IN THIS ISSUE
Trillium Grant Makes Hillcrest a Best Buddies Pioneer Top
Thanks in part to a three-year, $98,500 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Best Buddies Canada was able to launch its new elementary school program in Hamilton at Hillcrest elementary on March 28.
“This is a program that will change many lives in our elementary schools,” said MPP Paul Miller. “Best Buddies will teach our youth the importance of inclusion, promoting feelings of belonging and a greater connection to the community. Thank you to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for its generous support.”
Students and staff from Hillcrest Elementary School were joined by special guests including Todd White, representative from MPP Paul Miller’s office, Pam Reinholdt, Superintendent of Student Achievement-Safe Schools, and Ray Mulholland, Trustee Ward 4 and a representative from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
“We are very excited to introduce our elementary school program in Hamilton,” said Steven Pinnock, executive director of Best Buddies Canada. “This is a great story for us and a great story for Hamilton, as we are helping to make Hamilton the best city to raise a child. The support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will help as our program grows.”
Best Buddies Canada helps to provide meaningful friendships for people with intellectual disabilities. Students with and without intellectual disabilities are matched in one-to-one friendships and spend time enjoying the company of a friend. Today, there are 250 chapters in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools across Canada, with fourteen in Hamilton. Hillcrest is the first elementary school in Hamilton to launch the program, with many more expected within the next year.
Fatherhood 101 for Young Men Top
By Teri Pecoskie, The Hamilton Spectator
Adam Aird was five years old when his dad left. Things were different after that, he says, without a father in the house. He didn’t have anyone to play catch with since his dad didn’t come around much. In fact, he didn’t spend much time outside at all.
Now 16, Adam thinks about becoming a father himself one day, but the circumstances of his own childhood make him hesitant. “I don’t want to be like him,” he says. “I want to stay with the kids and my wife.”
The trouble is Adam never really had a father figure to pass down important parenting skills. He’s not alone. In many of the neighbourhoods surrounding Adam’s school, Sir Winston Churchill, the number of lone-parent families outpaces the city average of 16 per cent. In one neighbourhood just east of the school, the rate of lone-parent families is around 34 per cent — more than twice the Hamilton average, based on 2006 federal census data.
That’s where Churchill’s new fatherhood course comes in. The class, launched this semester, is modelled on traditional parenting course curriculum. But it’s aimed at male students and explores issues such as the role of a modern dad and what it means to be a man.
“It’s sort of demystifying what it is to be a father and giving young men permission to talk about it,” says teacher Taylor Elson. Read more
Greenleaf Takes on the World Education Games Top
In the middle of February, Allan A. Greenleaf student Eoin Blythe had the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Calgary to represent Canada as an Ambassador in the World Education Games.
Now, what are the games you might ask? The games are the largest online academic games in the world with over 5 million students registered around the world. Students compete in fun math, science, and spelling challenges trying to place in the top 100 competitors of the world. Students participated in the games from March 5 to 8, 2012.
Part of the World Education Games is knowing that Canadians are so lucky to have access to things like computers. In other countries some students barely have essentials like pencils and paper! So, Allan A. Greenleaf took part in the WEG-sponsored UNICEF School-In-A-Box fundraiser and has so far raised over $600. This money will go towards providing kids in developing countries school supplies like pencils. They have raised enough to give 160 students their necessary supplies. Together we will be able to help many students and give them the opportunity of education.
Eoin’s ambassadorial duties included educating students across Hamilton about WEG. He had them excited, and ready to have fun while learning. Eoin created a fabulous team of five: Alex Wylie, Zach MacLellen, Nathan Zimmerman, and Danielle Erb. Together, they went to Guy Brown, Beverly Central, Eastdale, and Bennetto schools, and encouraged their own school, Allan A. Greenleaf, to participate.
Every day, Greenleaf’s computer lab was full of kids begging to get in to practice for the games online. On the day of the games, times were allotted times to make sure everyone had a turn. Students from grades 1 to 8 were doing something unheard of – staying in for recess and eating lunch at the computer (we were allowed!). All this was done to maximize their points!
Greenleaf did very well as a school in the World Education Games with many top 100 placements at various stages of the Games. We are all very proud of all the participants and congratulate them on their accomplishments. The school would also like to thank Ms. Wijayasingha for organizing Greenleaf’s participation. The next World Education Games are to be held in the spring of 2013. Find more information online. Next year, keep your eyes peeled – in the fall there is the Maple Leaf Math Challenge and in the spring… the World Education Games 2013!
-By Allan A. Greenleaf’s WEG Team
Native Studies at SJAM Set to Beat of a Drum Top
Cassandra Zaugg-Bice walks confidently off stage after rehearsal. Dancers in regalia slow their rotations. Drummers lower their sticks, and voices. Sage fills the air as Cassandra describes how native studies at Sir John A. Macdonald secondary have changed her worldview, and her life.
“This is an amazing program, and I’m not just trying to butter you up,” says the 17-year-old, who takes the bus from Upper Gage and Rymal downtown to SJAM each day. She’s taking Current Aboriginal Issues in Canada, Native Arts, Aboriginal English, Indigenous Issues Through a Global Context, and she does an after-school restorative justice circle three days a week.
“You learn a lot of lessons about Aboriginal people. You don’t want to be late for class because it shows disrespect for yourself, your culture, your elders and the other students. I want to be a good example for my culture and myself,” says Cassandra, of the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
Nine years in the making, the native studies concentration at SJAM builds on groundwork laid by the stay-in-school program Native Youth Advancement with Education Hamilton (NYA:WEH). NYA:WEH is a Program of Choice that emphasizes issues and worldviews within Aboriginal culture, and has teachings from both Aboriginal community elders and traditional teachers. Read more
French Comes Alive at Oral Communication Finals Top
There was a taste of sibling rivalry this year as the Barringer brothers competed in the junior finals of the Concours d’art Oratoire (French Oral Communication Contest) – and big brother Sam came away with silver, while young Ben emerged a winner.
“Oh great, I’m never going to be able to redeem myself,” joked Sam, a two-time winner at the Board finals, now in Grade 6 at Dalewood elementary.
Before a packed auditorium at Westdale secondary, the brothers were among the day’s nine speakers sent by their schools to compete at the system level. Intermediate and Core French students spoke a different day.
The elementary students, teachers and parents filling the seats were there as fans, and certainly had a range of topics to enjoy: Walmart, Les porcs-épics (porcupines), Génie génétique (genetic engineering), La vérité des céréales (truth of cereals), Les emotions, Tobermory, Les Canadiens de Montréal and L’évolution de l’argent (evolution of money).
“Writing is the easy part, the hard part was listening to everyone else’s speech in the lead up,” said Ben Barringer, a Grade 4 student at George R. Allan. Agreeing with him was Arnaud Deza, who was effectively in a category of one, as a native French speaker who recently lived in Paris: “If you mess up, you really can’t do it again, you have to wait until next year.”
Christine Rees, program effectiveness consultant for French as a Second Language, says participation is increasing for the event that compares students based on their level of French education and exposure, such as core French, French Immersion and native French speakers.
“Every student has a unique gift and this is one way for our students to share and discover their gift in oral speaking,” said Rees, crediting language grants for making the event possible, and her team of teachers for making it a reality. Read more
Already an EcoSchool, now Barton will do the DEW Top
Barton Secondary School’s EcoTeam is excited to announce that they have received more than $8,000 from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and $1,000 from the Metro Green Apple School Program this spring to fund Project DEW (Drink Eco-friendly Water).
Last year, Barton was one of three HWDSB secondary schools certified as an EcoSchool by Ontario EcoSchools. Through waste reduction and recycling initiatives as an EcoSchool, the recycling team realized that plastic bottles are still a huge issue in our school. Project DEW became the focus for this school year and will involve the installation of two hydration stations (water fountains that provide cold, filtered tap water) and will provide all Barton Barons (students and staff) with reusable metal water bottles.
In November, the EcoTeam began to raise awareness of the environmental, social, political, and health issues associated with the use of single-use bottled water. Through a fundraiser, students were educated about the impacts of plastic bottle waste, the negative impacts on communities where fresh water is used as a commodity, as well as the immense use of fossil fuels and the subsequent air pollution and health issues caused to create and ship the plastic bottles. Over $400 was raised for Project DEW at the fundraiser to help rid Barton of plastic bottles. The generous contributions from TD and Metro will make this project possible.
The EcoTeam is currently busy organizing the installation of two hydration stations and the official ribbon-cutting ceremony that will follow. Through a partnership with the City of Hamilton’s Public Works Department, 1,000 water bottles with Barton’s logo are ready to be distributed. Barton students will be invited to the auditorium for an explanation about the new hydration stations, to view the ribbon-cutting, and to receive water bottles to use and refill at the hydration stations. The official unveiling is expected this spring.
Westdale Wows Golden Horseshoe Music Festival Top
Three string ensembles from Westdale secondary received gold awards and an invitation to the nationals in Ottawa at the Golden Horseshoe Musicfest this year. The gold awards came from four adjudicators, some of whom are professors at various universities or professional conductors. About 135 students were involved in Westdale’s Junior Orchestra, the Senior Orchestra, Senior Band and the Chamber Orchestra.
“An excellent young ensemble – love the focus and clarity of your sound and energy! Unusual in a young group. Bravisimo,” University of Toronto’s Peter Stoll said of the Junior orchestra. “Your music was just sublime,” professional conductor Colin Clark said of the chamber orchestra.
Conductor and director Jonathan Abell, Westdale head of music, said that during the event students took ownership of the music and the performance they would give.
“They were talking ideas out and making critical decisions that would affect our performance,” he said “When they did perform, they were congratulated on their professionalism. During the clinic the adjudicator repeatedly praised their openness to new ideas and suggestions.”
Last year, the four groups under Abell’s direction also won gold and an invite to the nationals. Abell praised the itinerant string program at HWDSB for the success, and thanked music lovers for their support of music at the Board.
Congratulations are due to all students who performed at the festival. Other standout performances from HWDSB schools included gold medals and invites to nationals for: Ancaster Meadow elementary (director Katherine Miya), Spencer Valley elementary (Nick Tsuluca), R.A. Riddell elementary (Phil Rayment), Sherwood secondary (Ryan Baker), and Sir Allan MacNab secondary (Trevor Nicoll).
Director: The Secondary Accommodation Review in HWDSB Top
At HWDSB, we are committed to creating the most effective, innovative learning environments so that every one of our students will reach their full potential in schools and beyond as they prepare for the 21st century.
We undertook accommodation reviews to help make this a reality. The accommodation review is one way HWDSB could maximize limited resources, by reducing the space we don’t need and upgrading the facilities that remain. Ultimately, this will result in better learning environments for students. We want our students to have quality spaces that support student achievement.
Concentrating our finite resources to create the best learning environments is an effort that goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to provide the best, most engaging programs that prepare them for success.
These reviews have been about much more than space, however. We know today’s learners require new approaches, and that we must respond with engaging programs and safe, nurturing and innovative learning environments.
This is why the public dialogue also highlighted the HWDSB Program Strategy we envision for our schools. It is through this Program Strategy that we hope to provide programming that reflects our Board’s strategic priorities of achievement, engagement, and equity.
We are restructuring what we offer, where we offer it and how we can help all students achieve their full potential. We envision a school system in which all students can find what they need at any of our schools. This is about providing a pathway to success for every single one of our students.
In real terms, the Program Strategy will ensure equity of access, opportunity and outcome as each student attends a school with programs that lead to their success. Every school will provide all postsecondary pathways: college, community, university, apprenticeship and workplace, and each school will host specialized programs based on a Board-wide view of how best to serve our students.
Our Program Strategy:
These guiding principles will assist administration to implement the program strategy over the next few years. Many of our programs will be offered in all three clusters, while some may only be offered in two clusters or as one system program. Program viability is dependent upon student interest; therefore program placement will be reviewed regularly.
By concentrating our limited resources, placing programs in an equitable and accessible way, and focusing on student voice and student choice, we will create a more responsive system in which students find the programs they need, where transitions are smooth, and where effective instruction and appropriate intervention will lead to graduation for each student.
Our Strategic Directions in HWDSB focus our efforts for our students and communicate the importance of achievement, engagement, and equity. We believe that by knowing our students, their interests, strengths and needs, we can provide engaging programs in effective learning environments leading to improved student achievement and well being.
Read more from Director of Education John Malloy on his blog, All Students Learning.