Volume 16 Issue 8
March 7, 2013
BRIGHTON VS. CRESCENT: A BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
n the surface it may have simply looked like just another basketball game; two teams, referees, a ball, and some onlookers. But the 28th of February game was anything but a regular basketball game—it was a beautiful moment in Crescent School history. The opponent that day was a team from Brighton School, a school for children with developmental challenges. It was a special game for Brighton, because it was their first game... ever. Before that, there were some practices, some scrimmages against the teachers, but the school had never played a real game. To have the chance to play an actual game that day was a thrill for these young boys. But what they walked into was more than the usual smattering of buzzers and whistles. The boys from Brighton walked into a packed gym, enlivened by the voice of the Toronto Raptors’ sportscaster Matt Devlin, and animated by the Raptor’s mascot, The Raptor himself. From the human tunnel formed by the Crescent boys while the Brighton players were introduced, to the huge roar when Brighton scored their first basket, everyone in the Lower Gym could feel the emotion—it was palpable. The Brighton players and parents beamed with excitement at every play; and it was beautiful to witness. But what was also unfolding was the performance and learning that was happening as we watched our own team. The boys from Crescent were made up of a mosaic from Mr. Barton’s U16 team, and Mr. Clemens’ U11 team. There was no script for our boys, no example for them to follow. Mr. Barton and Mr. Clemens had spoken to the boys to give them the context and mindset for this particular event. But nothing could have prepared them for the reality of the circumstances. This was a difficult task for boys of such a young age. There is
an obvious balance point between playing the way they had been trained to play against every other opponent, and how to play in this game in order to preserve the dignity of the Brighton players. Our boys looked somewhat uncomfortable at times, and most appropriately so. For it was in that confusion, about what to do, when their natural human instinct for compassion shined through beautifully. The Crescent boys’ awkwardness only elevated the innocence of this event. People often ask me how we teach character at Crescent. The challenge is that everyone has their own interpretation. Knowing character is vastly different from implementing intentional strategies to develop it in an educational environment. At the basic level, character is about teaching values and capturing the teachable moment. Sometimes that is done explicitly (typically at younger ages), and sometimes it has to be done in a more experiential and sophisticated way, typically for adolescent aged boys. Thursday’s basketball game was the perfect convergence of boycentric learning and character development. You had boys, in their environment, doing something experiential, infused with values that will impact the rest of their lives. I don’t know that I have ever seen a better lesson plan for teaching compassion. At the end of the game you just had to look at the faces of the players and parents from Brighton to know that this was a momentous experience in their lives. Their thanks and appreciation was effusive, and no one wanted to leave. For one hour on Thursday, the Lower Gym was transformed from a sporting venue to a stage where the goodness of childhood innocence and the best of the human spirit were on display. —Mr. Steve Dubrick, Director of Character and Leadership
CPA NEWS GIVING BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY: CPA GARAGE SALE rescent’s Garage Sale is open to the public, with customers coming to our Field House from across the city, and from many diverse areas in and around Toronto. The Garage Sale is organized by the CPA and will be on Saturday, April 20 from 8 – 11:30 a.m.
Yes, some of the boys are involved, and the parents play important roles, but for me it was the faces, brand new to Crescent, standing outside eager and waiting to buy our donated items. It made me realize what a galvanizing experience this is for our entire community.
Why do parents volunteer at this event? And what brings our volunteers back year after year? Team spirit! Barb Warren (P’11,’12) shares her experience with us: The first time you volunteer for a Crescent Garage Sale is truly an overwhelming experience. When you walk into the Field House and see the dozens of tables set out, and the plastic sheeting that has been laid down by the facility staff (to protect the floors), you get this incredible feeling that something big is about to happen.
I have come to know people who mark this event in their calendar, and come back year after year, to seek the best bargains. We are renowned out there!
And that is right! Days prior to the event, the trucks start arriving and the donations just keep coming, and coming, and coming, and by the time the clock strikes noon on Friday, you can step back and look at the work that has been done by hundreds of people to bring the sale to this moment. The Field House is jammed, and volunteers, now familiar with each other—because they have sorted books, lamps, coats and tons of household items—all have smiling faces as they step back and look at how the Sale has literally transformed the Field House in just 24 hours. On the Saturday morning, an enormous lineup of people are waiting to get in, and it is not until then that you realize what is happening: this is not just a Crescent event.
The experience I just described is what made volunteering at the Garage Sale so special for me; for three days, everybody pulls together and gives this event all their energy and everyone who is a part of it has an incredible time. I still volunteer in the clothing section, even though I am now, not only a past parent, but a staff member too. It just gets in your blood. We would like to thank this year’s Garage Sale team who are already committed to this event; that is the incredibly helpful Crescent staff, and our enthusiastic, energy filled section head volunteers. But it is the additional volunteers we call upon, who help the week and days before the Saturday of the event, who make this huge and wonderful Garage Sale possible. We need your support! Please sign up in the Green Room and join us for a great get-together, and a good dose of laughter. To everyone, please begin sorting and saving your gently used items over the March Break. Drop off dates and times will be announced soon. We look forward to seeing you! —Ivy Chan, Garage Sale Convenor —Karen Tang, Assistant Garage Sale Convenor
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
CPA ANNUAL PARENT LUNCHEON and AWARD RECIPIENT
n February 12, the CPA hosted its Annual Parent Luncheon at the Granite Club. Kelly Osler organized a fabulous, stimulating afternoon for all. We had a record number of parents attend to share a meal and hear our guest speaker, Margaret Wente present her thoughts on boys being boys, and why society won’t let them. Also at the lunch it was my privilege and pleasure to announce this year’s Volunteer Award Recipient, Sharon Fielding. Sharon has volunteered consistently ever since her boys
started at Crescent, 10 years ago. She has done almost every volunteer job imaginable and as everyone who has worked with her reports, she has done it all with a quiet demeanor and a willing heart. Sharon’s kindness and compassion, her work ethic and goodwill completely embody our School’s values. It was a pleasure and an honour to recognize Sharon’s contribution to our School at the Parent Luncheon. —Mary Wellner, CPA President
Margaret Wente (left), her column (below) referencing her appearance the day before at the event, and Mary Wellner and Sharon Fielding (right).
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
From the Lower School
s you know, March Break is here. I would like to invite you to read this message from art teacher Jo-Anne Kuchmak, as she describes the richness of her March Break Outreach trip to South Africa. I believe you will find the work that the teachers and the Upper School boys do, to be inspiring. —Dr. Boyes, Head of Lower School
Alas the day of my departure has arrived. As you read this, I will be on the first flight of three to get to South Africa. I am thrilled to have the opportunity again to represent Crescent and continue to develop friendships at the Vela School. Over the next 17 days, I will be with 12 Crescent boys and, Head of Art, Jamie MacRae. During this time we will spend three days in Cape Town where will be visiting Robben Island, Table Mountain and the District Six Museum. Following our time in Cape Town, we will fly to East London where we will travel by van for 2.5 hours to Mthatha.
reading, writing and doing various literacy based activities. Each day will also include an art, music and co-operative games component. In the afternoon we will be working with some senior students, building a new playground and visiting orphanages. It will be a busy and hectic 17 days to say the least. That being said, however, the trip and the experiences, friendships and joys that come are priceless! Thank you to everyone who donated supplies, they are much appreciated! I hope you all have a fabulous March Break, and I look forward to sharing our stories upon our return. All the best, Ms. K
Mthatha, is the name of the town where the Vela School is located. You may have heard of the town before as it is where Nelson Mandela grew up. It is a very small rural town surrounded by rolling hills. Dotting and lining the hills are shack like homes and dirt roads where its not uncommon to be stuck on the one highway because of cows blocking your way. While we are at the Vela School, we will be busy with programs that we have written and pre-planned. The boy’s day will begin at 7:30 a.m. Once at the school we will be working with students in Grade 2 who would benefit from a more “boycentric” program. Together we will be
From the Middle School
or the past week or so, when leaving my house in the morning to come to work, I am having brief panic attacks. I feel sick to my stomach thinking I’m late for work. For the past four months, I would leave the house in the dark. Now, I wake up, leave for work and I’m greeted by the sun. The uneasiness lasts only a few seconds and is then followed by joy. The days are getting longer and, in fact, I’m not late. It’s one of the simplest, but most refreshing feelings that we as humans experience; the passing of winter and the beginning of spring. Spring is a time of rebirth and rejuvenation after a long battle with winter. The same is true for the young adolescent men in Middle School. The Grade 7s and 8s have
persevered through a long, busy term. Many have experienced success over the past few months, and many have felt disappointment. For those in the latter group, my suggestion to them is to look back to December and ask, “What could I have done differently this term?” If we identify what went wrong, we are better able to adjust and improve so that we can grow and learn. Even for those students who are proud of their work this term, it is also a time to determine next steps. Another suggestion would be not to worry. Take the upcoming break to rest and rejuvenate, and get ready for spring. The Spring Term will have many exciting challenges. It’s a
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
short term with many new experiences. The Grade 7 students will be writing exams for the first time. They enter the examination room in Hyland Hall similar to how a new bear cub enters the wild after leaving the den for the first time: cautious and quiet, but bold and naïve. Exams can be a stressful time for everyone. However, this is just a learning experience, designed to prepare students for Upper School. Exams are worth 10 per cent of their final mark, compared to 30 per cent in the Upper School. They shouldn’t stress, but they should understand the importance of these exams and how vital it is to prepare properly. The key to writing the exams will be the organization of their time, tools and notes. Your son’s mentor, along with CSS, will be helping with organization skills, and preparing for June exams.
The Grade 8 students have been through this experience, and this year they will work towards improving their preparation and writing skills. They will also be preparing to leave Middle School. These young men are the bear yearlings, about to be pushed away from their caregivers, to become independent and fend for themselves. They will join new social groups, and Mentor Group. Their surroundings will be different and a little frightening. Don’t worry; they will be prepared and able to handle this new environment. Just like the yearling, they will be resilient and adapt. As the days get longer, these young men will have a new start, and will make decisions on how to move forward. Spring Term is a time of rejuvenation and resurgence, and a time when we learn from our past, allowing us to grow stronger and wiser. —Mr. Dion, Assistant Head of Middle School
From the Upper School
he Winter Term always flies by. The pace is hectic with many activities, events, speakers, and general excitement. I know that, in my conversations this week with boys and teachers, people are both exhilarated and exhausted. To mark the end of term, I’d like to reflect briefly on some of the high points for me and, I hope, for the boys. We’ve been privileged to host some great speakers: earlier this term for Environmental Awareness Week Jeff Rubin, former Chief Economist at CIBC World Markets spoke in Assembly about his new book, The End of Growth; and just last week, former NFL star Joe Ehrmann, co-founder with his wife of Coach for America, spoke powerfully about concepts of masculinity. We also had what in my opinion was the best Lunar New Year Assembly ever, enhanced by the presentation of the Centennial Time Capsule. In sports, our varsity basketball team emerged as national champions from the CAIS National Tournament; I think this may be a first. Our varsity hockey team has also enjoyed an excellent season, and is currently in the playoffs, and our junior hockey team provided the excitement at Centennial Hockey Day with a come-from-behind win over RSGC. Also, our skiers returned from OFSAA finals with a bronze, and a fourth place finish. This term is peak season for Robotics. The team worked around the clock to complete the design and build of this year’s robot, Edgewalker. The challenge this year is one of the most difficult the team has faced, with the robot required to accurately throw Frisbees, and also climb a pyramid-shaped structure. The machine has been packed and shipped and the team is off
to the first competition. The boys are very excited; I eagerly anticipate the news. Our Outreach program has also been gearing up with orientation sessions to prepare boys for the four trips this year: to Tanzania, South Africa, India and Cambodia, and boys have been creatively fundraising to support the projects at the various sites. By the time you read this, all of the trips will have departed. The more academically focused programs have also been thriving. I’m excited to have been invited to several meetings of the new Investment Club, where I listened to carefully prepared presentations and serious discussion about specific investments. Our Math program continues to soar with boys earning seriously amazing results across a range of regional and national contests, and our half-credit Marine Biology course, which runs this term, was a great success to judge by the smiles and tans on the participants, both teachers and students. Finally, the most significant highlight for me is to witness the continued commitment and hard work of this year’s Grads toward their legacy goal of ensuring a healthy and supportive student culture, a culture within which every student feels safe to be himself. They expanded their work to the Middle School this term where they worked with the boys and faculty on a week-long project that they called Let’s Talk! I admire their dedication and energy, and I’m proud of them. As I said at the outset, it has been a busy term, made rich with many accomplishments. I trust that everyone will find time to relax and re-charge over the break.
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
—Mr. Lowndes, Head of Upper School
PROFILE Where were you before Crescent? I was doing research at Sunnybrook, improving the efficacy of immunotherapy toward leukemia. What do you teach? I teach math and Mandarin in the Upper School. I’m also on staff with CSS helping students with math and science. How many languages do you speak? Where/why/how did you learn another language? How has it been of benefit? English and Mandarin. Mandarin Chinese is my mother tongue. I studied English after coming to Canada. Learning English was not a choice but a Upper School necessity at the time. I faculty member knew communication is Frances Wen important and made it a priority to grasp the language. I also picked up a bit of Cantonese around the same time. It helped me fit in better with my classmates as many of them were from a Cantonese background.
Did you have a favourite teacher? Who was it and why? I have a few favourites. My ESL teacher in middle school helped me transition to a life here in Canada. My music teacher in high school encouraged me to explore my options, and was always there to lend a ear. My research mentor in university believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. How are you liking Crescent? Loving every moment of it. I like my classes; I like my students; I like my colleagues. Mondays are not so blue when I think about going to Crescent. What’s your favorite thing about Crescent? If I had to pick one thing, it would be happy co-workers. I find it energizing to come into an environment where everyone is positive about the work that they do. What do you do in your class that is specific to boys’ learning? I try to bring in a variety of activities to each class, allowing the period to be chunked into several minisessions.
In recent years, I’ve made a conscious effort to maintain and advance my Chinese skills. For me the use-it-or-lose-it rule applies—just take a look at my almost non-existent French skills. On a practical level, speaking English and Mandarin has opened up multiple job opportunities. I landed my first job out of high school (and of course, my first teaching position here at Crescent) because of my language abilities. On a more personal level, these languages help me understand my identity as a Chinese Canadian, and to feel a deeper sense of connection to my cultural heritage. Of course, being able to read and watch movies in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese is a perk too!
The boys enjoy the opportunities to move around and practice what they have learned. They also like to engage in competition. My role is often to facilitate these competitions such that they are productive and friendly. Technology is important to my classes. The boys use it regularly in their learning, and their organization of course material. If you changed professions, what would you do? Meteorologist, or psychologist. Big fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond? Definitely small fish in a big pond. I work along some of the most talented professionals who have been terribly gracious at sharing their expertise. The boys in my classes are also
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
amazing. I feel privileged to be a part of their Crescent experience. Of what are you most afraid? Not waking up on time for school. I desperately wish to miraculously transform into a morning bird. Until then, a few alarm clocks are absolute necessities in my life. What is your greatest joy? Curling up on the couch with a good book, or playing the piano at the end of a long day. Favourite movie or book? A collection of short stories in Chinese that I’ve had since Grade 4. This is the book that cemented my love for the written word. I read it more than 10 times cover to cover. If you were a professional athlete who would you be? First, I wouldn’t be a professional athlete. The idea of engaging in competition as often as a professional athlete must, just does not sit well with me. Second, I wouldn’t be anyone else but myself, professional athlete or otherwise. My life is far from being perfect but neither is anyone else’s. Sure, other people may lead more
interesting lives than I do, or may be more accomplished than I am, but I don’t envy them. I like who I am; I like what I do. I work at my own pace to enrich my own experiences and to make myself a better me. What changes have you seen during your career? Or do you expect to see? To be honest, I am not quite sure. Change in education never occurs in isolation; it is a reflection of the greater society, the human condition. Whatever the change will be though, I see technology playing an integral role in it. If you could change one thing about Crescent, what would it be? Can we push classes to a 10 a.m. start? Please? Describe the perfect day here. Must have: a sense of preparedness. Should have: a meaningful conversation with a staff or student, an eureka moment in class, some new idea about teaching, a great article about education, or life in general. Must not have: confusion that was not resolved by the end of class.
As Mr. Lowndes commented on the preceding page, “We had what in my opinion was the best Lunar New Year Assembly ever.“
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
On June 8, start the day with your
daily dose of iron!
Crescent School Golf Tournament Angus Glen North Course - 7:30 a.m. shotgun start http://crescentschool.org/golfregistration
Crescent School | 2365 Bayview Ave. Toronto, ON M2L 1A2 | 416.449.2556 | www.crescentschool.org
Volume 16 Issue 8