Year-end Retrospective

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Friday, March 6, 2020. The last day of school before March Break. While the signs of the pandemic were getting more ominous, few of us thought that we would not be in school until at least September. In these unprecedented times, we have asked a great deal of ourselves and others. We have shut down most businesses and services; we have isolated ourselves from all social relationships outside of immediate family; we have experienced fear and loss. Many of these restrictions are still in place as I write.

Simultaneously, we have seen, unmistakably, the signs of the continued mistreatment of racialized populations here and elsewhere. The continuing protests, the calls for justice and equal treatment under the law, have provoked many to consider what Dr. King said long ago — “justice delayed is justice denied”.

With protest and pandemic as a background, YMCA Academy has tried to provide our students and families with access to structure and support to keep their educational momentum going, to provide social opportunities for interaction with their peers, and to experience systems that are thoughtfully designed and considerate of their needs.

It is my hope that our students have learned that while some systems need change, some can be trusted to work towards their best interests. There is still refuge within structures designed and implemented for their care and support.

We hope we have provided such a refuge — a place for thoughtful discussion, impassioned expression, and positive social interactions.

We look forward to continuing this process in September.

Have a safe summer,

Don Adams
Head of School

Urban Planning – Designing your Own City

After learning about the six major categories of land use in urban areas (Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Institutional, Recreational and Transportation), Grade 9 Geography students had the opportunity to design their own cities.

Students created their cities based on the standard percentage of land use in a typical North American city. For example only 7% of the city could be recreational, 32% had to be used for transportation, etc. Students were challenged to think about what types of land use should be located close to each other or further away from each other. They also had to consider questions such as: How would people move around the city? What types of industries would sustain the city? What types of residential buildings would work in the city?

As a final step in the project, students presented their designs to the class and received peer feedback about strengths and suggested improvements.

Virtual Worlds: Building a Community Village

 

We have spent a week now with monsters roaming the realm, mostly outside the city gates and walls. There have been a few times where attempts to get inside the protective walls of the city occurred, but in all cases our villagers were successful in holding back any invasion from creatures. With the community acclimatizing to this new way of life, we moved onto our next communal project – Village Building.

We sat down this week to plan the specific structures we wanted to create in the ‘starter’ community village (this was the area we carved out a border for in the initial week of the simulation). Students brainstormed buildings, services, landmarks, and other elements that they wanted to see in the community village. We assigned a project leader to each item and that student was responsible for the planning, resource gathering and eventual building of the structure at the agreed upon location. We used an aerial view map to determine where we would like these buildings built.

Some of the building’s students came up with:

  • Market
  • Town Square / City Hall
  • Garden(s)
  • Harbour / Docks / Fishing Huts
  • Bridge (Linking the 2 sides of the river together)
  • Amphitheatre
  • Restaurant
  • Prison / Dungeon
  • Barracks / Training Grounds
  • Courthouse
  • Announcement / Billboard
  • Disposal Area / Waste Processing
  • Castle / Fort
  • Hotel
  • Bunker
  • Storage Warehouse

Students have been busy creating the structures so that the community village is well equipped to welcome new players with an assortment of services and amenities!

Very Short Fiction Writing

At the Academy, students are taking on the challenge of Very Short Fiction Writing. A skill of concise writing to convey plot, theme, mood, and character in the shortest possible formats. Creating a cohesive storyline has its own set of challenges, developing powerful characters can be very tough, and building a theme and mood into a piece of literature is a difficult skill. Trying to do it all in a single page? Now that takes skill. The real challenge though: can you do it in only 6 words?

This is the question that was asked of the Grade 10 English class this Spring. They took on the task of creating meaningful stories in a single page, and the advanced mission of creating a story within the limit of only 6 words. The stories ranged from tragic, to comedic, to dramatic, to romantic.

What’s stopping you from testing your creativity? Try it out. You can use the examples created by the talented Grade 10 English Class to inspire you. 6-Word Stories, and Very Short Stories are a unique way to develop fictional narratives within hard limits.

The Future of Food in Human Geography

 

Recently Academy Middle School students explored an important question facing our world: How will we feed a population of 10 Billion people, with less farmland than today, by the year 2050?

To answer this question, Grade 7 and 8 students brainstormed the factors that influence farming from increasing profits, to the types of machinery available, to the quality of soil, to the conditions of the climate. They then discussed what impacts farming has on the environment, communities, supply chains to cities, and our health.

As city-dwellers, the complicated lives and concerns of farmers around the world has been a distant thought, but the question of how to feed the world as populations grow will be important to everyone in the next 30 years.

To explore this question further, we journeyed through the next 30 years of farming in the online Farm Simulation Journey 2050

The simulation puts students in control of farms in Canada, India, and Kenya, with the ability to make decisions around watering fields, expanding into more farmland, developing fertilizers, infesting in new and innovative equipment, funding public programming, and helping to develop more sustainable communities. Each player’s choices impact sustainability factors from Water Protection and Habitat Preservation, to Job Creation and Health Promotion. The goal is to achieve the greatest level of sustainability that balances the needs of our planet, the economy, food production, and community development.

The game is challenging, informative and fun, and has given deeper insights into the challenges that will face our world, and food producers over the next three decades. As young people with bright ideas, the Academy Middle School Geography students will play a role in how food security develops between now and 2050. The game also includes a level where questions about skills, and interests lead to connections to and information about careers, and future opportunities. Students are matched with potential careers that could help them to build new understandings, innovations, and policies around future food security for a more sustainable world.