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Handsworth Secondary

Vision to Goal Setting

What is our Vision for Learning?

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

b. Strong personal connections enhance learning.

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

Students who are engaged in their learning are less likely to struggle academically and emotionally.

Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities (“First Peoples’ Principles of Learning,” 2020)

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?

First Peoples' Principles of Learning

Goal 1

To nurture students’ development of self-identity while cultivating their sense of belonging to a shared land and community.

To foster a learning environment that is relational, focusing on connectedness and reciprocal relationships (e.g., inclusivity and diverse perspectives).

Social emotional learning:

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

b. Strong personal connections enhance learning.

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

  • Incorporate diverse perspectives in curricular content.
  • Explicit mention and incorporation of FPPL in teaching.
  • Experiential learning opportunities where applicable.
  • Increase opportunities for pro-d re: incorporating inclusive practices in teaching.
  • Increase opportunities for collaboration re: incorporating inclusive practices in teaching.
  • Acknowledge and learn about knowledge systems that differ from the dominant culture.
  • Events spearheaded by student council, clubs, and classes.
  • Bringing to light/attention to events and celebrations.
  • Video announcements to build community and familiarize students with Handsworth peers/staff.
  • Teach mental health literacy across all grades. Define what is taught and in which classes at each grade level.
  • Advocate for ideal teaching/learning spaces to be part of the new school.
  • Student services helping to support self-advocacy.
  • club and assembly.
  • Continue developing Wellness week.
  • Promo student self-assessment in PTI.
  • Coffee catch-ups for staff.
  • Explicit teaching of core competencies, specifically: communication skills; positive personal and cultural identity; personal awareness and responsibility; and social awareness and responsibility.
  • Exposure and promotion of trades.
  • Exposure and promotion of post-secondary institutions that are not universities (such as vocational schools).
  • Careers and volunteer opportunities involving community, e.g., care homes.
  • Implementing First Peoples’ Principles of Learning in non-curricular areas.
  • Providing students with the option to travel internationally to learn in a different context.

Goal 2

To promote a culture of purposeful innovation, creativity, and risk-taking.

Intellectual development:

Students who are engaged in their learning are less likely to struggle academically and emotionally.

  • Teaching metacognition – cultivate student ability to identify strengths as learners.
  • Provide choice in student assessment (highlight what academics teachers are doing).
  • More opportunities for reflection under core competencies: creative thinking; critical and reflective thinking skills; personal and social responsibility; social awareness and responsibility.
  • Connect curriculum to the community (possibility of a garden at the new school), local, and national (sustainable initiatives) level.
  • Encourage project-based learning opportunities across all subjects.
  • Encourage teachers to try instructional practices that are new to them.
  • Announcements celebrating small things we do in the community – e.g., neighbourhood cleanup, fundraisers, “yard” sales.
  • Creative video announcements (invite various staff and students to participate).
  • Teach and model to students self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, and responsible decision-making skills.
  • Survey students re: their interests and provide options to integrate them into classroom projects.
  • Survey students (possibly just starting with the 8s) to find out their interests and see if we can match that to a club/activity.
  • 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)
  • Exposure of career paths that align with student interest and promote social agency.
  • Options and promotion of work and volunteer experience in areas of student interest.
  • Provide curricular and extracurricular offerings in various areas of student interest.
  • Survey students re: how often they were given opportunities for self-directed learning in class/clubs/other extra-curriculars.
  • Have specific subject departments bring in industry experts to discuss career paths.
  • Endeavour to make all clubs, programs, teams more welcoming and focus on participation instead of excellence at the lower grades.
  • New and existing technology is readily available for student use for clubs such as Robotics, Photography, and the Mural Society.
  • Diversity of course offerings across all departments.

Goal 3

To create stronger connections within our community (namely, our FOS, various grade levels and departments), incorporating mentorship and collaboration into learning.

Life-long learning and career development:

Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.

  • Increase opportunities for collaboration with feeder schools.
  • Explicitly teach and model collaboration skills.
  • Increase opportunities for collaborations between departments and grade levels.
  • Increase awareness & visibility of collaboration in different spaces (in consideration of new school).
  • Have students and teachers prepare together for the focus of the February PTIs.
  • Promote and develop more staff collaboration.
  • Continued facilitation of the Grade 8 retreat.
  • Events dedicated to integrating grade 8s.
  • Create opportunities for older students to be role models and mentors.
  • Establish strong connections between peers and staff, beginning in grade 8 (Grade 8 Retreat.
  • Provide more opportunities for self-assessment in core competencies such as: collaboration skills and social awareness and responsibility.
  • Royal Games.
  • Establish partnership between grade levels.
  • Provide opportunities for staff and students to get to know each other in a way that fosters understanding and collaboration.
  • Special staff challenges for fundraising purposes.

  • Creation of volunteer opportunities within FOS.
  • Promotion of the TA program.
  • Promote and increase visibility of service/volunteering with seniors and children and service involving mentorship and care.
  • Provide opportunities for student feedback, accountability and ownership in their learning.
  • 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 departments cultivate student empowerment. Photo by Anova Hou
The Environmental Club weeding out ivy on community grounds - a display of students taking initiative to look after our natural surroundings.

Goal 1

To nurture students’ development of self-identity while cultivating their sense of belonging to a shared land and community.

To foster a learning environment that is relational, focusing on connectedness and reciprocal relationships (e.g., inclusivity and diverse perspectives).

  • Increased number of unit plans that incorporate diverse perspectives.
  • Student ability to name and reference FPPL.
  • Students can make connections across and within subject areas (see SACC evidence).
  • Increased number of experiential learning opportunities.
  • Increased number of events.
  • Student involvement in events.
  • Student/staff survey responses to video announcements.
  • Counselling dept. Reports of student belonging, wellness, and feeling connected.
  • Increased student participation in athletics teams.
  • Increased participation in Intramural Sports such as: soccer, volleyball, floor hockey, etc.
  • Increased staff team-building events.
  • Feedback from counsellors regarding status of mental health in our students.
  • Increased number of staff Wellness activities and increased participation.

  • Increased student ability to self-assess their communication and personal and social competencies (SACC).
  • Increased interest in trades, vocational school options (track numbers/responses) – careers/WEX for info.
  • Increased number of volunteers and volunteer opportunities within the community.
  • Increased student participation in clubs.
  • Increased number of and participation in staff lunch and learn sessions.

Goal 2

To promote a culture of purposeful innovation, creativity, and risk-taking.

  • Teacher testimony on students’ ability to self-assess accurately.
  • Student survey – ability to identify strengths as learners.
  • Number of student projects that incorporate student choice/interests.
  • Average number of reflections focusing on personal and social responsibility per course.
  • Number of curricular opportunities for students to connect to the community.
  • Increased number of project-based learning opportunities based on department.
  • Number of teachers who have tried an instructional practice new to them.
  • Documentation/featuring of student successes.
  • Number of instances tracking community initiatives.
  • Students feel confident articulating their thoughts, ideas and feelings (teacher survey).
  • Students are able to self-reflect on their social and personal responsibility.
  • Increased number of students who incorporated their own interests into classroom projects.
  • Tracking number of events related to community building.
  • Number of volunteer or work placements within the community.
  • Student can communicate where to find information on extracurricular opportunities.
  • Increased number of WEX opportunities (see data).
  • Increased number of students reporting on frequency of self-directed opportunities for learning in class/clubs/other extra-curriculars.
  • Increased number of industry experts to talk about career paths.

Goal 3

To create stronger connections within our community (namely, our FOS, various grade levels and departments), incorporating mentorship and collaboration into learning.

  • Increased number of collaborations with feeder schools.
  • Increased number of collaborations between classes and grades.
  • Increased number of staff collaboration sessions that lead to collaboration between classes.
  • Anecdotal evidence from grade 8s on how welcoming it’s been for them.
  • Increased number of events accommodating grade 8s.
  • Visible interaction between older and younger grades.
  • Student reporting of more positive connections with teachers.
  • Increased awareness of staff participation in fundraising endeavours.
  • Increased participation in Royal Games.
  • Reported increase of younger students’ perception of older students as positive role models.
  • Increased levels of participation in clubs.

  • Increased number of volunteer opportunities within FOS.
  • Increased promotion of the TA program.
  • Increased number of volunteers in the community (particularly with seniors or young children).
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Communicating Progress

How do we Communicate our Progress?

Identity Masks, a collaboration between English: Composition and Visual Arts

Handsworth’s theme of the 2021-22 school year, is Identity. 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 effort to identify shifting needs due the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the approaching completion of our new school. Here were our key findings, in summary, which informed the refinement of our goals:

  • Importance of inclusivity, diversity, and belonging (shared spaces inside and out of school, non-traditional programs/alternative learning) higher than ever;
  • foster development of stronger sense of self/identity and finding where it fits within the broader context of the community;
  • pride in Fine Arts programs and athletics but significant changes due to the pandemic created a loss of identity. Without these programs and the loss of pride, showcasing new/innovative practices within the academics and elective areas like ADST is especially important;
  • FOS communication, transition between grade 7-8, social skills, executive functioning, encouraging grade 9/10s to become leaders


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.

Making our learning visible

Goal 1

To nurture students’ development of self-identity while cultivating their sense of belonging to a shared land and community.

To foster a learning environment that is relational, focusing on connectedness and reciprocal relationships (e.g., inclusivity and diverse perspectives).


E-Sports Club participants
Robotics Club participants
Art Club participants
Celebrations of Diversity
  • Lunar New Year
  • Nowruz / Persian New Year
  • Pride Week
  • Orange Shirt Day
  • Hanukkah
  • Black History Month
  • Asian Heritage Month
  • Trans Awareness Day
  • National Indigenous People’s Day
  • National Indigenous History Month
  • Christmas theme days
Events and Promotions...

… increasing awareness of causes, social justice initiatives, and cultural events.

Athletics Teams
Estimated Participants

Percent of grade 8s completed a survey identifying their preferred learning style


Percent of grade 10s completed surveys identifying their preferred learning styles and personality types


Embracing Diverse Experiences and Bringing Awareness to Anti-Asian Racism

May 20th, 2021 is the inaugural Asian Gold Ribbon day to celebrate Asian heritage and to support one another against racism. This campaign is important to me because I am Chinese and I am very proud of my culture and heritage. I get to show my support to my community, especially while anti-Asian racism has been magnified during Covid-19. There has been a lot of blame and anger toward people of Asian descent. I am surprised to hear about some of the traumatic experiences that others my age have endured. It is very upsetting and I would like to help by showing my support and contributing to the voice of the campaign.

This campaign is relevant to Handsworth because of the diverse school community. It applies to parents, teachers, and students. Even if it is not always noticed, racism can happen at school. On Asian Gold Ribbon Day, there was a Youth Summit with seven panelists from ages 16 to 21, including myself, who spoke about their experiences with racism and calls to action. The goal of the campaign is to start a conversation with this generation and bring awareness instead of being silent. It is important to unite, respect everyone, and call out racism if it is seen.

– Aria Duggan, Asian Gold Ribbon Youth Ambassador, BC

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

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.

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

Student Council on the Importance of Wellness and Resiliency

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 Club Coordinator 2019/20, Co-President 2020/21

Goal 2

To promote a culture of purposeful innovation, creativity, and risk-taking.


Work Experience Employers
Additional online opportunities
Subject Departments
Advanced Placement Courses

Diverse course offerings, including specialized programs such as AP, Aventures en Plein Air (French Immersion), and Young Entrepreneurship and Leadership Launchpad (YELL)

Reported Project-Based Units Completed

Providing students with opportunities to learn about topics and using their medium of choice.

The hope is to increase engagement, stretch/challenge student learning, and develop creative habits while allowing space for risk-taking.

Modernizing the Curriculum

Project-Based Learning is being facilitated in both, academic and elective courses at Handsworth. Subject teachers of Comparative Cultures, English, Social Justice, Visual Arts, Aventures (Science, Social Studies, and PE), and Science have reported completing at least one project-based unit in the 2020/21 year.

In Science 10, students were provided a variety of topics related to DNA Technologies such as genetic engineering, gene therapy, GMOs, and designer babies. They were tasked to demonstrate their understanding of their chosen topic using their choice of media. Some options included:
    • Cartoon
    • Comic strip
    • Stop motion animation
    • Animated video
    • Film

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

Student Opportunities

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

To create stronger connections within our community (namely, our FOS, various grade levels and departments), incorporating mentorship and collaboration into learning.

2020/21 PROGRESS

Not a bad turnout of four grade 8 students and their grade 10 leader. Together, they debrief and in a collaborative fashion, determine the next steps.

Mentorship Across Grade Levels

For Art Club members at Handsworth, teamwork is of utmost importance. Roughly 40 members are split into 5 teams, each led by a student-artist in grade 10 and beyond. The leaders facilitate communications on Teams, planning in-studio meetings to create artworks that represent the community. 

Their goal is to have 5 large-scale works completed for display in individual learning pods before we move into the new Handsworth. Plans to work with the elementary feeder schools within our FOS are also in consideration.

Both, leaders and members have been faced with challenges they might not have experienced in the past. For the grade 8s, this may be one of the first high-school interactions they have had with older peers. For the team leads, their communication skills and ability to teach and delegate tasks are put to the test. And this is only possible if they can get their team to show up! Despite these challenges, students in Art Club are keen to contribute as well as have positive interactions with their peers. It also speaks to the leadership qualities of some of our students!

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.

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

Communicating with Stakeholders

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Latest Progress & Updates

Updates to New School Build - Projected completion Fall 2022