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Handsworth Secondary

Vision to Goal Setting

What is our Vision for Learning?

Learning happens best when students and staff are socially and emotionally well.

Students who are engaged in the school community socially are less likely to struggle academically and emotionally.

Students and staff both benefit from a sense of belonging within the school community.

Strong personal connections enhance learning.

Goal-Setting Process

Informed by the North Vancouver School District’s priority areas to enhance student learning and guided by Handsworth’s unique context (outlined above), our stakeholders contributed to the development of 3 big ideas. Goals were set and an implementation plan was drafted to facilitate the meeting of these targets within an approximate period of 3 years. These goals are subject to adaptation/refinement based on changes to contextual factors that impact Handsworth’s school community.

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Planning & Implementation

What is our Action Plan?

Handsworth's yearly school themes at a glance

Summary of Goals

*Wellness and resiliency includes: self-awareness; self-management; social awareness; relationship skills; responsible decision-making.

Goal 1

To foster a learning environment that promotes student and staff wellness and resiliency.

Learning happens best when students and staff are socially and emotionally well.

  • School professional development theme of wellness and resilience
  • Wellness Week – including activities such as Social Justice presentations; bunnies; turn-off-the-phone, Kindergarten, and random acts of kindness day
  • club and assembly
  • Student services helping to support self-advocacy
  • Finding real-world, experiential, and challenging opportunities for students to learn from (Art exhibition at the Vancouver Aquarium, Chesterfields Juried Photography Exhibition at the Polygon Gallery, Zoom-Fest 24-Hour Film Festival)
  • Implementing First Peoples’ Principles of Learning in curricular and non-curricular areas

  • Focus on improving staff mental health
  • Advocate for ideal teaching/learning spaces to be part of the new school
  • Collaboration time with Mindfulness speaker
    Staff Wellness activities (fitness classes, bowling, etc.)
  • Lunch and Learn sessions
  • Staff team-building during staff vs student/alumni events (Royal Games, hockey)
    Staff retreat April 2020 (postponed)
  • Members of staff, as part of the September Parent-Night and the PTIs (Parent-Teacher Interviews), include information about sleep, technology, balancing extracurricular, etc. to raise parent awareness about helping students create a balanced schedule outside of school
  • Members of staff, and interested / students could be on hand at a table for parents to access information
  • Continue to develop Wellness Week / Wellness Wednesdays (rather than just focus on the intensive week, do one day a month throughout the year (as in our current lunch and learn wellness sessions) to work towards Wellness week, and continue these strategies monthly after wellness week)
  • Gain feedback from school counsellors regarding the status of mental health in our students
  • Continue grade level meetings to improve staff understanding of mental health issues for our students

  • Re-introduce Flex Time schedule for department meetings, so that departments do meet more often throughout the year. This could promote collegiality, sharing of ideas / strategies, etc.
  • Continue to look at calendar dates for term end and provide several days between that date and when marks are due for staff
  • Continue work on PTI formats so that staff can meet with students and families in a way that is not onerous for the teacher. Promoting student self-assessment can be an effective way to promote student-leadership in PTI
  • Continue staff wellness activities
  • Continue coffee catch-ups

Goal 2

To promote extra-curricular activities to enhance students’ overall high school experience.

Students who are engaged in the school community socially are less likely to struggle academically and emotionally.

Students and staff both benefit from a sense of belonging within the school community.

  • Introduce and encourage all students to join a club, program, event, or participate in athletics (Student Council hosted two Club Day events to promote awareness)
  • Intramural Sports such as: soccer, volleyball, floor hockey, etc.
  • Various courses offer an extracurricular component such as music, drama, sports, etc.
  • New and existing technology is readily available for student use for clubs such as Robotics, Photography, and the Mural Society
  • International trips (e.g., Japan, Italy)
    • Have an information meeting as part of the Meet-the-Teacher Evening, stressing the importance of joining extra-curriculars
    • Endeavour to make all clubs, programs, teams more welcoming and focus on participation instead of excellence at the lower grades
    • Add a Club Rotation Experience to the Grade 8 Retreat; this could be done during Flex Time in the Fall and Winter
    • Encourage more staff participation (e.g., thank you /reward system in place such as food?
    • Survey students to get an idea of current participation numbers
    • Survey students (possibly just starting with the 8s) to find out their interests and see if we can match that to a club / activity
    • Create junior branches of clubs so that juniors are not so intimidated about joining a club

    Goal 3

    Develop and maintain strong personal connections.

    Strong personal connections enhance learning.

    • Promote and develop more staff collaboration
    • Establish strong connections between peers and staff, beginning in grade 8 (Grade 8 Retreat)
    • Emphasize positive communication and interactions. Eliminate negative speak and replace with positive speak
    • Provide opportunities for student feedback, accountability and ownership in their learning
    • Have students and teachers prepare together for the focus of the February PTIs
    • Special staff challenges for fundraising purposes
    • Royal Games activities throughout the year. (volleyball, soccer, Jeopardy, talent show, etc.)
    • Promote and celebrate student and school achievement

    • Establish relationship between grade 12s and 8s or partnerships between grades
    • Provide opportunities for staff and students to get to know each other in a way that fosters understanding and collaboration
    • Work on creating strategies and processes for encouraging student accountability (e.g., what is a workable solution for re-writes. Only those who submit work on their due date ever get this chance; it is an earned opportunity versus a “given”
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    Monitor Evaluate & Adapt

    What are our Indicators of Progress?

    We monitor our goals and implementation strategies by gathering first-hand anecdotes, photographic documentation, survey results, feedback, and quantitative data from members of the Handsworth community including students, teachers, parents, and various stakeholders.

    To measure progress among diverse student groups in an education system that is becoming increasingly personalized, diverse indicators of progress provide invaluable information.

    Visible indicators allow us to monitor progress in different ways from quantitative data, at times offering a better view of when goals and implementation plans need adaptation and/or refinement.

    "Hands Up" performers defying gravity at Centennial Theatre. Our Dance and Performing Arts department cultivate student empowerment. Photography by Anova Hou
    The yearly grade 8 retreat provides our newest students a chance to meet their peers and find a sense of belonging. Leadership is modeled by our group of senior students.

    Goal 1

    To foster a learning environment that promotes student and staff wellness and resiliency.

    Exposure to Real-World Experiences

    Opportunities to exhibit artwork at major institutions do not come by easily, which is why Handsworth’s Visual and Media Arts students take advantage of an experience afforded to only established artists working in their area of expertise.

    The experience of planning, creating, and showcasing artwork at the Vancouver Aquarium allows students to develop resiliency. They worked with strict deadlines to ensure not only that their work was ready to be exhibited, but at a standard fit to be seen by everyone who walks through the Aquarium.
    Poster for the Breakwater Exhibition @VanAqua
    Opening reception of the 2nd annual exhibition

    Indigenous Support

    Handsworth School Rebuild

    Staff Retreat

    Members of staff worked hard to organize a multi-day staff retreat to Whistler planned for Spring 2020. With health and wellness at the forefront of this retreat, it was also planned alongside fun, team building sessions and opportunities for professional development.

    Due to circumstances beyond our control, the 2019/2020 school year has been significantly impacted, including the cancellation of all in-person events. The profound effects that this global pandemic has had on the Handsworth community and beyond further exemplifies the importance of wellness and resiliency, which we continue to support.

    A rallying speech to staff at the Royal Games staff vs student soccer game

    Goal 2

    To promote extra-curricular activities to enhance students’ overall high school experience.

    Transforming the Learning Environment


    Participation in athletics at Handsworth is a source of pride for many students, whether as an athlete or a supporter in the stands.

    With over 40 teams, the student demand for sports to be part of their high school experience is high. This is supported by data from the student surveys between 2017 and 2019, which show that Handsworth students have a higher rate of participation in athletics relative to the the Canadian average.

    Student Opportunities

    Clubs and Student Wellness

    The 2019 student survey revealed a higher participation in clubs by Handsworth students compared to the national average

    Involvement in Handsworth’s clubs and extracurricular activities allows students to feel more connected to and a part of our school community. Becoming more involved in school clubs encourages students to broaden their social horizon to people that they potentially may have never been friends with otherwise. Handsworth should be a place where students are able to feel that they belong. Our clubs are a way for students to find that place of belonging.

    We offer a diverse range of clubs numbering over 25 at Handsworth, including; Mural society, Pride club, Creative writing and slam club, First Responders, Robotics club, and Open Conversations club. Especially for junior students transitioning to high school, finding something that you can be a part of and get involved in is an amazing way to make the high school transition as smooth as possible. Student wellness is something that we really value at Handsworth and the support that comes along with a club, team, or other extracurricular group goes a long way in improving student well-bing and building a healthy school community.

    Graham Best, Handsworth Secondary Student Council Co-President

    Handsworth has a proud tradition of offering students a technologically progressive education facilitated by leading edge technology. This has been supported in our school through a number of initiatives.

    Our PAC has been supportive through their cheques for tech fundraisers, whose funds go exclusively to providing technology in classrooms. Recently, PAC Gaming Funds have contributed to the purchase of new drawing tablets for the Mural Society in addition to new digital SLR cameras for the Photography Club. This not only allows for further student engagement, it empowers students to pursue extracurricular activities, developing skills for a digital future.

    Handsworth is proud to have clubs such as Robotics and Tech Club. The latter supports many of the other events and groups in the school with all of their technological needs, including setting up speakers, microphones, projectors and the like.

    Our school boasts 4 full dedicated computer labs; 2 MAC labs and 2 PC labs. There is a MAC lab upstairs connected to the business department as well as one in the Visual/Digital Arts space. There is a PC lab upstairs and one downstairs in the drafting room.

    In addition to these 3 full labs, the school also has dozens of computer stations for use in the library, the language centre, the learning centre. For classrooms that do not happen to have their own set of workstations, there are also 4 sets of COWs (Computers on Wheels), 3 of which are Apple and the other being a set of PCs. These are mobile laptop cards, each equipped with a class set of working laptops connected to the network.

    Each classroom is also equipped with a display projector, and many rooms even have their own Apple TVs connected to those projectors so teachers and students can mirror their device over Airplay.

    The in school Wi-Fi has been upgraded on more than one occasion over the past 6 years and students can now login with their credentials to access the wireless network on their personal devices. One could say Handsworth is a ‘wired school’, but we have gone past that towards becoming a ‘wireless’ school!

    Goal 3

    Develop and maintain strong personal connections.

    Positive Peer Relationships

    Students at Handsworth are developing positive peer relationships.

    The 2019 student-satisfaction survey reports that the majority of students have friends at school they can trust and who encourage them to make positive choices. This was higher than the Canadian norm.

    With the success of peer to peer mentoring experiences in the form of a grade 8 retreat leadership, we are envisioning more opportunities for different grade levels to connect.

    Grade 8 retreat leaders showing off their mentorship instincts at the parent info night.

    Handsworth cultivates greater community connections everyday through the work staff and students do in clubs, extra-curricular activities and even in classrooms, bringing community members and outside organizations into the learning environment. We have a number of clubs who host community days. Our band concerts and our theatre program are exceptional at cultivating community leadership.

    Community Connections

    Establishing Connections with our Youngest Students

    High school can be a daunting place for students who have just graduated from Elementary school. This year’s student Council has taken the initiative to help their young peers begin their new journey with a video on “How to High School”.

    Grade 8 Retreat

    Illustrated storybook by Canyon Heights and Handsworth's Graphic Arts students

    The Handsworth family of schools includes Canyon Heights, Cleveland, Highlands and Montroyal Elementary Schools. The family of schools models provides opportunities for elementary schools to connect in a more meaningful and substantive way with their feeder secondary school.

    Family of Schools Connections

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    Communicating Progress

    How do we Communicate our Progress?

    Making our Learning Visible

    Handsworth’s theme of the 2020-21 school year, is Gratitude and Resiliency. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn, share and grow on the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish people, specifically the Skwxwu’7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

    We are grateful for the resilience of our students and their parents, teaching staff, and support staff during these difficult times. We laud the ability of our school community to pivot and adapt to new systems and protocols, no matter how challenging, so that our students can have a space to develop as learners and social beings.

    To support the social-emotional well-being of our students and staff, a number of initiatives spearheaded by the school community have begun to come to fruition. Our progress is communicated throughout the year via outlets such as social media, newsletters, PAC meetings, announcements, posters in and around the school, assemblies, and staff meetings. In-person events have largely shifted into the digital space not only for safety, but also to showcase our strength in adaptability.


    During a year where significant changes have altered Handsworth’s context, we gathered information from stakeholders early in the 2020-21 school year. This was in efforts to identify shifting needs due the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the approaching completion of our new school. A summary of findings from this data is currently being used to inform potential adaptations/refinement to our goals.


    As our staff and students work towards the goals highlighted in this document, we look back on feedback received from staff, parents, and students. In particular, results from past Employee Engagement Surveys alongside the OurSchool student surveys remind us of our school community’s needs. One of the notable findings of the student surveys is the high levels of
    anxiety caused directly or indirectly as a result of school.

    Below are small steps that highlight our response to these findings:

    Our Choices program created a wellness questionnaire for high school aged students. Questions were shared with Handsworth staff who could then tailor these to the needs of their classes. This questionnaire is a tool which can be used to better understand the temperature of classrooms from the students perspective. Questions range from “when do you feel you are being listened to?” to, “when do you feel it is OK to make a mistake, or show that you do not know something, or how to do something?” It may be a small gesture, but regular inquiry into student well-being (and small adjustments to acknowledge this) may provide them a platform for expression.

    Handsworth’s Wellness Committee meets every week to discuss wellness initiatives for those involved in the school community. Most recently, they have been planning Wellness Week for the end of January. With involvement from counsellors, teachers and their classes, support staff, and Grad Council, a slate of events including presentations, workshops, introduction to Indigenous medicines, interactive exhibits, and wellness challenges will be on view.

    The Social Justice 12 class at Handsworth is a place where students participate in project-based learning, tackling socially relevant issues that pertain to people their age. Project topics were sparked by a simple class brainstorm with the prompt, “what do students in school need?” In preparation for wellness week, students are planning dance workshops, interactive stations, art installations, and collaborative posters between Social Justice and Graphic Design classes. Some areas of focus include:

      • New Masculinities in Hip Hop Dance workshop: Hip Hop artists are embracing their emotions and re-writing the script for what it means to be masculine in popular culture
      • Slamming Diet Culture: Fostering body neutrality and self-expression. This workshop will help students recognize how we are affected by social media as well as the many ways that diet culture affects our daily lives. This will be displayed in the form of a dance and slam poetry performance
      • The “You Are Enough” Art Installation encourages students to think of their qualities and skills beyond grades and extra-curriculars. What are some of our overlooked qualities that we have the right to be proud of?

    Our students are working towards contributing to their community by building a sense of urgency – recognizing everyone’s collective responsibility on the front of advocating for wellness.

    Communicating with Stakeholders

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    Latest Progress & Updates

    Updates to New School Build - Projected completion Fall 2022
    Photographs from April 2021