Academy Hosts Workshop About Healthy Eating

students in classroom participating in presentation

Last Friday, the Academy’s Grade 11/12 Workplace English class and Food and Nutrition class took part in a workshop about healthy eating, and about how millions and millions of animals are being killed for the food that we eat. Tracey Timmins from the Educated Choices Program explained what we consider food and what we do not consider food, and the health risks of food.

Tracy talked about how animals were slowly being led into slaughterhouses to be killed for food. She also talked about how killing animals can have major impacts on the environment. “It’s important to learn where food comes from,” says Russell, an English student. “It made me feel more motivated to make changes in my daily life to save the environment.”

It is really important to learn these things so you know where your food is coming from. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat meat. You can have a balance with meat and things that are not meat. If you feel like you don’t want to eat meat, that is your choice, but this is something that you should know about. “I feel like we organized this, because students everywhere need to learn about animals, and why we need food every day to survive,” says Lucas, another English student. This presentation is helpful, because it teaches everyone how to live a better life and feel happier.

The presentation happened so that we could learn how to eat healthy and save the environment. It’s important because the presenter talked about how we should eat less meat and more healthy foods. “I think this topic is very important because we are killing animals for our food and it is also having an impact on our diet and health,” says Russell.

“I felt sad and angry at the same time,” says Lucas. “I felt like I had to take action by following Tracy’s presentation facts and details of making the world a better place.”

A student named Cole concluded, “The presentation impacted me, because even though animals do get killed for food, it’s wrong to just take a bunch of animals into a horrible place and just murder them. I also think that we should take a stand. Animals are nature. Without nature, there won’t be anymore animals to take care of. I realized when I was watching this presentation that I can choose to eat less meat and more plant-based things.”

– By the Grade 11/12 Workplace English class

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Dogs with superpowers, a ketchup race, amazing animals, delicious food, and a whole lot of fun: Academy students from four very different classes came together to experience all this, and much more, earlier this month at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

The Royal is a longstanding Toronto tradition, and a fantastic place to extend learning through experiential opportunities that activate (literally) all the senses. This also means that it’s perfect for cross-curricular learning; at a seminar hosted by faculty and students from the Centre for Food at Durham College, we learned about how ketchup is made — including investigations of chemical processes, food science and safety standards, career connections, and sensory feedback. It was a supercharged lesson for our students from the Food and Nutrition, Grade 10 Science, Career Studies, and Grade 11 English classes.

At the Academy, we’re constantly working to find ways large and small to break down the walls of the classroom and provide authentic learning experiences. And when we can combine that with free cheese samples and a pack of adorable Superdogs? Well, that’s absolute perfection.

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Annual Cedar Glen Trip

The 2019 voyage to Cedar Glen was one of the largest ones to date with 53 students making the trek up to the beloved outdoor education center. The maroon and navy squad buses made their way up on a beautiful and sunny Monday and arrived just after 11:00 am. After unpacking the buses, a quick welcome, and a lunch of meatball subs, staff and students heading towards Cedar Glen’s farm to give 64 pairs of helping hands to fulfil our yearly environmental stewardship duty. With glorious weather gracing our first day, the students and staff participated in fire building workshops, a skill needed for the culmination of the next day’s Academy Games, spent time in their advisory groups to increase group cohesion and solidarity, followed by a bit of free-time before dinner. The evening included the customary campfire and optional night hike to round of a great first day.

Day two was not so kind in terms of the weather, but was not as bad as what we have seen in past years. After breakfast, the two squads learned that their respective flags had been taken, with only a ransom note as a clue to what to do next. And thus began the morning’s first activity, a mystery game. After about 2 hours of sifting through clues and ciphers, the maroon squad ended up finding their flag first, shortly followed by the navy squad. After lunch, the second annual Academy games began with the maroon squad looking to defend its title. After all was said and done, the navy squad took the title away from maroon, who was disqualified on a technicality. Upon filling bellies with food, students enjoyed a bit of free time, followed by the evening’s programming of team challenges, followed by a Halloween and Cold Cuts themed dance party.

The last day was full of familiarity as students headed down into the valley after breakfast to partake in our traditional third day events. Groups alternated between animal survival, a game where staff and students simulate a forest ecosystem’s food chain, as well as archery and atlatl. With rain coming down during the last part of the activities, students walked back for a last lunch meal, after which we packed the buses and headed back to school, another successful trip in the record books.

Check out the rest the rest of the pictures on our Facebook page!

Album One | Album Two | Album Three

Global Climate Strike

Last Friday, the school went to the climate march. The march began at 12pm at Queen’s Park and went along Wellesley Street, down Bay Street, along Queen Street past City Hall, and then back up University Avenue to Queen’s Park.

All the attendees were either students or adults that are concerned about the state of our planet/future. We were at the protest to tell our government that we are disappointed that they are not doing something to save our planet. We were there to also tell them that if they don’t do something now we will not have a future.

The event had a big impact. “It’s thousands of people marching down the street,” says Quinn. “I hope the government will listen because if they don’t, the human race will become extinct because of the amount of carbon in the air.”

For some students, the event was challenging. “I thought that it was very crowded,” says Claire. “There was so much cheering going on.”

But regardless, Friday’s Climate Strike made some clear connections to what our students are learning. “It demonstrated how people want to change the government,” explains Logan. “In Civics class, we talked about how important climate change is in relation to how it impacts people and society.”

By the Grade 10 Civics class

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

YMCA Academy Community Garden

The YMCA Academy is located right in the heart of the downtown core, however we do our best to stay as connected to the environment as possible. We have a green wall, plants all around the school and even a vermicompost! One of the highlights of our annual YMCA Cedar Glen trip is the time we spend on the farm, planting, harvesting and caring for the grounds. It is so nice to see the students getting their hands dirty, being outside away from technology, and finding relaxation in this work. For all of these reasons we decided to build our very own urban garden on one of the terraces connected to our school!

Step 1: Design
Our Green Industries class designed sub-irrigated planter boxes. With the location of the terrace, distance of a water source and direct sunlight, it was important that the planter boxes were designed with these limitations in mind.

Step 2: Create
Students in our Gardening Club, and Green Industries class worked together to build and assemble the bins. Building these bins required students to have a strong grasp of the design, collaborate with each other and follow the design instructions.

Step 3: Prepare
Our Personal Fitness class spent the morning hauling heavy soil and materials to the terrace garden. Each of the bins required several bags of soil so the team had lots to carry! Students were instructed on proper carrying techniques to avoid injury.

Step 4: Plant
Every student in the school was assigned one plant to bring in for the garden. Once they were all brought in our Green Industries class organized and planted them. Students brought in an excellent variety of herbs, vegetables, fruit, and flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

Step 5: Care for
As a community of staff, students and volunteers we all play a role in caring for our garden. Depending on the weather, the gardens are watered once a week and checked on each day for changes, needs and the opportunity to harvest.

Step 6: Harvest
The fresh vegetables in the garden were harvested by students daily, many vegetables and herbs such as cherry tomatoes, chives, and green were harvested for lunch time snacks and cooking club. The majority of hot peppers were harvested by the students in the 7 / 8 program and made into hot sauce!

It has been incredible to see the impact the garden has had on our school community since the garden has been built and begins to grow. Many students and staff have expressed how much they love getting the opportunity to spend time outside and around the plants. Many of us are over the moon when something begins to grow, fruit, or is ready for harvest. One of our students in particular has expressed that a quick visit to the garden helps to settle him, reduce stress and anxiety and gets him ready to focus in class.

Overall the garden has been a great success and we are looking forward to expanding our garden even more next season!

Take a look at our Hot Sauce blog to see what we did with this years harvest and check out the rest the rest of the pictures on our Facebook page!

Community Garden: Design, Create, Prepare | Community Garden: Plant, Care, Harvest