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Fort McMurray Public School District: Doing What’s Best For Everyone

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When Chantal Collin, Volunteerism class teacher at Westwood Community High School learned of a special training program for taxi drivers to pick-up women leaving their home for a shelter, she knew she had to help.

“Our volunteerism class wanted to show support. We made loaves for them,” shared Collin, who started the class two years ago.

“In addition, we help Waypoints, which oversees the local women’s shelter with decorating cookies, and making origami to promote non-violence. Our students continue to give their time to support anti-violence in the community.”

“We also gave back to the Salvation Army with 50 gifts for their Angel Program during the holidays,” Collin added.

Fort McMurray Public School District (FMPSD) takes great pride in being a community supporter. All of our schools embrace numerous initiatives to support the social profit sector.

This year the FMPSD family raised $22,288.53 for the United Way bringing our grand total to over $640,000 in the last 30 years.

Russell Thomas, Director of Communications & Community Impact, The United Way of Fort McMurray was on hand for the cheque presentation during our January Board meeting.

“We are so grateful to our partners and friends in the Fort McMurray Public School District.  Each year, staff, administration and students join the effort to meet community needs,” notes Thomas.

“It is truly inspiring to look at the long-term donations that have been made to the United Way’s community campaign by the District - over $600,000 in the last 30 years.  They not only do what’s best for kids, they do what’s best for the community.”

Indeed, this community-mindedness has translated into one major project a month at Beacon Hill Public School.

“We have a focus on gratitude at Beacon Hill and campaigns rotate around it. When school started in September, our grades 5/6 class donated 140 care packages to the Centre of Hope. A luncheon for first responders followed with the entire school rallying to help three of our school families in need,” explained Garette Tebay, the school’s principal.

Dr. Brenda Sautner, Associate Superintendent, Education & Administration, FMPSD explains how giving back to the region is one of the cornerstones of an FMPSD education.

“FMPSD staff, next to parents and caregivers, are important in shaping a child’s life and ensuring the best outcomes for our students. Public education system must simultaneously prepare the citizens of tomorrow while equipping our students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in a rapidly changing economy and society. The provincial programs of study help staff ensure that our students understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and have the skills and attitudes to pursue learning throughout their lives. This is one of the many reasons why public schools give back to our community.”

“Ethical Citizenship helps students see beyond self-interests to the needs of the community; is committed to democratic ideals; contributes fully to the world economically, culturally, socially and politically; as a steward of the earth, minimizes environmental impacts; builds relationships through fairness, humility and open-mindedness, with teamwork, collaboration and communication; engages with many cultures, religions and languages, values diversity in all people and adapts to any situation; demonstrates respect, empathy and compassion for all people; cares for themselves physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually; is able to ask for help, when needed, from others, and also for others; and assumes the responsibilities of life in a variety of roles (Guide to Education, Alberta Education, 2015). This is inspiring education in Fort McMurray Public School District,” Dr. Sautner added.

This “inspiring education” is what PEAK Athletic Academy student-athletes embody.

Every Christmas season since 2011, the Academy gets together to celebrate the spirit of giving. 

“About 75 to 100 people consisting of families and staff gather at École McTavish Junior High Public School to share a potluck supper followed by gift wrapping. The Academy helps out three families in need by providing them with gifts, food and basic necessities to ensure they have a happy holiday season,” shares Krista Butz, PEAK Program Assistant.

“The gifts are definitely not wrapped with perfection, but they sure are wrapped with love and kindness. It’s wonderful to see all the students trying their best to wrap gifts while laughing and enjoying time together; and knowing that they will be putting a smile on so many faces for the holidays. What a wonderful feeling.”

Jodine Wells, Vice Principal, Christina Gordon Public School, explains their school initiative, called #CGCares. For their first fundraiser, they raised money for the Bay d’Espoir Academy School in Newfoundland, which burned this January.

“As a staff, we decided on giving back, because we were helped so much. We baked healthy muffins, made fruit kabobs, yogurt parfaits, as well as popcorn and raised $1,025 to help the school,” Wells notes.

These are just a snapshot of the many stories of giving back to the community. At Fort McMurray Public School District (FMPSD) we are “Doing What’s Best for Everyone.” For more information on any of our 16 schools, visit: For real-time updates: follow us on Twitter: @FMPSD @DougNicholls2 and like us on Facebook: Fort McMurray Public School District.



PEAK student athletes, their families, and staff at the annual potluck - wrapping gifts for their adopted families.

#CGCares - Christina Gordon Public School Vice Principal, Jodine Wells hands over a fruit kabob at the school’s first fundraiser for  Bay d’Espoir Academy School.

Left to right: Board Chair, Jeff Thompson, Glynis Bowers, and United Way’s Hanna Fridhead.


Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.