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!

Academy Hosts Workshop About Healthy Eating

students in classroom participating in presentation

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

Annual Cedar Glen Trip

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!

Album One | Album Two | Album Three

The new Fresh & Fiery Academy Hot Sauce!

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!

Ontario Science Centre

On Tuesday April 9, the Academy’s two science classes made their way to the Ontario Science Centre to embark on a cosmic journey. The first part of the day gave students the opportunity to explore the space exhibit, where they investigated celestial objects they’d already learned about in the classroom, as well as celestial objects and phenomena they would be learning about after the trip. After the self guided tour of the space exhibit, students were treated to the IMAX movie Journey to Space, followed by a tour of the universe at the Centre’s planetarium. By the end of the adventure, it was the most jam packed outing to the Science Centre to date.

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