Academy Dance Committee Events

The YMCA Academy’s very own Dance Committee helped to organize two awesome dances so far this school year! We held a Winter Dance on December 19th. There was lots of candy, gingerbread house making and karaoke. Special catering was provided by alumni-run catering startup “Setonah Catering 2k19”. We held an Academy Alumni Group meeting before hand, so lots of alumni showed up to the dance which was great! The second dance was on February 13 with a Palentines (note: not Valentines) themed dance. We switched rooms from the auditorium to a smaller room where we could turn the lights off completely.

The set-up of the dance looked very cool! There were fairy lights and a black light that made everyone in the room wearing white glow! Somehow, skipping rope was made out of glow sticks and students (and teachers) attempted to jump rope. Pizza was provided as well as delicious snacks made by the fabulous Cooking Club. If this sounds like fun to you, please be in touch with Zoe or Dayna to join the Dance Committee or to attend a future dance. We are hoping to hold the next Academy dance in the Spring! We hope to see as many of you there as possible!

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

The Academy Show!

Again this year, the afternoon of the last day of classes in December features an exciting annual tradition: the Academy Show! Students were once again encouraged to pair up or collaborate in groups, and in total, twelve acts shared their passions and talents with the school community. From popular songs to dance performances to original spooky Christmas stories, and even a Shakespearan monologue, the performers’ courage and creativity was a delight to witness.

Our student MCs — Ali, Alex, and Dot — not only introduced the performers, but also kept us entertained with jokes and skits between acts. There was even a special performance by Brandon and Todd, who had been rehearsing their rendition of “I Do” from Bob’s Burgers, all week.

We hope that seeing their peers (and teachers) get up on the makeshift stage inspires even more students to sign up next year!

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

The Shoebox Project for Women

This November the YMCA Academy embraced the spirit of giving and ran its second annual Shoebox Project initiative.

Our school came together to first learn about the issue of homelessness in Toronto and Canada and then to do our part to support members of our community in need. In advisory groups, students brainstormed what gifts might help women feel special and devised a plan to purchase all of the items. Each group carefully decorated a shoebox, wrote a card with an inspiring message, and filled their box with thoughtful gifts.

The Shoebox Project for Women operates throughout Canada and the United States, delivering gift-filled shoeboxes 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.

Once again this project raised some questions among our youth about homelessness and about the unique challenges faced by women and girls and provided excellent learning opportunities. It encouraged our students to foster empathy and to be engaged citizens. It also promoted collaboration among our students who had to work together to complete the various tasks and achieve their goals.

Our students and their families were very generous and even though we only have 8 advisory groups, we had enough donations to put together 19 boxes! Our shoeboxes contributed to the over 57,000 total boxes delivered in Canada, the USA and the UK for the 2019 holiday season. Thanks again to everyone who helped make this another successful project!

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

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!

Feast of Thanks Celebration

On Tuesday, October 15th, our whole school attended the YMCA Academy’s annual Feast of Thanks in the school cafeteria. The feast was an opportunity to hear presentations from students and guests as well as to eat a lot of delicious food, generously donated by students and families!

Our class, a Grade 11 English class focused on Indigenous voices, led the organization and created posters, artwork, and presentations, while Brandon’s drama class set up the space, and Rein’s food and nutrition class took charge of heating up and setting out the food. In our presentations, people learned about some of the background to Thanksgiving and about Indigenous traditions related to gratitude and the harvest. Students and staff also heard about Indigenous storytelling, and listened to a story that a student had written about being thankful.

We were also joined by two staff from the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto, who talked a bit about what the centre does, and then opened the feast with a smudge and a prayer of thanks. While the smudging shell, filled with fragrant, smoking sage, made its way up and down the long tables of students, a few volunteers, led by our guests, put together a “spirit plate” with food and an offering of tobacco for the ancestors. Eventually, the hungry students were also able to fill their plates with savoury food, which was soon followed by dessert.

Students said that they really enjoyed the food, especially all the pie! Of course, there was plenty of cleaning up to do afterwards, and we are thankful for Todd’s civics class taking on most of the clean up duties. In the end, we hope that everyone who attended the Feast of Thanks has a better understanding of the historical aspects of Thanksgiving, Indigenous perspectives on Thanksgiving, and how we can show our gratitude every day.

– From Katie Freeland’s Grade 11 English class

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