North Delta Secondary School principle Aaron Akune and his letter delivery team. From left Haris Muhammad, Kevin Dalgetty, Anisha Gill, Aaron Akune, Sandeep Rakhra and Ben Scarr. Not pictured: Rajnit Kingra and Esha Nijjar. (David Valencia photo)

Early welcome to high school for North Delta Secondary’s incoming Grade 8s

NDSS principal, vice-principals and student volunteers hand-delivered welcome letters to 200 homes

By David Valencia for the North Delta Reporter

Incoming Grade 8s at North Delta Secondary got some unexpected visitors last week when the school’s administrators dropped by to introduce themselves and hand-deliver welcome letters to the students.

Between Aug. 19 and 22, NDSS principal Aaron Akune, along with vice-principals Kevin Dalgetty and Ben Scarr and a small group of student volunteers, made the rounds delivering the letters and giving the students’ families a chance to meet them before the start of the school year on Tuesday, Sept. 3. 

“If it says nothing else, it says hey, you matter enough to us that we’re going to take the time to come to you to try and initiate that relationship,” Akune said.

“We’re probably working with [the students] for five years so why not make the first point of contact a positive one.”

“I was familiar with the idea,” Dalgetty said. “So I was receptive to the idea, thinking it would be a good idea, especially after our first few months here trying to reach out and connect with the community that is based around the school.”

The idea for delivering the letters came from a blog post by an American high-school principal that Akune read during the summer of 2017, when he was principal at Sands Secondary. That August, Akune made the rounds with vice-principal Joanna Macintosh, visiting 136 homes over three days.

READ MORE: North Delta Grade 8s get a hand-delivered start to the school year

This year was Akune’s first time delivering letters as principal of NDSS, a post he took over in September 2018, and he enlisted the help of Hindi- and Punjabi-speaking students from the school’s leadership club to help with the deliveries and to translate for him when visiting non-English speaking families.

“The biggest challenge we were anticipating, which is where [our volunteers] came in, was the language barrier,” Akune said.

Student volunteer Sandeep Rakhra related a bit of positive feedback a parent had given to him after translating for Akune and company: “Convenient that you brought a translator because there’s a lot of Punjabi speaking community here.”

Not only did the student volunteers help break down the language barrier, they also introduced themselves to incoming Grade 8 students as someone who they could ask for help during their transition from elementary to high school.

“[The] first day of school can be kind of nerve-wracking,” student volunteer Anisha Gill said. “Knowing someone who can say hello to you and call you by your first name, and maybe have the connection of being able to speak the same language, is a great start to the school year.”

“A lot of us are helping out the Grade 8s within the first year of school,” student volunteer Haris Muhammad said. “So they might not remember our names [from] when we went door to door, but when we are doing our presentations about school expectations they’ll recognize us so that we can build the sort of friendship within that first year of school.”

Over the span of four days, Akune and his team delivered letters to 200 homes, with the student volunteers translating their greetings at about a third of them.

That personal touch and face-to-face contact is already having a positive effect and helping to build bridges between the school and the families of its students, with many of them reaching out to thank Akune and his team for their warm welcome to NDSS.

— with files from Grace Kennedy



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Surrey school district to allow students to miss class for global climate strike

Students must be excused from school by parents; will be able to make up missed work without penalty

Surrey rallies for change in global climate strike

Holland Park event part of marches around the world Sept. 20

Surrey RCMP need help to find missing man

Denis Godard, 64, who was reported missing on Sept. 19

Little library stolen in Clayton Heights

Thieves permanently check out family’s book collection

Surrey council sends back 25-storey highrise proposal, asks for more height and density

Developer says it is ‘currently reviewing direction’ from mayor, council

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

One-in-five British Columbians think they’ll win big while gambling: study

Roughly 58 per cent of British Columbians bought at least one lottery ticket in past year

Takaya, B.C.’s infamous lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

All parties expected to be back on the campaign trail Sunday

Most Read