Lynn Valley students carry Terry’s torch

If you see students running from their schools en masse this week, don’t worry, it isn’t a fire – they’re just taking part in the annual Terry Fox School Run.

Janet Dunkin, French teacher and organizer of Argyle’s run on Thursday, Sept. 27th, says the high school has been participating in the event for at least 25 years. The whole school will run in the blocks around Argyle at about 12:40 that day, with traffic-directing support from the RCMP and Parent Advisory Council, and the senior PE classes acting as race marshalls.

Ms. Dunkin is a driving force behind the school’s involvement, due in part, she says, to her own family’s experiences with the merciless disease. Both of her daughters, Colleen and Katharine, had malignant brain tumours as infants. While they both survived that harsh beginning, Katharine passed away in 2003 when she was a 16-year-old Argyle student, from a cancer that was linked to her earlier treatment.

Many of us know people both within and without the school community who are currently battling the illness; there are no shortage of reasons to show your support this week. Argyle is hoping to raise $3,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation, and students will be collecting pledges until early October. If you don’t know a local elementary or secondary student who can collect your donation, please consider pledging to one of our local schools’ campaigns via the Terry Fox Foundation School Run website.

And if you’re out driving on Thursday, watch out for kids running where and when you least expect them!


Lynn Valley kids blessed with natural playscape

FROM LYNN O’MALLEY: We talk a lot about our children having lost the ability to ‘play.’ Between busy work schedules, programmed after-school activities, and parental anxieties about kids being allowed to wander on their own, we have apparently turned into a nation whose offspring are dependent on screens or adult intervention for leisure-time entertainment.

But perhaps it’s not all bad news, especially here in Lynn Valley where we are blessed with (relatively) quiet streets, lots of green space, and climbing trees aplenty. You just have to look at schools such as Grandview Elementary in Vancouver, which are putting out huge bucks ($250,000, in their case!) to install ‘natural playgrounds’ that emulate the woodland features we take for granted.

I know a variety of local teens who bike the Fromme Mountain trails, arrange great (supervised!) airgun battles deep in the forest, are often heading out to play road hockey, used Upper Lynn School as their meeting place this summer because “it’s got the best playground for playing Grounders,” and love to top off a summer day with a dip in the creek.

Not so long ago, I remember them as primary kids spending a year’s worth of recess and lunchtimes playing in the school woods, building forts and stockpiling bits of rotted wood they called “Chunky Cheese” – the currency they hoarded, guarded, traded for sticks, and no doubt hurled at each other when things got slow.

Schools sometimes put on assemblies to teach playground games. If you want to learn (or be reminded of!) a few yourself, you might want to have a look at this list of traditional children’s games compiled on Wikipedia. Or just ask your kids and their friends what they play at recess – chances are there is a whole playground subculture that keeps them busy.

As adults we often ask ourselves what we can do to foster more of this kind of play. Perhaps our job is to stand back and do less. Less driving to school. Fewer scheduled activities. Less worrying about whether the kids are being entertained, and more trust that they are capable of creating their own fun, if given the independence to do so.

It takes adjustment on all sides, of course. Children used to being constantly ‘plugged in’ will no doubt feel at a loose end when they are first sent outside to the backyard and left to their own devices. But my own mother had the answer to that one – any time I said “I’m bored,” I was presented with a list of chores to do. I soon learned how to keep myself busy without help!

So let’s be grateful for Lynn Valley’s many play possibilities, and encourage our kids to get out and use them – even if it’s a game of ‘Don’t Step on the Sidewalk Crack’ or ‘I Spy’ when they’re walking to school instead of being driven. (Parents nervous about young kids starting to walk to school on their own might want to bridge the gap with a healthy and social Walking School Bus arrangement.)

Hopefully we’ll have a lovely Indian Summer in which to enjoy the sunshine, but when the wet weather comes, keep the fun going with some low-tech indoor play – or a pair of wellies and a puddle!




Prize-winning temperance essay from 1928 still relevant today

FROM LYNN O’MALLEY: It has become abundantly apparent that you can’t count on June for good weather. But the end of the month does bring one thing you can depend on: grad ceremonies, photo opps and – unfortunately – the worry that some kids will take things too far and ‘celebrate’ with an open bottle in hand.

So this month’s launch of Canada’s Temperance Foundation (CTF) is timely. Started by a Victoria man and V-P’d by his addiction-experienced friend, it advocates “abstinence or retraint” in the use of alcohol and drugs. It invites Canadians to take a pledge in support of the cause.

“In ancient Greece,” reads the CTF website, “temperance was considered a virtue and was obtained when one became enlightened through harmonious living.”

Fair enough – who can argue with harmonious living? But in the interests of fair play, I do want to point out that the fine awareness-raising work of the CTF is building on the earlier labours of Nora Newman, Anna Flodin, James Simmonds and other Lynn Valley schoolchildren who competed in the annual essay competitions sponsored by the local Women’s Temperance Union in the early 1900s.

In 1928, young James won a $5 gold coin for the following second-place essay. (Each year the winner received the David Spencer Cup, which was often displayed at Lynn Valley School.)

We bring you this excerpt of James’s 84-year-old essay, along with our heartfelt wishes for a safe and happy grad week throughout the valley. We can’t speak to the veracity of his scientific claims, but we do hope today’s kids pay attention when he says that by drinking, you are “lowering the grade of your mind… (and) dulling your higher sense.”


Alcohol has great effects on health and length of life. If a man drinks he is sick more, and dies sooner than a sober man.

Alcohol causes fatty degeneration and fibroid degeneration of certain of the tissues. In fatty degeneration, little drops of fat or oil gather in the cells which gradually become small bags of oil.

When the muscles of the heart change to fat, they lose their strength. The kidneys and nerve fibres are also affected in this way.

Fibroid degeneration affects the heart, liver, kidneys, arteries and brain. The arteries are affected by the lime that is deposited on the walls. This makes them very brittle and narrow, so the blood can hardly make its way through.

Alcohol affects the brain. It causes paralysis and insanity. A man who takes three ounces of alcohol each day for twelve days could add figures only three-fifths as fast as when he takes no alcohol. This effect lasts for at least forty-eight hours.

A drunkard is not the only person who suffers from the result of his habit. Drink is responsible for a large number of crimes. The worst feature of the poverty caused by alcohol is not the fact that the drunkard himself suffers, but the fact that the innocent person suffers far more than he does. Many companies and railways will not employ anyone who drinks. During the Great War most of the principal nations of the world forbade the manufacture of alcoholic drinks.

Six main things you do if you take alcohol are: that you are threatening the physical structure of your stomach, your liver, your kidneys, your heart, your blood vessels, your nerves and your brain; that you are unquestionably lessening your power to work in any field, be it physical, intellectual or artistic; that you are in some measure lowering the grade of your mind, dulling your higher sense and taking the edge off your morals; that you are distinctly lessening your chances of maintaining your health and living to a good old age; that you are adding yourself to the number of those whose habits cause more suffering and misery, disease and death, than do all other causes combined; that you are fastening on yourself a habit that will lead many business men to refuse to employ you.

Alcohol is a poison, a deceiver and a wrecker of man and homes.”





Eat for Education! (Come on, it’s for the kids….)

Everyone loves a good excuse to go out to dinner – well, here’s a GREAT excuse for you!

The second annual Eat for Education has now come to the North Shore – specifically, to Lynn Valley. That means that a portion of food sales purchased on Wednesday, May 2nd at participating restaurants will benefit our own Lynn Valley Elementary!

The food-loving fundraiser began last year, when nine restaurants donated a share of one day’s profits to Mount Pleasant Elementary – giving it enough to buy the SMART board on its wish list. This year, the event has expanded to include over 21 restaurants and will benefit four schools. Lynn Valley Elementary is the only North Shore school involved, so let’s give it our support!

Participating restaurants are the Black Bear Pub, Mountain Sushi, Browns Socialhouse and Aristos Greek Taverna on Ross Road. Contributions from the restaurants’ coffers will go straight to Lynn Valley Elementary.

“All of us at the Black Bear are delighted to be a part of the North Shore’s first Eat for Education,” said owner Ron Slinger. “Being able to help out our neighbourhood school, Lynn Valley Elementary, is most rewarding!”

So if you ‘accidentally’ forget to do the grocery shopping or to thaw some meat for supper next Wednesday, you know what to do – have a guilt-free neighbourhood nosh, and know you’re doing it for the kids!

For more information about the event, and its organizers Jackie and Allen Ingram, see their “BC Foodies” website.


Argyle students campaign to stamp out “R” word

BY DENISE NEWALL, STUDENT REPORTER: Argyle Secondary is constantly striving to make the school a safer and more welcoming environment for the entire student body. But now an Argyle club has taken that philosophy and created a campaign and Youtube video it hopes will benefit not just local students, but people in the much-wider world.

Over the years, many clubs and organizations have been established at the school to focus on the improvement of different areas within the Argyle community. Recently, the attention has been directed to Best Buddies, an organization dedicated to enhancing the community through one-to-one friendships between individuals with intellectual disabilities and other students. Simple acts like eating lunch or playing games together have the ability to change the high school experience for all students involved.

Best Buddies’ most recent campaign was the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, a week-long effort to end the use of derogatory words “retard” and “retarded.” Argyle Best Buddies chapter leader Cara McGuire, along with other members, made presentations, encouraged students to pledge, created an awareness video, and more.

By the end of the week, 943 students at Argyle had pledged to Spread the Word to End the Word, and the Youtube video was viewed 2,154 times. With statistics like that, it is safe to say that the campaign was a definitive success.


A wall at Argyle displays pledges from students who say they won't use the word 'retard' in a derogatory fashion.