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Volume 17 Issue 5

Keeping Parents Informed

January 17, 2014



ven though the Winter Term has just started, we are already well on the way in planning the next academic year. It will soon be time to let us know whether or not your son(s) will be joining us in 2014/2015. It is time for re-registration. On Monday, Jan. 27 you will receive an email from our Board Chair, Bryan Kerdman with a link to the online forms which you must complete, and then arrange payment options in order for us to ensure that there will be a space for your son at Crescent in September. You will have until Wednesday, Feb. 12 to complete the forms and forward payment to the School. Crescent continues to have a very healthy admissions outlook as more and more families look to Crescent as the school of choice for their sons. We are also blessed with an extremely low attrition rate. We thank you, our current families, for this continued success. Your referrals are spreading and our admission numbers are very strong. For our Admissions Office, however, this is a mixed blessing. We strive to offer an appropriate number of students admission for the 2014/2015 school year. In order to do this

(on the independent school’s common admission offer date of Tuesday, Feb. 25), we need to know exactly how many spots we will have available at each grade level. This is where re-registration comes in. We currently know how many new spots there are at each grade level. The great unknown is the few spots which become available when families must relocate, or for other reasons move their sons out of Crescent. We would like to have accurate numbers so that we can make offers to all of our top candidates in the first round. The independent school admissions arena is so competitive that we may not get a chance in round two. We will be asking that the re-registration forms and initial payments be completed by Wednesday, Feb. 12 so that we are able to optimize the offer process the following week. We will send you email reminders throughout the re-registration period, and encourage you to set aside a half hour to complete the process sooner rather than later. There will be contacts listed in the email to assist you should you have any questions or concerns. —Christopher White, Director of Admission and Financial Aid

SCHOOL MESSAGES From the Upper School


his is always a busy term with much to look forward to: the play—this year, the musical Anything Goes—is already generating a lot of excitement. Also, the busy athletic schedule and the FIRST Robotics season are always highlights. However, as we enter course selection season, I want to return to my theme from last year at this time: the increasing importance of second language acquisition. As I pointed out last year, traditionally, throughout the States and Canada, in general, second language education has not received the same emphasis as in Europe or Asia. Historically at Crescent, about half of our students would drop a second language as soon as possible, which is at the end of Grade 9, and our experience is not unusual. However, over the past few years this has begun to change and the momentum is accelerating. A brief excerpt from the admissions material of a representative US Liberal Arts College: “The typical entering firstyear student will have had four years each of English, foreign language, mathematics, social science and three to four years of laboratory sciences.” Similarly, some of the more selective programs at Canadian universities, particularly professional faculties, have started to recommend a second language, along with increasing their emphasis on exchanges abroad. A recent article in the British Financial Times highlights this development: Language learning is of huge importance to future prospects, particularly in those markets where English is less spoken and less used in the regulatory and governmental environment. Recruiting candidates with language skills might also help to avoid some of the costly and well-known translation errors, such as Chevrolet launching its Nova car in South America despite “No va” meaning “Doesn’t go” in Spanish. “Such mistakes can be simple and banal, or cause serious cross-cultural offence,” argues Mr Marshall. “So it is incredibly important for senior executives to be culturally sensitive and where possible to have some sort of language knowledge, which goes for various levels throughout a business.” The ability to speak languages such as Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese has increased in value and will continue to do so. Even if a role does not require any language proficiency, employers often view knowledge of foreign languages as evidence of a wider willingness to learn and adapt, says Mr Vardy:


“This is often as valuable to employers as fluency in a specific language.” An alumnus was speaking to our Grads after an assembly last term and touched on this last point. His central theme was that, in a highly competitive job market, you need to stand out, and he identified fluency in a second language as a powerful differentiator. He told an anecdote about a fellow alum who was competing with a large number of candidates for a senior position with a firm based in New York City. His ability to speak Mandarin won him the coveted position. He pointed out that his colleague may never actually put his language skills to use in the job, but that the recruiters saw those skills as evidence of discipline, drive and adaptability. Universities and schools—including Crescent—are responding to the realization that the world in which our students will need to work is becoming increasingly compact and complex. Familiarity with other cultures, together with at least an awareness of the basic structures of the language, if not fluency in a second language, are increasingly prized by employers and recognized as valuable for success. In recognition of this reality, we added Mandarin to our language offerings two years ago and have been working to strengthen and broaden our programs in French and Spanish. We have worked hard, and have been very fortunate, over the past few years to attract and hire talented language teachers and we are working closely with them to provide the best possible educational program. As always, our focus is to do all we can to position our boys to thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape. As we move into course selection season, we would encourage you to include in your conversations with your sons some frank discussion about the implications of both including and excluding languages as our boys make their course choices. —Mr. Lowndes, Head of Upper School

Men of Character from Boys of Promise

SCHOOL MESSAGES From the Middle School


ot sure what it says about me but my motto for 2014 comes from Mary Poppins... hmm. Over the holidays my family went to see a movie called Saving Mr. Banks. As I enviously watched the massive line troop into watch the Hobbit, my expectations were pretty low. The movie depicts the true-life story of Walt Disney’s attempts to persuade P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books to allow him to turn her stories into the now legendary musical film. As the movie goes on we find out that P.L. Travers wrote her books semi-autobiographically about her childhood in Australia and that Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins is her depiction of her tragic, alcoholic father. As the Disney writers struggle to convince a cantankerous and miserable Ms. Travers to allow them to make a musical of her books, the pivotal moment comes when Walt Disney figures out who Mr. Banks represents in the books and decides to change the ending of the movie to include a scene where Mr. Banks returns home and after much neglect, gathers up his kids and proclaims with total abandon, “Let’s go fly a kite.” In the movie of Mary Poppins, the entire family, break into song and let rip with a song charged with hope and promise. And thus Mr. Banks is saved and P.L. Travers allows the movie to be made and the rest is history, a history that most of us endured as young parents.

ment of the movie, remembers his priorities. For him it is his family, his children. He throws out all the rest, unties his tie, grabs his kids and wife, and to their delight proclaims that they are off to fly a kite. Obviously his family is excited but if you watch that scene the most clearly impacted person is Mr. Banks himself. He looks just full of joy. The second thing that has stuck with me is the activity the Banks family chose. There is something hopeful and ambitious and full of possibility when you fly a kite. The song wouldn’t work as well if Mr. Banks had chosen another activity. I remember as a child flying kites with my brother in Scotland, which is hilly and windy, ideal for flying kites. I remember watching our kites become tinier and tinier as they went higher and higher all the while tugging impatiently on the string wanting to go higher still. The wind buffeting us, heads tilted up to the sky, our cheap, wee paper kites distant dots staining ever forward. It’s such a great image. So essentially my motto for the year is remember what is important, it is different for each of us but allows us to stay

authentic to our own journey and secondly to be bold enough and hopeful enough to see the possibilities in life and the pure fun that can come when you find that. It just happens that I found that message through a Mary Poppins song and that I work in a Middle School where making that in any way appear cool or acceptable might be my very first challenge. —Mr. Young, Head of Middle School

But that last song in Mary Poppins, that last moment when the family together charge around singing, “Let’s go fly a kite” stuck with me. It has stuck with me to such an extent that it’s my mantra for the year. It captures two powerful things for me. The first is that Mr. Banks, in that mo-

Men of Character from Boys of Promise


SCHOOL MESSAGES From the Lower School


anus is the Roman, two-headed god of gates, doors and transitions, after whom the month of January is named. Janus has two faces looking in opposite directions, and presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and set goals for the year ahead. To me, resolutions and resiliency go hand in hand. It is one thing to set goals, and quite another to find the grit to actualize them. Like most people, I have both personal and professional goals. When it comes to personal goals, I think of improving physical fitness, making more healthy food choices and spending more time with loved ones. Professionally, it is my goal to make Crescent’s Lower School the best learning environment for boys, full stop. Over my years in the field of education, it has become clear that there are no shortage of experts telling parents and teachers what we should be doing to make this happen. In stark contrast, there are few who are able to communicate to us just how we are to do it. This year, I have a very specific goal of attempting to break down (jargon alert: “unpack”) the best skill sets required to assist our boys to be better learners. For example, telling a young man that in order to achieve better grades at school, he needs to work harder, study more and be more organized, is not unlike someone telling me that in order to be healthier, I need to exercise more and make healthier food choices. Surprise! I know this! You know this! Your sons know this! What we don’t know, is how actually identify the lifestyle changes to make it happen and then transform them into our new habits.

Very practically, the boys are learning how to do this step-bystep. First, the boys define their current reality: What does personal responsibility look like? Sound like? Feel like? Then the boys take an “active” personal inventory, asking themselves: What do I do well? What and where can I improve in each of the six domains listed above? (For example, boys may know that they very good at taking care of their belongings but know they have difficulty accepting decisions beyond their direct control, like how often they get played on a team, or the restaurant the family chooses to eat dinner) The boys set specific goals around areas to improve how they respond to these situations (getting sports equipment and school bags, packed and ready to go the night before school). Establish a “goals buddy” in the classroom—someone whose strengths are opposite yours. This is just one example of the many ways in which we are trying to help the boys identify small lifestyle changes that have far-reaching results, in the same way that I am choosing club soda over pop, kale chips over potato chips and sit-ups over sitting down. Like its namesake Janus, a new year is an opportunity to look both ahead and behind in an effort to make the most of our lives and our learning. Rest assured that at Crescent, we are helping your sons become men of character by giving them the practical skill sets to do this for themselves.

At Crescent School, we are unpacking the skill sets of what is actually means to be a good friend, to be responsible, to manage one’s emotions and to be a leader. One example of this work is in our Grade 4 Character Education classes. Here, with Ms. Beech-Kennedy and Mr. O’Meara the boys are learning to define and practice the skills involved in personal responsibility. Personal responsibility has been divided into the following domains:

• • • • • •


taking care of belongings managing time demonstrating good manners and etiquette understanding that actions have consequences (both positive and negative) owning one’s problems and solutions accepting decisions beyond one’s control

Men of Character from Boys of Promise

—Dr. Boyes, Head of Lower School

LIBRARY NEWS Pondering the Mysteries of Graphic Novel Readers


graphic novel is a format of book that looks like a long comic book. Within the category of graphic novels, there are a variety of genres as well as non-fiction options. Over the last 20 years the category of graphic novels has developed and expanded to include the range of genres you would find in a bookstore. Two of the best known original starting books are Maus by Art Spiegelman and the series Bone by Jeff Smith. Here are some interesting observations from the Margaret Donnelly Library (MDL). My graphic novel corner is at the same time the messiest but also the most orderly of sections. On one hand, I have the most purposeful group of boys settling down at a table to read silently together. They make a beeline to the corner, quickly selecting their choice of book, and zoning out everything else around them. On the other hand, the table in front of the graphic novel shelves cannot be seen by the end of sustained silent reading time, being heavily buried underneath at least two layers of books. It appears that this might be an attempt to help the later visitors find the best books without having to flick through the options on the shelf—peer-reviewed material already on display!

be too much effort based on how quickly they can finish these books. One of the lessons that most engaged my students was simply a step-by-step explanation on how a graphic novel works. You could have heard a pin drop: explaining that “the gutter” in between panels was key. As an aside, I learned an important lesson one day: you only have to explicitly teach two boys how to approach a Manga book, once, and the whole school suddenly knows how to do it, too. Magic. There is a strong perception that boys who read graphic novels all the time are seen as non-readers. The is a disconnect between what we perceive is happening in the reading life of our students and what really is happening. I think that because graphic novels are not understood to be real books then a child who chooses them is understood as not reading anything of value, and therefore must be thought of as a non-reader. Happily many librarians understand that in a boys life, many differ-

ent formats of reading exist: magazines, Internet news, and many other forms of engaging with text. Graphic novels do count as reading, it just might look different. The books are both highly desirable and well respected. Graphic novels are highly desirable: most students make a beeline for that section. I find it even more interesting that with the amount of use they endure, they still stay in a great shape. One piece of wisdom that is passed around in libraries is that the books that are in the worst shape, or the ones that are missing from the shelf, are the ones that are the most desirable. Maybe we will see some wear and tear down the road, but so far, I have not seen this play out—our boys treat our graphic novel collection with kid gloves. There is more than meets the eye with these books! Who knew there would be so much to ponder? —Elizabeth Ford, Lower School Teacher/Librarian

My most avid readers often choose not to take out these books. Student will read them, return every day to enjoy the same books (over and over again), but will not take them out of the MDL. I will suggest it time and time again, but am often rebuffed. On reflection, this may be because the graphic novel format seems so easy for students to get absorbed into the action, and making the motion to take it out would

Men of Character from Boys of Promise


CPA NEWS The Annual Crescent Parent Luncheon


ebruary 11, is a date to mark into your calendars, as we will be having the Crescent parent annual luncheon at the Granite Club. The event will begin

at noon and will wrap up at around 2:30 p.m. It is a wonderful opportunity to come and catch up with fellow parents while enjoying a delicious lunch with your friends. Spencer West from Me to We is our keynote speaker. His captivating story and personal charisma have enthralled and inspired audiences around the world. Listeners are mesmerized as Spencer describes his journey from losing his legs from the pelvis down at the age of five, to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in his wheelchair and on his hands. We can all learn valuable and inspiring lessons on how every individual can tackle mountains and redefine the possible. You will

take home tips on how to find opportunity in every challenge, overcome obstacles and create positive change. He has been featured countless times in the media, including shows such as 60 Minutes, ABC News and CNN. He is the author of the best selling book Standing Tall: My Journey. His T-shirts and books will be available for purchase at the event by debit card only. You can sign up in the Green Room for this exciting event and please try and carpool where possible, as the parking is limited. Looking forward to seeing you there. —Nancy Baker, Crescent Parent Luncheon Convener

Crescent Parent Association 2014/2015 Nominations Open for Volunteer Positions Come and connect with Crescent School, meet new parents and get involved. Parents from every grade are welcome. Nominations for 2014/2015 are now underway. Visit the CPA Home Page in the Green Room to learn more. Job postings can be found in the Quick Links. Please contact Mary Wellner, Nominations Chair at or at 416-485-1999 with questions, to volunteer for a position, or to nominate a friend. We look forward to hearing from you!



n the 14th of January, students participated in the fourth of six Math League contests this year. We had another impressive turnout of students. Thank you and a big pat on the back to all students who participated! Here are the current overall standings: 1. Ian Lo, Grade 11 20 4. Ronald Chow, Grade 10 16 9. Hugh McCauley, Grade 11 14 1. Max Liu, Grade 11 20 6. Jake Fisher, Grade 12 15 9. Ryan Tam, Grade 12 14 1. Adam Murai, Grade 11 20 6. Winston Xing, Grade 11 15 9. Jonathon Pearce, Grade 11 14 4. Matt Allion, Grade 11 16 8. David Ferris, Grade 12 14

Hudson House is taking the lead with a whopping 107 points! Massey is close behind with 93 points, and Cartier is in 3rd with 70 points. Please encourage your son to come out and write the next contest on the 11th of February! —Sean Chung, Grade 12


Men of Character from Boys of Promise



e are pleased to report that through your generosity and that of many others in the Crescent community, we have now secured more than $28.25 million in funding commitments toward the Great Boys campaign’s $30 million goal. The boys already put Innes Field, the Lau Family Wing, and the Margaret Donnelly Lower School Library to good use on a daily basis, additions that have been key undertakings of the first phase of the campaign. Over the summer we broke ground on the Library and construction on the Latifi Family Commons is set to begin next June, with both facilities opening in September 2014. We have also made significant progress on the funding goals of our four programmatic initiatives: Crescent Student Services/Research & Development in Boys’ Education, International Outreach, Robotics and Technology, and Student Financial Aid. Since February 2011, when Parent Annual Giving became campaign focused, $3.5 million has been earmarked toward Great Boys from this yearly effort, and hundreds of our parents have doubled or tripled their annual donation to support the $30 million goal. Having our community support the School and the Great Boys campaign to the best of their ability is all that we could have ever asked for and that call has been answered. In February 2014, we will again approach our current and incoming parents to participate in Parent Annual Giving, and encourage those who can to double or triple their annual commitment. It is our goal to see the overall Annual Giving program—counting annual donations from ALL members of our Crescent family—contribute in the range of $5 million to the Great Boys campaign by the end of the counting period. In each

re-registration package, you will find a special request to consider doubling or perhaps tripling the tax-deductible $2,000 per child donation to the Annual Giving program for the duration of the Great Boys campaign. Thank you in advance to all families for considering a $4,000 or $6,000 gift each year until the campaign concludes; your support will make a tremendous difference in what Crescent can accomplish for our boys. Since every student will benefit from the building projects and program enhancements made possible by the Great Boys campaign, we are asking every family to consider donating at a higher level until the campaign concludes. Our $30 million goal is an ambitious one for Crescent School, and our success is dependent upon all members of our community giving to the best of their ability to ensure we meet our target. Some families are able to make a major gift in the range of $50,000 or more, but the vast majority of families will participate in the Great Boys campaign via yearly gifts to the Parent Annual Giving program. We want to stress how proud and grateful we are to all members of our Crescent family who have supported the School and the Great Boys campaign to date and will continue to do so. The tremendous success of Annual Giving as part of the campaign truly shows that ALL gifts make a difference. We thank you for your continued and generous support. For more information on the Parent Annual Giving Program, the Great Boys campaign or ways to support the School, please contact Jill Cannon, Director of Advancement, at jcannon@ or 416-449-2556 ext. 276. You may also visit

Men of Character from Boys of Promise



aking a pledge to others to do something out of your comfort zone, in order to get a reaction (in this case a donation) often works. Mr. Roberts made a pledge that he would put on a uniform and “dress like a mess” for the entertainment of staff and students, if students exceeded a goal of $1,000 in raising funds for Mr. Comeau’s baked goods raffle. Mr. Comeau takes the time, and makes the effort, to organize these raffles once or twice a year so the School can make a cash donation to the Daily Bread Food Bank. The food bank in turn can then buy FRESH food for the people who rely on the organization in times of need. In the end, a total of $1,045 was raised. So on January 9, Mr. Roberts sashayed onto the stage in Upper School Assembly chewing gum and throwing attitude around... and dressed perfectly. He looked pretty convincing! Is this what retirement might look like?

great picture!

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

Crescent Times  

Volume 17 Issue 5

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