Electronic news program keeps Stettler school in touch with community


Christ-King Catholic School Principal Tara McMillan introduces the “McMillan Memo” on the school YouTube channel. ECA Review/Screenshot

A special new program spearheaded at Stettler’s Christ-King Catholic School (CKCS) started out as a nifty way to inform the community, but in the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s morphed into a doorway into the school.
The “McMillan Memo” was born some time ago as a fun little project for school staff to offer interesting facts and important or little-known information about CKCS to parents, noted Principal Tara McMillan April 24.
“It’s so important,” she said by phone. “They are a big part of our school. We want them to be a part of this.”
For example, she noted one “McMillan Memo” included information about teachers who are on supervisory duty. 
Each is equipped with a day-glo safety vest and a walkie-talkie so each is easy to spot around the school grounds, and can communicate instantly with administrators in the school. 
The principal stated this gives the parents and school community more insight into how CKCS functions.
However, after the provincial government declared a state of health emergency in March due to COVID-19, the school realized “McMillan Memos” could become a much more important way of connecting the school, students and parents who are kept at a distance for the foreseeable future.
The principal said she talked to her staff and everyone had creative ideas to make the memo into more of a news program, and staff suggested segments such as birthdays, cooking, sports and much more. 
Each teacher came up with an idea.
The principal noted one CKCS teacher has graphic design and social media skills and handles those parts of the memo. 
McMillan herself has some experience with iMovie and spent time watching YouTube “how-to” videos to put everything together into a professional package.
McMillan said the memo is going to be an effective way to keep the school community in touch, even though they are physically separated. 
For example, during “normal” times CKCS has a Spirit Day every other Friday where participants competed for trophies, and with the help of the “McMillan Memo,” Spirit Days will continue. 
This week, each teacher, parent and student will enjoy “Jersey Day,” when they’re encouraged to wear a team jersey, take a photo of themselves and send it in for the next edition of the “McMillan Memo.”
She said the memo is also going to include a weekly humour segment, so everyone should send in their favourite joke.
Principal McMillan also pointed out while the regular news program will be a great way for the school staff to keep parents and students informed about what’s going on, it will also encourage parents and students to keep in touch too and let the school know what everyone’s up to at home.
Each new edition of the “McMillan Memo” will be released on Monday. The first edition of the news memo is available on the school’s YouTube channel now (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=asujJ24k3KQ&feature=emb_logo). 
“We’re very excited about it,” said the principal.
The school’s social media feeds will also promote it and a link is also available on the school’s website, https://www.ck.ecacs16.ab.ca.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Journalist

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Journalist

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.
He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.

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