PORT HAWKESBURY: On the heels of hosting a two-day conference involving school board representatives from across Nova Scotia, the Strait regional school board (SRSB) is continuing to push for progress on issues that have arisen at the local and provincial levels.

The SRSB hosted the three-day annual general meeting of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association (NSSBA) in late May at the Charles V. Keating Millennium Centre on the StFX campus. During the two-day ceremony, participants were treated to cultural experiences from around the Strait region, including a milling frolic led by Dalbrae Academy Gaelic students under the leadership of teacher Joanne MacIntyre, the performance of the Acadian national anthem by East Richmond Education Centre students led by music instructor Joy Thibeau, a rendition of the Mi’kmaq Honour Song by Whycocomagh Education Centre student success teacher Miranda Gould and her students, and a ceilidh led by four teachers from across the region.

“I just want to acknowledge the work of this board in hosting the AGM,” board chair Francine Boudreau said at the latest monthly SRSB meeting on June 7 at Port Hawkesbury’s SAERC Auditorium.

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“Many good things were said, and I know we had a number of staff members who worked very hard. When they could have been doing something with their families, they were with us, so we thank them.”

Richelle MacLaughlin

The Strait board’s official NSSBA representative, Richelle MacLaughlin, reported that many participants were appreciative of the conference’s focus on mental health issues within the public education system. This theme included a keynote address by Dr. Stan Kutcher, a world-renowned mental health advocate working out of Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre, as well as a performance by the award-winning Antigonish troupe The Park Bench Players, and a presentation from St. John Ambulance mental health first aid instructor Karl Hayes.

“All of our members across the table… really appreciated the theme around mental health and mental health strategies,” MacLaughlin told last week’s SRSB meeting.

With the 2017 NSSBA provincial gathering now in the books and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP) now preparing to host the 2018 event, both the NSSBA and the SRSB are continuing to push for action on a rising number of violations regarding motorists that illegally pass stopped school buses.

MacLaughlin expressed optimism in this regard during last week’s SRSB meeting, noting that NSSBA officials have been successful in raising this issue with the provincial Justice Department earlier this spring.

“It was really the first good conversation they’ve had with the Department of Justice, in terms of them knowing that they actually have to do something – not just ticketing someone, but making it stick so that it actually follows through in court,” declared MacLaughlin, the SRSB representative for West Antigonish.

“We are actually considering a conversation around the table, where they look at a system where, as long as you have a license plate, then the owner of the car and the registered owner of that plate will be the person charged, and if they were driving, then they would have to give up the plate.”