Volume 15 Issue 9
keeping parents informed
3, 2012 February
a strong student culture
e’re proud of the student culture at Crescent School. We believe, through our work with our boys and our families, that together we maintain a warm and friendly environment with clear expectations and boundaries. A strong, supportive student culture is a fundamental goal: we want boys to feel recognized and accepted for who they are while they are at Crescent. However, as proud as we are of our work in this area, it’s important not to take our culture for granted. We understand that, in any environment that brings together a significant number of boys, from time to time some social friction is inevitable. We believe that a positive school culture that emphasizes healthy relationships is a strong preventative measure, and that clear expectations and boundaries are critical in responding effectively to any incidents of social cruelty or bullying that may occur. We recognize the need continually to assess our effectiveness in nurturing a healthy school culture. Accordingly, we have partnered with a national organization, PREVNet (PREVNet. ca), to conduct an audit of the student culture at Crescent and our related policies and practices. This audit will take the form of surveys to be completed by our students, grades 3 – 12, a
survey of our teachers, and an examination of our policies and related practices, to be completed this term. In addition, in the parent survey to be conducted later this year, there will be a section on school culture and bullying to which you may respond. The student survey will be conducted during class time. It’s not compulsory, but we hope that all students will choose to participate so that the information gathered will be as accurate and complete as possible. For boys below the age of 16 to participate, parental consent is required because the data from the survey may be used by PREVNet in the future in their ongoing research. We would very much like the information gathered here to be available for research as part of our broader commitment and contribution to this important work. PREVNet guarantees the confidentiality of your son’s responses, both internally at Crescent, and for any possible future research application of the data. I hope that you will choose to provide your consent for your son to participate in the survey and partner with us to ensure that Crescent School continues to provide the best possible environment in which our boys may thrive. The Head of each division will communicate the details of the distribution and collection of the consent package. Thank you for your help with this important work. —Colin Lowndes, Deputy Headmaster/Head of Upper School
Re-registration continues... please go to the Green Room and re-register your son for next year, Crescent’s centennial. The deadline is Wednesday, Feb 15.
Crescent School | 2365 Bayview Ave. Toronto, ON M2L 1A2 | 416.449.2556 | www.crescentschool.org
ADVANCEMENT NEWS Annual Giving and the Great Boys Campaign: Asking Families to Double or Triple Their Gifts paign is so instrumental in shaping the immediate future of our students, we hope that families will consider committing $4,000 or perhaps $6,000 per year to the Annual Giving programme for the life of the campaign.
he February re-enrollment period for the 2011-2012 school year is upon us—Crescent parents received their online re-registration notice this week (please see the 2012 – 2013 ReRegistration e-mail and the Green Room, RE-REGISTRATION tab). The Parent Annual Giving donation form is among the online forms that families will complete and return by the Wednesday, Feb. 15 deadline. As Crescent did last year, and as the School has done in previous fundraising campaigns, we are asking that parents consider doubling or perhaps tripling their traditional Annual Giving commitments this year, and for the duration of the Great Boys campaign. Crescent’s Annual Giving programme is the cornerstone of fundraising at Crescent and enjoys a participation rate that exceeds all of our peer independent schools in Toronto. Each February, parents are asked to pledge a specific, fully tax-deductible amount to the Annual Giving programme. For 2012 – 2013, the Board of Governors has maintained the request amount of $2,000 per child. However, because the Great Boys cam-
The Great Boys campaign has an ambitious goal of $30 million, including a Parent Annual Giving goal of $1.2 million this year. Achieving these unprecedented totals will require a similarly unprecedented level of support from our community. In 2011 – 2012, we were able to set an Annual Giving record, thanks to those families that generously responded, and particularly to those who doubled or tripled their annual gift. We need all families to participate as generously again, if we are to meet this year’s annual giving goal of $1.2 million. To those few families that haven’t supported Annual Giving, we hope this will be your year to make an annual gift. The first Great Boys initiative was the completed Innes Field, furthering our commitment to athletics, a critical component of a boys’ school. The Lau Family Wing is now fully funded and joyfully occupied by Middle School and Upper School students and staff. Programme funding is mounting nicely for Robotics and Technology, and Crescent Student Services/R&D in Boys’ Education, with International Outreach and Student Financial Aid having met their fundraising goal. The boys are also enjoying the new Lower School Resource Centre, a larger Robotics Lab, and enhanced Lower School art space, all thanks to Great Boys donations. Now, our attention turns to the final building phase of the campaign, the new
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
Library and the Commons, a $13 million project. The Library will propel Crescent forward, providing a 21st century facility that will allow for quiet, individual study, small group work and full class lessons, all at once. Leading edge technology and an expanded print resource collection will be seamlessly integrated. Information literacy skills will be further emphasized—a critical element of university readiness as our students prepare to take their place in similar such libraries in post-secondary institutions. Once the new Library is built, in the place of what is now Hyland Hall, construction will begin on the Commons, a gathering place at the front of the School that will bring together University Counselling and Crescent Student Services (CSS). This prominent area will provide additional space and ease of accessibility to these essential services for both students and parents. Crescent’s tuition fees fund the school’s annual operating budget of approximately $20 million. As in all independent schools, the majority of that funding is designated for staff salaries, with the remainder covering day-to-day needs, including departmental budgets and facilities maintenance. All of the Great Boys campaign initiatives, approved by the Board of Governors and set forth in the Centennial Strategic Plan, must be funded by charitable donations from our parents, alumni, staff, grandparents and friends. For some, a Major Gift of $50,000 or more is feasible, and we are grateful to the many families that have already made campaign commitments at that level. However, the majority of families will participate continued next p.
through Annual Giving, and for that reason, we ask that parents give special consideration to an augmented Annual Giving pledge. Every student who sets foot on our campus is already benefitting from the enhancements made possible by the Great Boys initiatives, which is why we are asking that all families stretch to give at a higher level for the life of the campaign. Everything Crescent School does is focused on providing the best education possible for each individual student who walks through our doors, and we are leaning on all members our community to help us reach the goal. Thank you in advance for partnering with Crescent to achieve our worthy mission. Your sons will benefit today, as will Crescent boys for generations to come. For more information on Crescent’s Annual Giving programme or ways to support the School, please contact Jill Palmer, Director of Advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-449-2556 ext. 288. You may also visit our website at www.crescentschool.org/GreatBoysCampaign.
CPA NEWS CPA Grade Parent Programmes
Creating Lasting Ties with our Past Parents
he Crescent Past Parent Programme was launched in June of 2008 with the goal of creating and maintaining lasting and meaningful ties between past parents and the School. In September 2008 the Programme expanded retroactively to include the
classes of 2002 to 2007. The first reps were Jennifer Lowden (Trevor) and Susan Thornburrow (Will) from the class of 2008 (both pictured), which has 100 per cent participation in the Programme. Each year two parents from the graduating class are chosen to be representatives for their year, and are announced at the graduation ceremony by Mr. Roberts. A formal letter is sent to the parents of the graduating class by the representatives, inviting past parents to subscribe to the Programme. Once e-mail information is collected from those interested parents, a newsflash is sent out three times per year in October, January and April. These newsflashes keep past parents connected to Crescent School with news of interest and upcoming events. To date we have 17 Past Parent Representatives from the classes of 2002 through 2011.
If you know a past parent who doesn’t subscribe to the Programme, please have them contact me at sharon.fielding@rogers. com. Thank you! —Sharon Fielding, Past Parent Coordinator, CPA
We look forward to staying connected with all past parents especially on the horizon of Crescent School’s 100th Anniversary in 2013!
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
SCHOOL MESSAGES From the Middle School
speeches are brilliant. They draw the audience in an authentic way that makes for a real connection but it is so hard to do.
I finished a frantic day and ran along to a theatre, much like ours, to find a huge throng of people. The formality of the event began to dawn on me as we trooped into the theatre and I was told I would be the second speaker. The speaker before me, with a fistful of detailed notes, plodded through a carefully scripted, beautifully eloquent summary of a great career.
We work hard to appropriately support our boys in stepping out of their comfort zones and this is a perfect example of how
t my previous school I was asked to speak at a colleague’s retirement function. I have always been uncomfortable and nervous about speaking in public but in my mind’s eye I imagined an intimate gathering of work mates and peers around a few beers, with a lighthearted and fun atmosphere. Of course I should have asked, but life was busy and time went by.
I got up and looked out at the audience, feeling increasingly anxious. I had not anticipated this scenario so decided the best way forward was to try humour. I can’t remember the joke I made, some misplaced attempt at sophisticated wit… nothing, not a single laugh, not even a chuckle, just an excruciating silence, a little awkward shifting, a polite cough but no laugh… just a few crickets chirping and some tumble weeds. Increasingly aware of the cringe-worthy nature of my attempt at unscripted banter the rest of what I had to say lurched desperately towards an end that couldn’t come fast enough.
Having seen this year’s themes of courage and resilience our Drama department decided to weave this into this years Middle School production. They have focused on improvisation and comedy and have crafted a performance to reflect these skills. Taking the stage for the Middle School production is always daunting but this year requires real courage from our boys. That moment of vulnerability is so fragile and yet powerful during the Middle School years.
a community can afford opportunities for courage and yet support at the same time. It would be wonderful to see as many families out at the performance as possible in the knowledge that as our boys take those courageous steps in attempting humour on stage they will feel the uplifting encouragement of laughter and enjoyment. Meanwhile my speaker fees for retirement functions continue to be competitive and full details can be found at awkwardsilence.com.
When done well, improvised, off the cuff, humour-driven
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
—Mr. Young, Head of Middle School
From the Upper School
e hosted the grade 9/10 social event last Friday evening. I cannot remember when I have supervised a better behaved group of boys and girls; all of the teachers in attendance shared my view. I spoke with many of the kids as they were leaving and they all claimed to have had a great time, a view confirmed by the boys I spoke with from both grades throughout this week. The event seems to have been a big success by any measure. A comment by my colleague Mike Fellin sticks in my head; Mike has had considerable experience with these kinds of events at other schools. At one point during the evening he turned to me and remarked, “Look at these kids; they’re all enjoying themselves. Where else in the city could these kids have this kind of healthy fun?” I think he’s right. This could be an accident: perhaps the planets were aligned perfectly that evening. However, I think it’s more likely that the hard work invested over the past year by our counselor, Andrea Kaye, by Steve Dubrick, and by our Prefects, both last year’s team and the guys this year, has had a great deal to do with it. Some of you may recall that last year I wrote about my lack of enthusiasm for dances, particularly in light of the issues raised by the fall dance. You may remember that the girls’ schools ex-
pressed concerns about behaviour and particularly the predominant style of “dancing,” called “grinding.” All schools reported concerns with behaviours encouraged by the size of such large, all-grades dances, which encourages a perception of anonymity, and with the appropriateness of combining age groups (grades 9 through 12) at this kind of event. Ms Kaye and Mr. Dubrick spent the year organizing conversations among students at the boys’ and girls’ schools, facilitated by Prefects from the schools. These structured conversations encouraged greater understanding among both boys and girls about each other’s expectations at social events and increased awareness about healthy ways of interacting. We have also worked hard to help parents, both at Crescent and at our sister schools, understand what happens at these events and to understand our expectations for our students. As always, parents have been receptive and supportive. I believe that the success of last Friday’s event is the result of the hard work and dedication of everyone who committed to creating a healthy social environment for our students, and, as always, to our strong partnership with our families. We’re blessed with great kids who respond wonderfully when given the opportunity. —Mr. Lowndes, Head of Upper School
From the Lower School
ast year, I was selected to participate in the 2011/12 International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC) Action Research Programme. The aim of this programme is to encourage and support educators in boys’ schools to research and reflect upon practices in their classrooms and schools, with the outcome of enhancing boys’ learning through better teaching. Last summer, I attended the IBSC conference in England, and met with the other educators selected to complete an action research project during the 2011/12 school year. But, what should I research? What topic would best benefit us? I had been concerned about our Character Recognition programme for some time. Since the inception of the ribbons and pins programme, the mission has been clarified and the behaviour of the boys has improved. It was time for a change! I have always been interested on the impact students have on changing their school culture. The most effective character education programmes are the ones that are personalized to fit the needs and interests of a school; therefore, schools that create and customize their character education programme are the most likely to reap positive results.
own, under my general supervision. The first week of school and at Curriculum Night, I pitched the idea to the parents and boys in the graduating, grade 6 class. The result was a team of 14 volunteers who worked with me to completely re-vamp the Character Recognition Programme over the past five months. The process the boys created to solve the inherent problems of the existing programme, is a remarkable story. I want to share with you their guiding principles and their results: • It is important to keep a character recognition programme of some kind. • Boys need to understand how and why they get rewards. • Teachers need to have better guidelines to give rewards. • Rewards need to be different at each grade level, and get more advanced with each grade. • There should be two levels of awards, a “merit” level for each grade (like an achievement certificate, so all boys are included) and a “prestige level” for those who go beyond. Intrigued? Impressed? Good! In my next message, I will describe the details of the programme and celebrate the grade 6 boys responsible for its creation. Till next time!
I knew I wanted students to revise the programme on their
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
—Dr. Boyes, Head of Lower School
FACULTY PROFILE Our new Library Technician, Mr. Michael Tamburro
here were you before Crescent? I was a communications director and editor with a youth/community based magazine and web publication, and in addition, I have a background in journalism as well. I returned to school recently, and trained to be a library technician, and now here I sit at the front desk of the Library (at Crescent) with Henson the owl by my side! Why library sciences? Working in a library has many similarities with my previous experience in journalism. You are the gatekeeper of information and help categorize and then distribute the most useful and trustworthy material that will educate and enlighten your patrons.
Big fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond? Better a small fish in a big pond. If you’re hungry enough you can always become a bigger fish. What’s your greatest fear? Heights. The CN Tower Edge Walk holds no appeal for me! What’s your greatest joy in life? Spending time with family and friends over a nice meal. If you were a professional athlete, who would you be? Because I know nothing about sports, I would have to say Wayne Gretzky, only because I once had really good nachos at his restaurant. That man can cook! How will libraries change in the future? What changes have you seen during your career already? In the future libraries will serve a multitude of uses and continue to evolve beyond just “rooms with books” as libraries have been. And especially at Crescent—with plans for a new Learning Commons—we will see amazing developments and innovations. This is a very exciting time for the School, and for us here in the Library especially. And yes, I will be bringing Henson the owl with me into the new space.
What does a technician do? Describe your role in the Library. A Library Technician maintains the day-to-day operations of the library such as circulation, and assisting students in finding materials. Technicians are also responsible for cataloguing new material, promotions, and generally supporting the librarians’ educational roles. I am also taking on a new part-time role; helping in the Archives (as the School moves into its centennial year in 2012 – 2013), learning from Mr. Campbell, our current archivist, and taking over when he retires in June. It is a great project, and I am really excited about it! What’s your favourite thing about Crescent? The professional staff and their dedication to education. Describe the perfect day at Crescent. It would be a day when the library is full of students who are studying (FYI: we have tables at the back for quiet study), reading or engaged in thought-provoking debate and discussion. If you changed professions again, what would you be? A newspaper page designer. I love graphic design and spend my free time working on design projects. Right now I am putting together a booklet for a family reunion that traces our family tree.
What's your favourite genre of book? And do you have a favourite book? Survival tales like Robinson Crusoe. To tell you the truth, I am not reading much lately as I am spending so much time doing graphic design. What is the best way to get boys interested in reading? Find out what their individual interests are, and then get them into books of that genre using innovative technology such as audio books and E-reader tablets. Any author you would like to meet? Stephen King would be interesting to meet. The constant output of material is astounding. I’d love to know more about his methods and creative process to be able to turn out both quantity and quality for novels, comics and films!
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
STUDENT LIFE High Marks or Well-Rounded? The Paper that Broke the Student’s Back
student of Crescent School will face many challenges throughout his Upper School career, however, one of the most central, and universally faced challenges is that of schoolwork. Students (especially in grade 11 and 12) battle against what seems to be a constant stream of work. Time management is a fundamental skill to acquire, and although somewhat ruthless, a copious amount of work is one of the best ways to achieve this skill. “So much to do, so little time to do it” is the norm, and students feel the pressure of this every day. Sacrifices must be made. In order to complete all of their work, students must make regular sacrifices, and often this comes down to making difficult choices. As an actor in the Upper School production of RENT, I struggled to keep on top of my work in the first term. Late submissions are rarely tolerated, so I had to find the time to get what seemed to be an insurmountable amount of homework done. Having rehearsals until 8 p.m. almost every night, left very little time for essays, projects, and homework; I had no choice but to take time away from sleep. I became used to working until 1 or 2 a.m. almost every night, and on occasion until the ridiculous hours of 4 or 5 a.m. if I had hockey after my rehearsal. Although “getting involved” in clubs, sports or other activities is widely preached (and it should be), students are faced with a workload that, in some cases, cannot coexist with a “get involved” mentality—not to mention the little time left for a student’s social and family life. Family dinners seem to be a thing of the past. Grade 12 students know these strains better than any other students, with the daunting task of applying to university and keeping their marks up at the forefront of their lives. A grade 12 student described the struggle he faces in his university applications: Contrary to popular belief, the prospect of university can sometimes be de-motivational. The globally competitive supplements, especially those of U.S. and British schools, can overwhelm and ultimately harm the grade 12 student academically. Students are pushed academically in an attempt to be the best they can be, but when pushed too far, students simply say, “I won’t be able to finish all this work, so why bother starting it?” A workload should not by any means accommodate this mentality, however it is equally important that it does not suppress a student until they feel forced to adopt it.
hugely affected by a suppressive workload. Stress, in relation to schoolwork, is faced by every student almost every day. If a student is up until 1 or 2 in the morning completing their schoolwork, is it fair to expect them to learn a lesson in class at 8:30 the next morning? An eight-hour night of sleep is somewhat comical to a student; a “perfect world” notion that has no relevance in their life as a student with an excessive amount of work. Depression, anxiety, a weakened immune system, and other physical ramifications of consistently sacrificing sleep are not the concerns of a busy student. After all, a teacher will not accept, “I needed to sleep” as a reason not to do homework. Deadlines are what a student’s life revolves around, and getting the work done on time trumps getting the work done well. Sloppy work is a result because students can rarely do well on an assignment if they are struggling to complete it on time. Sub-par work is not a result of apathy; it is simply a student trying to keep afloat in a sea of work, as a low mark is better than a zero. Due-dates too far in the future are almost as bad as duedates too close to the present, as a student will choose to work on a more pressing assignment than one due in a week or two. Procrastination is not brought about by lethargy, it is brought about (in most cases) by having to do other work. Why struggle to complete many assignments when you struggle to complete only one? Deadline extensions (if even available) are met with a wagging finger, and have worse consequences for a student than just a disappointed teacher. Students must fight to regain lost ground, and to catch up to the speed of that class and that of classmates. As a result deadline extensions must be avoided at all costs, and it is actually easier for a student to convince himself from the start of the year that extensions do not exist. Sick days are also huge setbacks, and again, students will sacrifice their health in order to keep up. While time management and the push to be the best you can be are crucial parts of high school, there is a fine balance between being busy, and being overwhelmed. This feeling of drowning in work is not healthy for a student, mentally or physically, and should not force them out of doing the activities (including sleep!) that they love. After all is said and done, shouldn’t we incentivise being a well-rounded person more than having a high average?
Marks are not the only factor at stake with a large amount of work: the general health and well-being of a student is
Men of Character from Boys of Promise
—Owen Brown, grade 11