Bentley Community News: Parents experience Bentley school video conferencing

By June Norvila

There was good attendance at the Bentley School Parent Advisory Council meeting on Tuesday, March 17 that was held in the junior/senior high video conferencing room following parent/teacher interviews.

Mr. Korey Von Kuster, Assistant Principal and a teacher at the Eckville School, demonstrated how video conferencing worked and some of the capabilities of the technology while standing in a classroom at Eckville School with about five parents and school trustee Karin Engen. He has taught four courses over three years this way he said.

Also in attendance at the Bentley location were Gary Spence, Assistant Superintendent, and Mark McWhinnie, Technology Integration Coordinator, both from Wolf Creek Public Schools.

Questions and concerns brought forward were addressed or explained. It is interactive, in real time, and there seem to be few disadvantages. The teacher sees and hears all the students and they see and hear the teacher with the aid of computers, cameras and microphones strategically placed in classrooms.

Principal Moore explained it makes more sense to have one teacher teaching one course to students in two or three different locations at the same time than having two or three different courses being taught to a class of students in one room by one teacher. With Bentley, Eckville and Alix schools all having the exact same bell schedule and classes held exactly at the same time, shared VC courses can be offered. Video conferencing also cuts down on distance and travel time for a teacher who can be shared.

It was stressed this will work for certain predetermined high school courses and is probably not for junior high or younger students.

Other proposed changes coming to Bentley School were also discussed and explained. Grades 7 and 8 will be housed in the east building where there is more room. The west building will become a Grade 9-12 building and a place for students to mingle will be created. The vision of Principal Moore is to have all classes be a part of the same school and become a “school family” with more interaction and contact with each other.

The need for fundraising to get some equipment like smartboards was met with enthusiasm. Options will be investigated if a good core group of eight to 10 committed people are interested.

Much informal discussion followed. Treats were provided.

The next Bentley School Parent Advisory Council meeting will be held in the elementary library on Tuesday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m. All interested are invited. Lots of pertinent information will be provided and lots of feedback is invited.

Ag Society gearing up for busy year

The first meeting of the Bentley & District Agricultural Society for 2009 was held March 12. Regular meetings will now be held every second Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Bentley Ag Centre until September. Meetings are open to everyone, both urban and rural.

Many groups already have plans well underway for the coming year including the indoor rodeo, art show and sale, fireworks, mini air show, entertainment, announcer

Parking problems and possible solutions during the busy times in busy areas were discussed and will be investigated further. Hiring a parking attendant or acquiring more land for the temporary parking of stock trailers were considered as possible solutions.

The Ag society will again sponsor a trophy saddle for the ladies barrel-racing champion for CARA.

The local fair book won second place in the Marketing Competition for Fair Book Covers of two or less colors for attendance under 1,500 when entered at the competition at the annual meeting of the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies held in Red Deer and attended by some local Ag Society members.

Developing an Ag Society web site with lots of links to all those connected with the society is being investigated further.

Volunteer conveners and helpers are needed again and especially for areas including advertising; sewing and stitchery; drawing, painting and framed photography. Assistance is available but more people are needed.

Executive for the coming year are President Keith Stephenson, First Vice-President Janis Bickford, Second Vice-President Joan Dickau, Past President Merlyn Wilson, Secretary Kathleen van Dam, Treasurer Albert Goldade, and Directors Doris Bargholz, Greg Beavis, Leslie Garries, Roger Geisbrecht, Betty Knull, Paul Norvila, Chloe Ree, Georgina Miskey and Jeremy Park.

Contact any of them if you have ideas or can offer some time to become involved with a great group of people and help put on the biggest drawing card Bentley has to offer each summer.

The Ag Society helps coordinate, and in some cases helps fund, about 20 activities and/or events put on by various groups of people during the four day fair and rodeo August 6-9. Time can be as much or as little as you can give. The more help, the lesser the load on some others. Without enough help some events could be jeopardized.

The next regular meeting will be held April 9 at 7:00 p.m. in the Bentley Ag Centre.