Visiting the Royal Ontario Museum

From the Eastern Woodlands of Turtle Island to the Base of the Pyramid of Giza the historians of the YMCA Academy got to walk through history at the Royal Ontario Museum. The History of Civilizations class joined with the Canadian History class on an adventure through stories and evidence from the past.

The History of Civilizations class just started the Empire Simulator unit, where students take on the role of the leader for an ancient civilization and experience the hardships of managing a fledgling empire. The opportunity to visit the ROM to see and experience some of the relics and history of these nations was a great way for students to connect with their chosen civilization on a deeper level.

The Canadian History class learned about five of the major regional groups of First Nations and Inuit of what is now Canada. The people of the Eastern Woodlands and their canoes; the Great Plains people and their spartan, mobile lifestyle; the Northwest Shore people and their incredible material culture; and the Arctic people with their deep connection to their environment.

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Digital and Smartphone Photography Workshop

On October 24th, the Grade 11 Media Arts class and the Grade 10 Communications Technology classes participated in a Digital and Smartphone Photography workshop at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Students were taken on a tour of several galleries and instructed on how to use their cell phones to take pictures. We spent the afternoon browsing a variety of galleries. The first photographs we saw were done by artists who were competing in the AIMIA|AGO Photography Prize. There were four photographers in this gallery, all from different countries around the world: Russia/Ghana, Haida/Canada, Japan and Uganda. We were shown all of their different styles of photography and then were able to cast our vote in the end! Each was very interesting in their own way and the students seemed very inspired by the very different types of photography by each artist.

Next we went on to see a gallery called Every.Now.Then: Reframing Nationhood. This gallery focused on artist’s depictions of Canada from the perspective of those that have been left out of the dominant narrative. In addition to photography, there was painting, sculpture, fashion, video art and more in this gallery. Students used this gallery, and the photographs in the AIMIA Prize gallery, to practice their photography skills. As they took photos of the art, they were encouraged to focus on using the Rule of Thirds and different angles to photograph the works of art.

The tour ended with analyzing some famous European works of art, such as Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens, and understanding the techniques and tools that the artist’s used. Students also put their critical analysis skills to good use by interpreting the message of the painting.

Overall it was a great experience touring the AGO and the student’s left feeling inspired!

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Annual Cedar Glen Trip

Ah the yearly Cedar Glen overnight trip. The three day, two night trip the Academy gleefully looks forward to every year during the latter part of October. This year, from October 18th to the 20th, students and staff made the annual pilgrimage with a bit more excitement than most years based on the splendid weather forecast promised by meteorologists. During the three day trip, everyone was delighted that they were not lied to by the weather experts, as we enjoyed three days beautiful, sunny, and warm weather.

During our first day, students participated in several new experiences. First, they participated in their second Insight Global Education simulation (this time about equity and resource allocation). Later that evening after dinner, students partook in an Aboriginal quilt activity where they learned about and discussed about the trials and tribulations the indigenous peoples of Canada endured at the hands of European settlers. After an eventful first day, students shared a campfire at night before heading to bed.

After breakfast, our second day saw students lending helping hands at Cedar Glen’s farm, doing various tasks such as mulching, de-weeding, and harvesting of crops. Upon completing their farming tasks, students were given a workshop on mapping and orienteering, a skill which they would need for their afternoon challenge! When the afternoon rolled around, six student teams competed against one another in the Academy’s Cedar Glen Amazing race, where they implemented their mapping and orienteering skills for the ultimate glory of boasting supremacy should they win the race. The evening saw students participate in a variety of indoor games, capped off by a night hike, game of dungeons and dragons, or watching a movie (whichever option tickled their fancy).

On our last day, we went down into Cedar Glen’s valley and participated in our traditional teachers vs. students animal survival game as well as archery. Our memories filled yet again of familiar activities (new ones as well), and of delicious food, we ate our last lunch and headed back to school. We impatiently wait for our return next year!

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Album One | Album Two | Album Three

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

The Shoreline Clean Up is an initiative that started in 2002 to help clean up garbage around Canada. The Shoreline Clean Up is now the largest and most popular environmental initiative in Canada. The students at the YMCA Academy participate in this initiative every year by cleaning up a site in downtown Toronto.

On October 6th, the students of the YMCA Academy participated in the Shoreline Clean Up at the Don River near Riverdale Park. The students left the school around 12:10pm and took the subway to Broadview station. Then we walked to the park where we ate lunch. We really liked eating lunch in the park as a school because we don’t get to do that very often. It was a really nice day and it was fun being outdoors together. After we ate lunch, we firebolted to the playground and climbed up many tall scary structures. From the top it was terrifying but lots of fun. Once we finished playing, we got into our advisory groups and listened to Rein about the rules of the clean up. He told us where we were all going because each group went to a different location along the river. Zoe loudly reminded us NOT to pick up any needles. Then we walked to our locations and got down to cleaning!

Two students from each group had to keep track of what garbage and recycling we were collecting. They had to do this because we had to send the data to the Shoreline Clean Up organization. These students were from Katie C’s Grade 11 math class. The rest of the students helped to pick up every single piece of garbage that we found. Zee and Andras were taking photos of us cleaning. Some of the weirdest garbage we found were tires, a fisherman’s jacket, a dead salmon, a broken umbrella handle and a pair of rollerblades. In the end, we had a fair amount of garbage and recycling. The garbage bags kept ripping so for next year, we should double bag the garbage or get much stronger bags.

Overall, the day was a success! It was really great to come together as a school and play a part in cleaning up our city.

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Written by: YMCA Academy Students

Extracurricular Clubs Schedule

The YMCA Academy hosts a multitude of extracurricular after school and lunch time clubs throughout the week. This year we have added several new clubs to the roster as well as clubs that have taken place in previous years. Here are some of the highlights!

Cooking Club meets once a week on Wednesdays after school to create delicious and healthy snacks/meals. Each week students work together to follow a recipe and practice their culinary skills. It is an opportunity for students to spend time with their friends outside of class and enjoy tasting the food they helped to make. Students learn about the benefits of making healthy choices and are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone to try new foods. Sometimes the recipes are themed for holidays or the time of year and cooking club has also made special snacks for school events such as cookies for study hall and treats for a school dance. Last year the club put together a cookbook with students’ favourite recipes from the club and those contributed by all Academy families. The cookbooks were sold to raise money for the school and will be available this year as well!

Dungeons and Dragons Club is underway at the Academy. Students work together to navigate a magical world created through shared storytelling and teamwork. Students engage in solving puzzles, unraveling devious plots, exploring mysterious locations, and challenging corruption, while pretending to be heroic characters within a story of fantasy and magic. Playing Dungeons and Dragons exercises the mind, beyond simply imagining a fantastic world: players take part in numeracy, literacy, problem solving, divergent thinking, memorization, social interaction, team building, conflict resolution, planning, systems thinking, critical analysis, effective communication, and spatial reasoning skills. Much more than the pop-culture image of nerds in a basement; the benefits of the game can nearly match the excitement of playing it.

The YMCA Academy’s newest club (N.E.R.D. – Neophytes Engaging in Random Discussions) is a club born out of what a group of students already do throughout most lunches, discuss “nerdy” topics that are interesting to them. Each week (either on Tuesday or Friday) the N.E.R.D. club will pit Marvel vs. DC comics, superhero vs. superhero, discuss how to survive a zombie apocalypse, or look into various science theories.

The Video Game Club, Gamers’ Guild, is an opportunity for students to get together after school, socialize, and have fun playing video games. All games are multiplayer and students often have a choice between playing cooperatively or competitively. It is a great way to meet new students, make new friends, and engage in fun, friendly competition. The video game club relies on students bringing their own consoles and games which is not always easy. I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of the students who have contributed and kept the club running through their generosity. As the new school year unravels, we will look at expanding the club beyond just video games. Currently, there is a plan in the works to include board games such as Codenames, The Resistance, and Exploding Kittens in hopes of attracting a wider audience.

The Basketball Club takes place on Fridays at lunch. All students and teachers, regardless of skill level, are welcome and encouraged to participate. It is a nice way to get in some exercise, hang out with friends or make new ones, and have fun doing it. Usually we start off with a basic shoot-around and then move on to quick pick-up games or play the popular basketball game called “Bump.” We have access to a great gymnasium and I feel it is important that both students and teachers take advantage of it. Additionally, it gives students the opportunity to interact with their teachers outside of the typical classroom environment which can often be refreshing.

Full Schedule:
DayLunchtimeAfter School
MondayHomework Club
TuesdayN.E.R.D Club
WednesdayDungeons & DragonsCooking Club & Gaming Club
ThursdayRunning ClubHomework Club
FridayN.E.R.D Club & Basketball Club