Holiday Board-om

School Year Calendar 2016- 2017

School Year Calendar 2016- 2017

One of the jobs I have at the end of November each year is to prepare all of the registration documentation for the following school year. Because the first round of 2017-2018 registrations go out on January 2nd (for current Mentor JK to Grade 7 students), we need to have the school holidays set before we leave for our Winter Break.

The Ministry of Education sets the holidays three years in advance and we follow their lead with regard to when the Winter and March Breaks will be. Setting the holidays should be easy for everyone based on that but this year, public education boards started thinking out loud in the early part of this year that they would like to finish one week later in December and then return to classes January 9th. The “catch” is that Boards need to pre-obtain permission to go against the Ministry guidelines but when they released their list of holidays, there was an asterisk saying “pending Ministry approval”. Even if we had a way of knowing when the Ministry would approve the dates, it was already 4 months since we set our holidays and 2 months after we had given those dates to our families in the registration packages. I cannot understand how the Boards would not know three years ago (let alone two years ago or even 12 months in advance) what they wanted to do or why the Ministry would create holidays that their Boards would not want but I guess that is why I am (glad to be) in the private system!

I have spoken to many teachers, students, and parents who are part of the public boards and have yet to hear anyone say that they are excited to spend an extra week in classes with excitable students during December. When I walked through the Primary Campus front lobby this morning, there was an appreciable increase in the decibel level of the kids just because the holiday decorations were up so I know this will only increase throughout the month of December. The parents in the public school system are very jealous that we are going to be back in school on January 2nd. My personal experience with kids and the winter holidays is that after New Year’s Day, children are ready for the routine of a school day again because the excitement of new holiday gifts has worn off (eg: a week after dropping a few hundred dollars on the latest video gaming system, we just love to hear “We’re bored…there’s nothing to do”!). More importantly, parents need to get some semblance of normalcy as soon after the holiday as well.

Our holidays (or as I like to say “their” holidays) have proven to be a challenge for our high school sports in particular as we have three weeks of the winter season that are not common to most of ROPSSAA but that has been the only stumbling block. I hope that those who like to travel are finding good deals with two weeks of “uncommon” holidays and that those students who do their own gift-giving in December will take advantage of the extra shopping time. As for next year’s Winter Break, you can see on the Ministry website that the Christmas Break will be from December 25, 2017 to January 5, 2018. But you can also see on the site that, despite the modifications made by most Boards, the Ministry holidays for the current year (see the image above – click to enlarge) have not been amended…

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

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