Athabasca Playschool merges with WHPS

Athabasca Playschool merges with Whispering Hills Primary School
Posted on 05/28/2021

WHPS Great Beginnings now registering for 2021-22

Aspen View Public Schools is pleased to announce, in collaboration with the Athabasca Playschool Association, that Whispering Hills Primary School (WHPS) is assuming responsibility for pre-Kindergarten programming, and is now accepting registrations for WHPS Great Beginnings for the 2021-22 school year.

“The Athabasca Playschool Association has served the needs of young families in the community very well for many years,” Aspen View Public Schools Superintendent Neil O’Shea said. “There has been strong collaboration between the playschool, WHPS and Aspen View throughout these years, and all parties agree the time has now come to take advantage of the opportunities available by fully merging pre-Kindergarten programing into WHPS.”

“We’re looking forward to Aspen View taking over the pre-Kindergarten program through Great Beginnings,” commented Athabasca Playschool Association President Amelia Schoepp. “We have seen the success of Great Beginnings programs in other Aspen View communities, and we believe this merger will be an improvement for education, benefitting children and the Athabasca community.”

The WHPS Great Beginnings program will operate in a very similar manner to Athabasca Playschool. Great Beginnings provides an inclusive, play-based program for children aged 3-4 years old, delivered by qualified early childhood educators with oversight provided by WHPS Inclusive Education lead Sheena Garton. Current plans, subject to enrolment, are to offer three-hour sessions on Monday-Thursday mornings; parents/guardians can register children in as many or as few sessions as they wish. The cost per session remains consistent with Athabasca Playschool fees at $12 per registered session.

“We encourage interested families with pre-Kindergarten aged children to register online at as soon as they can,” WHPS Principal Lorna Anderson said. “The more we know about the level of interest in Great Beginnings, the better prepared we are to adjust the program schedule according to the enrolment.”

Anderson and O’Shea both noted that merging the pre-Kindergarten program into school operations results in many efficiencies.

“We are able to remove many of the obligations and challenges faced by independent playschool operators,” Anderson explained. “As Great Beginnings will be part of the school, a volunteer executive is no longer necessary. Great Beginnings families are encouraged to be involved in WHPS School Council, which coordinates school-wide fundraising activities through the WHPS Fundraising Committee. As well, because staffing and janitorial needs are now the school’s responsibility, Great Beginnings families will not be obligated to fulfill mandatory volunteer hours, which we know was an obstacle for some families. Of course, once public health restrictions allow, parents and guardians who wish to volunteer with Great Beginnings would be most welcome.”

“A seamless connection between Great Beginnings and WHPS helps introduce children and families to the school, and leads to a smooth transition into Kindergarten,” O’Shea added. “As well, Great Beginnings provides Aspen View with a more age-appropriate setting in which to provide additional supports for school readiness, including for students accessing Program Unit Funding (PUF) grants.”

O’Shea noted that WHPS Great Beginnings will operate as a pilot project for the 2021-22 school year, with ongoing review to ensure its sustainability. “We are optimistic that WHPS Great Beginnings provides a successful model through which Aspen View can continue and enhance the excellent pre-Kindergarten programming provided by the Athabasca Playschool Association.”
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