The start of this school year looks a little different than those that have past, but the Middle Schoolers at The YMCA Academy started the year by bridging the gap between in-school and online learning experiences with a community building activity. Whether in person or on the web, students shared the experience of painting pots and planting their own plant. Students learned how plants can benefit mental health and promote learning, and over the school year, they will continue to learn about and care for their green friends.
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
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!
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!
On November 11th, the Grade 7/8 class accepted the challenge to make a new and improved Academy Hot Sauce! Learning from last years’ experience and the reviews from our loyal customers the students made several changes to our secret recipe.
This year’s goal was to lower the acidity and vinegar taste of the hot sauce, while trying to keep its ability to last the same, some of the changes that were implemented include:
- Changing from apple cider vinegar to regular vinegar
- Lowering the vinegar amount
- Adding carrots for sweetness
With several stations’ setup, the class made quick work of defrosting the frozen hot peppers which were harvested at the end of summer from out rooftop garden. We then proceeded to chop and sauté the peppers, while adding onions and tomatoes. Eventually boiling it all down and blending the fiery mix into our new and improved hot sauce mix, canned into mason jars and ready for sale for $7 each or 2 for $12 and all profits will go back to the garden fund.
This was a fun activity that had many curriculum connections. These connections were:
- Math: Measurement and Volume
- English: Blogs, read and writing the instructions
- Science: PH levels
- Business: Marketing, Brand management and Advertising
Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!