Inaugural KCS Invitational Basketball Tournament Success!

From October 12-14, the U14 girls’ basketball team went to a tournament at Olympia Sports camp for three days and two nights! We had such an amazing time competing in a four team tournament with Havergal College and two Holy Trinity School teams. KCS was the host of the tournament, and it was the very first year!

We all participated in a very educational basketball workshop with Melanie Gerin Lajoie who taught us proper shooting technique, dribbling drills, and helped us prepare for the games which started the next day. We also had a great time participating in exciting team building activities that helped us meet all of the amazing girls on the other teams! 

The first night that we were there, we got to play an extremely exciting game of Minute to Win It, where we participated in activities like ping pong cups, Oreo stack, and creating our own team cheer and name – which we decided was “Live, Laugh, Love, Cougars”! Our team ended up victorious winning this very competitive Minute to Win It game.

The next day, the round robin games started and it was time to put all of the skills that we had been taught to the test. The first game we played was against the second Holy Trinity School team. After a hard fight and lots of teamwork we came out with a big victory. The score of the game was 20-10 for KCS! We had won our first game. We were thrilled that we won but knew our next game was just around the corner and we had to fight as hard as we did in the last game that we had just played. 

Barely 10 minutes after, the next game started where we faced the first Holy Trinity School team. This game was an incredibly hard battle against a team that had lots of very competitive and aggressive players. After lots of 50/50 balls and fouls we ended up losing by 1 point with a finishing score of 8-9. We were upset, but knew if we continued to try our best, we could come out successful. Our final game of the day was against the current undefeated team, and also the tallest- Havergal. We were all nervous for this game as we knew it would be a hard fight. 

Throughout the game, we tried lots of new things and had lots of successful baskets and plays. In the third quarter, we had a tremendous come back of 10 points and were so close to tying up the game. Unfortunately, we lost the game by 1 point, with a final score of 18-19. Even though we were very disappointed, we persevered and did not give up. 

After the games on the first day, our team and the Havergal team got to go on the Giant Swing. The Giant Swing is a double person swing that’s lifted up 60 feet in the air by a rope by the rest of the team. You drop yourselves and go free falling- flying backwards over the lake as you swing uncontrollably in the air! It was very scary but so much fun and a great chance to make friends with the other teams! 

The next day was game day. It was our final chance to prove ourselves and to snag the win. In the round robin games, we finished in 3rd place which means we would play the 2nd place team. During the game, we played our hearts out. And even though this team beat us by one point before, we beat them by 14 points! That means that we moved on to the finals! 

The final was the last game of the whole tournament, and it was all up to this. We played our hearts out, tried our best, took every shot we could get, and worked together to the best of our abilities. The U14 girls’ basketball team is happy to announce that we have won the tournament at Camp Olympia!! Thank you Ms. Field for organizing the entire tournament! 

Written by the players on the U14 Girls’ Basketball Team

A New Way for School Spirit

Four houses. Twenty new house captains. Add an original way to introduce them to the KCS community, and you’ve got a fantastic performance that launched the new school year!

The new, highly anticipated house captains of the 2022-2023 school year were recently announced at KCS’ annual Terry Fox Run assembly, and they are ready and eager to create games and challenges that will raise school spirit this year. In addition to the remarkable, eye-capturing spectacles put on by each house, an original, unique way to finish off the presentation was created, and it was a stupendous success!

All of the house captains performed a coherent rap together about each house to the tune of the popular television show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The house captains from each house sang one verse from the song with their respective houses. A highlight of the show was Ms. Griffin, who introduced the house captains with her enthusiastic verse in the rap. As the grand finale, Mr. Logan appeared to finish off the rap, and it indubitably got the whole crowd cheering. The house captain rap was a brilliant production and idea, and it clearly brought the students and faculty of KCS together to cheer for each of their houses.

Liesl K., Grade 8 student and house captain, had a pivotal role in the creation of the rap. She came up with the idea to showcase a rap to the school in the first place. Liesl was inspired with simply one thought: how can we, as house captains, generate school spirit, friendly competition between houses, but also unite the school as one? As we all know, the essential answer was to compose a rap! She had a variety of other ideas, like doing a dance or just singing a regular song, but in all, the rap checked off all of the boxes on her list. She chose a rap because it was fast-paced and energetic, and it was easy for all of the house captains to individually contribute their ideas. It was something fresh for the community, and even Mr. Logan said that the rap had never been done before at KCS. Liesl also chose a rap because she enjoys frequently writing raps herself, and knows how engaging and enticing it is to have the sensation of making the lyrics rhyme, or finishing a verse. 

Liesl was not the only person who wrote this rap, but rather, the comprehensive team of house captains were tasked to write the lyrics to the verse depending on what house they were in. They had to ensure that each verse blended with the one before, and that it related to their house and what their house stands for. Liesl motivated the house captains to partake in this added performance by creating “special lyrics meetings” that were dedicated to just brainstorming and writing. Some house captains mentioned that it was sometimes difficult to think of rhyming words and ingenious verses, but with ideas flowing like streams from their fellow leaders, they were rapidly able to come up with a solution. The creation of the rap was a beneficial way for the house captains to begin collaborating with each other.

As the audience was applauding the rap after it was finished, anyone would be able to recognize the flashes of satisfaction, delight and rapture dancing across Liesl and the house captains’ faces, joyous at the success that was a reward for their laborious work. They were clearly jubilant that the rap had achieved the level of triumph they had wanted. Mr. Logan affirmed that he had been nervous “backstage” before coming on to do his part, but the copious support and encouragement from the students and teachers alike helped him forget about that anxiety. The cheering and applause motivated everyone. Each student did not only belong to their house, but to the KCS community as a whole. They were part of something bigger than themselves which is a crucial factor for their future. This is a pioneering message to many students in the KCS community; the fact that no matter where or who you are, you will always belong at KCS.

As Liesl said, “Does the rap have school spirit? Does it involve all of the students and teachers? Does it challenge the house captains? Does it make everyone happy? Yes! It does!” The rap was a commendable way of providing students with a feeling of pride for their own house, but also a feeling of belonging to KCS as a whole.

Written by Vivian L, Student Leader 

Founding Member of KCS Addresses Senior School at Tie Ceremony

On Thursday, October 13, KCS held its Grade 9 Student Tie Presentation at St. George’s on the Hill. All Grade 9 students were presented with their school ties by Head of School, Derek Logan and Head of Senior School, Andrea Fanjoy. The Grade 10 students were also provided new ties (as KCS has changed its branding recently). The Senior School Tie Ceremony is the first special ceremony of the school year, a tradition that is now just two years old, and one that we’re sure will continue for years to come. 

This is a ceremony that will always give tribute to the founders and early students at the Senior School. Today, we were honoured to have one of the KCS founders address our Senior School students. The following is his address. We wanted to share his words with you and truly appreciate that the original vision is fulfilled.

“First of all, let me congratulate our Senior School students. It takes courage to do new unfamiliar things, to forge new ground, not only can it be unpredictable, but you have the responsibility of blazing a trail for those coming behind you. You are the new Kingsway College School pioneers, on a new path, one that will set the example for those just behind you as the Senior School progresses. And to the KCS parents: it is so easy to say “No” to something new, so thank you for saying “Yes”.

It was always the intention of the KCS founders to have a high school, but establishing a first class junior school was our top priority. So now, finally, another part of the original vision is fulfilled.

It always bothered me when other independent schools would refer to KCS as a ‘feeder school’ for their senior schools. Now, with this incredible facility, faculty, mind-expanding curriculum, and student body, those schools are soon going to start losing students to KCS.  So who’s the feeder school now?

It was 35 years ago this month that my wife Carol and I, our friends Doug and Shirray Langey, moved ahead with the concept for an independent school. Since then, KCS has always been going forward. Two of my children were lucky enough to attend KCS and, without exaggeration, will say that KCS is in their lives every day, with those great KCS values, how they treat other people and the knowledge of the world they gained. What a great investment!

So here we are today at another important point in time for KCS. I know how much effort and energy has gone into starting the Senior School. To all those involved in the getting the Senior School fulfilled, thank you for carrying the vision forward and for all your hard work.

And to the Senior School students. I know you will make us all proud.

Thank you”.

Peter Helston

Truth & Reconciliation Week at the Junior School

The last week in September was National Truth & Reconciliation Week. KCS recognized Orange Shirt Day as a school on September 30. Our Junior School students were invited by student leaders, Liesl & Vivian, to contribute to a mural in our front lobby after we read the book ‘You Hold Me Up’ by Monique Gray Smith. Students also read fiction and non-fiction age-appropriate material in their library classes related to this topic. 

Here are some examples of the thoughtful learning that took place over the course of the week. 

In Kindergarten, Grade 1 and 2 Phys. Ed. classes, students have learned about different games played by Indigenous children and why they are culturally important. They have also been learning about the medicine wheel as a way of viewing the world.

In the Grade 1 Be Creative Club, students designed their own orange shirts with messages surrounding the theme ‘Every Child Matters’. In their Art class, they read the story ‘You Hold Me Up’ by Monique Gray Smith. Students each chose a person in their lives who holds them up and drew their portraits, which are on display in our Grade 1 hallway. Students also made animals masked, which were inspired by the story ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox.’

Here is what some Grade 2 students shared with us in assembly about their learning: “In Grade 2, we listened to many different stories about the children at residential schools. We designed our own orange shirts, colorful dresses and made feathers. We learned that they took Phyllis’ orange shirt away from her at her residential school. We learned that children should never be treated like they were and that we need to make sure that it never happens again.”

The Grade 3 students shared their learning in assembly too! Here is their message about what they are learning: “In Grade 3, we learn all about communities in Canada, starting from when the Indigenous people were first here. In class, we’ve been learning about Indigenous people and how they were treated a long time ago. Indigenous people were forced to go to residential schools. They had to eat and sleep there, and they weren’t allowed to see their families. This was so sad. People cut their hair off, changed their names, and made everyone wear the same clothes. One girl wore an orange shirt, and it was taken away from her. These are a few of the reasons why we now have Orange Shirt Day. We want to remember the awful times that Indigenous people had and make sure this doesn’t happen again. The Grade 3s are thinking hard about how we can help make a difference and help make things right for Indigenous people today. We hope you will help!”

In Grade 7 History class, students learned about different perspectives about land in North America. There were very clear differences between how Europeans and Indigenous communities used the land. The Grade 7 students also completed a self-directed project about how education is a key part of reconciliation. For example, they explored how students in Sudbury brought a Pow-Wow to their school so that they could share the experience with their classmates.

Both Grade 7 and 8 attended a session online with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. We heard from artist Carey Newman about his project called the Witness Blanket. He gathered artifacts from people and places about the residential school experience and created a blanket from those artifacts. The blanket is an amazing 12 metres long and each of the artifacts tells a story. The blanket has been on tour across Canada and now is also an online exhibit that everyone can visit. The Grade 8 students also began their inquiry projects in History class. Their driving question is: How might we address and participate in the process of reconciliation? It will be interesting to see what they come up with in their research.

We are grateful and encouraged by the many different activities that were associated with Truth & Reconciliation Week at KCS. What we also know is that the learning continues throughout the year here. Our faculty has taken on this important responsibility and we are grateful for their thoughtful, respectful planning and engagement. 

Ms. Gaudet

Citizenship Education Coordinator & Grade 7 Teacher

The Future is Bright!

Just a few weeks ago, I was standing out front of the KCS Junior School, taking first day of school photos of my son Adam. At that same moment, a staff member from KCS took a photo of Adam as he took his first step onto the new school bus to take him to the new Senior School site for his first day of Grade 10. He put his thumbs up, ready to go see the school building that would soon open and be his new learning environment for the year. What I felt was at this moment was pride, hope, a sense of belonging to a wonderful community and a sense of comfort that I was sending Adam to an amazing high school.

Today, I am feeling even more emotions for KCS and for all that they have done for my children. Adam and Julian started at KCS in Grades 2 and 3.  Julian graduated Grade 8 last year and is now at Appleby College. Adam graduated Grade 8 two years ago and decided to be in the founding class of the new KCS Senior School.

We cannot say enough good things about being a part of the KCS community. My family has been very active in the school and today, I am so happy that through our company Roadsport Auto Group, we will once again be the lead sponsor for The Future is Bright fundraising Gala on May 13, 2023. This will be our third time as lead KCS Gala sponsor and our hope is that others in the KCS community will join us as sponsors, auction item donors and supporters.

Over the last seven years we’ve been a part of the KCS community, we have felt compelled to support the school in many ways. We have given financial support to the Galas, the Humbertown Park project, the Entrepreneurship Fund, the Senior School build and more. I am currently the Chair of the Senior School Parent Network, have been a Junior School volunteer for the Parent Network, a member of the Campaign Cabinet for the Senior School Capital Campaign, a member of Gala planning committees and volunteered at numerous Fun Fairs (formerly known as the Welcome Back BBQ). My family even arranged a catered surprise lunch for the Senior School to finish up their first week of the school year. I have been active in any way that I could and continue to make giving to KCS a priority for my family. Our children deserve the very best education and experiences and I know that our donations help to ensure they get that. That is really the most important reason we give. Our support will provide additional experiences and access to the best education possible for my children and the children that will follow.

It has been a challenging couple of years, but now THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT, and I can’t wait to celebrate and have a great time at the Gala which will be held in the brand-new Senior School on Lake Shore Blvd – with my glow stick in hand!

Aneta Gauthier

Proud parent and supporter of KCS!

Welcome to 2022-23

What a great start to the 2022-23 school year. From the return of teachers and staff readying to welcome JK to Grade 10 students to saying goodbye to the kids as they finished their first week of classes, it has all been such a positive start to what I feel is going to be a fantastic year. We are all looking forward to the return of all the things that we love about the KCS Junior School and the excitement and challenge of opening the new KCS Senior School on Lake Shore.

I would like to reflect on some of the great things that have happened in the past two weeks.

On Monday, August 29, all our teachers and staff gathered for our first meeting of the year. It was the first time our returning and new staff gathered in person, and I could see everyone face-to-face.  I heard so many of my staff say how happy they were to be seeing each other again and how much they had missed the comradery that comes with working side-by-side with each other. As much as we worked as a team during the past couple of years, I must admit that I prefer seeing everyone in the school and not on a screen. That full staff meeting was the highlight of the pre-school week. The energy and enthusiasm filled the room and I felt excited to be starting this year with such anticipation of a full return to “normal”.

As the week progressed, I enjoyed getting to know our new staff. We have hired new faculty for both the Junior and Senior Schools, and a new Director of Guidance for the Senior School, as we increase our enrolment and expand to offer Grade 10. We also hired a new Director of Marketing and welcomed back teachers who had been away on leave. One of the things that makes KCS such a great place is our sense of community.  That starts with relationships. Taking the time to get to know staff and show them that KCS is a great place to work is part of my role as Head of School. The onboarding and success of our team starts with me.

After a packed week, including our Senior School Curriculum Night, and the Labour Day weekend, the school year was about to begin.  The Junior School Curriculum Night on Tuesday, September 6, was a full house in Canada Hall.  I met parents who I had never come face-to-face with since they registered their child(ren) at KCS. Our teachers got to meet our parents and confidently talk about what to expect this year.  I reminded people that our musical will return next March, and Mr. Magee was so pleased to be able to inform everyone that we now have a crossing guard and that the corner of Wimbledon and Dundas will be getting a traffic light – both things we have been working on for many years. Hearing our parents’ laughter, the conversations and excitement about being able to come back inside KCS again, was wonderful.

But nothing was as thrilling or as fun for me as seeing our students on Wednesday morning.  From the newest JK students to our Senior School students getting on our new school bus, it was just amazing.  There were smiles and excitement for the most part.   I enjoyed seeing the teachers and staff smiling right back.  However, as I’ve seen in my almost 30 years of opening days, not every child is happy on their first day, and there were a few tears and a few children hugging their parent’s leg or slipping behind them and being shy.  And me, in the middle of all of it, thinking this is one of the reasons I chose education as a career. 

What a day! And what a week. Our youngest students visited the library for the first time, ever. All of our Junior School children were playing in Humbertown Park and you could hear the laughter as they participated in their Be Active sessions. Our Grade 7 and 8 students were immediately off to Norval and Canterbury Hills for their outdoor education trips ,and when we send out or Stay Connected Month in Review, parents will see some of the great team building and leadership activities that happened while they were there.

Although our Senior School opening unfortunately did not occur during that first week, our faculty enacted the contingency plan we had in place since the spring.  Our Grade 9 and 10 students made use of our new bus for their orientation week.  Place-based learning happened around the Senior School and downtown Toronto, and their week ended with a surprise lunch at the Junior School donated by one of our very generous families.  We look forward to opening our Senior School facility this week. 

As I said goodbye to our students on Friday as they were leaving after their first week of school, it was nice to know we had a start that was feeling like that of the 2019/20 school year.

See you around the school.

Derek Logan

Head of School

Starting 2022 at the KCS Junior School

Happy new year! It was a big first week back full of new and exciting things – of course, being online presents its own set of new opportunities and experiences. 

It’s in times like these when the Habits of Mind, Body and Action become so important in our work, play, and interactions with each other. 

Despite not being able to be together in the school in person, activities resumed in each class swiftly last Wednesday online. While there is much to cover and many plans ready to be rolled out, I’m glad that students were able to take the time to reconnect with each other in their first Meets of the year. I know that we were all excited to see everyone again and to see what teachers had planned for the day. 

For many of us, this switch to online learning has become more familiar over the past couple of years, but for others, it is a brand new experience. It takes time to establish new routines and to learn how to mute, unmute, and listen, and be patient online. Persist and it will come together. I must thank each student, parent, and of course all faculty and staff for adjusting to online instruction this week with such a positive mindset. 

The beginning of the new year is a great time to set some goals and it will come as no surprise that this was a focus of some class discussions. The story Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution provided a discussion point for the SKs – if you are looking for a resolution, you might be inspired to follow Squirrel’s lead and resolve to be kind to someone each day.  

And a class discussion in Grade 1 prompted some writing about goals for 2022 and some reflections on favourite parts of 2021. Students thought about some positive changes they would like to promise to themselves in the upcoming year. What are some things that you want to get better at? What are some things that you may want to learn how to do? 

Students have begun their math and science lessons as well. In Grade 2, students have begun to explore states of matter, and there has been lots of activity on Google Classroom regarding math practice and homework across the grades.  

Our intermediate students have begun to focus on Black History Month. They have also engaged in a lesson to help them think critically about the role technology plays in developing countries. In Language Arts, a project on song analysis will call on students to focus their attention on identifying poetic devices in song lyrics and identifying tone, mood, and theme.

Virtual clubs also began last week! I have the opportunity to lead a Makerspace club on Wednesday afternoons with a great group of Grade 7 and 8 students. As a starting point, we began with a discussion about inspiration. What are you passionate about? What inspires you to want to explore your passions further? Lucky for these students, the club time is dedicated to exploring their passions, deciding on how to act on them, and sharing them with others.

A special shout out goes to the Grade 6s –  Happy Favourite Mug Funky Friday! What a fun class event to end the first week back.

While we all look forward to being back in the building together soon, I want to encourage everyone to keep trying their best each day as you always do. Remember to reach out for help, ask questions, and persist. Whether we are at the school, or at home, keep trying your best. 

HELP US SAVE THE KCS BIRDS

(One Sticker at a Time)

In October the SK Usagi class discovered an unexpected, unfortunate surprise in the outdoor playground- we found a small bird laying motionless on the ground. After Mister C removed the bird, some of the SKs shared their ideas about what might have happened:

“Maybe it fell.”
“Maybe disease.”-MS
“Maybe it bumped its head!”-FE

We could only make guesses, but since the bird was on the ground near a window, the SKs all quickly agreed that it must have indeed bumped its head on one of the windows above. We then wondered why.

Discovering a bird in the Outdoor Classroom

Back in the classroom, the SKs conducted a science experiment using a flashlight and the plexiglass dividers at our lunch tables. We noticed that while you can see through them and the light shines through just like a window, you can also see an image on the surface called a reflection. Windows can act just like mirrors! 

Can you spot the illuminated mask reflected in the plexiglass?

We then had an extended workshop about light, and we started to learn some science vocabulary including: reflective, transparent, translucent, and opaque.

Shining a flashlight through different objects then recording our observations on a chart

Mister C added some tools in our learning centres so that we can continue to experiment with light during play. We are scientists, after all! In each centre we have flashlights and a variety of materials that are reflective, transparent, translucent, and opaque. We even have some charts to record our observations.

Shining a flashlight through some colourful transparent connectors

Using a flashlight to examine an opaque object in the classroom

Using a chart to record our findings and to copy the scientific vocabulary words

When we went back outside to play, we examined the windows and discovered that they have a strong reflection, so we wondered if the bird might have mistaken a window for the sky.

“I can see the sky there! They still don’t know it’s a window!” -LH
“If the bird doesn’t know if it’s the sky because it’s the reflection then it will just bang itself on there.” -AB

Looking up at the windows to see the reflection of the sky

We shared our thoughts about solving the problem for other birds in the future:

“We need the birds to protect theyselves.” -OB
“Make them don’t bump into the window.” -LH

Mister C shared that sometimes people put stickers called decals on their windows to interrupt the reflection and help the birds to see that there is actually glass there that they should avoid. The SKs unanimously decided that they wanted to help the birds at KCS by making some window decals of their own! 

To make our decals, first we each chose our favourite kind of bird. Then, we traced an outline of the bird on a clear acetate using a photograph underneath.

Carefully tracing an outline of an eagle

We then painted a thick coat using a solution of white glue and dish soap.

Painting on the first layer of the special solution

When our artwork was dry, we coloured our birds with permanent markers.

We had the choice of using the bird’s true-to-life colours or coming up with our own

Finally, we peeled our designs away from the acetate. We were each left with a beautiful window decal of our own!

The stunning and unique finished products

When everything was finished, we placed our decals up on the windows overlooking our outdoor classroom. Gorgeous! We hope that this will help the birds to avoid bumping their heads in the future.

We used a bit of water to help the decals stick as we gently pressed them to the windows

We had to press them very carefully, but thanks to the dish soap they stay slippery and easy to adjust

When we finished our project, we noticed that there were still lots of windows left with no stickers. We talked about what we could do, and an SK suggested that other students could help.“We [don’t] need just our class to put stickers on, we need other class to put stickers!

“More, more, more!” -LK
“We can write a letter!” -AY

We are so proud of our bird decals, but we need your help

Now SK Usagi is calling out to you! If you would like to make your own decals, please check out the following website for a tutorial:  https://ny.audubon.org/conservation/how-create-window-decals-prevent-bird-collisions.

You can either add your finished decals to your own windows at home or you can bring them in to KCS so that we can add them to our windows here at school.

Our letter (To KCS: We need more stickers for the windows. We don’t want the birds to hit the windows. Will you please help us? Love, The SK Usagi Class)

If you choose to join our initiative, please bring your finished decal to your KCS Arrival door where a designated bin will be waiting!

Thank you in advance for joining us in helping to save the KCS birds one sticker at a time.

– Written by Mr.C

Place-Based Learning at the KCS Senior School

With the launch of the new KCS Senior School comes the opportunity to show what Place-Based Learning can be in the heart of Canada’s biggest city. Admittedly, Toronto is blessed with ample greenspaces, a wide variety of mixed-use neighbourhoods, and a population full of passionate community builders, artists, and changemakers. We are spoiled for inspiration and learning opportunities. This is all the more reason to launch a school that will connect student learning with such an enriched environment. Here’s how school can be.

Our year began last Thursday. After a walk along one of Toronto’s longest, mixed-use streets, our students spent the day in High Park: 399 acres of native flora and fauna, sports facilities, trails, and more. As befitting the first day, our students and faculty engaged in tone-setting dialogue and team-building challenges, all under the watchful gaze of a hawk who chose to spend the morning with us, even perching on a nearby tree when we stopped for lunch. In the afternoon, our students were introduced to the new responsibility they had as students in a place-based high school. They were paired up, given a scavenger hunt challenge, and a map with a wide range in which they could wander for the following 90 minutes to find the many items on their list. This was their introduction to the trust we had in them, and the trust they would want to maintain. All returned when expected, with the task complete. When told that offsite learning would be a regular part of the school experience, one student responded “I like that. That’s how I remember things.” Yes, we know.

Imagine what’s possible if learning were to regularly happen outside a classroom. Imagine what’s possible if learning included the sights, sounds, smells, artifacts, emotions, physical activity, and engagement with external experts that are available by stepping outside of school. This is intellectual and life-shaping enrichment that no textbook nor Google search can provide.

Our second day included two hours with an expert from High Park Nature Centre. Our guide began with the intriguing question: how does place hold time? We learned about the origin of the name Toronto (Tkaronto, where trees stand in the water) and the 5,000-year-old fishing weirs (those trees) created by the Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat nations that are still visible underwater north of Toronto. Our tour included an introduction to the white pine, also named the Tree of Peace, and the story of Hiawatha and peacemaking dating back 600 years. Another activity blended math and history by challenging the students to create a 30-foot timeline of local events, from the ice age to the 2010 resolution of The Toronto Purchase. We saw a decades-old photo of a sewer that stood 20 feet tall, which we erroneously guessed was a smokestack, before the ravine of Wendigo Creek at the northeast corner of the park was filled in to make for smooth road-building and community development. Those two hours introduced the students to the stories behind the neighbourhoods we inhabit. Those stories will support curiosity, humility, and an appreciation among our students for the role they can play in shaping their corner of the world for the better.

Learning immersed in our surroundings will continue beyond these first days. English class will include free writes that focus on characters and setting inspired by observations on walks such as these. French class will see students developing their vocabulary by commenting on their varied surroundings. Science is already planning a canoe trip on the nearby Humber River that will include an introduction to water sampling led by Swim Drink Fish, a charity committed to engaging citizens as active contributors to data collection and water quality oversight. All of these activities connect to the curriculum.

The theme that will weave through all grade 9 courses is “knowing our place”. Our collective effort as teachers will support deep insight into the nature, people, economy, challenges, history, accomplishments, and secrets of the streets and trails we’ll walk upon. Becoming intimately familiar with our small part of the world will set the stage for appreciating the depth and complexity of the unknown neighbourhoods around the globe.

Our students are regularly outside, they are active, they are learning in unforgettable ways, and they are growing as independent learners and leaders. This is the beginning of place-based learning at the KCS Senior School. This is the start of our story of what high school can be.

KCS Senior School Update #10 – Where We Were

The last blog in this series was dated Feb 11, 2020. “And So We Begin” shares the excitement of our January 2020 announcement: that we had secured a site for the Senior School and would be open for grade 9 in September 2021. After the effort of a generation, it was finally going to happen.

We had no idea that our largest obstacle was yet to come.

I’m willing to guess most adults have a vivid memory of where they were when the provincial lockdown announcement was made last March. I was in the middle of a quiet March Break. A trip my husband and I planned had already been cancelled and was replaced with a solo trip to Ottawa to visit my father. On the drive along the 401, I joined senior management and Board members on a call to discuss the implications for the Senior School. Though the ensuing ten months weren’t at all what we expected, they became part of the Senior School story.

Where have we been since the last update? Those in the KCS community know we launched a fully online K-8 program by the third day post-March Break. Then we redesigned anew to provide our In-School/At-Home program, including substantial commitment to pandemic mitigation, this past fall. What many don’t know is in the midst of these unprecedented transformations, some of us explored possible paths forward for the Senior School. Could we get construction done for 2021? Offer grade 9 at the Junior School until the Lake Shore site was complete? The unpredictability, and the need to focus on the Junior School, pushed these ideas aside.

By October, attention returned to include the Senior School. It was clear the Lake Shore site couldn’t be ready for 2021, so the updated construction timeline and financial modelling had September 2022 as our opening date.

That’s when our Senior School founding families entered this story.

They reminded us that we could make 2021 happen. They wanted our Senior School for their children currently in grade 8. The pandemic brought into focus what mattered most for them – the school they respected, offering the experience they believed in, and the attention to safety they expected. If nothing else, the pandemic had taught us all to be patient. They were willing to be patient when it came to the Lake Shore site. Their determination to help make 2021 happen reignited our own.

We figured out what a Bridge Year could be. The founding families re-registered, and external families are joining this founding group. A terrific new partnership with Centauri Arts meant we would have a compelling location for grade 9 in addition to some impressive expertise joining our program. On January 20th, almost one year after that first major announcement, it was confirmed that we would indeed be offering our first grade 9 class in September 2021.

This was a lengthy detour, and a test of our mettle. The excitement marking our achievement in early 2020 is now fully returned at the imminent offering of grade 9. I will be teaching again, we have some great new KCS staff joining our team, and we’re securing Learning Partners to further enrich our program. Our story is far from over, but we’re back where we were, making this dream a reality.