The Lens of Peace


In November, the Super Sciences combined forces (peacefully!) to investigate images of peace in the community. Brydie’s class introduced relationships while Megan’s class introduced how light forms images as we reflected on historic, present and future relationships in our global society. The classes collaborated in building camera obscuras! The students in the photograph (not taken with our cameras!) are building the cameras. The aperture collected the light and the tinfoil covering the aperture helped to reflect onto the surface of the wax paper. The light rays, traveling in a straight diagonal direction, inverted the image onto the wax paper that acted as a window to the world. The idea was to reflect on how we create ideas of peace from diverse perspectives. We captured images of peace through drawing and actively reflected on what is peace in our society as we engaged in a brisk walk through the city streets.

Midwinter Feasts Blog


As the days have gotten shorter, the weather has turned colder, and the first big holiday celebrations of the winter holiday season have begun, students at the YMCA Academy have been discussing the celebrations that take place during the winter months.

Students in the 20th Century World History Course took a break from learning about the geopolitics of the last 120 years to explore why this season is so jam-packed with holidays and important celebrations. We explored the idea of how challenging the shorter, darker, colder days can be, and how in communities of the past the need for celebration, community, and levity could be extreme during the midwinter months.

A grid of holidays, celebrations, observances, and feast days was put up on the board, students were tasked with doing research into a handful of the feast days, and were asked to write a brief description of the holiday. The holidays were selected from faiths, secular observances, and historical festivals, and ranged from the familiar to the unheard of.

Once the grid was populated with descriptions, symbols, art, and graphics, students were asked to verbally talk about the midwinter feast that they found the most interesting. The Class was very excited to learn about some of the celebrations that have been important during this time of year.

  • Bodhi Day
  • Christmas
  • Emancipation Proclamation Day
  • Hanukkah
  • Human Light
  • Kwanzaa
  • Makar Sankranti
  • Malka
  • Modraniht
  • Pancha Ganapati
  • Sadeh
  • Saturnalia
  • Sol Invictus
  • Solstice
  • Yalda
  • Yule

Neighbourhood Civics Tour


This Fall, the Canadian Civics and Citizenship class took a walking tour around the neighbourhood to see how frequently they could find evidence of the three levels of government within walking distance of our school. The answer surprised many of the students who did not realize how often they came in direct contact with the different levels of government.

The Civics and Citizenship students noted that they found examples of Municipal government the most often, but that very important features of the Provincial government were also within walking distance of the school. The Federal government was the least frequently found level of our government, though there was one great example right in front of our school doors.

Examples of the Municipal government in our neighbourhood included sewers and storm drains, public trash bins, sidewalks, street lights, traffic signals, crosswalks, parks, Toronto Police Services, community notice signs, public transportation, restaurant public health passes, bike lockups, fire hydrants, fire stations, city speed limits, and parking signs.

In our search, students found examples of the Provincial government in our neighbourhood including license plates, universities, high schools, and the Ontario Provincial Parliament, hospitals, and provincial ministry buildings.

The best example of the Federal Government being present in our neighbourhood was a Canada Post service box.

Students saw first hand how frequently they interact with their governments, and how much those government services impact our daily lives.

The Power of Yet – Growth & Fixed Mindset Exhibition


This assignment was about reminding students their job is to become the person they want to be- citizens who can and should meaningfully contribute something important to the world.
And…how can they start doing this? With the ‘Power of Yet!’

A simple way to start changing to a growth mindset is by the use of a little word, yet –
a realization that some things are worth waiting for and those things take work. No one can be expected to change their mindset overnight. We all have fixed mindsets about certain things without even realizing it. Changing your mindset is a process. It’s not always easy. It takes patience, coaching and lots of practice but the power of this small word allows for success.

In our Learning Strategies class, we learned about the ‘Power of Yet’ and Growth & Fixed Mindsets. We talked about the things we were not able to do before and have since learned how to do, how to reframe mistakes as examples to the class and make sure to use the word yet in frustrating situations. Every student then chose a creative way to promote these concepts-through slideshows, videos, drawings, word art.

“I chose a happy face word art for my assignment because it is a positive image and I covered it with positive words. It fits in with the theme of the Growth Mindset. While I was thinking of words I wanted to give them a bit of flare. Also, there are different fonts because I wanted to shake it up and make the words more interesting.” – S.R.

“I picked these videos because I think they are great and they tell good things about getting things wrong and how we try to make them right. For example, sometimes we think we don’t know the whole song but once we try to sing it, we realize that we do know the song.” – J.G.

“I picked the ‘Power of Yet’ music video by CJ Luckey to include in my assignment because it was inspiring and very helpful. It is very positive with powerful words. Every person will now think positively about themselves and other people and kids will be happy.” – J.G.E.

Here’s the link to a student produced video:

(Movie Compilation by Oliver R. and Lucas F.)

Humber College Innovate-a-Thon


In partnership with the YMCA Academy Civics and Careers classes, teams of GTA college students had 48 hours over the weekend of October 23rd to create innovative solutions for the YMCA Academy. Humber College Centre for Entrepreneurship, with the help of YMCA Academy staff, students, and alumni put on the Humber College Innovate-a-thon.

Academy students and Alumni conducted interview videos to show the teams of college students what learning at the Academy is like, and what challenges were in the transition to college.

Academy Assistant Head of School, Kaili Glennon gave the opening keynote speech to the teams of college students, introducing the teams to the Academy. Over the weekend the teams worked tirelessly to find an innovative solution to the question: “How might the YMCA Academy better support students as they transition from High School to Post Secondary?”

At the end of the weekend the college teams made pitch videos. The Academy Civics and Careers classes designed score cards, and judged the pitch videos based on a range of criteria that they helped co-create.

Academy students connected deeply with the potential solutions and expressed that they felt inspired by the possibilities of how entrepreneurship and civic action can come together to prepare students for future readiness, solving the problems of tomorrow, and overcoming the challenges of today.

The pitches from the college teams were designed to offer students greater autonomy, supported independence, more access to resources, and a better understanding of the supports that they are entitled to once they transition to their post-secondary pathways.