Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Congrats to George Jay Elementary!

Left to right: Beth Threlfall, Karen Higginbotham, and Kate Wallace.

A huge congratulations from our PAC to George Jay Elementary, which has three new reasons to celebrate. The George Jay PAC, led by President Kate Wallace, was the recipient of the Inspirational PAC Award in a ceremony at last night's Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils meeting held at Tillicum Elementary. The Gail Edwards Memorial Award, which recognizes a parent volunteer in the district went to Beth Threlfall, also of the George Jay PAC. Meanwhile, the Parents Choice Award went to George Jay teacher, Karen Higginbotham. What a night for one of our sister schools! In fact, Wallace IS the sister of our very own PAC President, Mercedes Calvert.

Congratulations to all the winners! For more information about the VCPAC awards, visit

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Local artist brings ball wall art and new beauty to the back field

Thanks to local artist Andrew Dick, Vic West students have a bevy of brightly coloured creatures native to our region to bring into games they play on their ball wall. The wall itself was made possible due to a generous grant from The Sutton Group, and this May, Andrew created the mural, which features a background of a mountain range that doubles as the horizontal line used for many of the ball games. This self-taught artist is truly local: he graduated from Esquimalt High School, where he studied computer graphics. PAC Member at Large, Aaren Madden, spoke with Andrew about his career as an artist, what inspires his unique style, and his commitment to inspiring Victoria kids. 

When did you first know you were an artist? 

After I graduated from high school, I knew it was what I wanted to do. But when I was in grade three, I had a teacher who was art-intensive. We would have four drawing sessions a day even if it was just 20 minutes at a time. When I was drawing, that was the first time I felt a kind of meditation. I knew it was something special I couldn’t experience in any other way.
Before: Andrew is ready with colours generously donated by Cloverdale Paint.
Your art practice includes sculpture, photography, video, painting, printmaking, and graffiti art. What led to your interest in such diverse media? 

In grade 10, my neighbour gave me a big book on surrealism [a style of art based not on imitating reality, but on imagination and the workings of the mind]. He saw my drawings and he thought I would like it, and I did. I saw artists that I liked: Max Ernst, Joan Miro, and many others. From there I started learning other types of art and I realized I didn’t want to do one type of art; I wanted to be free to do any medium, anything that popped into my head.  

Besides surrealism, you like art movements like Dada, CoBrA (short for Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam), na├»ve art, graffiti, and street art. These all have in common that they run counter to established ideas about what art ‘should’ be; their works, like yours, are often vivid, colourful and imaginative. Where do you find inspiration? 

In imagination. In everything. I don’t know where it comes from; that’s what’s interesting about it. It’s just being conscious of it and letting it happen. Getting a big idea and starting to sketch or work with something, it starts to become more clear. I can get a vision of a complete sculpture or just start working with it and see where it takes me.

(for images of Andrew’s recent sculptures, click here)
During: Andrew adds local creatures to celebrate our rich biodiversity in his colourful style, freehanding with spray paint.

For about ten years, you have mentored students at local schools like Central Middle School. What’s that like? 

I go into art classes and work on my own projects and if kids have any questions, I love to help them and give them advice and ultimately just encourage them to express themselves and not worry. A lot of kids think ‘oh, I am not good at this kind of art’, but I don’t think there really is a ‘good’ in art because everyone has a different taste and it’s all individual. It’s very inspiring and it’s cool to see that kids have amazing imaginations and are conscious to not get sucked into technology – it’s so encouraging, since everywhere I go I see kids with cellphones in their face, not looking up at the trees and the sky.

What advice do you have for the budding artists at Vic West Elementary? 

One hundred percent believe in yourself and don’t disregard any ideas you have. Don’t stop, keep doing it, and don’t worry about what people say about your art because it can be personal. If it makes you feel good, don’t stop. 

Art can be whatever you want it to be. There should be no rules, and it’s important to have fun with it. Everyone sees things in a different way, and everyone expresses themselves in different ways. You truly can do anything you set your mind to. Believing in yourself is so important.
After: Thumbs up from these Vic West students!

Our most heartfelt thanks go out to Andrew for our beautiful new ball wall. We are so glad he is part of our Vic West Elementary community (and Ms. D’s nephew to boot!). In September, he will be exhibiting a collaborative installation with fellow artist Mel Paget at an art gallery in Portland, Oregon. We wish him all the best and hope he visits often!  

Many thanks also to The Sutton Group and to Cloverdale Paint for their generosity. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vic West student's candy business a sweet deal for the PAC

At May's general meeting, the Parent Advisory Council was delighted to hear a presentation from 8-year-old Vic West Elementary student, Kai Webb, about the launch of his own candy vending machine business. Parents gathered around the table in the school staff room were struck not only by Kai's business ambition, but also by his intentions. This young entrepreneur wants to donate 25 per cent of the profits from his new business to his school PAC.

Kai's mom, PAC Co-Vice President Debbie Webb, said Kai had been talking about many business ideas with his parents and the candy machines was one they figured he'd have a good chance at being successful with. "He also does really want to help others and hears us talk about the PAC and what we do for the school," said Debbie, "This is great way for him to give back and help his school, friends and himself."

Taking some time away from his busy school (and business) day, Kai answered a few questions for us about his new business venture.

1 - What are your goals for your business?
"I want to learn about money and business. My goals are to expand my business, get some money and buy a laptop. I also want to help the school."

2 - Why have you decided to give a portion of your profits to the PAC?
"So they can buy supplies, field trips and events like Story Theater. In our class we are almost out of erasers and this might might help get us more. This will help all the kids in my school."

3 - What have you learned so far?
"I have been learning more math, like less expensive candies will give me more profits. Jelly beans so far cost the least per gram, so they will make the most profit and I can make it give the most amount of candy to people as well. I have been writing letters to businesses and talking to businesses, which helps me learn about talking and writing. I have learned to have the measurements of my vending machines which is part of being descriptive and ready."

4 - Any advice for other people about starting a business?
"Have a plan. Talk to businesses about your idea, and be loud and proud of your business. Act on your plan and leave your fears behind."

Good advice! Kai's candy machines, which accept quarters, will be proudly available for use at the PAC's annual garage sale coming up on Saturday, May 25th from 9-noon in the school gym. Sweet!

Garage Sale Day: donate old treasures and find new ones

The annual Victoria West Elementary School PAC Garage Sale is coming up on Saturday May 25th from 9-noon in the school gym. This fundraising event brings together the school community and the Vic West community in support of important school programs and activities. You can help by:

Donations are now being accepted in the front office, 750 Front Street.

Can you spare a dozen muffins? Cupcakes? Cookies? We will be selling baked goods to all those hungry garage salers (with Spiral Cafe coffee too). Baked goods can be delivered on Friday, May 24th to the school office, or brought to the sale.

Bring your bottles and cans and we will take them in, count them and do the messy work. (alcohol containers ARE accepted)

Do you have piles of pennies sitting around? Bring them on by and we will roll them and donate them to the MS Society. This is a commitment the PAC has made to support grade one student, Cole Rant, in his goal of raising money for this cause.

We are always in great appreciation of anyone willing to spend a couple of hours of their time on the day of the sale. We will be looking for people to come and help from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please consider spending the day with us to help raise money for our school. Contact the PAC at

Every purchase you make at the garage sale helps the PAC support school programs and activities. Come select for a wide variety of used items.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Rain garden reading

What's a relaxing thing to do outdoors on a sunny day? Read, of course! These photos were contributed by Division 7 teacher, Ms. Solecki, who encouraged her students to take advantage of a beautiful day and read in the school rain garden.