Bella Bella Community School Welcomes You to 2014-15!

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Please click here to see our Sept 2014 at BBCS power point. Also check out SEAS photos

While the public schools waited for a reasonable settlement that would see teachers with a secure contract and students back in classrooms, Bella Bella Community School started school with a bang on Sept 2 and it went from there.

Let me first say that I was in solidarity with the teachers of British Columbia who stood behind what they know is in the best interest of learners. I too walked the picket lines for two full weeks in 2005 and then again for three days in 2011. This year, my former district colleague has 22 children in her kindergarten class and at BBCS, this is an unheard of class size.

BBCS has the privilege of small classes and dedicated support for students who require learning support. There is a teacher assistant for each classroom. There is a solid commitment to addressing the needs of our learners in classes from our school board and from FNESC (First Nations Education Steering Committee) and FNSA (First Nations Schools Association). Smaller classes allow for more individualized support.

Already, we have had two professional coaches visit our school, along with a speech and language therapist and a visiting pediatrician. Our teachers had the opportunity to sit with a special education coach to ensure the needs of our children with special needs and IEPS are addressed. Our teachers had the opportunity to meet with a regional principal who works with administration to provide instructional support to teachers. Our school strives to meet the goals inherent within our mission statement. In October, a literacy coach will visit our school to ensure we are providing a rounded literacy program.

Students are able to enjoy breakfast each morning at BBCS and once a month, the health center staff provides an extra special breakfast for everyone. Our students are also provided with the opportunity to grab a healthy snack at recess – usually cut up fruit. Healthy eating is a focus at BBCS.

On Sept 2, our day began with a Welcome Back assembly where students had to find their teacher with help from their parents and then they got to sit together for the assembly.  We then witnessed the unveiling and blessing of a Welcome Pole that was installed into our foyer. The pole was carved last year by many staff members and students each contributing in some way and it introduces a new legacy for BBCS.

The Welcome Pole is intended to turn the page on the grief stemming from residential school where our children’s’ parents and/or grandparents faced the wrath of an assimilationist policy intended to eliminate all aspects of Aboriginal culture. Our chiefs played an important part in this ceremony, as did our two school elders who along with several children blessed the pole before it was installed. It is our hope that many people will visit the school to see our Welcome Pole.

The weather in Sept. was spectacular; it supported several events that brought BBCS outdoors. Stream of Dreams spent a week in our school educating our children and engaging them in a series of hands on activities. They left us with a tribute – a colourful school of painted fish plaques along the fence in front of our school. The finale for this was the Salmon Festival organized by SEAS and many staff and student volunteers from BBCS. Students helped with the preparation from getting the fire going to prepping the fish. It was an event that drew hundred of community members out to enjoy a demonstration of seine netting, drumming and singing, and many other events including a delicious bbq salmon luncheon.

Several of our students went on daylong fieldtrips with our SEAS coordinator and were able to participate in land-based and locally relevant learning. Some students went to Beales or to Gulchucks and others went to the lakes at Denny Island while others went to Koeye for an overnight camp. A group of our students attended aweek-long fieldtrip with elders, community members and their teacher to attend an historic peace treaty signing with our neighbours, the Haida. They will give a presentation at our first recognition assembly on Oct 11th.  Everyone is invited!

In the elementary wing, several amazingly dedicated teachers hosted parents and grandparents in literacy events as an opportunity to put faces to names. These included We Read teas in several classes and a PALS event, Parents as Literacy Supporters for our K and Gr 1 students. Staff organized a meal, a presentation for parents, crafts for children, and a bag with a book and crafting tools for children to take home. The Home Ec students in grades, 8, 9, and 10 prepared a delicious spaghetti dinner for this wonderful event.

In high school, our students have eagerly participated with our Wednesday afternoon clubs, which is our way of raising the fun factor at BBCS, and so far, it has been a rousing success! This is a new initiative this year and one that we are very excited about. They have enjoyed kayaking, photography, archery, among other opportunities. I have never before had to remind kids that they were dismissed as they seem content to remain at school after hours.

Another highlight was the Terry Fox run which raised over $2000. for cancer research. As the principal of the school, I am proud of the effort that staff and students put forth to make this such a successful fundraiser.  I am always grateful as well for the community support.

BBCS staff started the school year two days earlier than students. They spent two intense days working with each other; the first was spent at Koeye where staff mingled and explored one of the most beautiful sites in Heiltsuk territory. They walked, fished, and watched for wildlife and finished the day with a traditional BBQ meal. Along the way, they had the opportunity to look at pictographs at Port John and at the once thriving abandoned town of Namu, which is situated on traditional Heiltsuk territory. The next day was a pro d-day intended to raise awareness of lateral violence with Denise Findlay.

We are off to a great start. October is just around the corner and we look forward to our annual Career Fair; our first interim reports for high school students, our recognition assemblies and our annual open House. Life at BBCS often takes us beyond the school day. In October, we plan to open the gym at 8:20 am for students to get their heart rates up and put smiles on their faces before they go to class. The smiles on the faces of the children open the hearts of our staff members who work hard to create engaging learning opportunities for all children. It is a pleasure to be at the helm of such a wonderful school.

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A Reply from BBCS…

Last August our school was vandalized and because of the hard work by a number of teachers and support staff, the school was cleaned up, the books and library were cleaned up and we were ready to go for day 1 of the 2013-14 school year. We were missing a few windows and we made do without the technology that was damaged beyond use.

One young man was responsible for the vandalism and the news of what had happened flooded the national news for several  days. He was held criminally responsible for the vandalism.

The young man’s family requested that he be permitted to return to school a few weeks into Sept. and after a meeting with the school board, he  was allowed to return to school on certain conditions. One was that he publicly apologize to the community. The young man left his treatment program for a short time in order to do this.

Last Friday, in front of a large crowd of chiefs, elders, and community members he gave his public apology.  It was a moving and heart felt apology that obviously took a lot out of him. The community listened to every word and there was quiet in the building as he spoke with his family all around him as a display of support.  Afterwards the community members in attendance gave him a standing ovation.

This young man is headed back to treatment to finish this off and I invited him to my office as I wanted to provide him with a response as the principal of the school. I wanted to encourage him to stay on his path. Here is  what I read to him as part of a meeting we had on Monday morning before he left to return to treatment:

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May 26, 2014

A Reply…

When I met you (name,) I only knew you by what I was told by others and by what I saw that early morning in Aug when I walked into the school and saw the aftermath of what you unleashed on the school.

It was a terribly disturbing scene to see. A walk through the school was a challenge because there were chunks of glass and splinters everywhere in the office, in the hallways, and on desks in the main office. The library shelving was overturned and sprayed with the fire extinguisher so there was a film of residue everywhere. A brand new smart board was damaged before it could be installed. Phones were ripped out of the wall jacks. Some laptops were damaged. It was an upsetting time especially for brand new teachers who had just arrived. One of them asked me if this was how it is here…

A few weeks after school got underway, I received a letter requesting permission for you to return to school. The board and the vice principal met with you and your guardians to discuss your return to school and they gave you a conditional return.

You were placed on a limited school timetable as we wanted to give you no opportunity to get into trouble. You must have felt that you were under our scrutiny because you were.

(Name), you rose to the challenge and it must have been very hard for you some days. As principal, I was firm with you, but I hope you thought I was fair. I had clear expectations and at least once verbally reminded you of our expectations. You never talked back or complained.

Over time, (Name), it was obvious that you grew to enjoy school and we saw another side of you that showed what you are made of. Teachers’ hearts softened when they saw they saw in you a beautiful and talented young man who just needed a chance. You showed that you had a great sense of humour, a ready smile, and a bit of a mischief to go along with that. (Name), you did everything we asked you to do and more.

  • You attended school every day
  • You were respectful
  • You showed your academic potential and achieved B Honours on your first report card.
  • You found a place in the hearts of many people at the school.
  • You showed us what a skilled athlete you are.
  • You allowed us to see your beautiful spirit and kind disposition.

Before you left (Name), to go to treatment, you publicly thanked your teachers over the PA for believing in you and for supporting you. It was an emotional time for all of us. That was a courageous and heartfelt thing to do. It took a lot but you did it. I’ll never forget that.

The school board took a chance in allowing you to return to school and you rose to the challenge.

This crisis in your life presented you with the opportunity to turn your life around and you are doing it.

(Name), on behalf of the staff at BBCS, I want to wish you the best as you forge your pathway in life. You have our hearts and you have what It takes to stay on this path. Teach others about how you have been able to turn your life around and grow from this. You have a lifetime ahead of you. Fill it with all that is most precious to you. Send me a note now and then please… and yes, come back next year and speak to the student body. This is after all, your home.

Mrs. Gladish, BBCS Principal

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Principal’s Remarks at the School Assembly on Anti-bullying

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Welcome to our assembly to mark the end of a week dedicated to engaging our students and staff with activities and opportunities focusing on the importance of being kind to each other and becoming a school that cares openly about everyone in the building.

It’s wonderful to see a sea of pink out there. Our students wore pink shirts on Wednesday, the official pink shirt day and they wore them again today to culminate a week that has been dedicated to raising awareness about anti-bullying. It is wonderful to see so many community members here today. Thank you for your show of support!

This week of anti bullying awareness is very important to our school because victims of bullying report a loss of interest in school, more absenteeism, lower grades, more skipping classes, and more lates to class.

As a staff, we are looking at a draft policy that is intended to reflect our dedication to learning more about how to prevent bullying and how we will address incidents of bullying that are brought to our attention. If a child in our school is bullied, know that we will address it.

Erin from The Red Cross was in the school all week training a group of high school students, staff, and community members to facilitate workshops and session. The program, Beyond the Hurt, provides youth and adults with the tools to take a stand to stop bullying before it starts. Several staff, students, and community members have been trained to facilitate bullying prevention workshops and to model positive and respectful relationships.

This awareness is important to our school because people who are bullied have lower academic achievement and experience negative feelings about the school environment and their peers are more likely to be involved in bullying.

I need to let you the community know that our school has been the victim of cyber bullying and we need your help to stop these negative acts. When someone emails or posts negative comments about our school, it undermines our efforts to create the kind of school that we know we can be. Please know that staff, including administration is easily reached by phone or in person. The more we can sit down together and come up with ways to address mutual concerns, the healthier our relationships will be between school and community.

Research tells us that kids who have supportive and positive relationships in their lives will do better in school. They will have stronger friendships. They will be more confident, and they will be less likely to engage in bullying behaviours.

In our school it is important to see happy kids who feel safe anywhere in the building. It is important to see a clean and organized school that we can be proud of. It is important to be the school where people stand up and support each other, a school where friends do not allow their friends to bully others.

In our school we want to hear friends sharing ideas and feelings. We want to hear staff and students challenging anyone who uses homophobic, sexist, or other hurtful language. We want to be a school where friendly comments and compliments flow easily through the hallways and classrooms. We want to be the school where kids feel safe, cared for, appreciated, accepted, hopeful, supported, and proud to be who they are.

Parents and community members,  thank you for being here. Thank you for your support- it means a lot. Thank you to those parents who come out to every event at our school. And to those parents and grandparents, who are here for the first time, please know that you are welcome to come in and help to make a difference as we work toward becoming the school that we want to be.

Thank you to Naomi, Vikki, Colleen, Angela, Harrison, and our wonderful students who put this assembly together. If I have forgotten someone, please forgive me – it was not intentional.

Thanks to the wonderful staff and community members who stepped up to be trained in anti-bullying awareness.

And to everyone else, thank you for your commitment to working with us to raise students who are successful and caring and kind to everyone around them. This is the kind of school we want to be.

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Family Day Long Weekend

Dad’s main focus when he arrived at our place last Sat was spending time with Eddy, our Chihuahua, Corgi mix. They snuggled as they always do, the whole time he was here.

We enjoyed a nice lunch together as we often do on Saturdays. I made him a delicious traditional soup made from barbecued fish and I also made what were reported to be, very delicious biscuits. He ate most of a bowl and one biscuit which is more than he usually eats.

Afterwards, we sat and visited and listened to Pavarotti, one of his favourites. When he was too tired he said he had to go. I noticed when I helped him with his coat, it was very big on him and it was missing several buttons. He reminded me as he often does, that his grandson, my son Jay, had given him that coat a couple of years ago. He never stays for more than two hours.

At 87, dad is dealing with Parkinsons, Dimentia, Arthritis, Hepatitis C, back pain, and lung cancer. His cancer is a slow moving mass that is touching a bone in his back and one of his ribs. He can’t see out of his right eye at all and suffers from headaches regularly. To deal with his pain, dad takes Tylenol 3s at regular intervals each day. The side effects though are unpleasant. He suffers more confusion and his hand tremors seem to be worse some days. It makes it hard for him to enjoy a cup of coffee without splashing it on himself or on the area nearby. It makes it hard for him to see if he is wearing matching shoes not that that should matter as long as he is comfortable.

Dad told me a couple of weeks ago that he is not long for this world and I realize that I need to curb my 12 hour days to spend more time with him. I love everything about my job including the children, but I need to strike a balance between work and family. I wonder how many people are dealing with this reality with their parents.

Dad understands and speaks the Heiltsuk language quite fluently despite being a residential school survivor. He declared bankruptcy in the 80s after a successful career as a commercial fisherman, but never lost his sense of humour or his love of music. He likes to tell stories when he can muster the energy but will quit if he can’t find his words or loses his train of thought. When he is feeling up to it, dad still plays his accordion. His memory though sometimes fails him when he tries to play an old favourite and yesterday his chest was sore from the effort it took to play.

Before I dropped him off last Saturday, we went for a drive through the village. I glanced over at him as he was speaking and was shocked to notice that he truly looks old. His eyes were droopy and watery and he talked about feeling old and wondered when the time comes, if he should be buried next to his family rather than being cremated. I told him to give it some thought and let me know.

I made an effort to see him a couple of times this week with Eddy and Vic stopped by to take him over the elder’s buildIng. I expect tomorrow he will ask me to drive him to visit his cousin Peggy’s house on Sunday. He says they talk about old times and old friends and relatives and how life used to be.  He enjoys her company very much.

I think dad should enjoy all the things he likes while he is still able to and maybe I should as well because according to him life flies by. He wonders where the time went and how he got so old. Tomorrow I am off for Family day so I will give him some lunch and maybe whip up a chocolate cake as he has a sweet tooth. I’ll make him a nice lunch and I will put on some tunes for him so that he can tap his foot while he sits with Eddy over a cup of coffee.

Poppa and Eddy

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2014 Rolled in….

As I bid farewell to 2013 and welcome 2014, I feel a sense of renewed optimism in my personal and professional lives, although it is hard to separate the two when I live only 200 meters away from the school. I continue to recover from my injury and am getting around reasonably well aided by a cane in and around the school and in the city. I know that I will one day be taking regular outings with Vic, Eddy, and my camera.  I was able to travel over Christmas and today I went out with my camera today to capture the sights around the village in the early morning light and the shadows of dusk.

Being  confined to a wheel chair followed by a walker, and crutches  for the past four months has been a test of my ability to be present in every sense in my work as administrator of a K- 12 school. It was difficult to visit classrooms, as the old-fashioned classroom doorway corridors simply do not allow easy access to someone on a wheel chair, a walker or on crutches. I completely understand the need for every school and every public place to ensure access for everyone with an elevator and an electronic button that swings a door open to let a wheelchair or walker inside. Further at least one washrooms need to allow easy access.

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I would be interested in knowing how many schools are being built with the needs of all people in mind.  I am reminded of a cartoon (on the importance of differentiating in classrooms) that shows a custodian shoveling off the stairs of the school while the children stood by and waited. Beside him was a wheelchair ramp begging to be shoveled to allow everyone equals access. (More on differentiating when Karen Hume visits us for two days later in the Spring)

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I was so moved by the compassion of staff and students.  I had meals brought to my home.  Kids genuinely asked me if I was okay and they often accompanied me as I cruised the hallways or went down the elevator to the lower level.  “Cool” hgh school kids noticed when I shifted from one crutch to a cane. At the high school assembly, I told students how this  image and message, a simple set of stairs/goals helped me to move along with my recovering and mobility. My first real challenge two days after surgery was to learn how to go up and down stairs on crutches so that I could be discharged.  I took a flight home unaccompanied a few hours later and was present to open the school with a welcome assembly.  Determination was what it took along with courage and practice.  It helps to absolutely love your job!

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I have wondered about the need to be physically present in every sense of the phrase in order to keep us on a path focused on student success. I knew in May 2013 after we finished teacher recruitment that I had an amazing and talented staff to work with! I knew too that we had to establish and maintain high standards. I knew that we had some specific goals to begin working on. I also knew that I simply did not have all the answers so being physically present was second to ensuring that my staff had access to a range of tools and strategies intended to provide students with the interventions and the enrichments needed in order to meet with student success. A range of initiatives point to the changes that have been made in our school:

– Having special education specialist, an instructional coach, and a literacy coach has provided teachers with a wealth of resources and instructional and assessment strategies by which to gauge student success.
– Introducing a swat team approach to providing guided instruction had provided children access to the learning support teacher on a daily basis.
-When Damian Cooper was unable to fly in due to weather, I sent our six teachers to attend a two-day training session and they came back and provided staff with a range of new knowledge and strategies to try in the classroom.
-Having teachers work interdepartmentally has helped to build a cohesive staff willing to work collaboratively.
-Creating an alternate program provided a half dozen high school students with small, intensive one on one or small group instruction. It provided them with a place to call their own.
– The learning center has truly become exactly what it was intended to be- a place of learning where several students receive support with learning and support with online learning. A team of highly skilled teacher assistants under the guidance of the learning support teacher provides this assistance. They also go into classrooms to provide assistance to students who are mainstreamed but require learning support.
– The high school from week one has provided an after school study hall that is both mandatory and voluntary. When students are too often absent or behind in coursework, attendance at study hall is mandatory. Other students often stay behind the 4:00 closing to get coursework done.
– BBCS has held regular assemblies for primary, intermediate, and high school students. Its intention is to recognize student success with attendance and academic support. The high school assembly on Dec 18th saw family members beaming proudly as students received honour certificates. Perhaps this needs to be a whole school assembly next time.
– The school in general has a hum of high expectations for students where we hold kids accountable while recognizing their success,
– Communication with the community has been raised to a standard that conveys our desire to raise parent and community it involvement with the school.
– Special events and spirit days and extra curricular activities have raised school spirit. We Read day, Pajama day, jersey Day, and extra curricular events every day sees students in he building beyond school hours.

We are in process in terms of being a PLC Professional learning community with the following PLC groups: kindergarten, primary, intermediate, and high school.

As groups meet, I ask them to review the following with a review of the smart goals each group has set for themselves:

1. Focus on learning

What is it that students need to learn and be able to do?
(Essential learning outcomes)
How do we know they know it?
(Common formative assessments)
What are we going to do if they don’t get it?
(Interventions) i.e. pipe cleaners as a learning strategy for teaching DNA
What are we going to do if they already know if?
(Enrichment)

2.Collaborative culture: Work with other teachers. Together we’re better!

3. Focus on result. What does our data tell us? What steps do we take?

Some Mantras to Live by:
Have high expectations for all kids
Challenge what we believe about student learning!
No longer accept the racism of low expectations!

As administrator of BBCS, my goal is to continue to support teachers as effective teachers ensure successful learners. People go into teaching to make a difference. I can honestly say that the teachers and teacher assistants at BBCS are making a tremendous difference for the students.  I remember how intensely demanding teaching can be.  This is a reminder that I know what teachers go through every day.

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As well, many more parents meetings will occur as we seek to work collaboratively with students requiring additional support or accountability.

As well, I will be meeting with small groups of students from diverse grades to find out what their hopes and dreams are and how we may be able to help them find the path leading toward whatever that is…

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                                                                                     Happy New Year! 

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Recovering from a Broken Fibula and Tibia

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After six weeks, my fibula and tibia are healed! Please have a look at the x ray which shows the location of the plate and two screws through my ankle and tibia. I find it fascinating that this hardware was inserted and contributed to the healing process. I am also amazed at how quickly the bones have healed. I can say that now, but there were times during the past six weeks that I wondered if I would ever heal…

I was ecstatic to hear those words from Dr. McConkey until I realized I still have a long ways to go… Since Thursday, I have progressed from walking on the boot cast with my crutches to walking short distances wearing my very sensible shoes with the aid of a walker. I had no idea that this stage of the recovery would be so incredibly hard and painful. I have been physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of each day! My ankle is stiff and needs physiotherapy, but my knee is all of a sudden having to start working and it is giving me  intense pain. The incision site is getting better every day. The vitamin d drops and multi-vitamins may have helped with the healing.

Yesterday I planted my bare foot on the ground sort of, and it looked and behaved like a discoloured purplish  flipper. Today though, between my walks up and down the hallway, I have spent quite a bit of time sitting in a chair with knees slightly raised and bent to give some relief to the knee pain and to the swelling.

This is day five and painkillers provide some relief to the knee pain. This week will be a challenge for me as we have a couple of evening events at school. My husband will continue to drive me 300 metres to school and back until I feel able to make that walk as it means taking on a hill with no sidewalk and loose gravel.  The sidewalk outside our house is one of the biggest challenges as it is in disrepair and quite eroded.

I don’t wish this on anyone, but I fully understand what it means to be dependent on having help for things such as opening and closing doors: carrying my tea to me; making my meals; doing my laundry; and providing regular encouragement.

To everyone who has helped me, including the children at school with their ready hugs, thank you! I know that I will see improvement with each week especially once I start physiotherapy.

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A Day with the Amazing Sue Gower!

I honestly do not know anyone whose level of enthusiasm and passion rivals that of Sue Gower. She left us with filled with the hope and commitment to do what it takes to impact student learning.

Professional Learning Community: A Journey that we will Embark on at BBCS The framework to guide us will be:

A. Focus on learning: impact on students

1.What is it that students need to learn and be able to do? (Essential learning outcomes)

2.How do we know they know it? (Common formative assessments)

3.What are we going to do if they don’t get it? (interventions) ie pipe cleaners as a learning strategy for teaching DNA

4.What are we going to do if they already know if? (Enrichment))

B. Collaborative culture: Work with other teachers. Together we’re better!

C. Focus on result. What does our data tell us?

Some Mantras to Live by:

Have high expectations for all kids

Challenge what we believe about student learning!

No longer accept the racism of low expectations!

The Big Six Shared Mission, Vision, Values and Goals: Let it flow from your lips and heart

Collaborative teams

Collective Inquiry

Action Orientation, Experimentation

Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Results Focused – takes 2-3 yrs for change. It must be how we live, learn, and work. Attendance is crucial PLC at the school level.

The school and community develops and talk about our mission, vision, values, and goals

The school uses data to identify the greatest area of need (GAN)

The school follows the framework of PLC to address the need(s)

A PLC oriented school

A focus on process: to monitor, to intervene…

A way of thinking

A way of focusing our work

A way of living, of interacting,

imageBig ideas

Learning.

Teachers work together

Kids learn because of what we do

What it looks like:

People working collaboratively

Considering essential knowledge and dispositions for students

Using assessment data to determine next steps

Believing that evidence can inform us.

PLC as a way to meet: Around a common purpose, collaboratively, To seek new ways to teach, learn, assess.  To recognize the importance of engagement

Constantly ask ourselves: What is our purpose? What do we hope to achieve? What are our strategies for Improving? How will we asses our efforts collectively?

The commitment I will make as a principal:

To participate in PLC groups to go through the journey

To provide time for teachers to meet regularly

To establish lead teachers to be the keepers of the agreed upon norms

 

 

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