What To Do During An Earthquake

Being prepared is the best way to ensure you and your family stay safe during an earthquake.

Being prepared is the best way to ensure you and your family stay safe during an earthquake.

The potential for a megathrust earthquake in Vancouver has been on parents' radars since it became a popular topic in the news around 2010.

For many, it has been a topic surrounded by fear. In BC, we're not used to even thinking about earthquakes, let alone preparing for them. 

A quick Google search on "What To Do During An Earthquake" will give you 150 million responses. That's a lot to wade through.

That's why we've created this quick guide to help you prepare for an earthquake. In working on Westside's Earthquake Preparedness Drill, we've uncovered some simple tips to keep you and your family safe during an earthquake.

Here are eight steps to take during and after an earthquake: 

Step 1: Announce the Earthquake

If you're at home and you feel the shake of an earthquake, yell out to your family members, "Earthquake! Drop, cover, and hold on!" This simple reminder will help any shocked family members remember what to do.

Step 2: Stop, Drop, Cover, and Hold on

Follow your own instructions. Get yourself under a table and hold on until the shaking has finished. If there isn't a table in the room, then crouch near an interior wall and cover your head and face with your arms. Remember to find the closest safe place. Trying to move during an earthquake increases the probability of injury.

Step 3: Assess the Space

Before you evacuate any space, PAUSE, look around and assess any potential dangers or damages. A vase could be precariously balanced, ready to fall and hit someone on the head. A shelf could be on the brink of collapsing. Assess the danger so you can avoid being injured. If you see a fire, put it out.

Step 4: Find any family members who need assistance.

If you're at home with your family, find anyone who needs assistance and help them evacuate.

Step 5: Grab your Go Bag and Put on Sturdy Shoes

Every family needs a "Go Bag." This emergency kit, which you keep near your safest exit, will allow you to grab what you need quickly and go in the case of any emergency. Make sure everyone puts on sturdy shoes before exiting your home as broken glass may be an issue.

Tip: Make sure your Go Bag is going to be easy to carry in the case that all the sidewalks in the city are cracked and damaged.

Step 6: Recognize that phone service will likely not work.

It's natural to want to contact your loved ones. But phone service will likely not work in the case of a megathrust earthquake. That's okay. No need to panic. Just follow your plan. 

Tip: When you're finally in a safe place you can put your phone on Energy Saving Mode so that it will be usable when cell phone service does become available. The City of Vancouver recommends using Twitter to find earthquake updates.

Step 7: As you exit any building, cover your head.

Debris from damaged structures or furnishings can fall and cause a head injury. Cover your head with a bag or book while exiting to prevent injury. If you're in an apartment building, take the stairs not the elevator. Recognize that many injuries happen within 10 feet of the entrance to a building. Go to an open space away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines. 

Tip: At Westside, we have four rules for our students when exiting the schools. They are as follows: Don't talk! Don't push! Don't run! Don't turn back! If you have a large family, using these rules may be helpful as well.

Step 8: Follow your emergency evacuation plan.

Create an emergency plan with your family in advance. This may include going to your closest Disaster Support Hub.  Or another safe location on high ground. Staying near the water is not advised in the case of an earthquake. Remember that travelling by foot is preferred to attempting to mobilize in your car as the roads will be damaged in a megathrust earthquake.

Now that you know what to do DURING an earthquake, here are some resources to help you prepare. 

  1. Create a Go Bag.

  2. Create a Family Disaster Plan.

  3. Know your Disaster Support Hubs.

  4. Read the earthquake-preparedness tips from the City of Vancouver.

  5. Read Natural Resources Canada megathrust earthquake FAQ with your family.

While we can't control when or if a megathrust earthquake occurs, we can control how prepared we are. Making sure you have a strong plan, and all the necessary resources in place will help you and your family stay safe during any emergency or natural disaster.

The more prepared you are, the more you'll be able to help others. 

Bearing Gifts

Westside teachers Torrie and Sarah gather up the bears to gift to the Kindergarten students.

Westside teachers Torrie and Sarah gather up the bears to gift to the Kindergarten students.

The opening ceremony began with Westside's Kindergarten class entering the assembly, each new student hand-in-hand with a Grade 12 student.

The oldest of students welcomed and introduced the youngest of students to their new school. As the kindergarteners left the Great Hall, after the ceremony, they were holding onto another new friend: a Westside Bear.

The tradition of gifting each new member of the Kindergarten class with a Westside Bear began six years ago.

The new bear friend helps students feel more comfortable in their new space. Students are encouraged to bring the bear to school whenever they like, to name their bear, and to take good care of it. The Westside Bear has another valuable attribute: it bears (pun intended) the promise of a beautiful future.

Students who complete their schooling at Westside and bring their Westside Bear to the closing ceremony in Grade 12 will receive a scholarship towards their university studies.

While we know that not every student who begins in Kindergarten will graduate from Westside - life happens and families move - it is nonetheless our wish to see every student at Westside grow and flourish for as long as they're here.

The Westside Bear is a symbol of our commitment to our new students' well-being and growth as we welcome them to the Westside community.

Summer Learning with Technology Opportunities

Children Learning with Technology

Straight from Westside’s learning-with-technology expert, Ashley Bayles, here are some suggestions for websites, apps, and other resources that may help you and your child engage with technology in meaningful ways over the summer.

Foundation Years & Middle Years

It is important to keep in mind that as with anything, it really depends on what you want your child to be doing. Summer is an important time to have new experiences as a family. No single resource will be great for every family or child, so please take time to explore what is best for your family.

General Learning 

For summer learning the National Geographic Kids website is a great resource. There is also a site called Storyline Online that complements the Libby app I recommended in the last Parent Academy as it helps with literacy skills.

BrainPop is a subscription site, but has free content to engage children in many subject areas. Khan Academy is a great resource, and it has an app for kids 2-6 that might interest your young child. I also suggest that parents of younger children also take a look at the variety of apps offered by Duck Duck Moose.

A great tool for easy design is Canva. Perhaps your child wants to design their next birthday party invitation using it! Another interesting site that the older children enjoy is Wolfram Alpha which uses algorithms and AI to find answers to all your questions. Have your child examine the types of responses they get from Wolfram with those of a different search engine. 


In terms of coding apps there are plenty of options: Box Island, Lightbot, Tynker, and Kodable are the most popular options, especially for younger students. As children get older Scratch becomes very useful and you can also look at the Raspberry Pi resources as your child outgrows Scratch. 

Canada Learning Code offers workshops for all ages and they have specialized sessions for 6-8 year olds (parents attend as well). I suggest looking at the Gamemaking and Circuitry with Scratch and Makey Makey or Animating with Scratch to see if it appeals to your child.  Artmaking with Scratch for 9-12 year old girls and their guardian/parent is another option.

Apple and Microsoft Store Workshops

The Apple Stores offer free workshops on a variety of topics so your child can attend and you can learn alongside them, for Foundation Years parents who are new to coding and technology, I would highly recommend any of the coding sessions so you can have a better understanding of it yourself. Microsoft also offers free workshops as well, and I feel their Metrotown location offers the largest selection of programs. 

Vancouver Public Library Workshops and Events

VPL Offer Many Special Events and Programs for Adults, Families, Teens and Young Children, so I suggest checking out their Event Calendar and searching for items of interest.

The VPL Summer Reading Club offers amazing sessions for K-7 students and many of them are connected to the ADST Curricular Competencies and Big Ideas. Some highlights I noted are: Programming with Raspberry Pi, Lego Robotics Club, and Whiteboard Animation. Please consider signing your child up and attending some of these great events.  

As you can see, the options are endless.
Be sure to give your child downtime over the summer along with opportunities to experience new things that they might not explore on their own.

Miniversity - Grades 8 to 12

No single resource will be great for everyone, so please take time to explore what is best for your family and what interests your teenager.

General Learning 

The Libby app is fantastic. If you want to make sure your teen has access to high-interest books, this app makes it easy for them to find and read them. Khan Academy is another great resource for students to review concepts they may have learned already or to preview material in preparation for next year. Another interesting site that teenagers (and adults) enjoy is Wolfram Alpha which uses it's own algorithms and AI to find answers to your questions. For students interested in art and design, I suggest they take a look at Canva

MOOCs offer great opportunities for self-directed summer learning for students and parents. Users 13 and over can choose from any subject area they want and learn on their own schedule. Some of the most popular sites are edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn. There are free and paid options on all sites.  


I am a member at MakerLabs right now and have really enjoyed exploring creative opportunities offered through the tools there. If you want to work with your child on some unique design projects, I recommend checking it out.

If your child wants to take one of these courses, you must also take it with them (13-17 year olds can only take courses with a parent/guardian, 18 or older can take it alone).

I am in love with laser cutting and highly-recommend the Laser Cutting 101 course as an introduction (I have been designing and making my own notebooks, coasters, and jewelry). Some other interesting options are the Triangle Shelf Workshop, Arduino 101, and 3D Printing and Scanning 101

Another similar option is the Vancouver Hack Space.


Apple Stores offer free workshops and so do Microsoft Stores with the Metrotown location offering the largest selection of programs. Free Geek also has an Open Help Night where you can get free technology support.


Canada Learning Code offers workshops for all ages, including parents. The Teens Learning Code program offers female-identified, trans, and non-binary youth ages 13-17 opportunities to take action on ideas that will shape our future while leveraging the power of technology. Two workshops being offered in Vancouver this summer are Data Insights with Python and HTML and CSS: Learn how to build an Online Resume

Codecademy and Free Code Camp are just two of many options for learning to code online. Code.org is also full of resources and so is the Raspberry Pi Project page which includes Scratch, Python, Blender, and HTML resources.

Vancouver Public Library 

The VPL offers many special events and programs for adults and teens, so I suggest checking out their Event Calendar and searching for items of interest. For example, they are having a Virtual Reality Open House on Thursday of this week. As part of the Teen Summer Challenge they are offering a Graphic Novel Workshop with a Marvel writer, and this Harry Potter Escape Room experience. 

There is also an opportunity for students to join next year’s VPL Teen Advisory Group to plan future events and programs for teens. Click here to see all the specialized teen programs they offer, such as the Summer Writing & Book Camp.

 Another great resources is the VPL’s Inspiration Lab which offers access to specialized tools, software and spaces for digital creation. 


Anyone with a VPL card has free access to Lynda.com which is fantastic for students and their parents to learn more about different technology tools. You can then use these tools at home, or access many of them for free at the library.

Science World  Extravagant Evening for Teens (SWEET)

On June 28, Science World is offering a FREE event just for teens. Click here for more information and to register your teen.  There is also an opportunity for students to join the Teen Advisory Group for Science World

As you can see, there are countless opportunities for your child to explore new passions or further develop their skills over the summer.

Westside Parents, feel free to contact ashley.bayles@thewestsideschools.ca if you have any comments or need further advice.

Europe Trip 2020

Expand Your Horizons and Experience History

The Westside Schools Europe Trip 2020

The students in next year's Grade 9 to 12 classes will have the opportunity of a lifetime: to experience the history of World War II in person and on location. No we won't be time-travelling, but Mr. Forrey will be leading a trip to France and Belgium that will bring history to life. 

It's one thing to read about the events that have molded our world today, it's another to experience the historical sites where it all happened and learn about it up-close. The ten-day trip will take students to Paris, Vimy, and Normandy. 

Highlights will including visiting some of Paris' most famous landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Gardens of Versailles. Further highlights will be visiting the spectacular Rouen Cathedral, going on a Seine River Cruise, and taking a guided tour of Vimy Ridge.

Mathematic Brilliance: Westside's Contest Winners

Mathematica Centrum National Math Contest Results

BY JANICE CUNNINGHAM, Director, Westside SuperC

Westsiders show what's possible with hard work and perseverance! 

In April of this year, after just ten weeks of preparation, twenty-three Westsiders from Grade 3 and 4 wrote the National Mathematica Centrum.  It's a tough contest!

Students must answer thirty questions in 45 minutes, and the oncepts are well beyond those required for their grade level.    

Here are some highlights from the contest:

  • Sofia Keung and Ian Yin earned public recognition on the national Honor Rolls. 

  • Over half of Westside’s competitors earned Certificates of Distinction. 

  • Both of Westside’s teams exceeded the national average!

    • The Grade 3 team scored 16.6, beating the national average by 22%.

    • The Grade 4 team scored 16, beating the national average by a half point.

First place within our school went to Sophia Keung and Ian Yin. These two Westsiders also earned public Honor Roll recognition by ranking in the top 5% of all participants nation-wide!

  • Sofia scored 22 (73%) placing her in the top 317 students out of 6,855 

  • Ian scored 25 (83%) placing him in the top 520 students out of 11,628.

Another thirteen Westsiders earned Certificates of Distinction for exceeding the national average score. Westside will be recognizing all these achievements at the closing ceremonies on June 26.  


Demonstrating Perseverance and Hard Work

After week two, the students did their first practice exam and many discovered just how tough it would be to get even half the questions right!  Yet they kept working on their exercises. They kept taking the practice tests. It was more than a pleasure to watch them demonstrate growth in qualities these contests help nurture beyond math skills: 

  • The ability to work under pressure

  • Perseverance and a commitment to working hard

  • The courage and capacity to push one's limits

Thank you Math Athletes for being an inspiration and showing us what can be done with hard work, commitment and courage!

Thank you Dr. Mousavi for all you did to help our students prepare.   


Grade 3 Team  

  • Aydin Asna-Ashari

  • Chloe Pang

  • Emily McCarthy

  • Gabriella Mendez

  • Klara Novakovaj   

  • Loius-Oscar Holowaychuck

  • Marcus Blackmore

  • Peter Alavidze

  • Sophia Keung   *HONOR ROLL

Grade 4 Team  

  • Arianne Casey

  • Ben Darbar

  • Harvey Yang

  • Hisa Kawai

  • Ian Yin  *HONOR ROLL

  • Jacob Billard

  • Kishi Marina

  • Lily Couper

  • Maddy Ashbee

  • Miuccia Yang

  • Naia Sanghera

  • Nicole Javadyan 

  • Nicole Ng

  • Viola Abley

Learning with Technology

What do you need to know?

Westside is lucky to have Ms. Bayles as both a member of the faculty and as Westside’s Educational Technology Coordinator. Bayles is an expert in the topic of learning with technology, holding a Master of Educational Technology from UBC. She’s also passionate about sharing her knowledge with faculty and parents.  

At this month’s Parent Academy, Ms. Bayles walked parents through the ADST curriculum and how it’s being implemented at Westside. She also provided insights about how to manage and approach educational technology at home.

What is ADST exactly?

It stands for Applied Design, Skills and Technology. The main concepts, according to the BC curriculum, are Understand, Know, and Do. The goal is to have students understand specific Big Ideas, know particular Content, and then be able to implement this knowledge with their gained Skills and Processes.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.28.38 PM.png

Design Thinking makes up the core of the ADST curriculum. So let’s break down what that means. Design thinking encompasses five main areas: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.

This isn’t a linear process. Although any great design must start with empathy, that process of empathizing doesn’t end as soon as the next step begins. Design thinking is more circular than it is linear. Its primary purpose is to solve problems, i.e. to provide positive results.

You can see why this is so valuable from an education standpoint. You’re not teaching students how to memorize by rote or recite facts, you’re teaching them a skill that will set them up for success in all areas of life, including their future careers.

If you can apply design thinking to a school project, you can apply it to anything. One of the greatest benefits of learning design thinking is that it teaches students that it’s okay to take risks and fail. Great success and innovation is a result of numerous failures. Trying new things will always produce spectacular failures. While failure used to be unacceptable in schools, now it’s considered a necessary tool for growth.

The era in which we live demands creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. To get there, we must all take risks, fail, assess, try again. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 10.20.43 AM.png

Learning with Technology at School

Often we’re scared of new technology because we don’t understand it. And our instinct might be to shield our children from this new technology.

With computer performance increasing rapidly, technological development shows no sign of slowing down. Shielding children from technology too much could mean stifling their growth and performance in the future, putting them behind their colleagues.

That being said, within the school, students are given plenty of focused time with technology, so parents don’t have to. While permitting your children to use certain apps can have value, you don’t need to double down on technology. Students receive an excellent balance at school. 


Students do stop motion animation here with clay art and their devices.

It’s common to think of learning with technology as just being in front of a screen. Technology simply means anything that extends our capabilities. A bicycle is technology. So is a computer or an iPad. So are elevators and cars. Even a crayon could be considered technology.

At school, there is just as much focus on students using design thinking as there is on actively engaging with a device. The Foundation Years STEM Fair was an outstanding example of students going through every phase of the design process to create projects that were tested by colleagues. While some projects involved computer technology, most did not.

Learning with Technology At Home

Many parents are afraid that their children have too much screen time. There is often the concern that playing video games may have negligible educational value and even be harmful. But it’s important to remember that these areas, which may be just for fun now, can turn into exciting careers. You can’t become a video game developer if you’ve never played a video game. Nor can you become an animator if you haven’t watched animated movies.

Playfully engaging with technology can be useful when younger children are at home. But there’s no need for more focused time. Students are learning enough in school that they don’t necessarily need to have additional focused activities at home. For older students, however, more focused time may be necessary if individuals are not grasping the material. 

If your child does express an interest in using apps on a device or playing games, just follow these guidelines.

  1. Always play the game or use the app with the child for the first time. Not all apps directed at children are actually suitable.

  2. Discuss the game or app after trying it together.

  3. Set time limits that seem reasonable. Your children will need your help to stop using an app or playing a game. 

  4. Ensure that your app store is password protected so that your child can’t download an app without you.

  5. Have device-free zones, so you can enjoy distraction-free family time.

  6. Be a role model when it comes to healthy device use.

  7. Strive for balance. It’s hard. But even a small effort will provide a great benefit.

Screen Time at Home and at School

At school, screens are used minimally. In the younger years, students may have one hour of screen time on an average day. This focused screen time may include creating an animation, doing basic programming, practicing math through an app, or doing a multimedia project. As students get older, they may use computers more frequently to work on projects, but classroom hours are still not focused around a computer screen. Balance is always what we’re striving towards.

While balance may seem like some ephemeral goal that’s hard to achieve or even measure, you can use the Healthy Mind Platter to guide you.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.10.35 PM.png

The Healthy Mind Platter means providing ample time for all of the following: down time, focused learning time (educational apps), play time, time in (quiet reflection), connection time (in person), physical time (moving!), and sleep time.

Keeping this in mind when thinking about how much screen time is appropriate for your child will help take some of the stress away.

If you have any questions about how to use technology at home with your children or you’d like some recommendations for apps, contact Ashley Bayles: ashley.bayles@thewestsideschools.ca


Technology at Westside in 2019/2020

  • Class set of iPads for the Foundation Years Centre

  • Seesaw Learning Journal for the Foundation Years

  • Expansion of maker space and multimedia studio for use by all centres/grades

  • Westside is working to get the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for MYP/MVP

Westside STEM Fair

From Sticky Sand to Marble Races, Grade 3 & 4 Amaze!

The Grade 3 and 4 classes were tasked with a unique and challenging project: create interactive STEM activities for their fellow students in the FYP, and then present them. They succeeded beautifully in this year's STEM Fair, produced by the incredible duo of Mrs. Jones and Ms. Munro.

The students' projects ranged from blindfolded engineering and a marble maze to building with sticky sand and magnet races. The broad spectrum of creativity and design on display was impressive. 

The STEM Fair day began and ended with a gathering in the Learning Commons, first to discuss STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and then to do a virtual activity where students had to ask 20 questions to another school that was streamed in live. Both schools were trying to determine through design-thinking where the other was located. Students were fascinated by this activity! 

The Grade 3s and 4s demonstrated their leadership and teamwork skills throughout the day as they presented their projects, ensured everyone was participating and following the guidelines, and shared their duties as facilitators with their project team members. 

They even encouraged participants in K to 2 to use the school values while doing the activities. "Remember to use teamwork for this!" instructed one student to her group of sticky-sand builders.  

{Click on the photos below to view as a slide show.}

The School Musical

Creativity, Vision, and Outstanding Teamwork

This past year was the second time Westside students have had the opportunity to experience bringing a musical to life.The two performances were a culmination of hours of rehearsal and preparation. Thanks to all the incredible work of Ms. Russell and Mr. Grant, as well as Mrs. Park who organized the logistics of the event and Mr. Shim who ran the soundboard - making sure everyone could be heard - the event went off without a hitch. 

It was wonderful to see the students bring so much joy to the audience and to watch the grades come together to make the event possible. Volunteers from the Miniversity ran the doors like old pros, Middle Years students were both orchestra and choir, and the Foundation Years students brought their singing voices and vibrant energy as a choir and chorus line.

One of Westside's constant goals is to achieve happy excellence. This was on display in full colour for both shows as the students filled the Miniversity with so much joy! 

{Click on the photos below to view as a slide show.}

Word Play At Westside

Connecting Words with Emotions during Literacy Week

Students are lined up in two rows facing each other.

"I love you!"
"I love you!"
"I love you!"

No, they haven't fallen in love with each other. The Grade 10 and 11 classes are in the midst of a Word Play Poets workshop.

Students have brainstormed and discussed the importance of emotion in writing poetry. The whiteboard is scrawled with every emotion you could think of. 

And now they're practicing adding different emotions and movements to the phrase they've been given (in this case "I love you") as they lance their words across to their partner.

Learning the Art of Cursive

Mrs. Jones' Grade 3 Class Learns Letter Writing

"I asked for a boy!" exclaims one student. 
His disappointment in "getting a girl" doesn't last long though as he begins to read the handwritten letter from his Senior Pen Pal.

Mrs. Jones' Grade 3 students are learning to read and write cursive. Do you remember practicing your handwriting as a kid? Connecting each letter to the next - creating the kind of elegant writing worthy of formal correspondence.