Annual year end Centre Island trip

On Wednesday May 29th, staff and students boarded the Ferries to attend our annual year end Centre Island trip to celebrate another great year. This was our first time heading to the small and self contained archipelago in May, but the weather could not have been more perfect. The sun was shining across a bright blue sky, and there was enough of a breeze so that it was never too hot and never too cold.

Upon reaching our usual set-up site, students embarked on an hour long scavenger hunt created and run by our very own Jack Club. After satiating our bellies, students had the option to explore the island, visit the animal farm, or hang back at our base of operations where they could choose from several activity options. This year we had the pleasure of hosting several parents on the trip who had fun of their own. We always enjoy our day on the island and can’t wait until we return again next year.

Students participate in the Shoebox Project

Over the month of November the YMCA Academy embraced the spirit of giving and once again participated in the Shoebox Project for Women. Our community went above and beyond and was able to put together 38 gift-filled shoe boxes this year!

The Shoebox Project for Women operates throughout Canada and the United States, delivering shoebox gifts to women in need. In Toronto the shoeboxes are distributed to women accessing a variety of services such as the YMCA Women’s Shelter, CAMH, Native Women’s Resource Centre, Covenant House etc. The aim of the project is to remind women that they have not been forgotten and that they are a valued and respected member of their community. This initiative aligns with the YMCA core values and provides an opportunity to foster empathy, practice civic engagement and collaborate with peers in a meaningful way.

Students attended an assembly to learn about how people, and women in particular, are impacted by homelessness in Toronto and Canada. This helped to put the project into context and to provide students with information about the housing crisis and other issues that Canadians face. In advisory groups, students brainstormed what gifts might help women feel special and devised a plan of who would purchase each item. Then the day came to bring together all the gifts and create the boxes. Each group decorated and filled at least one box and made sure it included everything on the list. Students also wrote thoughtful messages in a card for the recipient. Once all the boxes were ready to go they were taken to a drop off location to be distributed in time for the holidays.

Here is what some of our students had to say about participating in the project:

“I really enjoyed the project. It teaches kids about privilege and gives them a better understanding of the world around them.” – Maiko

“It was a relaxing activity to make the boxes while we listened to music and snow was falling.” – Kelly

“It was a great time. I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends.” – Jack

“We wanted to make the boxes to deliver to women in need who could use the stuff to comfort them.” – Griffin

“‘I felt the shoebox project was a great way to share joy over the holiday season to people who need the support” – Chloe

12 Principles of Animation

In the Communication Technology class Animation Unit, students recently undertook a project centered around the 12 Principles of Animation. The objective was to create animation that effectively showcased their understanding of these principles. The students demonstrated their creative skills and knowledge in basic 2D Animation. The project was an opportunity for students to put what they had learned into practice and explore the captivating realm of animation. All animations are then put into one collage which can be watched here in our school’s official YouTube page!

Jack Chapter and World Mental Health Day Assembly

One of the newer extracurricular opportunities at the YMCA Academy is our school’s very own Jack Chapter. This high school leadership club was formed in March 2023, and is part of the national network of youth-led groups supported by the Chapter program. Jack chapters work “to identify and break down barriers to positive mental health and make concrete change in their communities across Canada.”

On Wednesday, October 11, in honour of World Mental Health Day (October 10), the Academy Jack chapter put on an assembly for the rest of the high school, with help from some students in the senior Personal Fitness/Healthy Active Living class. Here is what the club has written about the day:

The Jack Club is an awesome student-led club, filled with students who spread mental health awareness in everyday life. The main goal of the club is to reduce stigma and increase students’ toolkit of mental health strategies.

The Jack Club planned and put on a mental health assembly a couple of weeks ago. The planning phase involved a lot of problem solving, a lot of opinions, and the use of different organizational skills. The assembly featured both Jack club stations — a hygiene and self-care presentation, an art relaxation station, and a snacks room — and workshops on mental health and food, fitness, and outdoor activities from Jessamyn’s Personal Fitness students. These were followed by a game of Jeopardy.

Students had an opportunity to step into the teachers’ shoes and practice classroom management skills when leading the presentations. Overall the assembly was a fun time; students were eager to participate with some being overly competitive. Jeopardy was hard but exciting. Students were able to answer questions and gain points at the end of the assembly. There was a face off for final Jeopardy between seven students. Three of the final contenders got the question correct (“What is stigma”) and won prizes for their team. The prizes consisted of games, treats, notebooks, stickers, and fidget toys, with the squishy fidget balls being the most popular prize.

Shout out to the Jack members: Evelyn, Maiko, Charlie C., Ella, Fenn, and Ryla, with honourable mentions to Jasper, Lucas M., and Gabby. And thank you to the students in Jessamyn’s fitness class for helping us put together an awesome assembly.

-Katie F and Lareesa

Spirit Week

With last week being the first full week back at school, we wanted to continue the momentum and have some more fun! We had many participants throughout the week with students dressing up, attending staff-led events, and representing their teams!

Tuesday was the start of spirit week with “Sports Day”! Our community represented their favourite sports teams including the Blue Jays, Raptors, Maple Leafs, Canucks, as well as some international teams such as the Leeds Rhinos and Estonia’s National Hockey Team! Most of us wore jerseys or t-shirts to represent our favourite sports teams, but we were outshone by Brandon, who wore a full beach sport outfit, earning a bonus point for his Maroon team!

The fun resumed on Thursday with “Dress as your favourite musician/band” day! We were visited by Elvis Presley, Ari Lennox, Taylor Swift, Nickelback, and Morgan Wallen among others. Some wore t-shirts representing their favourite bands, while others went head-to-toe with their costumes! Katie Freeland earned her Navy team a bonus point for her excellent Patti Smith look-alike outfit and pose. Check out the side-by-side image! Students were also invited to partake in a fun friendship building activity at lunch time. Lareesa and Brittany, our Student Life Counsellors did an excellent job of bringing people together and some of our new students found new friends through the process.

Finally, Friday was “Rep your colour” day, where our competitive sides really started to shine. The battle of Maroon vs Navy continued but both teams had a great amount of support. It was a sea of navy and maroon all throughout the building! A bonus point was offered for the most maroon or navy items worn by one person. We had tied second place runners-up with 8 clothing items each, but Navy took the bonus point! Katie F walked away with the bonus point with a whopping TEN items … she even wore navy tinted glasses for the day! The day continued with Trivia offered at lunch where once again, Navy took the win! We all learned fun facts like the fastest moving object in sport is a badminton birdie, and the third Hemsworth brother is called Luke!

It was a fantastic spirit week with a lot of fun participation. We can’t wait to see the momentum continue!