An Inspired Lunch Hour with Random Acts of Learning

Every Friday at lunch recess, Mme Smith and I host Random Acts of Learning (RAOL) in the KCS Library. It’s a drop-in for any students from grade 2 and up to do, well, random acts of learning. Here’s what happened during last Friday’s lunch hour when 47 students came to RAOL:

  • Three students from grades 5 and 6 met to talk about a leadership project supporting Syrian refugees
  • One brought his Arduino kit to build a machine for his grade 7 service learning project
  • Two others worked on their littleBits ‘keytar’ (their own musical synthesizer)
  • A few others worked on the video games they’re creating themselves
  • Multiple others worked on their own independent projects, just because they want to learn more about something; this will culminate in a class presentation (Habit: Share What You Know)
  • Others are working on writing books, a few of whom are writing to submit a French book in a national contest
  • The newspaper club came to work on their upcoming edition
  • Some older students chose to study for exams
  • Many others just wanted more time to read

That was my lunch hour. How inspiring was yours?

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

Grade 2 Students Learning to Build Our Wall of Service

“I wanted to play the piano for a nursing home. But they never answered my call. So I went around my block giving Christmas cookies out. I did this because I wanted to spread Christmas spirit.”

KCS Student Donation to Bloorview Children's HospitalOther grade 2 students cleaned up local parks, read to kindergarten students and collected donations of various worthy items. Some did chores to donate money. Unlike the young man who didn’t hear back from the nursing home, one student was lucky enough to spend time volunteering and singing Christmas carols at a seniors’ residence. For every grade 2 student, there is a heartwarming story of service.

In late fall, the grade 2 students at KCS are officially introduced to the expectation that they, as individuals, are expected to make a difference. Though this message is shared with all students from PK, and we have many younger students earning bricks for the Wall of Service, the grade 2 unit on service is the first time they’re all expected, on their own, to think of how to make the world a bit better and then make it happen. With much gratitude from us, parents are asked to help make their child’s plan possible. Hearty discussions, problem-solving, and persisting no doubt went into much of this activity, just like it does in any important work. At the end of the effort, the students shared in a writing assignment what they did and how they felt for all their efforts. Emphatic expressions of happiness were the widespread reply. One further explained, “It made me feel good to give instead of take.”

KCS Student Spends Time at a Seniors’ ResidenceEach grade 2 student received a ‘brick’ for their act of service, and each has now been called up at assembly to share what they did, for which they received loud applause. By telling the school about their collective efforts, the whole KCS community continues to grow in its knowledge of how each one of us can follow their lead (there’s no end to the ways we can each make the world a bit better!).

Thanks to the grade 2s and others who earned bricks recently, KCS is looking forward to a dress-down day on April 17th. More importantly, thanks to the grade 2s and all others taking the initiative to make a difference, the world really is a bit better for many. Most importantly, with this unit behind them, the world now has 40 more individuals who are ready and able to keep making a difference.

According to one write-up, one woman at a park, upon seeing two students cleaning it up, said “That’s amazing. Way to go!” We agree.

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

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Each year KCS holds school wide fundraising activities for three designated charities:  The Terry Fox Foundation, The Get Ahead Project, and Camp Oochigeas. As well, individual students help to support many other worthwhile charities through various other service learning projects.  As part of our 25th anniversary celebration, our school decided to set a goal of raising $25K for The Terry Fox Foundation.  And as an incentive, a number of teachers and I agreed that we would have our heads shaved if we met our goal by October 25th.  This goal was a bit of a stretch for our school, as all worthy goals should be, but in the first nine years of holding a Terry Fox Run at KCS, we have raised over $170 000, so the goal we set back in the summer is certainly attainable.  As of the writing of this blog, we have raised $24,747.

I am looking forward to having my hair shaved off for a number of reasons:

  • No more hat head.  I can’t wait to start wearing toques in the winter and baseball caps at the gym without wondering whether it looks like I just got out of bed once I take the hat off.
  • Having less hair should help my gazelle-like running speed.
  • I won’t have to be checked for lice when The Lice Squad comes into the school.  And they will come as they do every year.
  • “Be Like Mark” (he’s our new Senior Kindergarten teacher)
  • Savings on shampoo, conditioner and hair spray during the month of November can be converted into paying the grocery costs for one of my 15 year old son’s five “snacks” a day
  • I will be able to sleep in two minutes longer as I won’t have to “do” my hair in the morning
  • A bald head will be perfect for my Halloween costume
  • Finally, we will have met our goal of raising at least $25K for the Terry Fox Foundation.  All of our families have been impacted by cancer; every dollar counts to finding better treatments for this disease.

Stay tuned to see if we met our goal on October 25th. Knowing our students and our community, the five teachers and I are confident we will surpass this goal.

Derek Logan
Head of School

The Journey Through KCS

GrowthLots of little ones are joining KCS this week. And this year they’re littler than ever.

As of this September, KCS now has pre-, junior and senior kindergarten, in addition to grades 1 to 8. The excitement among faculty is palpable, and the desire to do our best for these youngest of students as strong as ever. Like we do for every student, we’ll follow their journey through to graduation from KCS with heartfelt interest. Here’s some of what they will come across:

  1. Deeply caring and driven teachers who are constantly improving what they do to best meet their students’ needs.
  2. A school experience committed to giving students the academic foundation and Habits they need to be successful in school and throughout life.  Their learning will be enriched, at times accelerated, and differentiated to meet the strengths and needs of all.
  3. A house system, led by senior students, that brings community, spirit-raising and friendly competition to the school day.
  4. An immersion in student leadership that makes clear everyone can be a leader, and that leadership can unfold in infinite ways.
  5. When in grade 1, they will have a grade 8 buddy who will organize get-togethers, high five them in the hall and be an example of the fine young men and women they will also become.
  6. An extra-curricular schedule with around 35 club and team opportunities available to the students each term.
  7. A regular message that they can make the world better, through acts big and small, through our Wall of Service and service learning projects.

Some will start shy and become contest-winning public speakers. Some will become passionate artists.  Some will discover a penchant for politics, and will debate provincial legislation at the Ontario Legislature in grade 8. Some will bring home championship banners in sports. Some will become published authors in our YAKCS program. Some will discover special talents in math contests and robotics. Some will perform in an orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall. Many will become leaders with experience and skill beyond their young years.

It’s amazing to watch little ones grow. Immersed in the same opportunities, the unique core in every child will blossom in whatever way it chooses to.

That’s why we watch with so much interest. And why we’re so excited to be part of the journey.

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

Hope for Habits for Today and for the Future

Love the EarthThis past week was National Volunteer Week and Earth Week. The thing about celebrating weeks like this is that we hope that we raise awareness of important ideas. What we really hope will happen is that those ideas spread!

We have Earth Week activities at KCS:

  • Meatless Monday
  • Trashless Tuesday
  • Walk to School Wednesday
  • Turn off the Lights Thursday
  • Fill your Water Bottle Friday
  • Grade 7 service learning students reminded classes about energy conservation, water conservation, recycling, rain forest preservation, and more.
  • Grade 1 students participated in workshops presented by older students about water conservation and recycling.
  • Grade 2 students read books, wrote poems, and made posters about helping the planet.
  • Grade 3 students planted seeds and prepared soil experiments.
  • Grade 4 and 6 students cleaned up the school grounds and surrounding areas.
  • Grade 5 students will be calculating their eco-footprint using a carbon footprint calculator online.
  • Grade 7 students did a creative assignment about sustainable happiness. Sustainable happiness is ‘happiness that contributes to individual, community and/or global wellbeing and does not exploit other people, the environment, or future generations.’ (C. O’Brien)
  • Grade 8 students viewed Sharkwater, a film about sharks, their habitat, and the effects of humans on their ecosystem.

What we hope will happen is that our community learns about being friendly to the environment. We hope that they incorporate green habits that they will have for their whole lives, not just during Earth Week. We show this by having green habits integrated into our daily lives at KCS.

Similarly, we love and appreciate our volunteers at KCS! We don’t wait until volunteer week to thank them! Increasingly, our students are volunteering in our school and in the surrounding community. Once one person tells others how they volunteered to help, many of their peers are willing to join in the joy that comes from helping others. We are grateful to them and proud that they are making a difference.

Here are some of the many ways that students are volunteering:

  • Mentoring younger students
  • Providing lunch leadership to younger students
  • Leading chapels and assemblies
  • Conducting tours of our school to guests
  • Making gift baskets for local women’s shelters
  • Helping at a local church fundraiser
  • Refereeing basketball games for Special Olympics Ontario
  • Teaching younger students at figure skating
  • Caring for neighbours when they are sick
  • Sorting food at a food bank
  • Helping seniors at a retirement home

We hope that students see volunteering as one of the habits that they continue to do well after they have left KCS. We don’t have green habits only during Earth Week. And we don’t just volunteer or thank our volunteers during National Volunteer Week. But here’s to the happy future that comes from the habits learned at KCS!

Ms. Gaudet
Citizenship Coordinator