IN THIS ISSUE
Public Meetings in Secondary ARCs Top
Members of the public are invited to share their views about the Secondary Accommodation Review underway at HWDSB, a process discussing how to support students with the best learning environments for the 21st century.
Since January, three Accommodation Review Committees (ARCs) have been reviewing secondary schools by geographic area (West, North and South). An ARC is a community group that looks at the future of a school or group of schools and provides a recommendation to the school board in its decision-making. The final decision occurs after the full involvement of an informed community. The decision must be based on a broad range of criteria focused on the learning experience for students.
In recent weeks, Board staff presented their recommendations to each ARC. These recommendations are a starting point for discussion during the year-long process. The ARCs may accept, reject or alter these staff recommendations as they develop their own recommendation to be presented to trustees. All ARC meetings are open to the public.
However, each ARC is about to hold its first of four public sessions at which the community can share their views and ask questions. These public meetings will explain the ARC process, School Information Profiles, HWDSB’s Program Strategy, the Board staff recommendation and will provide an opportunity for public input and questions. The intent of the meeting is to allow each ARC to hear community input as they work towards preparing their recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
“It is important that members of the public feel respected and encouraged to share their views at the public meetings,” said Ken Bain, Associate Director of Education. “Public consultation is at the heart of the accommodation review process, and the public meetings are structured to encourage an open and informed dialogue between the ARC and the community.” Read more.
Student Musicians Warming up for Festival of Strings Top
Hundreds of HWDSB students will take to the stage in Hamilton Place’s Great Hall on March 8. Most will be holding a violin, a cello or a bass. Some have had only six months instruction, but all will leave a lasting impression on the audience.
The hall will come alive with the sound of music as, once again, HWDSB presents the Festival of Strings. The annual concert highlights the talents of the students in the Strings Program as well as those in high school music groups. The concert gives students a chance to perform in a large concert hall in front of family, friends and music lovers of all ages.
About 400 students from grades 4 to 12 will perform, with this year’s guest conductor Kelly Parkins-Lindstrom, String Department Head and Faculty Member of the RCM Community School.
The HWDSB Strings Program, offered for more than 31 years, allows students from grades 4 to 8 to take one lesson per week in small groups, as well as one orchestra lesson per week. Strings students can continue their musical experience at an HWDSB secondary school.
Amy Groleau, mother of a young cello player, says she has noticed “so many wonderful and positive qualities coming from my daughter Faith.” Changes, she adds, that she attributes to the Strings Program.
She says Faith chats with older students, in high school, which is a big deal for Faith. There is the discipline required to practice, and to try hard at something difficult. Music is a challenge in more ways than one, she says.
“To be watching the music, the conductor, feeling the music and listening to the parts around you is also mentally taxing,” Groleau adds. “It is a privilege to have my daughter in the program and to have so many benefits.”
Another parent, Alison Bailey, explained, “Festival of Strings is the culmination of all the hours of practice these children have devoted to their music over the years they have been part of the program.”
Her daughter has been part of the Strings Program for three years. She takes the music learned from one instrument and tries to transpose it to the violin, guitar or keyboards.
“I never thought that my daughter would appreciate music as much as she does. This program has shown her that she can play classical, rock n’ roll, jazz, and many other types of music on the violin,” Bailey added.
Tickets, available at the door, are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children under 13. For more information, advanced or group ticket sales, contact Linda Novak, Strings Program Administrator, at 905-561-2190 ext. 236 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The festival begins at 7:30 p.m. on March 8, 2011.
Math Summit Builds Student Interest Top
Educators from Ancaster Meadow, Ancaster Senior, Mount Hope and Ancaster High are using math as a relationship-building tool, to help students make that transition a success.
“Grade 8 and Grade 9 students teamed up to share ideas to conquer math problems,” says HWDSB Math Facilitator Kelly McCrory. “It was a wonderful opportunity to come together with a focus on math.”
The Math Summit, on February 9 at Ancaster High, also featured a presentation by University of Waterloo professor Dean Murray. Students learned about a variety of post-secondary courses and the careers those courses can lead to.
“The Math Summit at Ancaster High School was an extremely enlightening experience,” says Ancaster Meadow student Lulu Faidi. “Hearing from math teachers that there is more than one way to solve math problems was good. I learned a lot.”
The idea originated from a discussion between McCrory, former Ancaster Meadow Vice-Principal now Fessenden Principal Janet Adler, and Ancaster Meadow Principal Bev Laporte, who were looking for different ways to build student relationships. Not only did the event succeed in building student relationships, it also provided an avenue for math facilitators to work together and share ideas.
McCrory says the event was a success, and she hopes that it will continue at Ancaster High and its feeder schools, and will also expand to other schools.
Author Lawrence Hill Brings Black History Alive at SJAM Top
A select group of students at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School recently had a chance to hear acclaimed Book of Negroes author Lawrence Hill share his thoughts on Black history, the writing process and the importance of remembering the individual’s role in historical tragedy.
During Black History Month, the local resident visited a fourth floor SJAM classroom where he joined several dozen students, staff and representatives from the organizations behind a new education guide that will help in the teaching of Black history in Canadian secondary schools. The guide was created by The Historica-Dominion Institute and sponsored by TD Bank Group.
After reading from The Book of Negroes, the incredible tale of resilience in the face of Black slavery, Hill took numerous questions from students, about writing, research, Black history, his personal history and much more.
“It’s a funny term, Black history in Canada, because it suggests that it is somebody’s history and not somebody else’s history,” Hill told the small crowd. “Really, it’s Canadian history, an aspect of history that is often overlooked. When I was a Grade 8 student, I thought the study of history constituted cruel and unusual punishment…”
But with his novel, the visual Black History in Canada Education Guide and related online resources, history becomes much more than the memorization of names, dates, battles and rulers. Hill read from The Book of Negroes about slave-era inoculation against smallpox, for example, using contaminated threads of indigo in vivid detail. Read more
Highland Educator, Artist, Musician Wins Visual Arts Award Top
Highland Secondary School Visual Arts Department Head Margot Roi is this year’s recipient of the Ray Blackwell Award for Excellence in Art Education from the Ontario Society for Education through Art (OSEA).
The career award created in 1995 annually goes to a K-12 or postsecondary teacher, educator or arts administrator for exemplary practices and advocacy in visual arts education. Blackwell was a well-respected Ontario art educator, Ministry of Education inspector, and vocal advocate for visual arts education in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools.
“I’m quite honoured and humbled at the same time,” said Roi, who has led Highland’s Visual Arts Department for 22 years. “I do this work because I believe in advocacy for the arts in education, and that together we can make a difference.”
Before she became Visual Arts Department Head, Roi began teaching visual arts at Highland in a room without a sink. Undaunted, she acquired an art facility that has become legend among the students. They have individual studio spaces and are encouraged to leave their name on the walls once they graduate. Read more.
Future Shop Donation Aids Highland Tech Lab Top
Highland was one of six schools across Canada to benefit from a $50,000 Future Generation Tech Lab donation, which helps schools install leading-edge technology and close the digital divide.
“This program will help students across several areas so they are better informed about the technology they will find in post-secondary education,” Highland Principal Rick Hart said.
He said it fits well with the school’s proposed Manufacturing Specialist High Skills Major, which will focus on computer-assisted design and manufacturing.
Chosen from 90 school applications, the Dundas school will be able to purchase a 3-D printer that can produce 3-D plastic models of items students design on computer-aided design software. This is an important part of manufacturing because it saves costs of producing metal parts, Hart said.
The school’s communications lab will update its video, sound and lighting equipment, with the purchase of Final Cut Pro II, iMac laptops, Panasonic cameras and a mixer for lighting. Highland will also purchase the same robotics kits used at University of Waterloo.
“We’re proud of the Future Generation Tech Lab program’s continued support of education in Canada,” said Todd Empey, Vice President of Store Operations, Future Shop. “This is our fourth consecutive year supporting high schools across Canada; the transformations and impact they have for the students and programming is remarkable. I’m looking forward to seeing the unveilings of the new classrooms when they’re completed in September.”
Launched in 2007, the Future Generation Tech Lab program is designed to give back to the communities Future Shop serves and reduce both the digital and economic divide within Canadian high schools. Find more information here and here.
HWDSB Students Eager to Support Peers Top
“We plan to go to several elementary and middle schools to tell students what exactly Kids Help Phone is because we believe those are the ages when you are growing not only physically but also mentally and need people who are willing to listen and give advice,” says Westdale student and new Kids Help Phone Student Ambassador Shivani.
Several HWDSB high school students from Westdale, Parkview and Saltfleet took part in the training, while students from Highland secondary’s Global Connect program have already been involved with the organization as volunteers. Student Ambassadors are not trained to counsel students, but will raise awareness of Kids Help Phone services within their school and community.
“The students came up with original ideas and are eager… to implement them,” says Hamilton Student Ambassador co-liaison Talia Asa. “The energy these students bring is contagious and I look forward to working with them.”
Kids Help Phone was launched in 1989 offering free, anonymous telephone counselling to youth. It’s website that now provides online counselling and resources followed in 1996. In 2009, over 230,000 telephone and online inquiries received a counselor response. More information here.
Sir Winston Churchill Trophy Staying Put Top
Sitting on a trophy case in Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School is the Lime Ridge Challenge Cup, awarded to the Hamilton school whose participants raise the most money for the Lime Ridge 5K Student Challenge race. Churchill physical education teacher Jan Pearson says the trophy is not going anywhere.
“Not only will our school raise funds for a great cause, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, but we vow to be the top school fundraiser in 2011 – keeping the Lime Ridge Student Challenge Cup where it belongs for a third year… Sir Winston Churchill!” he says. Churchill raised $2,400 in 2010, and Pearson is confident the school can raise more this year.
The Lime Ridge 5K Student Challenge is the student division of St. Joseph Hospital’s annual 30 km Around the Bay Road Race taking place Sunday, March 27. The longer race began in 1894, making it the oldest annual race in North America, predating the Boston Marathon by three years. Proceeds from the event help support a variety of St. Joseph’s projects, including a new surgical centre at the Charlton campus and a soon-to-be new facility at the West 5th campus.
On December 14, Churchill hosted the official launch of the Lime Ridge 5K Student Challenge. Greeting students was 2011 official spokesperson and four-time Olympic champion Becky Kellar.
“Supporting St. Joseph’s Healthcare means that doctors and staff can help take care of us when we need them the most,” she said. “So I challenge all Hamilton schools and students to find a way to get involved in the Around the Bay – run, walk, cheer a friend on, or make a pledge in the name of your fellow classmate or favourite teacher.”
“Public Input Welcome in Review of Student Accommodation”: Director Top
Since January, three HWDSB Accommodation Review Committees (ARCs) have been reviewing 15 secondary schools by geographic area. ARCs are committees with local membership that look at the future of a school, or group of schools, and provide recommendations to the Board of Trustees based on criteria focused on the learning experience for students. Trustees will make final decisions about the schools in March or April 2012, after this full community consultation.
We are examining our secondary school accommodation because we have about 2,600 extra spaces within our secondary schools, a number expected to reach 6,000 by 2020. This is part of the trend of declining school enrolment being experienced across the province due to falling birth rates. At the same time, we are re-examining how we deliver education, so that our programming reflects the needs, interests and learning styles of students entering the 21st century. To do all of this, we need to have dialogue about what challenges and opportunities our students face and ensure our secondary schools support our students. The ARCs are the venue for this ambitious dialogue.
Our students will benefit from this process. Reducing excess capacity, and increasing enrolment per school, would allow for greater course selection, more flexible timetables and more opportunities for students to work toward their individual post-secondary pathway. For HWDSB, there are also operational savings that can be reinvested into school facilities and programs for our students.
Our focus is on providing the best possible schools for HWDSB students. We want to ensure that all students will achieve because they have access to engaging programs and learning environments that reflect their abilities, interests and needs. We are rethinking what we offer, how we offer it, as well as when and where we offer it. We want to ensure all students achieve their full potential.
Public consultation is at the heart of each ARC. Each committee includes parents, students, community members, superintendents, principals, teachers, non-teaching staff, city councillors and Trustees, and the meetings are open to the public. In addition, there are four public meetings at which members of the public are invited to air their views. We welcome media coverage of the ARCs.
I know that this can be a difficult time for our school communities, as the ARCs discuss many possibilities for schools, including the possibility of a closure. Board staff have provided recommendations for the ARC committees to consider early in the process, so the ARCs have time to adopt, discard or revise these recommendations as they develop their own recommendations to be presented to Trustees. We are committed to openness and transparency.
All of the ARC meetings are open to the public. During at least four of the ARC meetings, members of the public are able to share their views, give input and ask questions that staff will strive to answer. We want to hear your views about the reviews so the ARCs can formulate a well-informed and thoughtful recommendation of their own. It is important to remember that we do not have all of the answers. Our final report will be informed by the work of the ARC, as well as through ongoing community consultation occurring in multiple ways.
We invite you to attend the ARC meetings, to share your views and ask questions on our Secondary ARC Facebook page, and to send correspondence to our ARC co-ordinator at email@example.com. This is a transparent process, and you can find agendas, minutes, meeting dates and more material related to each ARC on our Secondary Accommodation Review website (www.hwdsb.on.ca/arc). Your participation will strengthen our solutions and our secondary schools.