Tapping into the Entrepreneurship Spirit


We are just a week into the Entrepreneurship class but have already covered a wide range of topics. The class consists of a terrific mix of students, some of which already have entrepreneurial experience, and others who bring forth new and exciting ideas to the table.

Thus far, students have completed an entrepreneurial self-assessment, examined the pros and cons of becoming an entrepreneur, and identified essential qualities, skills and characteristics of an entrepreneur. In addition, students presented a brief profile of an entrepreneur of their choice, studied famous Canadian inventors and innovators, watched pitches from the Dragons’ Den show, and explored various different leadership styles.

Things will only get more exciting as students test their leadership skills in fun games and challenges, interview existing entrepreneurs to gain additional insight straight from the source, and develop their very own business plan.

There is no question of the severe impact this pandemic will have on our economy. There are many jobs, businesses, and industries that have been forced to shut down or are barely staying afloat. In some rare cases, there are examples of businesses that were fortunate enough to adapt and stay healthy during this time of crisis. As part of the course, students will analyze the ways in which different businesses have reacted to the change in market conditions.

Planning and Preparing for the Future


The Advanced Learning Strategies class has been hard at work, with perfect attendance to date. It is a pleasure to be teaching a class in which all students will be graduating at the end of the school year. The focus of the course is to help students make informed decisions about their future. With high school virtually in their rear view mirror, students have to plan ahead as new developments take place.

The course is based around three core components: learning and personal management skills, post-secondary planning, and exploring future options. The main goal is to help students successfully transition from high school to post-secondary education or directly to workforce. Part of this process is understanding what the options are, what resources are available, and making realistic and relevant plans.

In class, we examined the college application process, researched various programs and analyzed important components of a single program. This included, but was not limited to, college/campus, program description and list of courses, tuition and fees, how to qualify and apply, career and postgraduate options, and student accessibility services.

Please note that online applications for colleges for the next academic year (August 2021 to July 2022) open in early October. Students must apply by February 1st, 2021 in order to receive equal consideration for admissions to programs starting the following fall. It is also important to mention that the Ontario College Fair is going virtual this year. It is taking place on Wednesday, November 4th (4PM – 8PM) and Thursday, November 5th (9AM – 1PM).

Coronavirus Inspired Art

Throughout Visual Arts, we have discussed how creating art is one of the greatest forms of self-expression. We can create art about anything to show what we feel, how we feel and why we feel it. We create art to communicate. There is no right or wrong way to make it. Coronavirus, a pandemic and online school is not anything we saw coming. Lots of questions and emotions can arise from situations like this.

Before the break, the class was in the middle of learning about Colour Theory. Our initial classes online focused on the psychology of colour and the idea that colours can be used to express specific emotions.
What these Academy Art students did was create art inspired by how they were feeling in the initial weeks of the pandemic, with a focus on colours and what they associate with those colours.

The results were all so different! Students had to get resourceful and use whatever materials they had access to at home. Some painted, some drew with pencil crayons and some made digital art or a collage. It was so interesting and inspiring to read each student’s reflection expressing how they feel and what their art signified.

Academy students create COVID-19 inspired art
The thing that inspired me was the way I was feeling. I was sad and lonely and found myself craving socializing…The way I thought of describing it was by a roll of toilet paper and it felt right to do so considering what’s going on. It’s related to the problem going on with the world right now and the roll will unwind and tell more of a story the more it unrolls more and includes how I am feeling via pictures. It is important [to create art] because it helps you express yourself in pictures and let people know how you are feeling as well as let you get some of that weight off of your chest. – SE
Academy students create COVID-19 inspired art
I have been having a lot of FOMO when I was quarantined, after seeing photos and snapchat stories, but in reality there is not much happening out there….My mom is in the right corner not looking very happy. I am in the top left corner crying. I don’t know why I put myself crying but it’s just there. My cat is in the middle between my mom and I. He is having a really good time and is loving the quarantine. I am in the middle thinking there is nothing going on in my house. I think there is all the colour in life, which is supposed to be people and being outside and fun just outside me. I’m not in there, because I’m in the black, But in reality, it’s all black anyways. – AF
Academy students create COVID-19 inspired art
I used black because it sort represents being sad and the red represents people being sick. what i was thinking when i did my art i was thinking about being protected against the virus the red symbolizes the danger because i cant go out -FL
Academy students create COVID-19 inspired art
I used blue to represent how hot the flame is in hell to kill the virus. I also used blue for the splatters to show how calm I feel about this whole situation. The reason why I chose black for the background is that I feel this shows respect for the people who have died; black is the colour of mourning. White is in this piece because for me, white means life, which contrasts the black for mourning. The white represents the people who have survived after they’ve had the virus…Art is a way to express your feelings and deep, inner thoughts. It’s a good outlet for feelings like fear or anger. Instead of letting these feelings build up, you can express them through art. My art conveys the fact that I strongly dislike the Coronavirus. If other people feel the same way, then when they see my art, it might connect with them (and me).- NP
Academy students create COVID-19 inspired art
I chose blue and green because the average colour for a safety mask is blue and if i think of the coronavirus i see green…It’s important to create art in difficult times because art helps express how you feel…I feel like the message to viewers is that people are trying to fight the virus and there is maybe hope. -OS
Academy students create COVID-19 inspired art
I used dark blue, dark purple and orange and brown. I also used a very dark green because they remind me of how I fell during this time and my emotions. Art can help with your emotions and feelings and it is very relaxing for some people that have a hard time explaining themself. – CK
I am inspired by my artwork because I am sad and worried about other people and inspicaly poor people because they can be affected by coronavirus. The colours I chose are beige, blue, gray and white. I chose these colours to make me feel sad about coronavirus. – AE

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.

Online Education: A Not So New Frontier with a New Twist

YMCA Academy moves to online classes - Students participating in clubs and classes

 

We are undoubtedly living in a period of time that will be written about in the textbooks of many disciplines. What is written about, however, is up to us. For a small, independent school like ours, history will say we gazed into the face of sudden change and uncertainty with confidence. There are many advantages to being big, but being small also has its benefits. Our small size affords us the ability to move quickly and decisively in order to continue offering our students with educational opportunities that will keep them on a path of earning credits.

We are now three weeks into this brave new world of online learning, and what we have experienced thus far is more than we had ever anticipated. The biggest and most surprising revelation from the first day, and one that has continued every day since, is the attendance record of our students in all courses across the board. Class attendances of 98-100% are the norm, an indication that our students are eager to continue learning, and that learning online, even with its expected shortcomings, gives our students a sense of normalcy that is psychologically and emotionally necessary in these bizarre times. Not only are students showing up for online classes, they are participating and getting work done.

After our first two weeks of online learning, we reflected on our collective experiences and introduced an entire day dedicated to the social and emotional well-being of our students by creating online clubs for them to attend. After school clubs are an important part of our school, and allowing our students to continue attending them was an easy choice to make. As such, we have several time slots for various clubs available to students from 10 am to 2 pm. Some of the clubs, such as Dungeons and Dragons and Cooking Club are old favourites, but we have also introduced new opportunities for students to socialize, such as board game club.

Learning online is not all sunshine and rainbows. There are obvious shortcomings and pitfalls. These challenges, however, are the exception and not the rule in the virtual learning space we have been able to create for our students. The overwhelming feedback from our students and their parents/caregivers has been positive. We have taken their feedback and, along with our own experiences and observations, have prepared ourselves to be ready to continue offering the best possible experience for our students in order to afford them the opportunity to continue learning and earning credits. “Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional,” said Roger Crawford. At the Academy, defeat is not in our vocabulary. Learn On!