Superintendent's Message - November 2017
Remembrance Day Ceremonies.
November is a month filled with activity in Clearview. On the heels of awards programs in October, schools organized Remembrance Day ceremonies that honour those who serve in the military today and in the past, so we may enjoy freedom and prosperity. This year I was at William E Hay, where students and staff from the entire complex shared in a moving and meaningful ceremony. The laying of wreaths, the angelic voices of the SES choir, the stirring senior band and inspiring speeches resonated with all who attended. Thank you to all schools in the division for organizing ceremonies that honour the sacrifices of so many men and women on our behalf.
Cutting Edge Tech in Clearview.
I took Biology 30 when Elvis was still alive and the first Star Wars movie was just being made. Yup, I’m that old. Well, when I was learning about the parts of the cell or the eye, inevitably I would be asked to complete a worksheet that had a line drawing with arrows pointing to the various components. I remember filling in the blanks with the names of the cell or eye’s parts. Gotta admit that activity did little to inspire me, or really help me in understanding how our bodies work. Mitochondria were little more than squiggly lines on a page; I didn’t realize they actually moved til much later in life!
40 years later, I know our classrooms and our instructional practices have improved significantly. Our ready access to technology and labs allow our teachers to be much more creative. At Coronation, Principal Brown is going one step further. At a conference last year, he became intrigued with a product called Z Space which projects curriculum in 3D. Imagine showing students the human eye in 3D format and being able to manipulate it and dissect it! Imagine showing an engine in 3D fully functioning and being able to take out the transmission! Coronation will be the first school in Canada (outside colleges/universities) to have this technology available for students. Check out this link to learn more about it.
As well, we are getting a unit for Central Office. In January, we will demonstrate it with leadership and the board. It is our plan to lend it to interested schools for a time to do their own investigation into its value.
Diabetes Awareness Month #worlddiabetesmonth.
Diabetes can be a devastating and life threatening illness. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas becomes dysfunctional and does not create insulin. Insulin, of course, is a powerful hormone that enables glucose to enter our cells. It’s also called the “fat storage hormone” because if we have too much glucose in our bodies to be used, it is stored as fat. As you know, glucose comes from carbohydrates in our diets as well as from sucrose (table sugar - 1 glucose and 1 fructose). Fructose which comes from fruit is processed only in the liver.
Type 2 diabetes develops when our cells become resistant to insulin. As a result, there is too much glucose in the blood which can lead to blindness, foot amputations, neuropathy etc. Not good.
In our world there has been a tremendous growth in the number of people with Type 2 especially since the 70’s. Why? The answer is pretty simple really. In the 70’s there was a study by Dr. Ancel Keys which identified fat as the cause of heart disease. As a result, fat was removed from many processed foods and replaced with sugar. Low fat became the new mantra of health experts. Many doctors now declare that Keys’ study was significantly flawed because it ignored the data from other countries, and that heart disease is not linked to consumption of good fat (eg. omega 3 fatty acids from foods like coconut/avocado).
In the meantime, 80% of processed food now contains sugar, and much of it is high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is not a sugar that our bodies can use for energy, unlike glucose. Fructose contributes to the visceral fat around organs that is contributing to metabolic disease. It is possible to be thin on the outside and fat on the inside.
A person who consumes 1 can of sugared pop a day has a 30% higher chance of developing diabetes no matter what other foods they eat.
Nutrition is fundamental to our health and success in school. I know our parents try hard to provide nutritious lunches to children. I also know that some of our older students access fast food and beverages brimming with sugar and caffeine.
Change begins with knowledge. Excess sugar leads to weight gain and a host of illnesses. There are many physicians ringing the alarm bell. Dr. Jason Fung, a Canadian nephrologist, provides some amazing insights in his book, “The Obesity Code”. Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist from California has been speaking widely about the dangers of fructose especially in recent years. Both of these doctors have Youtube videos which provide compelling arguments about the inherent dangers of excess sugar.
We know knowledge is power. Is diabetes a chronic, progressive disease, or is it curable? If diabetes is caused by diet and lifestyle, couldn’t changes to diet and lifestyle reverse it? What is our role in helping students to understand the long term implications of their food choices? It’s complex to be sure but worth talking about and learning more.