News | DrumhellerMail - Page #2917
Last updateTue, 18 Jun 2024 12pm

International program enhances student experience at DVSS

    DVSS principal Curtis LaPierre has just returned from an overseas trip to meet with potential students and parents as well as spread the word of the International Program at the school.
    LaPierre left for China, on November 4 for an eight-day trip, which included a visit to Hong Kong. While recruitment and promotion were a big part of the trip, another was discussion on curriculum.
    “I went to a high school and sat down with the administration there and talked to them about why Chinese students are challenged by English 30 and Social 30, and what they could do to better prepare their students for coming to Canada,” said LaPierre. Math and sciences are no problem, but social and English are real problems.”
    The trip also took him to Hong Kong to meet with agents who arrange international study opportunities for students. In fact, three students registered on the spot to come to Drumheller.
    LaPierre also met with the parents of current students at DVSS as well as the parents of incoming students while he was in Hong Kong.
    While the Golden Hills International Program was a pioneer in Alberta and enjoyed strong success in terms of numbers early on, it has seen incoming students drop as economic conditions worsened.
    “In the school division overall, we are down to about 170 international students. We used to run about 260,” said LaPierre. “That is simply because of economics.”
    Another reason for the drop is other schools in Alberta have seen the success of this model.
    “When we started seven years ago, there used to be three school divisions in the whole province, now there are 30 that are actively marketing for international students, so the competition side has gone up significantly.
    “Like any venture the landscape is always changing.”
    While numbers fluctuate, the program has been a success.
    He says the main goal of the international program when it was brought in was to utilize the dormitories, diversify the students' international experience here in the valley, provide international students with the Canadian experience, and maintain programs for Drumheller students. He said if it weren’t for the International Program, DVSS would have three less full time teachers.
    “It has really been a positive thing, and the kids are well accepted not just by the school community, but by the community at large,” said LaPierre.

Registration day for Christmas assistance approaches

    While Christmas is just around the corner, there are many in the community who will have trouble making the season joyous, or even making ends meet. It may be someone you know, it may be really close to home.
    The Salvation Army provides Christmas hampers to those in need; however, those needing support are required to apply.
    The church is holding a sign-up day on Thursday, December 8 at the church in downtown Drumheller. They will have staff on hand from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. to process applications, but they ask that those in need call 403-823-2215 for an appointment.
    While the Thursday date is optimal for the church, it will accept appointments on other days.
    Lt. Rachel Sheils says it is helpful if registrations happen sooner rather than later. This allows time for better planning, the ability to help identify the needs in advance and be able to construct the hampers to suit the needs of the families.
    So far, the Salvation Army’s Christmas campaign is going along well.  They are coming off a successful food drive, and this Saturday following the Santa Claus parade at 1 p.m. in downtown Drumheller, they are once again hosting a viewing of The Polar Express at the Napier Theatre at 2 p.m. Admission to the show is a donation of funds or food.
     Sheils said the kettle campaign is a little bit ahead of last year, but the rest of its campaigns are a little behind.
    They are still in need of volunteers to man the kettles. Shifts are about two hours in length.
    The iKettle program is also continuing this year. This is a safe secure online way to donate to the Salvation Army. Although the donation is in cyberspace, the funds will flow directly to local programs. She says this is an easy way for someone to donate using a credit card. Tax receipts are mailed directly to the person donating.
    Last hear the Drumheller Salvation Army finished in the top 10 in the country for iKettle donations, and this year they are right on track to do it again. To donate online go to, or go to and follow the link.
    To volunteer for working a kettle, to register for a hamper or more information contact the Salvation Army at 403-823-2215.

Tyrrell Museum investigates rare marine reptile at Syncrude site

    Cooperation between Syncrude and the Royal Tyrrell Museum has produced another spectacular fossil. On November 14 Maggy Horvath, a heavy equipment operator for Syncrude, uncovered the remains of a long-necked plesiosaur.
    “I think it’s great that I’m part of this,” said Horvath. “It felt pretty good to call my son and let him know that I found a prehistoric fossil.”
    Long-necked plesiosaurs, more accurately known as elasmosaurs, were a group of marine reptiles that lived from the late Triassic period, roughly 210 million years ago, to the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago, when they went extinct.
    The group is characterized by having  a large body, four flippers, a small tail, long neck, and small head. They would have eaten a wide variety of marine life, including fish and cephalopods. The long neck would have helped them ambush and quickly strike at prey.
    Horvath exposed a series of vertebrae and stopped digging  in the immediate area. Horvath then told Syncrude’s geologist, who notified the Tyrrell Museum.
    Last week the Tyrrell Museum dispatched a team of four to the site. Dr. Don Henderson, Curator of Dinosaurs, Jim McCabe, Preparation Lab Supervisor, and technicians Mark Mitchell and Joe Sanchez assessed the find.
    The team searched the site thoroughly for more material, but as of yet have not found anything more. Working with Syncrude employees, the team has been able to isolate the large rock, estimated to weigh in excess of 6 tonnes, containing the fossil.
    The latest find is the tenth to have been discovered on Syncrude leases. Other remains include an ichthyosaur, a dolphin-like marine reptile that oozed oil, and a short-necked plesiosaur skull. Both are on display at the Tyrrell Museum in the Alberta Unearthed exhibit.
    The last elasmosaur from the same area was recovered ten years ago and was given the name Wapuskanectes. The specimen was only represented by the shoulder girdle and part of a front flipper.
     “We are hoping that this is another specimen of the same kind of plesiosaur,” explained Dr. Don Brinkman, Director of Preservation and Research at the Tyrrell Museum. “The new specimen is particularly important because it looks to be nearly complete.”
    The new specimen is roughly 110 million years old, about 2 millions years younger than the previous specimen.
    “It may be something new, it may be the same thing, we’ll find out when we get prepared,” said Brinkman.
    Preparation of the specimen may take some time. Weather conditions have prevented the Tyrrell team from bringing the specimen to the museum until spring. When conditions become favourable, museum crews will be able to stabilise the massive fossil and safety transport it to Drumheller.


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