Noli timere

Death of a Naturalist
All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragon-flies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window-sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst into nimble-
Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
For they were yellow in the sun and brown
In rain.
Then one hot day when fields were rank
With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.
Right down the dam gross-bellied frogs were cocked
On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:
The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat
Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.
I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings
Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew
That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.
Seamus Heaney [1939 – 2013]

I should have included a Seamus Heaney poem sooner this year, following the week of his passing.  I love Death of a Naturalist for many reasons, not least of which is its thick imagery.  It was nice for us all to have this poet live in our time.

You can read and/or listen to Michael Enright’s thoughts on the passing of Seamus Heaney here: Sunday Edition

the past week
Welcome Back Student Party
Our week ended with a Friday afternoon party sponsored by our Students’ Council.  The party brought music to our field, along with a dunk tank provided some of our teachers with some mid-afternoon refreshment.  Thanks to Ms M. Kouperman and her students for ending our first full week of classes with an opportunity for our students and teachers to have some fun together.

Our Fall sports season started this week with two tough games for HWW athletes.  Our girls soccer team lost 2-0 to Centennial in our first home game and our senior football team was upset by Notre Dame on Friday evening.  Volleyball and Junior Football will play their first games during the week of September 23 – our Senior Football and Girls soccer teams play their second games next week when our girls host Ernest Manning on our home field at 4:30 on Wednesday, September 18 and our boys meet Saint Francis Friday at Shouldice Field beginning at 5:30.

All schedules and standings are found on the Calgary Senior HIgh School Athletic Association website: CSHAA

Traditional Learning Centre
Last week, our TLC Learning Leader, Mr. S. Garen and I met with our TLC students and their parents to discuss the HWW TLC uniform and dress code policy.  The discussions were fresh and honest and focused on what matters most to the students and parents in this program.  A letter will be sent home early this week outlining the results of these consultations; they will also be described in the next update of this blog.

Staffing Update
As I wrote last week, our students enrolment is larger than projected.  On the strength of this enrolment, we have been able to add teachers and learning leaders to our staff.  I am pleased to welcome:

  • Ms L. Alisat as our learning leader of ACCESS, GATE, and PLP programs and as a member of our Student Services Team
  • Ms C. Boehr as an additional member of our of office support staff
  • Ms C. Crichton as our learning leader of Student Services and ESL program and as a member of our student services team
  • Ms C. Mimura returns as a teacher at HWW in our English and Social Studies departments
  • Ms H. van Oosten joins HWW as our Guidance Secretary
  • Ms R. Steeves as one of our flexible learning teachers who will work with our CALM and Legal Studies students as well as students in their core subjects who need extra support or a more flexible structure in order to be successful
  • Ms A. Wandler as our learning leader of High School Success and Professional Learning.  Allison will be one of our two flexible learning teachers.

We have permission to hire an additional teacher for the first semester.  I hope to announce next week the name of the teacher who will be in that position.

On a less-happy note for us, Ms B. Cartmell will be leaving HWW to resume her important work as Specialist for High Needs students at the Education Centre.  Ms Cartmell’s expertise will benefit students throughout the CBE in her new position.  We thank her for all she has brought to the HWW community and wish her the best in her new role.

the coming week
The Governor General’s Travelling Exhibit of National Honours will have its official launch at HWW on the morning of Monday, September 16.  Their Excellencies the Governor General and Mrs. Johnson will be in attendance as the ceremonial ribbon is cut by a Wise Wood student, Sarah Taylor.  Our IB History students will have an opportunity to engage His Excellency in a question and answer session.  The Governor General will also present the Governor General Award to the parents of our 2012-2013 recipient.

Students in our Social Studies classes, and Grade 9 students from our three main partner junior high schools, John Ware, Louis Riel, and Woodman will tour the exhibit while it is at HWW  Monday through Wednesday.  The exhibit will be open to the public from 4:00 – 6:30 Monday and Tuesday evenings.

The exhibit is made possible through the generosity of the Calgary-based Taylor Family Foundation.

Friday will be a non-instructional day during which there are no classes.  Our teaching staff will use this time to consolidate some of their work arising from the challenges of this year’s start-up with unanticipated enrolment and begin their focused work on their department development plans.

from the Business Office
This is a very busy time at the school; this is nowhere the case more than in the Business Office.  Our Business Manager, Ms S. Mallett, has prepared a Fall School Fees & Transit Rebate Information sheet.

best of @hwwprincipal
The following represents a small sample of the links tweeted this week on @hwwprincipal.  If you are on Twitter, you can follow @hwwprincipal; if you are not, you can see all the tweets at

Don Tapscott on the Net Generation
Don Tapscott is a contemporary critic who watches digital trends.  In this 25-minute video from the recent Ideacity conference in Toronto, Tapscott provides many interesting and important insights into the role technology plays in our children’s lives.

Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 19, James Wright

10 expectations
The organization leaving to learn has produced a sassy video that expresses 10 expectations our students have – or should have – of their schools.

Explore – An idea is nothing more nor less than a new… – @explorer

The Networked Student: an engaging look at the collaborative way in which knowledge is created today.  We no longer rely in the same way on ‘authoritative sources,’ but are more responsible ourselves from sorting what to believe from what not to believe.  We need to help our students build critical thinking skills and not just memory skills.

Can you guess the top 10 most read books in the world? Any surprises? – @CalgaryReads

Reinventing School From the Ground Up For Inquiry Learning | MindShift  via @MindShiftKQED

Wary of standardized testing, parents are increasingly opting their kids out of exams | via @washingtonpost

on the principal’s turntable

Ben Caplan is a Halifax musician, reminiscent in some ways of Tom Waits, withouit being derivative of Tom Waits.

I first became aware of him a few weeks ago while streaming some items from Music: Q’s Favourite Performances on the CBC website.  I loved the video below and then listened to the album in the time of great remembering on the CBC Music website.  I ordered the LP and it arrived this week!


I can be reached by email at  I have Twitter account that I will use to share ideas and information.  If you are on Twitter, you can follow @hwwprincipal.  If you are not, you can view the posts at

Be sure, as well, to keep up to date by checking in regularly to our school webpage at

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