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Volume 15 Issue 14

keeping parents informed


April 27, 2012

"It is truly an honour to have been elected Head Boy for our centennial year—especially in a year with so many very strong candidates. I believe we have an exceptionally strong Prefect team for the upcoming year, and I know that we’re going to make next year special." —Jack Hayward



Troy Crema hudson Jack Hogarth mackenzie Matt Buckles massey Aaron Rose simcoe Alex Gerlings wolfe Adam McBain




Kevin Chien assembly Adam Brooks assembly Chris Grant communications Spencer Belyea grad class/alumni liaison Jeffrey Carlin liaison upper school Toms Black

Stefan Losberg liaison lower school Taylor Keating outreach Giorge Voutsas social/treasurer Colin Wiliams sports Will Christodoulou liaison middle school

Crescent School | 2365 Bayview Ave. Toronto, ON M2L 1A2 | 416.449.2556 |



Birthday Book—FAQs

s we are approaching the second to last month of school, you may be asking yourself where did the year go? As you look at your calendar, you may have noticed that you never got around to making that birthday BOOK donation. Oops. See below for how to proceed and other answers to questions about Crescent’s Birthday Book Programme. Q. My son’s birthday is in July, will he miss out? A. You can donate online at ANY time by clicking on the Birthday Book Programme link found under the Libraries left side bar on the Green Room. Summer birthdays will be acknowledged at the start of the summer holidays and any donations received in the summer will be honoured at the beginning of the new school year in the fall. Q. My son in grade 3 missed the Birthday Bonanza because he was sick. He was so disappointed. A. Please, at any time, have your son (or you) speak with the Lower School teacher/librarian Elizabeth Ford to arrange a time for your son to autograph the book(s) purchased in his honour and he may be the first to check it out. Shhh... he’ll also get a treat. Q. My 15-year-old is an avid reader but does not want a fuss. Will he be singled out on stage at the “Bonanza?” A. The Birthday Bonanza Day is a day chosen by the librarians when the most current purchased books are prepared and ready for their donors to autograph/check out. Boys at any time on that day (or the next) may simply pop into the Library at their convenience and check the book(s) out. That’s it. Oh... they get a treat too! Never too old for that. Q. My son is a huge First World War buff. Can I make a suggestion for his book donation? A. Yes, please do. Anything to encourage our boys reading! There is a comment section on the online donation form. Feel free to request a genre of book or even a specific title. Q. I made a donation but not sure what books were bought. A. After each Bonanza (scheduled every two months) a list of donating boys and titles purchased in their honour are posted on the Birthday Book Programme link in the Green Room. A list will also be included in the following Friday File. The next scheduled Bonanza is May 16. Please direct any other questions to me at —Domenica Ganguli, CPA Birthday Book Programme Convenor



Sharing our Ideas & Strategies

n Wednesday, May 9, Crescent School will be hosting the Annual General Meeting of the Parent’s Association Network for independent schools in Ontario. This organization, called Interguild, was founded in 1988 and is a non-profit organization which brings together representatives of parent associations of approximately 40 Ontario CIS (Conference of Independent Schools) members. Its purpose is to foster communication and facilitate collaborative sharing of ideas and information. Every school benefits from hearing various strategies used for school programmes, and has an opportunity to learn new ideas for community building and fundraising. The Interguild Executive consists of eight to 12 members representing all the different member schools. Annual events organized by Interguild include:

• a breakfast meeting for all school parent • • • •

association presidents and Interguild representatives a suppliers' day to bring together potential suppliers and school store personnel networking forums a workshop on a variety of topics of interest to parent school leaders the Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Member schools host and help to run these events. The workshops, and the AGM and Spring Luncheon are open to the full parent body of member schools. In the spring, Interguild hosts its AGM, to which all parents from all schools are welcome. This year the AGM will be held at our School. Dr. Alex Russell is our guest speaker; he will discuss the school-student-parent triangle and where the optimal balance lies between parent involvement and student success. It should be interesting and informative! All Crescent parents are welcome to attend the AGM. The cost is $40 which includes lunch. If you are interested in attending, please visit

Men of Character from Boys of Promise

—Mary Wellner, CPA Vice President


PARENT ANNUAL GIVING 2012-2013 Double Up and Triple Up Success!


n behalf of everyone at Crescent School—students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends—thank you to our parents who have doubled and tripled their traditional Annual Giving commitment for 2012-2013. There are early signs of great progress as parents follow the practice that was introduced in 2011-2012, when families were asked to double or triple the suggested donation amount per student, making a stretch gift in support of the Great Boys $30 million campaign. The Great Boys campaign is already benefitting every student at Crescent today, with enhanced programmes, the new Lau Family Wing which provides a new home for the Middle School and classrooms for the Upper School, the new Margaret Donnelly Library for the Lower School, enhanced music rooms and the expanded Robotics Lab. Crescent boys will continue to benefit in the years to come with the impending addition of

With $19.7 million raised to date, on our way to $30 million, the participation of all members of the Crescent family is paramount. We need broad participation and the combination of Annual Giving and major gifts in order to reach our goal. If you have yet to make a donation in support of the Parent Annual Giving programme, it is not too late! the new Library (initial rendering pictured) for Middle School and Upper School students, and the Commons, which will provide additional space and allow for easier access and more effective use of University Counselling and CSS (Crescent Student Services).

All Annual Giving donations are eligible for a charitable tax receipt. Please contact Jill Palmer, Director of Advancement at 416-449-2556 x288 or jpalmer@ if you wish to discuss how your family can best support the Great Boys campaign.

Crescent is ushering in its second century with leading edge facilities and outstanding programmes. This is an exciting and unprecedented time at the School, and we are deeply grateful to all those who have supported the Great Boys campaign with a gift through Annual Giving, or a major gift.

If you would like to make an online donation, visit We look forward to celebrating our wonderful donor community at the Donor Thank You Reception in the fall. To learn more about the Great Boys campaign, please visit

SCHOOL MESSAGES ast week, I attended the CAIS Junior Schools Heads’ Conference, co-hosted by Branksome Hall and The York School. It was encouraging to learn that as heads of school, we face similar issues, regardless of geography, mission statement or kind of school. We all want what is best for our students and we are relying on the latest research to inform our practice to make us the best schools we can be.


fastest.” Is it any wonder that we are all a little bit anxious?

And, we are worried. Worried about the rising levels of anxiety and depression in our students ages eight through 13. Worried about the harried schedules of our schools and our families as we (the parents and the school) strive to offer programme after programme, filling every second of after school life with activities designed to make them better students, athletes, etc. And, we are worried about the amount of pressure we are transferring to our children to be “the best, or the smartest, or the

Her take on his work, is that it is better to raise a truly cooperative child than a simply obedient child. If you imagine the hierarchy of a triangle, the obedient individual will obey the top of the pyramid… the King, the parent, the Principal, etc. It is her feeling, that in this society of “the parent as friend,” the parents have willingly stepped off the top of the pyramid, in an attempt to have a family life with less hierarchy.

One of the speakers at the conference was Alyson Schafer, author of Honey, I Wrecked the Kids. She offered many insights and solutions to reducing the anxiety and push-pull of family life. Her work is based in the psychology of Alfred Adler, who developed a set of child guidance practices based upon respect, dignity and human cooperation.

Men of Character from Boys of Promise

continued next p.


SCHOOL MESSAGES From the Lower School continued As Alyson stated, “If there is a vacancy at the top, someone will step in to fill it.” For some of her families, the seat at the top of the pyramid has been taken by the child, and households can revolve around making the child happy. But, there comes a time in adolescence, where the top of that pyramid will be the leader of his/her peer group. That is when you don’t want your son to follow the group, or to be simply obedient, when issues of personal safety are at hand. It is better for a child to have had practice in cooperative, group energy situations, so he has the courage to make a choice that may go against the leader at the top of the pyramid. You want them to be able to say, “No, I am not getting in that car with you,” or “No, I am not going to try that.” This leads to the crucial four Cs for the school age child. Alyson has applied Betty Lou Bettner’s Raising Kids Who Can to parenting and teaching situations. Dr. Bettner’s four Cs are: 1. The need to feel CONNECTED (I need to feel I belong.) 2. The need to feel CAPABLE (I can do it!) 3. The need to feel COUNTED (I count for something and I can make a difference.) 4. The need to feel COURAGEOUS (I need to feel I can handle what comes.) As Alyson points out, if these Cs are not in place, feelings of discouragement and misbehaviour are likely to occur. Finally, Alyson discussed the difference between praise and encouragement. This is a huge one for me, especially as our faculty begins a review of our assessment practices, marks, grading, etc., over the next few weeks. Praise involves judgment; it is a verbal reward, but it comes with a price. It infers that a reward comes only when one is at the top. This creates a very stressful environment for everyone. Imagine how fearful our boys will become if they feel they will only get praised if they get As? Imagine the stress as the next assignment or project is given out… what if they don’t get an A again? No praise, no reward? This approach results in an increase in anxiety, and a decrease in feelings of being connected and capable. We talked about this a great deal at the conference. I don’t believe the final mark, the simplistic A, should be what counts the most, not in this day-and-age of 21st century learners. It


should be the effort and the improvement, the skill-building, the confidence building, and the critical-thinking, for these are the skills that develop the creative problem-solvers the future is requesting. I know (from discussions during parent teacher interviews) the stress that grades, report cards and the honour roll are having on our boys and their families. Are we worrying too much about the final mark and not enough about learning the skills to improve? What messages are we sending with praise? Should we be more focused on encouragement? I know that I have a lot to think about and discuss with the faculty. I know why we are where we are right now, in terms of assessment, report cards, honour roll. I am aware also that highly respected scholars are suggesting we alter our focus. Next month, I will be attending a workshop at Branksome Hall featuring Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Columbia University. She has very firm beliefs on these issues, and I look forward to adding her research da ta to our policy making process for Crescent’s Lower School. for more information:

• • (Carol Dweck’s book) • (Carol Dweck’s The Talent Myth, from the New Yorker Archive)

Men of Character from Boys of Promise

—Dr. Boyes, Head of Lower School

SCHOOL MESSAGES From the Middle School


little bit of homework before you read on. If you can read Dr. Boyes’ preceding article, then that would provide excellent context. Of particular help would be if you have the chance to read Dr. Dweck’s research (http://www.mindsetonline. com) that is included in her article. I had the pleasure of attending a conference last week with Dr. Boyes. She was clearly the brightest person in the room, so sitting beside her did afford me some credit by association. I am going to extend that opportunity through association by attempting to build on what her article addresses. The growing stress that our children are under, and the role that both schools and families play (often with the best of intentions) in adding to that stress, is central to Dr. Boyes’ piece. For example, the role of praise as a factor that can add to stress was eye opening for me, although it is clearly not straightforward. Praise isn’t intrinsically wrong—I praise my kids all the time and like it when I get praise. However, praise as a form of motivation or praise linked too closely to children’s definition of themselves, seems to add stress and as such doesn’t produce deep and meaningful learning. Of real interest in adding to this argument is Carol Dweck’s work (website listed above) in which her research shows some compelling links between reward based incentives (grades, praise, prizes) and a decline in willingness to face challenges and as a result, ultimately achieving at lower levels. This was contrasted with students who had effort and process complimented, and who came to see struggle and failure as an exciting part of the learning process. These were the students who ultimately achieved at higher levels. They were motivated to work deeply. So, to me, the question very quickly becomes, how do we allow our boys to become motivated? As our Middle School families know, this has been the driving force of what we are trying to do in Middle School. How can we create an environment, during the pivotal moments of early adolescence, in amongst the challenges that this period presents, in which our boys can learn to love to learn? Or put another way, how can we create an experience that allows our boys the best chance to find ways to be motivated. A core text for our Middle School faculty has been Daniel H. Pink’s fascinating book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He leans on many well-considered pieces of research on motivation, including Dweck’s and comes to similar, almost

counterintuitive findings that show ultimately, over the long term, reward—financial, perks, prizes, praise—does not motivate us in ways that are observable in our performance. His findings show three main requirements for deep, sustainable motivation to occur. I share them here and have interpreted them through the lens of Middle School to show possible ways they have significance for our boys learning and how the Middle School is trying to foster these pillars. 1. AUTONOMY—In a Middle School boys’ life this is seen as the desire for independence, for the ability to feel that they own their own journey. It is unavoidably linked to their desire to become young men and their growing but fragile self-esteem. In the Middle School we have begun to understand that this can’t be developed initially through academics and this is why we have developed our Mentor programme to allow a boy to be supported as he seeks out that autonomy. 2. MASTERY—You only have to have watched your son commit hours and hours to a task that feels important to him to see that our boys become intensely motivated when they want to master something, be it a skateboard trick, a hockey skill or a computer game. Oppositely, we have all felt the pain in trying to get our boys to concentrate on something they don’t think is important to master. Developing a breadth of offerings and allowing for individual ways to approach those offerings allows for the best chance that our boys will find a “hook” in their academic programmes so that they catch that desire to find mastery. When boys find that “flow” in themselves they become self-motivated and their work is wonderful. Middle School is the best time to capture that. 3. PURPOSE—Feeling that you have a reason to do something, feeling part of something bigger than yourself is highly motivating. It is an obvious human trait. I watched our senior Robotics team prepare to fly to the World Championships and it would be difficult to imagine more motivated individuals. They believe in the team and their robot and the journey they are on, and as a result, we have to tell them to stop working and go home at night. In the Middle School this can be difficult as many boys are not ready for that level of sincerity towards something yet. It therefore becomes our responsibility to allow them to experience learning that, when they are ready, they may find purpose in. We only have to look at the celebrated successes of our time, from Google to Apple to see that skills of creativity, innova-

Men of Character from Boys of Promise


SCHOOL MESSAGES tion, thoughtful risk-taking, the ability to overcome and cooperation are sought after. Being motivated is the key to each of these skills and the place to begin that long journey to find what motivates each of us starts in school. It is certainly a different goal than that of grades and assessments. The triangle of student-parent-school is key, and so as an important part of that relationship, I would value your thoughts as we seek to become better at creating the best environment for motivated learning at Crescent. —Mr. Young, Head of Middle School

From the Upper School


e have just completed the student election process for next year’s Prefects and House Captains. As has been the case in the past, these positions proved to be highly sought after, with a very large number of boys choosing to put their names forward. Every year, observing the process, I’m impressed with the character and engagement of our boys, and thrilled by their obvious affection for and commitment to their School. The interest in these offices is good in several ways. Most importantly, it’s an indicator of the respect the boys have for these positions, of their importance in the eyes of the boys, and of their faith in the integrity, fairness and transparency of the process. It is also a reflection on the fact that we have the privilege and luxury of being a highly selective school. It’s no slight to the boys who prevailed to observe that we could elect the Prefect team twice over and have just as strong a group; we have a great many highly capable young men who are eager to contribute to the School.

who were not successful in the elections; if they weren’t disappointed, it would be a sign that it didn’t mean much. I tell them that real leadership is not waiting to be elected, or chosen, or appointed. It has nothing to do with passivity. Real leadership involves getting off your butt and making something happen. You don’t need a title to lead. Our boys get that and are pleased to hear it. I’ve been having quiet one-on-one conversations with some of the boys who were not elected. They tell me, unanimously, that yes, they’re disappointed, but they are not bitter or disheartened. They reassure me (yes, they reassure me, when I thought it was going to be the other way around) that I don’t need to be concerned, that they are still positive, committed and have a plan, whether it’s Lower School or Middle School Mentor, Outreach Council, EAC, the Peer to Peer/Healthy Relationships Programme, or some other aspect of Student Life.

However, this also presents both the School and the boys with a critical challenge. Our challenge as a school is to make sure that there are meaningful ways for all of these highly able and motivated boys to make a contribution. The challenge for the boys is a test of character: to get over their personal disappointment and embrace other opportunities to get involved.

I told the grade 11s in a grade meeting after Assembly last week that what I’m most proud of at Crescent is the student culture, that while we may not make as much noise as some schools, I know that there is a deep pride and love, for their school and for each other. I went on to say that this is only possible through the leadership and commitment of the whole grad class each year—the health of the student culture is in their hands. But they didn’t need to be told; they already know.

Personally speaking, I respect the disappointment of those

—Mr. Lowndes, Head of Upper School


Men of Character from Boys of Promise



en of Character from Boys of Promise is the mission statement that changed the landscape of independent schools. Prior to that, most school’s mission statements were several paragraphs, and focused on academic preparation for university. Since that time, many schools and market competitors have jumped into the character game.

Stransman endowment, was the most transformative that I have experienced. The Globe article brought to the public eye, what we have been seeing as an emerging issue in the character development of a boy, and that is to help shape a boy’s concept of true masculinity and what it means to be a man.

It has been added to their mission statement, their strategic plans, or to the vision for the school. This causes parents and prospective families to ask, how is Crescent different? We have spent quite a bit of time and effort contextualizing what Crescent means by the “character” part of Men of Character.

During the years where boys become inquisitive about relationships and intimacy, they are at the same time constructing their mental framework of what those ideal concepts are. Unfortunately today, as the Globe article points out, boys are increasingly constructing their sense of relationships and intimacy from the world of pornography.

This past Saturday’s article in The Globe and Mail tapped into what has been an important conversation that I have been having more and more at Crescent over the last few years, and shifts the focus to ask what the “man” part of Men of Character means. The article addressed the issue of how society is defining masculinity and the concept of manhood for young boys. The article’s specific focus was on the impact that the proliferation and accessibility of pornography has had on an adolescent boy’s concept of intimacy and healthy relationships. Having worked with boys and their fathers for the last 15 years, I have come to realize that it is a very difficult concept for us as a society to define what it means to be a successful man. However, I was not able to put language to this until a few years ago, when Joe Ehrmann visited Crescent. I am generally skeptical about keynote speakers. I find them to be inspiring at times, but often do not translate into any long term programmatic continuation. However, Joe Ehrmann’s keynote as part of the

but what Joe is saying is that when you equate your financial wealth, with your worth as a person, then you are heading towards a life of emptiness and unhappiness. Enter into this equation the fact that boys are now bombarded with the temptation to access the free and readily available world of pornography, and we have a society which is disabling young boys.

This is an issue that again highlights the importance of the educational triangle between student-parent-school. However, Crescent is perfectly positioned to have this conversation because what I have come to realize, after reflecting on this, is that having a discussion about character is not different from having a discussion about what it means to be a man; in fact they are one in the same.

Joe’s claim is that society teaches boys that what it means to be a man has to do with: strength and power over others, sexual conquest of women, and the acquisition of wealth. In Joe’s view, society coronates you as more of a man, when you do or have more of these three things. In pursuing these things, a boy’s framework for having healthy and meaningful relationships gets distorted. When I discuss this with the boys they often push back by asking “what’s wrong with making money.” The answer is “nothing,”

Men of Character from Boys of Promise

As we navigate our way through Crescent’s centennial year, and outline the strategic direction of the next few years, we need to always be cognizant of both the needs of the School, and societal pressures. Indeed, this issue provides us with the convergence of those two. How we map out our strategy to evolve our character development will be centred on the critically important task of working with families to help define for our boys, what it means to be a man. —Mr. Dubrick, Director of Character and Leadership


MORE LOWER SCHOOL NEWS! Pictured here at last weekend’s CAIS Rugby Tournament, where Crescent finished third, the team is now ready to face UCC tonight at Friday Night Lights—get ready to get your green on! Head down to Innes Field. Game time 7 p.m.

Sean Wiggan (left) and Noah Maunder (right) presenting Flowers in a Vase cards to Mr. Roberts, and displaying a sample of the original works.

great picture!

Crescent Times  

Volume 15 - Issue 14 - April 26, 2012