ATHABASCA – The Aspen View School Division will continue under the leadership of board chair Candy Nikipelo, as well as vice chair Anne Karczmarczyk, after the two women were re-elected into leadership roles alongside the beginning of the new school year.
During the Sept. 14 organizational meeting, both chair positions were up for re-election — the chair is elected from the within the trustees every two years, and vice chair is re-elected annually — and both women were acclaimed after no other nominations were put forward.
“School year 23-24 is sure to be a great year, and it’s going to be a year of change,” said Nikipelo in her “welcome back” speech. “We have a lot of good work to do, and we have a lot of important decisions to make. I always say that we are a room full of ordinary people who have to make extraordinary decisions.”
Both Nikipelo and Karczmarczyk are halfway through their four-year terms as trustees — Karczmarczyk represents Aspen View North Central, which includes Athabasca, while Nikipelo represents the Northeast, which includes Boyle and Grassland.
“I made the decision early to seek out leadership positions, and to challenge myself to learn more about the roles,” said Nikipelo in a Sept. 15 interview. Nikipelo, who is in her third term as a trustee after winning a by-election in 2014, has been chairing the board for four years, and was a vice chair before that.
When asked to reflect on the previous two years, both Nikipelo and Karczmarczyk touched on rural sustainability, a concept that is never far from the surface at Aspen View.
“We strongly believe in rural sustainability, and in schools for communities. I think the communities children are our children, and advocating for their transportation, for shorter ride times, these are some of the biggest things (we want to focus on),” said Karczmarczyk in a Sept. 15 call.
“It’s not just communities, we want to make sure we’re bringing in new teachers, and retaining the ones we have. It’s not just about saying ‘Aspen View is amazing,’ it’s about saying ‘the communities in Aspen View’ are amazing.”
More to come
The school board had just celebrated the opening of the H.A. Kostash School in Smoky Lake Sept. 12, a project that had been in the works for three years. In addition, the school board has seen increased enrollment coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic; historically Aspen View has been a declining school division, but had increased attendance last year and is expecting to do the same again in 2023.
“That’s amazing news for a small school division. We won’t get the numbers until after Sept. 30, but we’re projecting across the division to have rising numbers,” said Nikipelo.