Students Experiment with Tex-Mex


This week for Cooking Club students put together a variety of mouth watering Tex-Mex foods. This theme allowed students to use the ingredients they had on hand and tailor their dish to their particular tastes. There were quesadillas, tacos, burritos, nachos, taco salads and a bean dip!

With virtual Cooking Club students work at their own pace to prep and cook their food and then are asked to show their dish to the group through the video call. The club is also a chance to socialize with the friends that they have been missing for the last couple of months. This was made clear by some of the student comments this week:

“I come to cooking club because I like making food and hanging out with all you guys.”

“My favourite thing about cooking club is hanging out with friends from school.”

Next week will be another chance for students to get together and practice making pasta- a meal every student should know how to make!

Culture Club: The online global village


Culture Club has successfully achieved three Google Hangouts! This partnership between YMCA Academy students and Braemar College international high school students began before March Break, and we are thrilled to see it continue throughout our online learning platform! Each week, 15-18 students have fun conversations about different countries, food, and music through cultural exchange!

The world is a global village that is home to over 7.7 billion people! This opportunity allows for us to connect with others. However, not all humans take advantage of this worldwide friendship pool and are generally afraid of other cultures due to lack of exposure. Fortunately, we can debunk stereotypes about different people by listening and learning from them!

A YMCA 10th grader said, “I love Culture Club! It has let me meet high school students from all over the world – like Kenya and Russia! I like the same music as some of the girls!” One Braemar student, grade 11, commented, “This club is really great practice for my English with native speakers. I feel more confident talking to the nice teens. It also makes me feel less bored during quarantine because I am in a homestay in Toronto away from my family.”

Culture Club puts an emphasis on exchanging ones’ values and stories in a polite manner without judgment. Exchange implies equality, where groups do not have to sacrifice their individuality and instead can practice being more accepting to the beauty found in diversity. Students’ insight about their home countries also allows them to become positive ambassadors that spread a proud image of their homeland through their personality.

Culture Club is also important for students discussing their OWN culture! They can test their limits about what they already know and discover new questions about what they would like to talk to their parents or guardians about. Having students reflect on their upbringing and life chapters allows them to summarize important lessons they’ve learned. In all, it is our great pleasure that we align forces and share the importance of cultural exchange with our students, so they can take on new perspectives in their thinking and become more well-rounded individuals.

Kahoot Trivia Challenges


The second meeting of the Boardgame Club has staff and students going head to head in trivia games of various topics using the online platform website Kahoot! Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform, used as educational technology in schools and other educational institutions. From news of the week, Marvel, and general knowledge to pop culture, we tried answering questions correctly to see who would reign as trivia grandmaster. At the end of the hour everyone learned something new as no one can know everything. It was another week of laughs and fun and we are eager to see what we will play next.

The Youth Job Connection program

The Youth Job Connection program is designed to help youth aged 15-18 in finding and keeping jobs. More specifically, it has a number of supports in place to help youth who experience multiple and/or complex barriers to employment.

Last week’s orientation was well received by students and parents/guardians alike. Nearly twenty students will be participating in the paid, four-week program, which will cover pre-employment training, job matching and paid job placements, mentorship services, and education and work transition supports. The workshop sessions will take place online through Zoom in combination with independent learning.

This wonderful opportunity has come at the right time and gives students a chance to develop essential workplace skills and plan and prepare towards obtaining a job in the future. Although there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the job market with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is no question about the usefulness of this program. Students will be supported all the way through to next summer and will gain a better idea of the different career paths available to them, the importance of transferable skills, knowing how and where to search for jobs, and understanding various roles and responsibilities.

We are thrilled to be collaborating with ACCES Employment and giving some of our students the opportunity to gain additional experience and extend their learning beyond the classroom. Thank you to all the families that have expressed interest and I look forward to seeing the students in action shortly.

Minecraft – Building Virtual Worlds

On Wednesday April 29th, 15 curious explorers embarked on a grand adventure to explore a new world. One by one each player opened their digital eyes to a small river winding its way through lush green hills, surrounded by a dense forest cuddled at the bottom of a mountainside. After some brief exploration of their new environment, the first foundation block of a new village house was built and placed in the ground, and with that The YMCA Academy Minecraft world was born.

During the first session, we spoke about the challenges players may face interacting in a virtual world. Students were asked to create a list of community guidelines, rules and outcomes for specific scenarios and behaviours that may happen in a living, breathing virtual environment where many complex issues can arise. How do we resolve conflicts? What happens if there is a land dispute? Who gets to claim resources to the south of the village? The discussion was very thorough and students came up with a list of how they would like to govern this new virtual frontier.

After we had reached a consensus on how we will interact as a community the first bold steps were made to establish our new village. We had agreed to carve out a specific piece of land, which was designated the communal village, and inside these borders no player could claim ownership of property, or build without approval from the rest of the community. Within the span of a few hours, several small huts were constructed just outside of the village, to act as personal homes, and a base where students can build, craft, and launch expeditions from. As the day went on, groups of explorers left the communal village and explored the depths of the forest finding new resources, treasures, and even another village inhabited by NPCs (non-player characters).

The first session of the Academy’s Minecraft club surpassed my expectations in almost every way, and I eagerly await the adventures to come this coming Wednesday as we continue to explore and socialize in this new virtual world.