Viking Shield Games

The Grade 12 Adventures in World History class engaged in some hands-on-experiential learning in the park near YMCA Academy. Students have been learning about the adventures of Norwegian, and Danish societies of the Viking Age roughly one thousand years ago. Students researched the lives of everyday Norwegians during the 10th Century, learning that their daily experiences were focused largely on farming, trading, and textile production. Students examined primary evidence to learn that Norse technological developments in ironworking, carpentry, and shipbuilding at the gradual warming of the climate made exploration of the North and Baltic Seas possible.

Students read selections from Egil’s Saga to gain some insight into how later Norwegians perceived their own heroic figures of the Viking Age. They learned about shield heraldry, and Norse symbology in order to design their own Viking Round Shields. Then it was time to test drive the strategies of Vikings on a raid. Students hoisted round shields to test the viability of individual combat as compared to formation tactics, and the benefits of speers over swords. Students employed their round shields, foam swords, and foam-tipped spears to play a variety of games including adaptations of tag, mock duels, and pushing matches that resembled a reverse tug of war. They quickly determined that coordinated formations and polearms provided much better chances of survival against warriors fighting as individuals.

The activities gave students a view into one aspect of the world of the Viking Age; raiding. But in class the students learned that the vicious stereotype of terrifying pillagers only highlights one aspect of Norse culture. Far more often the medieval people of Scandinavia were traders, poets, farmers, and craftspeople. The daily needs of Norse society placed much more focus on food production than on swinging axes at Saxon monks. The class still had a blast testing their combat skills during a day of Viking Shield Games.

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Integrated Arts at #TodayatApple Workshop.


The Integrated Arts class attended a workshop at the Apple Store, learning about the software ProCreate to create digital art. Students enjoyed drawing a self-portrait or another portraiture but thought that drawing digitally was not as challenging as traditional art.

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Students participate in the Shoebox Project

Over the month of November the YMCA Academy embraced the spirit of giving and once again participated in the Shoebox Project for Women. Our community went above and beyond and was able to put together 38 gift-filled shoe boxes this year!

The Shoebox Project for Women operates throughout Canada and the United States, delivering shoebox gifts to women in need. In Toronto the shoeboxes are distributed to women accessing a variety of services such as the YMCA Women’s Shelter, CAMH, Native Women’s Resource Centre, Covenant House etc. The aim of the project is to remind women that they have not been forgotten and that they are a valued and respected member of their community. This initiative aligns with the YMCA core values and provides an opportunity to foster empathy, practice civic engagement and collaborate with peers in a meaningful way.

Students attended an assembly to learn about how people, and women in particular, are impacted by homelessness in Toronto and Canada. This helped to put the project into context and to provide students with information about the housing crisis and other issues that Canadians face. In advisory groups, students brainstormed what gifts might help women feel special and devised a plan of who would purchase each item. Then the day came to bring together all the gifts and create the boxes. Each group decorated and filled at least one box and made sure it included everything on the list. Students also wrote thoughtful messages in a card for the recipient. Once all the boxes were ready to go they were taken to a drop off location to be distributed in time for the holidays.

Here is what some of our students had to say about participating in the project:

“I really enjoyed the project. It teaches kids about privilege and gives them a better understanding of the world around them.” – Maiko

“It was a relaxing activity to make the boxes while we listened to music and snow was falling.” – Kelly

“It was a great time. I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends.” – Jack

“We wanted to make the boxes to deliver to women in need who could use the stuff to comfort them.” – Griffin

“‘I felt the shoebox project was a great way to share joy over the holiday season to people who need the support” – Chloe

12 Principles of Animation

In the Communication Technology class Animation Unit, students recently undertook a project centered around the 12 Principles of Animation. The objective was to create animation that effectively showcased their understanding of these principles. The students demonstrated their creative skills and knowledge in basic 2D Animation. The project was an opportunity for students to put what they had learned into practice and explore the captivating realm of animation. All animations are then put into one collage which can be watched here in our school’s official YouTube page!

Jack Chapter and World Mental Health Day Assembly

One of the newer extracurricular opportunities at the YMCA Academy is our school’s very own Jack Chapter. This high school leadership club was formed in March 2023, and is part of the national network of youth-led groups supported by the Jack.org Chapter program. Jack chapters work “to identify and break down barriers to positive mental health and make concrete change in their communities across Canada.”

On Wednesday, October 11, in honour of World Mental Health Day (October 10), the Academy Jack chapter put on an assembly for the rest of the high school, with help from some students in the senior Personal Fitness/Healthy Active Living class. Here is what the club has written about the day:

The Jack Club is an awesome student-led club, filled with students who spread mental health awareness in everyday life. The main goal of the club is to reduce stigma and increase students’ toolkit of mental health strategies.

The Jack Club planned and put on a mental health assembly a couple of weeks ago. The planning phase involved a lot of problem solving, a lot of opinions, and the use of different organizational skills. The assembly featured both Jack club stations — a hygiene and self-care presentation, an art relaxation station, and a snacks room — and workshops on mental health and food, fitness, and outdoor activities from Jessamyn’s Personal Fitness students. These were followed by a game of Jeopardy.

Students had an opportunity to step into the teachers’ shoes and practice classroom management skills when leading the presentations. Overall the assembly was a fun time; students were eager to participate with some being overly competitive. Jeopardy was hard but exciting. Students were able to answer questions and gain points at the end of the assembly. There was a face off for final Jeopardy between seven students. Three of the final contenders got the question correct (“What is stigma”) and won prizes for their team. The prizes consisted of games, treats, notebooks, stickers, and fidget toys, with the squishy fidget balls being the most popular prize.

Shout out to the Jack members: Evelyn, Maiko, Charlie C., Ella, Fenn, and Ryla, with honourable mentions to Jasper, Lucas M., and Gabby. And thank you to the students in Jessamyn’s fitness class for helping us put together an awesome assembly.

-Katie F and Lareesa