cohort group. Students begin the year with survey questions designed by our CSL team. These questions focus on students' ideas around learning, grades and motivation.
Examples of survey questions are below:
In Physical and Health Education, SEL goals are woven into the curriculum. Students learn about healthy decision-making, signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety, how to respond to bullying and discrimination, and how to promote active and healthy living. This year and next, students will continue to participate in a variety of activities designed to imbed these concepts into their daily lives. Below is an example of a student's self-assessment:
Understanding that mental health can have an impact on student learning, our Counselling team, along with Aboriginal and Youth Care Workers, will continue to provide opportunities for students to experience the connection between learning and well-being. Throughout the year, students have multiple supports in place to explore how SEL can impact their overall school success. One popular event is the Semiahmoo Annual Mental Health Day sponsored by the Counselling Department and the Mental Health Club. Each year, students have the opportunity to play games, interact with positive adult role models and discover methods to cope with issues such as anxiety. Our Youth Care Workers host a weekly Girls Group, a safe place for students to come and discuss topics of relevance to them. The Coordinators of our Gay/Straight Alliance also provide a variety of activities and meeting space for our LGBTQ2+ youth as well as access to supports within the community. Moving forward our students will continue to understand that a healthy mind and body has a cause and effect impact on literacy and academics.
As we continue into next year, students will continue to strengthen literacy skills by focusing on key curricular goals. In addition, the continuation of courses such as our Connections program will provide students with time to take ownership of their learning and to work one-to-one with a teacher/mentor. Core curricular components will be embedded in learning activities to allow students ways to explore social-emotional learning and to connect with the Core Competencies. Partnerships with community supports and the Semiahmoo First Nations will continue to be integral to student success. Throughout the year, evidence will continue to be gathered to determine progress on student goals.