ATHABASCA — As in any level of public service there may not be a lot of accolades when things go right, but there can be a lot of criticism when things go wrong.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut Alberta schools down Mar. 15, 2020, it has been a stressful term for school boards across the province including for Aspen View Public Schools, but that hasn’t deterred incumbent Candy Nikipelo from putting her name forward.
“We've gone through school closures, and online learning, and I think it's very, very important to keep our students and staff safe as we continue to go through this pandemic,” she said. “We're guided by the government, but each school division has an opportunity to personalize our own safety protocols so that’s ever important.”
Nikipelo takes her role as a trustee seriously and hopes the voters in Boyle and Grassland feel the same way at the ballot box Oct. 18.
“In the last seven years I've had such a learning and rewarding experience by serving as school trustee and when I say serving, I do believe I am serving in that position. I would like to think that I’ve represented my two communities in Ward 3 well in the last two terms,” said Nikipelo. “I feel I have enough to give to try to serve one more term.”
The next four years, regardless of any continuing pandemic issues, will be important as well due to the roll out of the proposed curriculum which has had so much negative feedback across the province.
“We have a proposed curriculum that’s been given to Alberta,” she said. “We want to watch and analyze it and give input on, of course, the K to Grade 6 and then (the) Grades 7 to 9 (curriculum change) is looming inherently in the horizon so that's something that is in all of our minds. This is a big thing in Alberta history so we really need to do our best to try to make sure that we get it right.”
Nikipelo said she doesn’t have a specific platform, as the pandemic has thrown a wrench into some goals that were previously set, which is proof that even the best-laid plans can be derailed.
“I feel the next four years are pretty important … we're a small rural school division, and I think we work very hard to look after our students,” she said. “We’re constantly trying to strengthen our schools and I'm so very proud of our school division and our schools in particular and our staff and our students and I just think it's important to have people who are out for the greater good of the communities; schools are the hub of our communities and it's very important to keep them really strong.”
She’s looking forward to the election too, knowing anyone can put their name forward. As of press time only three incumbents have officially filed their paperwork; Nikipelo, Anne Karczmarczyk, and Dennis MacNeill. There is at least one open seat for the Smoky Lake area after Tom Mykytiyk announced in June that he was resigning from the position.
“I don't think it's easy to put your name out there to run,” Nikipelo said. “I feel that especially for local politics. Our world is so polarized right now, and very critical, so it's easy to point fingers and say you've messed up or you've made the wrong decision. But one thing I do believe is it's a great honour to be able to live in a democratic country, where we can participate, either by running for office, or by voting. I really think that strongly and I stand by that statement.”
Nikipelo also knows from experience elected officials rarely hear praise so she’s sure to point out the positive whenever there’s an opportunity.
“I’m very happy with the board we have right now and our administration,” she said. “I think Aspen View has a lot going for it.”