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Busy year ahead at John Arnalukjuak High School

John Arnalukjuak High School (JAHS) is looking to start the new school year on a bright note with the return of a full music program this semester, along with a number of other initiatives.

Teacher Gord Billard said Curtis Metcalf has returned to JAHS, where he ran a great music program about four years ago, that included the start of an orchestra of students and teachers.

John Arnalukjuak High School principal Don Peters addresses a group of students on registration day in Arviat on Aug. 22, 2019. Photo courtesy of Gord Billard

He said a number of students and teachers learned how to play instruments under Metcalf’s instruction.

“We called it the Arviat Philharmonic Orchestra at the time,” said Billard with a chuckle.

“We had the orchestra perform at our Christmas play, and it also performed a local concert that year.

“I, along with Ross Paterson and one other person I believe it was, learned how to play the trombone, while others learned how to play the clarinet, flute and trumpet.

“We all had loads of fun learning and playing, so we’re really hoping to get that on the go again this year.”

JAHS principal Don Peters has also asked Metcalf to create a choir with an emphasis on the traditional music of drum dancing and throat singing to help develop those skills among the students.

Billard said JAHS has always had a breakfast program, but it was, basically, only a small snack and some juice for the students who arrived a little early in the morning for the light meal.

He said things have changed this year because the school has more money to fund the program.

“We started with about $13,000 and now, thanks to the Breakfast Club of Canada, we have $39,000, which is a substantial increase in the amount of money we have to spend on providing breakfast for the kids.

“The teacher who handled the program this past year, John Lake, will be running it again but we’re also going to have students involved with breakfast preparation this year.

“Actual meals will be prepared instead of small snacks, and we’ll be providing space in the theatre and home economics room for the students to be served with a hot breakfast to start their day.

“We’re hoping the program will help increase attendance and overall morale at the school, and have the students nourished and ready to start the school day on good footing with a full belly.”

JAHS American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter Jody Pameolik is planning to offer an after school ASL club this year.

Billard said the club will be open to all ASL students, as well as anyone who wants to learn sign language to support and assist some of the school’s deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

He said the drama club will be active again this year, and the school also hopes to continue with the various clubs for Skills Canada Nunavut.

“I’m looking at bringing back Dracula for our drama club to perform as a Halloween play this year, as well as something new for our Christmas show.

“We may bring back The Breakfast Club for our spring show because there was a great deal of interest shown in it this past year.

“Our principal (Peters) also intends to use the momentum created with its launch this past school year to expand his Taekwon-do club to include students in both middle school and elementary.

“So, all in all, I think we’re in for a pretty good year at here at the school.”