This past week I had the opportunity to travel to and present at the Alberta Rural Education Symposium held in Banff, Alberta, from March 6th through March 8th. This symposium is run by a number of rural Alberta school divisions and is supported by Alberta Education. The delegates who attend this event are all involved in education and are concerned with solving the problems unique to rural education in Canada.
Radio Hanna — a grassroots, volunteer initiative — was invited to set up a broadcast table at the symposium and to also present at an info session. Myself, in grade nine, and Brenna McGillion, grade twelve, were asked to present on the student perspective of participating in Radio Hanna. My parents, Jennifer & Sean McCormick (Radio Hanna co-founders), were also presenters. My mother, a teacher at J.C. Charyk Hanna School spoke about the educational aspects of Radio Hanna, while my father spoke about his work on growing the community portion of the project.
We had a great time broadcasting live from the symposium and answering tonnes of questions from everyone who stopped by our table. I think we did too good of a job at that as so many people learned about us from our table that not a lot of people needed to attend our info session. Still, the feedback we received was fantastic! A lot of people were excited about the learning innovation taking place in Hanna.
There were two keynote speakers at the symposium. Dr. Ken Coates, a Canadian historian and expert on education, spoke on Sunday evening about how students from rural communities can hold their own against students from urban centres at university, and also shared ideas on how small communities can attract students back home after they have finished their schooling. The main speaker on Monday was Mr. Rex Murphy, a famous political commentator here in the Great White North. He provided an inspirational talk on the role of education and educators and received a standing ovation.
Brenna McGillion and I were very fortunate to be introduced to Mr. Murphy prior to his keynote address and given a chance at a very short interview. We only had time for three questions and it was nerve-wracking because we were interviewing him in the corner of a cafeteria with a bunch of ladies just waiting to pounce him for pictures and autographs. Mr. Murphy was very gracious and took the time to answer our questions seriously and at length. Both Brenna and I were left star-struck! You can hear our short interview using the player at the bottom of this post.
In addition to the Radio Hanna crew, other PLRD No. 25 delegates to the symposium were, Mr. Cam McKeage (Superintendent), Mrs. Angie Warwick, Mrs. Holli Smith, and Mrs. Marsha Tkach (school trustees), Sharon Orum (PLRD Secretary/Treasurer), and finally Ms. Nadine Hein (Health Facilitator).
I found the symposium to be very informative and educational, and both Brenna and I were honored to be able to present and broadcast on behalf of our school division. We were fortunate to meet some very inspiring people and to learn about how educators are trying to provide better solutions to rural residents. Brenna and I would like to thank Prairie Land Regional Divison No. 25 for this opportunity.
J.C. Charyk Hanna School
Note: Thanks to my father, Sean McCormick, for helping out with this item when I got stuck on some parts of it.