U13 Boys Great Performance at the CAIS National Basketball Tournament

It was an action-packed three days of basketball as the KCS U13 boys participated in the CAIS National Tournament at Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton.  Playing a grueling seven game schedule, the boys worked very hard throughout the tournament.  Thanks to excellent teamwork and resilient play, the U13 Boys made it to the Division 2 semi-final match where they lost to Holy Trinity.

The prestigious CAIS National Tournament invites basketball teams from across Canada to participate. For the past five years, the U13 boys have represented our school both locally, and as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia.

Each year at the tournament, a single team is awarded the coveted Statham Award for Team Sportsmanship. The recipient of this award is chosen by the sixteen coaches, and given to the team that best exemplifies the true athletic spirit and character of the game of basketball. This year we are pleased to announce that KCS was chosen to receive this notable award!

Additionally, a student from each team is awarded the Jeff Trickett Award for his sportsmanship, heart, and hard work. Congratulations to Rocky for receiving this honour!

Special thanks to the Tevlin family for their continued generous support of KCS through the Tevlin Family Fund for Sport and Outdoor Education. A grant from the Tevlin Family Fund paid for the tournament entrance fee and coaches’ travel expenses allowing our boys to hone their competitive edge and showcase the exemplary sportsmanship skills present at KCS.

Congratulations U13 boys!

Pourquoi apprendre le français? / Why learn French?

« Why learn French? » If your child asked you this question tonight over dinner, what would your answer be? And how might your own experiences with learning the language influence that response?

The truth is there are many reasons to learn French, as our Grade 7 students recently discovered during a brainstorming session with graphic recorder, Disa Kauk. Their individual ideas contributed to the creation of two stunning visual reminders of ‘Pourquoi apprendre le français?’ and I encourage you to have a closer look at them the next time you are in the school.

In order for learning to endure in any subject area, we must see the value in what we are learning and understand our own reasons for learning it. This is especially important in the French as a Second Language classroom as most students only have a chance to practice their skills here at school. Students need to realize that French exists outside the walls of the classroom as well. With a curriculum now focused on authentic communication and real-life situations, this is truer than ever and families can play a vital role. Simply having a conversation with your child about the importance of learning French is a great starting point as it shows your child that French is valued outside of school. But you don’t have to stop there.

Parents often ask how else they can support their child’s French learning at home. Consider family movie nights in French by picking a DVD of a movie already familiar to your child in English and watching it together in French. Instead of watching the Leafs game in English, choose a station with French commentary. Point out French words on packages, in magazines, in stores and during your travels when you come across it. Visit a museum or gallery and take a tour in French. Listen to a French radio station. Take out French library books. You may even consider joining an organization like Canadian Parents for French which furthers bilingualism by promoting and creating opportunities for youth to learn and use French. Detailed information on exchange programmes, summer camps and many other unique language-learning opportunities is available on www.frenchstreet.ca. The possibilities are endless!

As a French teacher, I have seen a real difference in the classroom when students buy into their learning by taking opportunities outside of school to enjoy learning French. When they have more chances to practice their skills in the real world, they are more inclined to transfer that enthusiasm to the classroom and beyond.

Pourquoi apprendre le français? It’s never too early – or too late! – to start this conversation. When will you have yours?

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Wall of Service: Making the World Better

I was on my way to Mr. Logan’s office to chat about the Blue Jays, when something wonderful caught my eye.  Our Wall of Service, tucked neatly beside the KCS School Store, was nearly full!  I highly recommend stopping by the board and reading some of the bricks on display.

It does not take long to realize the incredibly positive impact that our students are making in their community.  There were several cards describing donation drives in lieu of birthday presents.  Other students held fundraisers or participated in events that raised thousands of dollars for many worthwhile causes including the devastating forest fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  I learned that one of our Grade 2 students was recycling batteries specially designed for hearing aids.  Another student shared how he and his family stepped in and collected clothing and other necessities when someone they knew needed assistance with family oversees.

Two of our Habits of Mind, Body and Action ask our students to do what is right and strive to make the world a better place.  A few minutes at the Wall of Service allowed me to conclude that not only are we on track, but that we are also in good hands.

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The KCS Terry Fox Run and the Grade 5 Classes

In the late summer of 1980, in an era long before instant messaging, Canadians across the country were glued to national news outlets as a sombre story unfolded. Terry Fox, who had covered over 5000 km on his Marathon of Hope, had abruptly ended his run near Thunder Bay, Ontario. Only a few short weeks before, a triumphant Terry was greeted by thousands of cheering well-wishers in Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square. Maple Leafs Captain Darryl Sittler presented Terry with an NHL All-Star Jersey and then joined him on his run surrounded by cheering supporters.

It was September 1st 1980, and I can vividly remember the imposing voice of broadcaster Lloyd Robertson announcing that the cancer that had taken Terry’s leg, had spread to his lungs and the future of the Marathon of Hope was uncertain. I will never forget seeing Terry, with his parents looking on, as he lay propped up on an ambulance gurney proclaiming, “If there is any way I can get out there again and finish it—I will…”

Fast forward to September 30th, 2016. Thirty-six years later, Terry Fox’s brave pledge echoes deeply throughout the KCS community. Supported by a team of dedicated parent volunteers and the entire KCS school Faculty, the students celebrated the legacy of a great Canadian by completing an amazing Terry Fox Run. Since its inception, the KCS community has raised over $250, 000 for Cancer Research and we have been recognized by the Terry Fox Foundation as one of its top ten schools. The annual Run also allows our Grade 5 classes to embrace an important leadership role.

Under the guidance of Mr. Sawyer and Ms. MacDonald, the Grade 5 classes educate our school community about Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. Combining art, research and public speaking, each class prepares posters and presentations that share Terry’s amazing story and promote our September Run. This year’s theme was enriched through Terry’s own words as the students shared his memorable quotes. “Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.”

The impact of this leadership opportunity is undeniable. Here are some insightful observations from the fifth grade leaders:

“I feel it’s very important to [stand up] and speak to the audience. Although my hands were shaking, I was hoping the younger kids would understand just what kind of a hero Terry really was!” I knew about Terry Fox before, but I was waiting for this exciting opportunity to help present the Run in grade 5. I was very impressed by the impact that Terry Fox had on all Canadians—I am surprised how so many years ago, word spread so quickly about him and his amazing acts.”

“I was nervous at first, but when I finished my message I was happy that I did it. I was really happy about how much the KCS community has raised for such an important cause. I was happy that grade 5 had this role because it helped younger students learn about Terry. Terry Fox was just a kid in many ways, he decided not to think of himself but others. He helped others realize that they can [make a difference].”

Thank you for a memorable day. Thank you to the Grade 5s for their outstanding job. We look forward to continuing this wonderful KCS tradition and celebrating the inspirational legacy of a true Canadian hero.

KCS Student Tour Guides Leaving an Impressive Legacy

Having been part of this wonderful KCS community for over 18 years, I have had the pleasure of seeing many amazing things. Over the years, we have doubled our grade 1 to 8 classes, we have successfully amalgamated with St. George’s Nursery School to become a Pre-Kindergarten to grade 8 school, and our facilities have improved in countless ways thanks to our three additions and the retrofits we have done. On a personal note, I have had the immense pleasure of seeing my own children flourish here.
KCS Student Tour Guide ClubHonestly, I could probably write a blog like this on a daily basis; there are so many wonderful things that happen here each and every day. Over the past few months however, I have been simply amazed by the dedication and hard work of our 25 magnificent grade 8 Tour Guides. Since mid-September, every day at recess I would have a handful of them poking their heads into my office asking if they could remain inside to practice giving tours. And practice they did. Staff members often commented on how devoted the students were and how seriously they were taking their role of school ambassador.

We had two Open Houses this week, one in the morning and one in the evening. Both were very well attended by prospective families. Following Mr. Logan’s presentation, I stood by proudly as the Tour Guides approached visiting families to introduce themselves. The Tour Guides smiled warmly, made eye contact, introduced themselves, and gave firm handshakes. They confidently led groups out of the Multi-Purpose Room to begin their tours.

KCS student tour guidesNumerous families commented on how poised and capable the Tour Guides were. The students spoke about our facilities, explained our Four Doors program, described our clubs and teams, shared personal experiences, and they answered a multitude of questions. I must admit that I even learned a thing or two about the school from them!

I was struck by how proud the grade 8s are of their school, and how delighted they are to share this with others. I have to say that I thoroughly look forward to Fridays at 12:40 p.m., our Tour Guide Club, when I get to spend time with these mature, dedicated individuals.

When the tours were done last night, I walked the students up to the lobby. I asked two of the boys if they had enjoyed the experience. The first replied that yes, it was great and he was happy that he was able to answer all the questions he had been asked. The second gave me a big grin and said: “That was awesome! I had a great time!” These responses perfectly sum up the positive attitudes and the exemplary behaviour I have seen time and time again from the grade 8s this year. They are certainly leaving an impressive legacy in their final year at KCS, and I am sure they are well prepared to move on to their new high school adventures next fall. I, for one, will not forget my experience with them anytime soon.

Lise Lacroix,
Director of Admissions and Operations

Common Sense on Character

One of our KCS Habits of Mind, Body and Action

One of our KCS Habits of Mind, Body and Action

“It’s great to have him back, but I already run my class and raise my daughter according to his book.” — a KCS teacher

I knew it as soon as I heard Ron Morrish, speaker and author of Secrets of Effective Discipline and With All Due Respect, over 10 years ago. His message on how to develop self-discipline in children would transform my approach as both educator and mother of two young boys. Seven years ago he first spoke at KCS. This month he visited with faculty once again.

Many parents and visitors have remarked on the manners and behaviour of our students. Stand-out moments for visitors are how often they’re greeted by students and have the door held open for them. For a bustling community of 369 students, over 60 staff, and the many parents and others who join us each day, the atmosphere is happy, respectful and purposeful. While there are many good reasons for that, one is Ron Morrish and how KCS has incorporated his pointers into our day.

Ron is the first to say that much of his advice captures how many of us were raised. He says it’s the “common sense” that, unfortunately, is less common these days. So what’s included in this common sense on character? Here’s a small sample:

  1. Always model the behaviour you seek
  2. Teach the behaviour you seek; don’t assume children should know how to behave at all times
  3. Be clear and ensure follow-through on directions
  4. Make sure small things are done properly and consistently (manners, holding doors, routines)
  5. When mistakes happen, require a “do-over”; mistakes mean more practice doing things right
  6. Take proactive steps so children can be successful behaving as they’ve been taught
  7. This all takes persistent work

Parents, you’ll be glad to know that your children’s teachers spent an afternoon enjoying a refresher from Ron Morrish. And to the parents and educators seeking more self-discipline among the young in your midst, consider looking into Ron’s teachings. As it has for many of us, it could really make a difference for you too.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

A Groundswell of Gratitude

Our students have much to be thankful for. What’s nice is that they are thankful, and make no secret of it. Here are just of few of the ways our students express their gratitude.

Gratitude Journals
Our grade 3s are keeping gratitude journals. Messages of gratitude also cover their walls. They recently all prepared lunches for a local Out of the Cold program, and included heartfelt messages that will warm hearts as much as the lunches will fill bellies. I stopped by their class the other day to pick up the lunches and had the pleasure of hearing them share what they had just written in their journals. One was grateful for the fact his mother spent her time registering him for lacrosse. Another was grateful that his father coached his hockey team. A third was grateful for his guinea pig’s delight when he came home from school every day.

100 Reasons Why We Love KCS
100 Reasons Why We Love KCSOne of our SK teachers recently created a 100-days-of-school mural, composed of 100 hearts completed by our JK, SK and grade 1 students, as well as some teachers and administrators. In each heart we wrote a message of what we love about KCS. The messages include:

“I love using numbers and counters.”
“I like going to the library.”
“We get to play chess.”
“The teachers are very funny.”

Compliment Friday
Each end of week assembly includes Compliment Friday where students are invited to share a public thank you in front of the whole school. Last week’s assembly included compliments to teachers for their support during exams, a guest teacher for jumping in when their teacher was away, friends and classmates for generally being awesome.

Class Meetings
Class meetings at KCS start with an around-the-room sharing of compliments or expressions of thanks. Last week I had an unexpected opportunity to join a class meeting dedicated to a student facing an exceptional personal challenge. Each of the other 41 grade 6 students gave a compliment to their classmate. This student was praised for being resilient, being brave, being funny, having a positive attitude and being a great friend.

One of our KCS Habits is Make the World Better. One way to do so is to express gratitude. Our students’ obvious gratitude makes our little part of the world much better. For that, I’m grateful.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

A Dad’s Lesson

Be KindAs is usual, when I arrived at work early Monday morning, I took the time to skim through The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star – I put the Sports sections of both papers along with the Life & Arts section from The Globe for reading later in the evening!  Sometimes I cut a few articles out to read when I have a moment or two over the lunch period.  On Monday, I clipped this article out:

http://www.thestar.com/life/parent/2014/01/20/how_do_you_raise_kids_to_have_good_manners.html

We expect good manners at KCS, and when we don’t witness them, we take the time to teach or remind our students about their importance.**

As I was nearing the end of the article, I was reminded of a lesson my Dad taught me during the summer of my grade 5 year.  Our family was going on a three week vacation to England.  It was our first and only trip on a plane together.  And while I have many great memories of that trip, one in particular stands out.  We were in London visiting various sites before we set off to visit our relatives throughout the south of the country.  All five of us (I have a younger brother and sister), were sitting on the Tube.  It stopped at one of stations and an “older” lady got on.  Looking back, the lady may have been 35 or she may have been 75 (when you are a kid, everyone looks old!), but to my Dad that didn’t matter.  He looked over at me, and said something like, “How long will it be until you stand up and give that lady your seat?”  Only seconds it turns out!

It’s funny, my Dad taught me a lot of things in life (as did my Mom!), but for some reason the lesson above was triggered when reading the Toronto Star article on Monday and every time I’m on public transit around the world.

Derek Logan
Head of School

** For instance, if I was this author’s editor, I would have reminded him that you should not use WTF in your article if you are trying to show good manners.

Student Leadership, Gone Viral

The following was first written for our community two years ago. Leadership projects are as viral as ever at KCS. Students clearly have great potential to make the world a better place. Please pass this on so more schools can help unleash that potential.

A small selection of photos from student leadership initiatives.

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Student Leadership, Gone Viral

My day began by walking past a multicultural food drive organized by five boys in grade 6. Not much later, a student in grade 1 announced to me that he is saving his allowance to buy food for charity. Shortly after, a girl in grade 5 emailed to let me know she is helping a group of grade 3 students organize a talent show. I popped into a grade 5 class and witnessed a group starting to organize a poster contest. That afternoon, a different student in grade 5 came by to ask if he can start a student newspaper, similar to the one the grade 8s established a couple years ago. On my way out at the end of the day, I learned from a grade 4 student that he made a colouring and activity book for the grade 3 classes as a supplement to their unit on the rainforest. This, in addition to the dozens of leadership, community service and service learning projects I know our older students are working on. All in one day.

That is when it became clear student leadership was going viral.

The 21st century is for people who can make success happen. It is a century where leadership skills aren’t just helpful for the few, but required by all. At Kingsway College School, student leadership is a major pillar in our effort to prepare students for the 21st century. While not every day is punctuated by this number and breadth of student-initiated leadership projects, it happens often enough. If you long for a day like I had, the following are some steps that helped get us here:

1. Make time for it. Leadership is a timetabled subject in grades 6 to 8. Students learn about the important aspects of leadership, such as initiative, persistence, active listening, participation and flexible thinking. They use these periods to come up with their own leadership projects. They research, prepare their proposal, work out the logistics and deliver on their project. Awareness campaigns, charity drives, fundraisers and school and community events are some of the more popular projects, though the possibilities are endless. Reflection on the project and self-assessment of their growth is also a valuable part of the experience, and set the students up to be self-aware leaders throughout life.

2. Make leadership for all. Leadership is an egalitarian, unelected pursuit at KCS. It is open to anyone who wishes to initiate it and follow through. In fact, in the older grades, all students are required to learn about and experiment with leadership in their leadership classes. We don’t give students the choice of learning to read, and we believe we shouldn’t give them the choice of learning to be leaders. If it matters, everyone needs to start the journey.

3. Make it personal. Leadership can manifest itself in infinite ways, with the most powerful leadership being rooted in personal interests. Helping children find and leverage their passions to make a difference is an appropriate, though overlooked, role for education. At our school, one boy who loves to read committed himself to writing book reviews for the library. A group of girls who love to dance came up with a “Get Out of your Comfort Zone” Challenge, encouraging students and teachers to perform in assembly. Another boy and his friend prepared and delivered an unforgettable presentation on Down’s Syndrome, breaking myths surrounding that condition. There are dozens of different projects underway, each adding dimensions to everyone’s school experience that the faculty alone could never provide.

4. Let them lead, with guidance only. Many students are naturals at leadership. If invited, they will organize a group to deliver on a significant community project, regardless of age. Some students don’t find it quite as easy. They will need guidance. Give it to them. Also, give the students lots of freedom to change or drop their ideas, and even to follow through with unsuccessful projects, without penalty. Let this be a realm where they can learn to lead the way they learned to walk, being allowed to fall, and then cheered when they get back up and try again.

5. Let them be small. Very rarely are students solely responsible for huge leadership projects. Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, is an inspiration but most children and youths, if really in charge, will come up with smaller ideas. Adults should resist the temptation to jump in and take the lead. It may end up big and polished, and it may even make a truly significant difference to the community or charity of choice, but it isn’t developing the students into leaders. When we step in, it’s the adults’ leadership skills that get honed, not the students. In fact, when faced with the large quantity of projects that need to be coordinated, small is generally the wiser choice for all.

6. Have a variety of opportunities. Leadership experiences at KCS take many forms: earning a brick on our Wall of Service in return for initiating an act of service; lunch supervision roles, where students assist supervising teachers; assisting with clubs and teams; House Captains; peer tutoring; leading assemblies; as well as all the opportunities to come up with one’s own project. We also point out to students the many unplanned opportunities for leadership during class, at recess and outside of school through setting a positive example, resolving conflicts or initiating an activity. The variety ensures there are many opportunities for everyone, at every stage of their leadership journey.

7. Have them share what they know. The presentation of leadership projects is at the heart of making them go viral. The school-wide presentations of our older students inspired the younger students to follow their lead. The result is an ever-increasing number of projects. Let the presentations keep happening. Visibility and quantity matter when creating a culture of leadership.

A word of warning. If you embark on establishing student leadership throughout the school, be prepared for an onslaught of students stepping up. Leadership potential is lying dormant, but will potentially overwhelm you if awoken. Larry Rosenstock, founder of San Diego’s High Tech High, has said a critical attribute for success in the 21st century is a tolerance for ambiguity. For a profession that is more comfortable with prudent adult planning, unleashing school-wide student leadership will rock your world.

Relax. It’s worth the ride.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

M&Ms and A Soccer Shoe

Coated chocolate candyOne evening last week, just before 8 p.m., I was driving my daughter, Alyssa, to her weekly piano lesson.  She turned to me and told me that she thought that her brother, Brandon, needed M&Ms for his grade 9 Business class the next day.  Let’s just say I was not pleased to hear this news at that time of night.  My first question to her was when did Brandon find out he needed these M&Ms?  Once she hesitated in her answer, I knew he found out last week, but forgot to tell either my wife or myself.  I told her that I wasn’t going to the store to buy them at that point in the evening and Brandon would just have to figure it out the next day.  Alyssa knew I meant what I said, as both she and her brother remember the time when Brandon was younger and he arrived at his soccer practice with one shoe.  You may have guessed this, but I didn’t drive home to get the other shoe.  If you have never done this before it is interesting to watch someone play soccer with one shoe.  I am pleased to say that since that practice, Brandon makes sure he leaves the house with all his gear before getting in the car.

Unfortunately, I will never know whether the lesson I was trying to teach Brandon with the M&Ms and being prepared for school made a difference.  When I got home from picking up Alyssa from piano, there was a package of M&Ms on the counter in the kitchen.  My wife, Heather, went out and bought them.  We hadn’t agreed on my M&M strategy in advance…

Derek Logan
Head of School