Addressing the important question of “How do we keep our kids safe online?”

Stock Photo Child with Laptop

Join us for “Keeping Our Kids Safe Online” – Kingsway College School on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

When organizing a panel for our February 9th KCS  Encouraging Dialogue Speakers Series, our committee kept hearing from families that they would like this year’s panel to address issues around social media and our children.

To start our search for speakers, we called KCS alumna Marianne B ‘01., whose work is with the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) at Ryerson University.  Marianne’s expertise helped guide us in the right direction, and this year’s panel is a result of her leadership.

In our initial conference call, Marianne said something that really resonated with our group.  I’m paraphrasing now, but she said, “When I was in grade 5 at KCS, at the end of the day I went home, played with my toys, ate dinner, did my homework, maybe did some extra-curricular activities or spoke on the phone, and then went to bed.  I didn’t have a phone connected to the Internet, and I didn’t have a laptop or iPad in my room.”  And this was only a little over a ten years ago.

A short pause to think about how things have changed, and will continue to change for our children, leaves one amazed.

Marianne and her parents did not have to deal with cellphones, texting, Facebook’s Likes and Dislikes, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram or cyberbullying.   Although we might not have appreciated it at the time, I’m sure a number of today’s parents would like to see a return to just having their children play with their toys after school.  But that’s not going to happen.  For today’s parents and their children the ‘online world’ is a big part of their everyday lives.  Given this, how can we help our children navigate their digital experiences and keep them safe online?

We are confident our Encouraging Dialogue panel will help families address this important question.  We look forward to seeing you at “Keeping Our Kids Safe Online” on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Bell Let’s Talk Day and Beyond

Mental HealthThe statistics tell us that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, yet 2 out of 3 of those individuals will never seek help, choosing instead to suffer in silence because of the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. That stigma stops people from getting the help that they need and can make those individuals feel even more isolated.  But we can change that, and we’re encouraging our students to do so.

On Wednesday, January 28, our grade 7 and 8 students will join thousands of other students from grades 7 through 12 from across Canada as they participate in the Bell Let’s Talk Day webcast. This webcast will feature Clara Hughes, Michael Landsberg and other guests who will share their personal stories and help encourage those watching to work to end the stigma using Bell’s Let’s Talk 5 simple steps:

  1. Language Matters
  2. Educate Yourself
  3. Be Kind
  4. Listen and Ask
  5. Talk About It

Although Bell Let’s Talk Day takes place on Wednesday, January 28th, talking about mental health issues is not just a one day event.  We encourage our students to have these conversations every day and we actively work to help them better understand what overall student wellness includes.  If they can recognize when something just does not feel right, and they know that they will be listened to without shame or fear, then we’re doing our part to help reduce the stigma and encourage dialogue around such an important topic.  We also know that prevention and early intervention are key for those experiencing a mental health issue.  This was a reason why our school trained our faculty and staff in Mental Health First Aid during 2014.  It is why we strive to promote overall student wellness through our programs, curriculum, and extra-curricular offerings.  It is a reason why our Parent Network began the #KCS_TTM (Talk That Matters) Speaker Series for students this year.  And finally, it is because knowing each and every one of the students at the school is important, not just for academic planning, but also to ensure that we can see when that conversation needs to happen as early intervention in the area of mental health is so important.

Tamara Drummond
Director of Student Life

The Art of Parenting in a World of Worry

WorriedEighteen years ago, expecting our first, I remember saying that I intended to have a different learning activity ready at home for every day of my child’s youngest years.

That was the first of countless parenting notions that didn’t go at all as planned.

It’s easy to laugh at some of what my husband and I thought before the reality of parenting hit. Many assumptions were thoroughly throttled when it became clear our boys were their own individuals, with their own minds (funny we didn’t assume they’d get that from us!).

What isn’t funny is the worry that comes with parenting these days. Media and much of society suggests that there’s plenty to worry about; the threat of future unemployment, mixing with the wrong crowd, bullying, drugs, excessive online gaming, online predators, ‘failure-to-launch’ from home and more lurk in the dark edges of our minds. These potential threats are alarming, to be sure. They are worthy of our watchful eye, and intervention when needed. But Alex Russell, clinical psychologist and author of Drop the Worry Ball: How to Parent in the Age of Entitlement, suggests that the more alarming and widespread problem is how many of us are responding to the threats.

Drop the Worry Ball is an account of how our generation of parents has saved our children from failure, to the unhealthy end that they’re unable to deal with failure on their own. Our well-intended efforts to ensure their lives unfold as desired have left them ill-prepared to face the obstacles, the “non-catastrophic failures”, inherent in a life fully-lived.  Be resilient is one of our KCS Habits because it’s an attribute that’s both a necessary yet under-appreciated part of success. Where children used to learn resilience, today they’re experiencing crippling anxiety or engaging in avoidance behaviours (endless gaming being one example) to alarming degrees. Many feel entitled to getting their way, and have become deft at manipulating parents to make it so. Messing up and not getting what we want is unpleasant, sometimes deeply so. That being said, they’re a powerful way, and arguably the only way, to learn how to pick oneself up, learn from mistakes, and face life undaunted. They’re a whole lot better than a life unlived.

I don’t know if my parents worried as much as I worry about my boys. I do know they let me face life with a great deal of freedom, and my fair share of non-catastrophic failures. They kept their worry in check so that I might become the adult I am today. If my husband and I can keep Russell’s message in mind, our boys will also become self-reliant adults, as my husband and I assumed they would be.

It just may not unfold as planned.

Alex Russell is speaking at KCS Monday, April 14th at 7 p.m. All are welcome and admission is free. His book Drop the Worry Ball will be available for sale at the event.

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

Remember

Remembrance DayOur grade 8 students led our annual Remembrance Day assembly on November 7th.  It was filled with music, visual art, poetry, drama and memories of trips to the Canadian battlefield sites in Europe.  The students respectfully asked us to remember the sacrifices and the courage of Canadians throughout the years and to work for peace.  In short, the assembly was poignant, heartfelt and meaningful to all of us who were in attendance.

On the topic of Remembrance, earlier this year a friend of mine forwarded me this link to a site entitled, “The Fallen”.  It is worth a visit.

Derek Logan
Head of School

There Was A Buzz Around Here Today

Today was an amazing day at KCS.  Five of our teachers, including myself, had their heads shaved in support of The Terry Fox Foundation.  You can see the before and after photos below and on our KCS Facebook page and through our KCS Twitter feed.

We set a goal at the beginning of the school year to raise $25 000, and if we reached the goal, the six of us had agreed to have our hair cut by Cos and Jackie from Cos on the Kingsway Salon/Spa.  To see the excitement in the school leading up to today was tremendous.  The students would come up to the each of us and say things like:

  1. “Are you looking forward to having some taken off the top?”
  2. “I can’t wait to see you bald!”
  3. “Bzzzzzzzz.”
  4. “Can ‘I’ cut your hair?”
  5. “It’s going to get cold soon.”
  6. “Hope you are enjoying your hair as its going to be gone soon.”
  7. And my favourite, “Isn’t this great that we are helping people and their families who have cancer?”

Achieving a goal such as raising over $25K takes a little effort from a lot of people.  We realize how our the parents, staff and faculty helped us raise the $25 000.  A special thanks to our students who opened up their piggy banks, who asked for money for their September or October birthdays in order to donate it, and who went out into their neighbourhoods and asked for donations.  It just goes to show that when many people contribute to a cause by doing what they can, it is possible to accomplish wonderful things.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Volunteers

Last week was a rather busy week at KCS.  We held our 10th annual Terry Fox Run on Wednesday, our 5th Annual Grandparents Day on Friday, and our Welcome Back BBQ on Saturday for about 800-1000 of our closest friends, families and alumni.  In addition to those events, we held a couple of grade parties, a number of committee meetings, and various activities throughout the school.  And that was just last week.  All of these events were successful due to our staff working with our many amazing volunteers.

Our school has been a success for 25 years because of the outstanding commitment by many to give of their time for the current and future students of KCS.  As I said to many of the alumni families who returned on Saturday for a visit, KCS has always been a great school.  Throughout our history we did not always have the first class facility that we have now, but one thing we have always had in abundance at KCS were passionate and committed people, both staff and volunteers.  For those of you who have volunteered to help us out in so many ways over the first month of the school year, you have my sincere thanks.  Your time and efforts ensured we had a very successful first month of September.

Derek Logan
Head of School

What Can You Do But Laugh?

the wrong cookiesToday is Grandparents Day at KCS.  We enjoyed a number of planned activities including a light lunch.  As part of that lunch, we ordered 25th Anniversary cookies.  They are made of shortbread with the number 25 on them.  Except when we picked them up this morning from the baker at 7 a.m. and opened up the box, all of the cookies had the number 24 on them.  As one of our Habits state:  Find Humour.  It’s been my experience that it’s really not that hard to find if you are willing to look.  At least we didn’t have to pay for them.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Time for Awe and Appreciation (Tribute to Wonderland!)

Wonderland!Readers who saw this year’s musical Wonderland! know why it’s time.

Respond with awe and appreciation is one of the KCS Habits. Of course, the world has plenty of things that are awesome and worthy of our appreciation. Trouble is, most of us don’t stop and recognize them enough. Even at KCS, where wonderful things, big and small, happen quite regularly, it’s the other habits that tend to get the most air time.

Well, the musical put this habit front and centre. Awe is the absolute right word to describe this wonderful show. And appreciation to match is due.

The primary students sang with heart, confidence, and charm. It’s clear many of our youngest students are already destined for a future on stage. The dancers performed throughout with style, grace and polish. The chicken dance will be among the many unforgettable moments! The chorus and band immersed us in delightfully memorable songs. The performers amazed us with their evident talent and commitment to their roles. Their efforts have inspired performers-to-be. And then there’s the many people behind the scenes, from tech crew to the many teachers, parents and grandparents who invested hundreds of hours planning, directing, organizing, sketching, sewing, shopping, thinking creatively, problem solving and just generally making something huge happen.

It was awesome. Thank you.

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

From Humble Beginnings: KCS European Battlefield Trip

Today we held our first European Battlefield club for our students who will be attending our school’s trip to the Canadian battlefields in France, Belgium and England next March.  In preparation for the trip, student participants in both grades 7 and 8 attend a battlefield club bi-weekly to help them to understand some of what they will see when they arrive in Europe for their 10 day trip.  My son, who attends grade 9 at a high school in Oakville, will be going on this trip with me in March (my daughter attended the last trip and my Dad the very first one).  Like many of us do before we visit a place for the first time, I am having my son watch movies, read and look through photos from previous trips in preparation for March.

I can still remember as if it was yesterday, coming back from a history conference in 2001 that was held in Montreal, where I met over 100 history teachers from across the country.  At the conference was a former history teacher (Don Bogle) from the Durham region, who was working for a school travel company in his “retirement”.  He asked if there were any teachers who were interested in organizing a battlefield trip for their school.  I joined a group of 20 teachers expressing interest.  As in most groups, the level of interest and a willingness to do the work don’t often match:  four of us ultimately organized trips for our schools for 2003. I guess it’s always easier to decide not to bring change to an organization than it is to do so.  We were the only elementary school willing to organize a trip.

I can remember coming back, sitting down with Dr. Z at the time (my predecessor as KCS Head), explaining what I wanted to do, and then after a few discussions, he agreed to let me go ahead and organize our first trip.  I assume at the time, he may have had some reservations, but the work that I had done with him in the past certainly gave him the confidence I could pull this off.  I knew the impact of travel on my own understanding of history, and although there would be a tremendous amount of learning and understanding in order to make this happen, I was confident the benefits to the participants would be proven over time.

As usual, there were many naysayers who questioned my sanity in taking grades 7 and 8 students (and their parents!) overseas.  “To Quebec is okay…to France?  You must be losing your mind!”  Others would look at me when I told them parents would also be invited to attend as we needed a certain number of people to make the trip happen.  These folks, many times teachers, would often shake their heads and back away slowly.  Planning a trip overseas just after 9/11 only added fuel to the doubters fire.  I still remember, about two weeks before we left in March 2003, we held a meeting in the library for all participants.  A father stood up and asked me in front of the group, “What do you plan to do if terrorists storm the plane?”  That moment will be forever etched in my mind.

A photo from 2003 of our first group of students, Ms. Gaudet and I at Vimy Ridge.

Needless to say, that first trip was a success that we continue to build upon.  We have taken over 250 KCS students, parents and teachers on these bi-annual trips so far.  And from those first four schools, dozens of schools across the country have followed the path our four schools began; we often run into boys from St. Andrew’s College in Europe during our trips.  The naysayers back in 2002 could not see out into the future or what was possible in student travel and the positive impact it would have on the participants.  Parents who attended the trip with their child(ren) often return to me years later to talk about the lasting impression the trip made.  My favourite story is the Dad who called me the day after Remembrance Day in 2005 – he and his daughter had been on the trip in March of that year.  He left me a simple voicemail:  “Hi Derek, this is Dave.  I now understand Remembrance Day.”

Dawn Biljetina and Jenn Macdonald have continued to build on the success of those first few trips.  An important part of their effort was the formation of a battlefield club that participants would attend prior to the trip.  Ms. B quickly realized that the participant’s experience on the trip would be so much better if they had read something, researched, watched documentaries, movies and YouTube clips on the wars, before they arrived at the ultimate classrooms:  the battlefields in Normandy, Passchendaele and Vimy.  Certainly not a novel or revolutionary idea from a teaching perspective, but one that helped enrich the trip for the participants.  It was great to sit in the battlefield club today and see the learning the students are undertaking themselves and with Ms. B in preparation for March.

Two Influential Canadians

On September 27th, KCS will be participating in the annual Terry Fox Run.  Those of you who have been in the school over the past few days will have seen the posters our grade 4 students have made advertising this event for the school.  Each year, our grade 4 students help to organize the run for the rest of the school by making posters, doing announcements in assembly, and setting up the course on the day of the Run.  Terry Fox was certainly a Canadian who made a difference.  This summer, my son and I travelled to Thunder Bay for the first round of the Ontario Cup soccer tournament.  Just outside of Thunder Bay is where Terry had to stop his run.  There is a beautiful memorial to him just outside of the city.  If you are ever up in Thunder Bay, I encourage you to take the time for a visit.  Here are a few of the photos I took there:

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Last night I was over at our neighbour’s house.  Stephen had been playing at a golf tournament in Brantford earlier in the day.  He had the opportunity to meet with Walter Gretzky, father of you-know-who.  Stephen, who is South African, didn’t know a lot about Walter before meeting him and hearing him speak.  Stephen’s first impressions were that he was a very down-to-earth, kind and thoughtful man.  However, what stuck with him most from his meeting with Walter, was what Walter said during his conversation:  “You learn more in defeat than in victory.”  As fathers of children who are currently competing to play at the next level of athletics (Stephen’s daughter in swimming, my son in soccer), the message was a good one to remember for us when we are talking to our children about not always getting what they want.

Derek Logan
Head of School