This Week in Horizon 2022-23 » June, 2023

June, 2023

Image of Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education for Horizon School Division

A message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education
Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed., Ed.D. (Candidate)
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205
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“The end has come, as come, it must, To all things; in these sweet June days, The teacher and the scholar trust, Their parting feet to separate ways.“ – John Greenleaf Whittier

We have arrived at the last day of the 2022-23 school year, and what an exceptional year it has been! I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the team of amazing people who keep this machine running. I hope each of you has a chance to do things that fill your bucket over the summer. Please ensure you take the necessary time to enjoy a relaxing and well-deserved vacation with a good book or two, and lots of time doing the things you love with the people you love most. 

On behalf of the Board of Education, Chair Jim Hack asked me to share the following message with each of you:

“As a Board, we could not be prouder of everything Horizon School Division has accomplished this year. To our staff, we say that your work, knowledge, leadership, teamwork, and dedication are all greatly appreciated. Each and every staff member in our system contributes to the success of Horizon School Division, and the legacy of that work will be seen in the success of our students for many years to come. While we faced a number of challenges this year, our staff and Board worked hard to ensure we maintained the level of excellent services for which Horizon has become known. I am extremely proud of this work and grateful to everyone involved. On behalf of the Board, thank you for everything you do.

I would also like to thank my fellow trustees. Their commitment and guidance continues to benefit our students, staff, and stakeholders each and every day. Our system has already benefited from their contributions and leadership, and we look forward to continuing our work together in the fall.

In closing, we just want to say thank you, again, for another great school year. Enjoy the well-deserved summer break, and we look forward to seeing you in the fall.”

Sod Turning

On Monday, we had the great pleasure of officially breaking ground for the new Lanigan school. We were joined by students, staff, SCC members as well as the Honourable Donna Harpauer, Lanigan Mayor Tony Mycock, Board Chair Jim Hack, and Trustees Mark Fedak, Jennifer Lemky, and Douglas Armbruster. We heard from students who shared their wishes for the new school and participated in the sod turning photo, and their involvement helped to make it a very special event. I am extremely grateful to our Board of Education who has advocated for this project, and to Superintendent Justin Arendt and Manager of Facility Services Kam Kiland for their incredible work so far. It is very exciting to have shovels in the ground and I look forward, as so many do, to seeing the construction progress.

Humboldt Pride Flag Raising

I was honoured to participate in the Pride Flag Raising at Humboldt City Hall on Monday afternoon. It was wonderful to join the Humboldt & Area Pride Network, the City of Humboldt, Carlton Trail College, Westminster United Church, Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce, and many other businesses and community members in recognizing the human rights of those who are oppressed and challenged to be who they are.  

Directors Leadership Team Professional Development & Year End Windup

Horizon’s current and future administrators gathered at the division office for a day of learning and collaboration on Tuesday. We heard from Superintendents Jacquie Bergerman and Trish Maxwell on Building an Inclusive School before welcoming Andrew Matheson, Chair of the Humboldt and Area Pride Network who discussed allyship and barriers for 2SLGBTQIA+ people. We were also joined virtually by Aaron Biberdorf from the Sun West School Division about the new Distance Learning Centre. It was an excellent day and a great end to the year and I look forward to picking up where we left off in the fall. 

National Indigenous Peoples Day

What a wonderful day we had on National Indigenous Peoples Day. It was an honour to be joined by Elders and dignitaries and performers from neighouring First Nations, many Board Trustees, and so many from the community of Humboldt and area. I want to thank Superintendent Bryan McNabb and his team for their work in organizing this important event. You can see a full write up and pictures of the day in this month’s From the Board newsletter. 

Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association

Trustee Jim Lissinna, Student Activities Administrator Brian Grest, and I were able to join the SHSAA’s annual general meeting in Regina during the last part of the week. We joined members of the HCAA including President Curtis Strueby and the rest of the executive. It was a great couple of days celebrating high school sports in the province. 


The last of our graduation ceremonies was held this last week and I want to thank our students, staff, and families for everything they have done over the course of the 13+ years our children are in our care. I want to once again wish all of our graduating students the very best as they end this part of the learning journey and head onto post-secondary education or the workforce. The world has a great deal to offer and I know each of you will make the most of the opportunities that are before you. 

Joint Operations Committee

Sandy Gessner, Marni Sogge, Justin Arendt, Cory Popoff and I joined trustees Linda Mattock (Committee Chair) and Dr Cheryl Vertefeuille for the last of our JOC meetings with trustees and staff from Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools to approve the HCI budget for 2023-24. The school is operated in many ways by Horizon with joint input into the budget and the building components through the JOC. I want to thank principal David Millette and the staff at the school for their work in supporting students while the governance process is addressed by the member boards.

Budget 2023-24

On Wednesday, the Board’s Audit Committee met, led by chair Mr. Mark Fedak, and comprised of voting members Doug Armbruster, Albert Pinacie, and James Lissinna. Board Chair Jim Hack and Vice Chair Linda Mattock attended the meeting as non-voting delegates. The committee was provided the authorization and responsibility to bring final approval to the 2023-24 budget. We look forward to our continued work at realizing great success within the funding provided to us. Thank you to all members of the Director’s Leadership Team for their work in helping to prepare various aspects of the budget. A big thank you goes out to the finance team led by Superintendent Sandy Gessner and Assistant Superintendent Lori Washkowsky. Their efforts to bring the budget items together in a format that allowed the Board to make the best decisions possible in support of student learning was outstanding. As well, special thanks to Superintendent of HR Cory Popoff and his team for helping my office ensure that staffing components necessary to meet student and staff needs were addressed to the best of our ability.

In closing, I want to wish each of you a fantastic Canada Day and a safe and restful summer vacation. I will be honest, although I know we all need a break from the intensity of our work, the 2023-24 school year cannot come soon enough. Each member of the Horizon team, including the Board, staff, students, and families, contributes to my deep love for my role as CEO. I am truly at my best when every member of the Horizon team is working together in support of our students. It’s why I look so forward to September 5th when our entire team is back together. In the meantime, enjoy the summer, everyone. The weather is beautiful and we are blessed to be in such an amazing community of learners. 

Take care and we will see you in August!


Good morning, everyone. I cannot believe we are less than ten working days for staff until the end of the year! In other terms, we are only one more THIS WEEK away from closing out 2022-2023. This year, I turned 55 and what I’ve come to realize is that we simply can’t slow down time. I guess I have always known that, I suppose. What I really mean is that time marches on and we can stand by and watch the parade or we can jump in and really make the world a better place. I like how Michael Altshuler referenced this idea when he said, “The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.” Thank you for getting on the ship called Horizon, and for being part of the crew that has provided so many opportunities and success for our students over the last year! You are a valued member of this team!

Best of luck to our senior students who will be writing final exams this week and next. There are a handful of Grade 12 graduations left to be celebrated, and for all our students and staff, the end of a school year can be bittersweet. This quote by author Jonathon Lockwood Huie is a nice way to frame these milestones: "Celebrate endings — for they precede new beginnings." 

Learning Improvement Plan meetings

We wrapped up the spring Learning Improvement Plan meetings last week with visits to Lakeside Colony, Wadena Composite, Wadena Elementary, Watson, Schell, Imperial, Watrous Elementary, Winston High, Viscount, Quill Lake, and Lake Lenore schools. As always, it was excellent to celebrate the work being done in our schools, and to connect with students and staff during these meeting times. 

June Board Meeting

We met for the final meeting of the 2023-24 academic year, followed by the annual Board and division office wind up. Watch for highlights from the meeting in June’s From the Board. The Board’s annual appraisal was held on Thursday and it was an excellent day of reflection and forward planning. I sit in on these meetings with the Board and they do a tremendous job of going over their last year’s work in an effort to improve what they do for students and staff. It is inspiring to see a group of people who are so united toward a common vision, mission, and goals, who desire to get even better at their roles as individuals and as a collective. Jennifer Lemky, governance committee chair and the entire committee did a wonderful job of helping to lead through the day. Executive assistant Marni Sogge did a great job of preparing all of the documents and surveys for the committee and her staff did a great job organizing the appraisal and the wind up event. 

Superannuation Banquet

The Board and I always look forward to being with staff when they are bringing their careers to a close. It is a real milestone to hit that time in our lives when we make a decision to retire. It means the end of August opening days and closure to that time when we support the children of our system. Unfortunately again this year, I had to miss the Horizon Teachers’ Association Superannuation banquet due to a family emergency. I was grateful to have Superintendent of HR Cory Popoff attend the banquet in Watrous in my place. Congratulations to our newest superannuates! 


The week ended with four more graduations across Horizon School Division. I know it is always a great event to be part of as staff, families, and community celebrate this important milestone for grade 12 students. It is also the precursor to them heading out into the world ready to take on all it has to offer. Only a few graduations remain for the upcoming week and a half, and the 2022-23 school year will be concluded. Again, I know I’m not the only one who finds this so hard to believe!

As we conclude this week, I can’t help but think about the impact that has been felt across our country following the tragic bus accident in Manitoba. Our thoughts and/or prayers are with every family member, first responder, and friend who has felt the immediacy of its impact. We also recognize in Horizon, that this type of traumatic event can be difficult for youth and adults alike to navigate given the many similarities to the tragedy of April 6, 2018. I want to once again remind everyone that if they or someone they know, including our children and students, needs support to process their own grief and trauma, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our mental health is so vital to our overall health, and often it is the last thing we pay attention to. Please remember that there are professionals available to help, and that we can’t help others until we get the help for ourselves. 

Have a great week, everyone.  


Eleven schools celebrated their Grade 12 graduations this past weekend, and many schools are holding academic and athletic award ceremonies and retirement celebrations. As we bid farewell to the graduating class and departing staff members, I am reminded of sportscaster Ernie Harwell's wonderful quote about new beginnings: "It's time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I'd much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure." In the spirit of Harwell's words, we embrace the possibilities of the future for all of our Horizon family! 

Learning Improvement Plan meetings

We continued with Learning Improvement Plan work last week, meeting with Cudworth, Bruno, Lanigan Central High, Sask Central Hutterian, Archerwill, Rose Valley, Robert Melrose Elementary, Kelvington High, Humboldt Public, Lake Lenore, and Annaheim schools. I was joined by a superintendent at each school, and with administrators, we completed our spring reviews. Thank you to Superintendents Jacquie Bergerman, Bryan McNabb, Trish Maxwell, and Terry Leibel, and each principal, vice principal, and school staff for the support and contributions to these important planning meetings. 

Celebration Day Lunch

The first celebration day lunch of the year was a visit to Bulyea in March, and staff supervised as kids skated on the outdoor rink and played in the snow. We also attended Kelvington High and HPS in some warmer weather. However, this past Monday, we visited Lanigan Central High School, and it was a scorcher of a day and hard to imagine ever needing a parka or toque! Many of our schools do not have air conditioning units and this warm weather, while indoors, is not as welcome as it should be. It is something we will continue to review as it is challenging for students and staff to work when the inside temperature borders on unbearable. That said, the kids and staff were outstanding as they have been in any of our schools who have had to deal with high temps. Big thanks to Principal Jeff Stroeder and all at Lanigan Central who gave us a very warm welcome. Trustees Mark Fedak, Albert Pinacie, and Division office staff joined the school staff for a celebratory lunch before serving cake to all students and staff. 

Legacy Award for Excellence in Teaching 

Prior to the celebration day lunch at Lanigan Central, Trustee Mark Fedak and I joined the students and staffs at Lanigan Elementary and Lanigan Central High to provide a legacy teaching award to Mrs. Elaine Seifert. Elaine has spent 69 years educating children and providing them the gift of music. She has been a pillar of the Lanigan and area community and her students expressed their appreciation by joining her in singing songs and wishing her a joyous retirement. I want to thank Pam Briske for helping us honour Mrs. Seifert for her incredible commitment to our children and youth. 


CFO Sandy Gessner and I met on Tuesday to further discuss the new budget allocation that was announced on June 1. Horizon’s additional funding allocation totalled almost $814,000 and was a welcome addition considering the significant budget challenges we are experiencing. More will be shared once the Board has had time to review the intended use of the funds. 

Provincial Education Plan (PEP) Implementation Team Meeting

On Wednesday, Superintendent Trish Maxwell joined the PEP implementation team for a regular meeting. I was unable to attend, but the plans related to the education plan are nearing finalization and we eagerly look forward to sharing more about how this work will align to our already strong focus on the pillars. 

Board Agenda Meeting

Also on Wednesday, I met with our Board Table Officers, Chair Jim Hack and Vice Chair Linda Mattock, Superintendents Sandy Gessner and Justin Arendt, and Executive Assistant Marni Sogge and Communications Officer Jesse Green to finalize the agenda for the upcoming Board meeting on June 14. This will be the final regular meeting until late August for the Board, and there is a great deal to discuss related to the new funding allotment. 

Directors Leadership Team meeting

Horizon administrators and the Senior Leadership Team met for the last virtual meeting of the school year on Thursday morning. We discussed graduations, processes for the government’s new Distance Learning Centre, School Community Council updates, and more. Principals will share pertinent items with their school staffs in the near future. 

Celebration of Life

On Thursday afternoon, I joined a number of Horizon trustees, staff, families, and community members at Day Star First Nation Administration building for the celebration of life of Trustee Paul Crow-Buffalo’s partner of 46 years, Ms. Debra Baird. Debbie spent her entire life supporting children and is sadly missed by all who knew her. Our thoughts remain with Paul and his family during this extremely difficult time. 

Lake Lenore Celebration Day

Lake Lenore staff conducted their celebration day on Friday and Trustee Linda Mattock and I were honoured to attend on behalf of the Division and Board. It was a wonderful afternoon of recognizing the many great things the students at the school accomplished, as well as celebrating the retirement of caretaker Mrs. Colleen Hartl. We don’t always have time to be part of retirement festivities so it was tremendous to be with Principal Ralph Viczko and his students and staff during this important event. 

I ended my Friday like many other trustees and superintendents, joining the staff, students, and families at the grad exercises being held across Horizon. It was an exciting time and I had the pleasure of attending two graduations, one in St. Brieux and the other in Englefeld. Like all the graduations, they were extremely well done and were a tremendous celebration of the accomplishments of a great deal of hard work by the Grade 12 students of our Horizon schools. 

Have a great week, everyone! 


Good morning, everyone. I hope each of you had a relaxing weekend. 


It is wonderful to see our students experiencing such a tremendous variety of exciting learning experiences through powwows, track and field, agricultural learning, graduations, field trips, cultural activities, and so much more. As always, thank you to our wonderful, dedicated staff for providing these opportunities. 


The additional education funding announced by the provincial government last week was certainly welcome news. We have been working to determine how this will affect our budget plans for 2023-24 and will share details as soon as they are available. The Board and I have had some preliminary discussions and there is much left to discuss as we reconstruct the budget with these additional funds. One of the biggest challenges we recognize is that the Board had planned to pull on reserves to balance the budget. With these dollars, it is expected that we will not be required to use the money from surplus to meet our budget needs. There are lots of discussions that are remaining to be held.


Learning Improvement Plan meetings

Our Learning Improvement Plan tour continued last week with meetings at Wynyard Elementary, Wynyard Composite High, LeRoy, Englefeld, Muenster, Foam Lake Elementary, New Horizon Hutterian , St. Brieux, Three Lakes, and Wakaw schools. I was again joined by Superintendents Jacquie Bergerman, Bryan McNabb, Trish Maxwell, and Terry Leibel as we reviewed and discussed such items as school data, plans to foster continuous learning, supports for literacy and numeracy development, and SCC plan involvement. We also took time to acknowledge the incredible work being done in each school over the last school year. 


Restorative Action Program (RAP)

Terry Leibel and I met on Tuesday morning to explore the Restorative Action Program which has been running in Saskatoon schools since 2003. Initially, the program’s aim was to reduce violence and bullying while developing a positive school culture and strategies to address issues that stood in the way of students being successful in school. Engagement in the program has been proven to be a highly effective practice, and Horizon is exploring whether there is an opportunity to enhance our work.


Pride Flag Raising & Crosswalk Painting

I was invited by Foam Lake Composite School’s We All Matter group and the Foam Lake Pride Society to their second annual Flag Raising and Pride Crosswalk Painting on Wednesday evening. The goal of these organizations was to kick off Pride Month, which began on June 1st. For the most part, the event is organized through the support by our students, who are supported by staff like Mr. Jess Michalcik and other staff members. It was a pleasure to attend and support this event and do my small part to help foster a culture of inclusion. I am proud of Horizon and our work towards providing a safe and caring learning environment for all students and staff. As author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said, “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” 


Raising a Pride flag is a simple thing to do, and it is also a powerful symbol of inclusion. We never know when the little rainbow on our lapel might be the thing that helps someone get through a tough time. Flags and pins are certainly only the beginning, and that’s why Horizon will continue to partner with OUTSaskatoon, various local Pride societies, and support students who wish to create Gay-Straight Alliances. 


Public Section General Meeting and Professional Development

Along with Horizon Trustees, I attended the Public Section General Meeting and Professional Development general meeting and PD event where we looked at advancing inclusiveness, focus on student learning, discuss democratic values, and more. The event ran Thursday evening and Friday morning and although I had to take my leave, it was certainly an excellent chance for our trustees to connect with Public Divisions from across the province of Saskatchewan. On my way back to Humboldt, I stopped at Nokomis School to meet with Principal Kalie Hendry to join her and many other students and staff who have placed their orange handprints on their tipi. It is certainly an excellent way to show support for Truth and Reconciliation, and I am proud of them for taking on this initiative. 


Track & Field

Thank you, thank you to our many coaches and volunteers, and of course congratulations to the hundreds of athletes who trained and competed in track and field this season. I hope each athlete improved, learned something new, and enjoyed the freedom of being able to run, jump, and throw! Congratulations to the new HCAA District Championship record holders, and also to athletes who advanced to provincials and represented their schools well, and the many gold, silver, and bronze medalists!


Finally, it is with an extremely heavy heart that I am sharing the news that Trustee Paul Crow-Buffalo’s partner passed away this weekend. Our thoughts and/or prayers will go out to Paul and his family during this extremely difficult time. As an unknown author poetically stated, “Although it's difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, May looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.” 


Have a great week, everyone.