Raptor’s Day at the YMCA Academy

To wrap up their placement at the YMCA Academy, Seneca College student Ambar Fadul Gonzalez recruited her peers Zach and Jenta to plan an epic “Raptor’s Day” for the Academy students! This day included fun activities such as designing a Toronto Raptors logo, slogan, or poster, and participating in “blindfolded basketball,” where the students used teamwork to help their classmates score a mini basket. Meanwhile, a small film crew was on site conducting interviews for their upcoming documentary about Toronto Raptors Fans!

These activities built anticipation for the beloved annual Students vs Staff basketball game which took place later that afternoon. It was an incredibly fun experience for the entire school, whether they were there to play, cheer, or watch! Students from both the middle school and high school participated, filling the court with spirit, effort, excitement, and teamwork! In addition to playing on the day, YMCA Academy student Nathan M. has provided an excellent account of how the game went:

TEACHERS BLOW STUDENTS OUT OF THE WATER IN ANNUAL BASKETBALL GAME – Nathan M.

Two weeks ago, the staff and students of the Y Academy took to the court to compete in the annual Students vs Staff basketball game. Midway through the afternoon, most of the school filed into the gym either to play or to cheer on the teams, assisted by college placement students.

The student team clearly came in without much of a game plan, as they quickly racked up turnover after turnover and missed shot after shot. Apart from inspiring defense by Nathan Moloney on Luka, and a few good moves by Zach and others, the students were hounded on both ends of the court. Indeed it was truly a struggle for the younger students. The game opened with a 12-2 run by the teachers before the students even got another basket.

Yet the student team was not to be held back, rallying amongst themselves to get a good run going. Taking pride in their attacks on the teachers, with a very lively bench getting the student team into the flow of things, they developed some momentum.

By the turn of the second half however, things had entered into “a match of D,” with both teams using defense more than the offensive end. Fighting tooth and nail, the students took a chance to launch a comeback.

Shots came aplenty yet baskets were hard to make. Ryan and Zach led the charge on that end, while the entire team fought hard on the other end. However it would not be quite so easy as Brandon and Katie began to take over the game, tearing up the D. Luka became a third titan of the court as the lineup went smaller on him, allowing him to grab the rebounds and nail easy layups on small ball defenders.

The students had to draft in outside help from a member of the Y, but it was too late in the game. The teachers’ three basketbrutes dealt a huge blow to the student team, leaving them buried around a mountain of dirt and basketballs.

The game did not even get a true ending, as the game had to be ended early due to time issues, leaving the teachers on top with just a little more left on the clock. Hopefully this leads to a better student attack next year for a rematch of the much anticipated annual basketball game.

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Mental Health Promotion Workshops

The YMCA Academy has been hosting placement students from the Ryerson, Centennial, and George Brown Collaborative Nursing Degree Program. The placement students set an independent goal to develop and run a series of Positive Mental Health Promotion Workshops. High School students rotated through four workshops:

  • Affirmations and Positive Self Talk
  • Stress Ball Making
  • Mindfulness and Rest
  • Stress Management

High School students developed skills, strategies, and tools for taking better care of themselves and their mental well being. Each student left with a stress ball, a set of positive self affirmations, and a range of strategies to help prepare them for better self care.

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Middle School: Haunted House

What is the Haunted House?
Our class created a haunted train that we called the Train to Corpses (TTC). When you went through all of the stations, you exited the train and were in a fashion show. Staff and students came through our haunted house and used a pretend Presto card as their ticket to come in. The train was a replica of a TTC subway car, except it had fake dead bodies! We set up the chairs in the room to look like the chairs in the subway car and even had marked accessible seating. We had posters and advertisements. We made our own subway map and displayed it above the doors. We made large subway doors. Zoe’s Media Arts class made soundscapes of ‘creepy subway’ sounds and we played that along with a video with the point of view of riding on the front of the subway. We had LED lights and Georgia flickered the lights when people came in. MJ, John and Dayna dressed up as TTC workers too!

The fashion show was in a long hallway. We set up a LED starlight and played upbeat fashion show music. We had homemade ghosts hanging from the ceiling, spider webs throughout and a bloody sign welcoming people to the fashion show. As people came through, Elliott met them and encouraged them to strut down the runway, passing Mark who was hiding in a box. Mark did a jump scare and slammed the door as people were leaving.

Process of making the haunted house
We spoke about what we wanted the theme of the haunted house to be. We discussed some of the roles and responsibilities to create it. We then each did a job and when we finished, we would help another person who needed support. Each of us had our own task:

  • Samuel: Painting, taped posters, Train to Corpses (TTC) sign and played a corpse during the haunted house
  • Elliott: Co-created and presented the fashion show section of the haunted house with Mark
  • Shea: During the haunted house I was in the subway train and did creepy jump scares
  • Georgia: I made the doors for the haunted house and worked with Matteo and helped to tape up everything on the day of the haunted house. I sort of helped out wherever I was needed. On the day of the haunted house I flickered the lights to create a creepy vibe.
  • Matteo: I painted the subway doors. During the haunted house I wore a mask and shook the chair to scare people.
  • Charlie P.: I painted the subway platform using egg cartons and yellow paint. My job for the haunted house was to tour groups through the subway car.
  • Nico: I created the ‘next station’ signs and helped other people with their jobs. I was the subway expert and shared specific details about the TTC so our subway looked real! During the haunted house I was a train conductor and yelled out the subway stops as groups were touring through.
  • Charlos: I created the posters, painted the subway doors, hung up the different sections of the fashion show and hung up the posters I created. During the haunted house I scared people as they were going through and covered Dayna in spider webs.
  • Mark: I helped to paint parts of the fashion show props. During the haunted house I did a jump scare and toured people through the fashion show section.
  • Julian: I helped MJ put up ghosts on the ceiling in the fashion show. I also made the Train to Corpses map with creepy stations. During the haunted house I ushered people to Charlie P.
  • Alex: I hung up accessible seating signs. I put spiders on the floor. During the haunted house I did my creepy double jointed arm thing as I was collecting students tickets.
  • Rhys: I painted one of the doors with Charlie C. and made a body sketch that we put on the ground of the haunted house. I helped MJ and Julian put up the ghosts. During the haunted house I acted on the TTC car and followed people out.

Favourite moment

I liked how we set it all up! It was a big haunted display with fake blood. I liked how we collaborated with each other and worked together to put on a haunted house for the whole school – Shea

I liked painting – Samuel

I liked making the haunted house and being able to talk to friends at the same time – Georgia

I liked to scare the teachers! I liked using Charlie P. to trace as a dead body – Rhys

Written by: Middle school students

Middle School: Expedition to the Toronto Island!


The students were grinning from ear to ear with backpacks full of lovingly packed snacks as we boarded the ferry to head over to Toronto Island. It was a magnificently sunny day, and the sky was a crisp blue. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to begin a new school year. The students continue to remind each other of fond memories from the trip such as…

“Having fun collecting wood for the fire.” – Matteo

“Taking the subway. It was fun to ride! The streetcar was also pretty satisfying” – Nico

“We were exploring the forest!” – Georgia

“The red ant bites were… PAIN. But, the rest of the trip was FUN!” – Charlos

“All I want to say is… YMCA” – Julian

“We had the creamiest hot chocolate ever!” – CP

“When Charlie and I were running from the wasps. We were almost crying, we were laughing so hard. It was so fun!” – Elliott

“When we got to eat gooey smores!” – Shea

“The moment when the whole class raced to the top of the play structure” – MJ

Thanks for the memories, Toronto Island! We hope to come again soon!

Annual Cedar Glen Trip


After missing our beloved yearly trip to Cedar Glen for the first time in 2020, Academy staff and students made the yearly trip once again. Given current circumstances, this year’s trip was a day trip instead of our usual overnight outings. Students departed from the Academy at 9:30 am on the morning of October 22, new maroon and navy swag baseball caps on their heads. The excitement level on both buses was high as staff and students travelled down the highway.

After arriving and disembarking from the bus, the school was greeted by Cedar Glen staff, who after a brief welcome, led us in various short games. Afterwards, students split into one of 2 groups for the morning activities. One group participated in archery while the other in low ropes activities and games. At the halfway point of the day, the entire school gathered at the amphitheater where we were served pizza.

With lunch and the morning activities complete, the trip’s main event was ready to begin. Students were split into their advisory group squads (maroon and navy) and began the yearly anticipated Academy Games. Groups from each squad rotated amongst five stations, racing against the clock. Rock climbing, archery, trivia, and ragata challenges awaited every group as they ran from one station to the next. The game culminated at the fire building station where both squads raced to be the first to build a fire and burn through a string. After a competitive race, the maroon squad ended up on top, winning their third consecutive Academy Games. In a show of sportsmanship, the maroon squad cheered on the navy squad until they too could burn through their rope. We can’t wait until we can do it all again!

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