Spirit Week

With last week being the first full week back at school, we wanted to continue the momentum and have some more fun! We had many participants throughout the week with students dressing up, attending staff-led events, and representing their teams!

Tuesday was the start of spirit week with “Sports Day”! Our community represented their favourite sports teams including the Blue Jays, Raptors, Maple Leafs, Canucks, as well as some international teams such as the Leeds Rhinos and Estonia’s National Hockey Team! Most of us wore jerseys or t-shirts to represent our favourite sports teams, but we were outshone by Brandon, who wore a full beach sport outfit, earning a bonus point for his Maroon team!

The fun resumed on Thursday with “Dress as your favourite musician/band” day! We were visited by Elvis Presley, Ari Lennox, Taylor Swift, Nickelback, and Morgan Wallen among others. Some wore t-shirts representing their favourite bands, while others went head-to-toe with their costumes! Katie Freeland earned her Navy team a bonus point for her excellent Patti Smith look-alike outfit and pose. Check out the side-by-side image! Students were also invited to partake in a fun friendship building activity at lunch time. Lareesa and Brittany, our Student Life Counsellors did an excellent job of bringing people together and some of our new students found new friends through the process.

Finally, Friday was “Rep your colour” day, where our competitive sides really started to shine. The battle of Maroon vs Navy continued but both teams had a great amount of support. It was a sea of navy and maroon all throughout the building! A bonus point was offered for the most maroon or navy items worn by one person. We had tied second place runners-up with 8 clothing items each, but Navy took the bonus point! Katie F walked away with the bonus point with a whopping TEN items … she even wore navy tinted glasses for the day! The day continued with Trivia offered at lunch where once again, Navy took the win! We all learned fun facts like the fastest moving object in sport is a badminton birdie, and the third Hemsworth brother is called Luke!

It was a fantastic spirit week with a lot of fun participation. We can’t wait to see the momentum continue!

Scavenger Hunt!

During our first few days of a new school year, it’s important for us to spend time together to help the students settle into the new routine, become comfortable with staff and their peers, as well as familiarize them with the school setting. We had some exciting renovations to part of the building over the summer, so both new and returning students had some exploring to do! We planned a fun scavenger hunt for everyone to participate in with their Advisory Groups. 

The main goals of the scavenger hunt were to help the students feel confident in their surroundings as well as show them how to find key locations in the building such as the bathrooms, their locker, Lareesa & Brittany’s offices, the gym, and Steve’s office. 

There was an additional challenge to take fun and creative photos at certain locations. Take a look at some of the fun we had!

Mascot MAY-hem

The school spirit committee had an exciting announcement early in May – we are pleased to share that we will be implementing a SCHOOL MASCOT! We think this will be a fun way to increase team spirit and allow our students to explore their creative sides.

We had so many excellent submissions from students in both the middle school and high school, with fantastic descriptions of how their designs reflect the YMCA Academy’s school spirit, values, and student population.

Once we had all our submissions, the students had a week to vote on their favourite, with 42% choosing… drumroll please… MASCOT MARS!

One of our grade 11 students, Lex, submitted a cartoon version of our therapy dog (in training), Mars! Although Mars has got a way to go in her training and she’s still very shy, she’s won the hearts of our student body. She will now represent our school in more ways than one – Congratulations Lex, on your winning design!

A new four legged staff member!

Thanks to your fantastic fundraising efforts last Spring, we are thrilled to announce a new-ish addition to our YMCA Academy team; Mars!

We worked with an organization called “Companion Paws Canada” to find a rescue dog for the role! We loved that this organization rescues pups from shelters rather than breeding for their program. Mars came from a kill shelter in Texas, and she was only three days away from being euthanized, simply due to overcrowding.

Mars arrived in Canada on August 13th 2022 and her new paw-rent, Brydie, picked her up in Niagara Falls. As she is a rescue dog, she was very timid and needed to learn the basics. She’s come a long way since she arrived in Canada but given her history of being a stray, she’s still got some work to do before she can take the test to become a certified assisted therapy dog.

Mars has passed two training courses so far and is currently working on building her confidence in busy settings and with meeting new people. She attends the Academy daily with Brydie, and has made herself very much at home in the staff room! She’s started 1:1 and in small groups training sessions with some dog savvy students who are supporting her training – it’s been a great experience for Mars and the students! Given her background, she does take a while to feel safe and warm up to people, but she’s come on leaps and bounds with only good things to come!

Keep your eyes peeled for more posts about her on our blog, Instagram, and Facebook accounts!

“Mars is really adorable and looks like a hotdog. She helps me change my attitude when I’m feeling down. I like it when she comes to class.” – Dushan R.

“She’s very helpful, playful, interactive with people and very friendly when she gets used to you.” – Joseph W

“Mars is a sweet and caring girl and she is cuddly and soft” – Claire K

“She gives me kisses and she’s so adorable. I like hanging out with her and running on the terrace with her” – Asher A

“Mars is nice. She licks me on the hand. It tickles and makes me feel very talented” – David B

Value Awards

As a YMCA program, we strive to uphold the YMCA’s core values; Inclusiveness, Integrity, Kindness, Optimism, Respect, and Well-Being. We see our students demonstrate these values every day, but each year we recognize students who have been selected by their peers as someone who exemplifies each of these values.

As we approach the end of the 2023 school year, we would like to take the time to acknowledge our 2022 winners who have continued to uphold these values.

Inclusiveness: Sammy E
The award for Inclusiveness recognizes the student who ensures that all students, staff, friends and visitors at the Academy are made to feel welcomed and valued for their gifts, talents and contributions to the community. This student helps others, doesn’t judge people and welcomes anyone who seems like they need a friend or helping hand.

Integrity: Ben S
The award for Integrity recognizes the student who demonstrates a willingness to receive and offer feedback about strengths and areas for improvement and who always maintains the highest degree of honesty and truth in their relationships with others. They stick to their values and say their authentic feelings, ideas and beliefs.

Kindness: Griffin H
The award for Kindness recognizes the student who demonstrates a capacity for developing genuine relationships with others and who carefully weighs the needs of the individual and the community when making decisions. They take an active role in the happiness of others and above all else, show compassion for others.

Optimism: Sam C
The award for Optimism recognizes the student who demonstrates an attitude of positivity in their identity and voice at the Academy. They are hopeful and work hard to see the positive side of things. They believe they have the skill and ability to make good things happen!

Respect: Ella K
The award for Respect recognizes the student who is developing a greater sense of self and their place in the world. This student treats others the way they would want to be treated, pays attention and listens in all situations. They recognize the value in all people.

Wellbeing: Lex B
The award for Well-Being recognizes the student who has become to incorporate into their young life a valuing of well-being and who is developing attitudes and habits that promote healthy living in a holistic way. The student not only values physical fitness, but values emotional, mental and spiritual fitness as well.

YMCA Academy Community Involvement Award: Ally B
This award is presented to a senior student that shows exceptional commitment and dedication to all facets of the YMCA Academy school experience. This student demonstrates an unparalleled investment when supporting the community life of the Academy, including involvement in school events both at the school and events involving our many partnering organizations.