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

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!

Everyone Gives a Kahoot about Drawsaurus


If it isn’t apparent by now, the trivia challenge is this club’s favourite game. Yet again, the group wanted to play several rounds of trivia on Kahoot. As always, we started off by challenging ourselves with weekly trivia from the past week’s current events, and then went on to play another three rounds testing our knowledge about diversity, flags, and desserts. Having appeased our trivia craving, we moved on to play another popular game, Drawsaurus which is a digital version of pictionary. Although we don’t play it as much as Kahoot, the group still enjoys guessing what each member is trying to draw.

Virtual Worlds: The Great Wall Initiative


As of this week there is an abundance of personal homes, gardens, farms, mines, industrial areas, and road networks built by students. When we first created this virtual world we had disabled “monsters” or ‘mobs’ as they are called in the Minecraft community (A mob is a living, moving game entity. The term “mob” is short for “mobile”). These creatures offer an element of adventure and challenge but often can be overwhelming for new players as they have to learn both the building, creating and crafting aspect of the game, alongside survival and fighting off potential monsters and creatures in the wild.

Now that everyone is well situated, has a home, and equipment crafted for survival, hunting and protection several students in the community were advocating for mobs to be turned back on in the world for making adventures exciting and unpredictable as well as to be able to harvest rare materials needed for more advanced building. There were also those students that did not want Monsters enabled as they like having a sense of safety and not having to constantly be on guard and to put their creations at risk, etc.

Both positions had very valid points! After discussing the issue with the entire community last week, we all agreed to a compromise, and our first community project was born – The Great Wall Initiative. We agreed that before we re-enable mobs we will need to secure our communities, towns and homes, therefore we decided to build walls and gates around all areas we wish to be secured from Monsters.

This way we can achieve:

  • Community Safety inside the borders of towns
  • Adventure and Risk outside the borders.

Students have been coordinating how and where to build wall segments, different designs for walls, using different materials to keep out different creatures, (for example jumping spiders!)

Some excerpts from our Minecraft Google Classroom:

“I would really appreciate it if some of you would help me get some stone bricks for the village walls. Then put them in the chest that I made, so that I can use it to either start making the wall tonight or tomorrow. Depending on how much you guys help me, i could finish in 2-3 days. If you guys don’t help we might have to wait until next week for mobs since it is going to take a while to make the amount of stone brick I need for the wall.

Also, I know cobblestone would be easier, but I personally think that stone brick looks better.”
– Jack S.

“I and Oliver are offering to make walls around your houses so we can get mobs back easier, if you are interested, please leave a comment under this post about it.
You can also be specific of how big you want it to be”
– Fionn B.

As of today, many of the student built communities and houses have walls and gates protecting them from the wilderness, once we finish the entire project we will re-enable monsters in the world to create a new sense of excitement and adventure, as venturing outside the walls will now have an element of risk, where players will need to carefully think of supplies they will need, and rely on each other for safety.

Check back again next week to see how this new phase of our Virtual World has evolved!

Team Unbreakable Virtual 5K!

Students participate in last years Team Unbreakable running event
Photo from last years Team Unbreakable event

Well, while this whole pandemic has put a damper on our training it can’t keep determined athletes from keeping fit! The YMCA Academy’s Healthy Active Living classes hit the ground running when the lock down struck and spent the first couple of weeks researching the best ways to keep active during this predicament and constructing plans to keep fit at home. And If I have been led to believe correctly, all of my Healthy Active Living students have been doing just that.

Now it’s time to put our money where our feet are and cap off the year by taking on the Team Unbreakable Virtual 5K. This year, we won’t be gathering in a large group to complete the distance, but rather participants can run or walk 5 km on their own, at their leisure, at any point between 9 am and 9 pm on Father’s Day, Sunday June 21st. It happens to be the perfect way to celebrate your dad! If you feel like joining the team please check out the Team Fundraising Page of YMCA Academy where you can sign up.

I hope to see you all out there! … virtually, of course.