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Magazine Spring 2013




The York School

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A coeducational, non-denominational International Baccalaureate World School for students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12

Welcome from Head of School Day of Pink Community Clean-up and Earth Day A Conversation with Student Filmmaker Christian Byrne, Grade 11 Faculty Profile Jody Roberts Celebrating Our Community: Annual Benefit 2013 Alumni Profile Meesha Tanna, ’06 Service in Action: Eden Gelgoot & Patrick Kaufmann Graham Creating an Online Community with VoiceThread Debating: A Driving Force Taking on Challenge Week 2013

Junior School (Junior Kindergarten – Grade 5) 1639 Yonge Street Toronto, Ontario M4T 2W6 Middle & Senior Schools (Grades 6 – 12) 1320 Yonge Street Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X2 T 416.926.1325 F 416.926.9592 Our mission: To develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are engaged citizens of the world. York on Yonge Magazine is published by the Advancement Department for the families and friends of The York School. Executive Director of Advancement Hallie McClelland Marketing and Communications Officer Principal writer Marika Motiwalla

Parent Profile Jennifer Jeffs

E-Communications Officer Principal photographer Kara Lysne-Paris

Q&A with York International Parents (YIP)

Advancement Officer Jennifer Dickie

Thank You to Our Volunteer Community

Advancement Assistant Annie Koshy


Welcome to York on Yonge Magazine Focus on Community Welcome to the Spring 2013 edition of York on Yonge Magazine. The aphorism “it takes a village to raise a child” encourages us to reflect on the roles we all play in shaping children as they become contributing members of our community. There is also truth to the reverse, that a child can shape the community in which we live. When our students challenge us to reconsider bullying and bias by holding a ‘Day of Pink’ in our school, or when Junior School students take an active part in cleaning up the damage littering has made to our neighbourhood by participating in Earth Day, they are causing us to stop and think. Our students’ active participation in the world around them creates and shapes our community.

We have an amazing community, and our parents, teachers, staff and students all have a role to play in teaching each other and nurturing our ‘village’. Thank you for your part in making our community experience exceptional. I hope you enjoy these stories. By being a part of our community you have contributed to their very existence. I encourage you to share our community with others by passing this magazine along to friends and family. Sincerely,

Conor Jones, Head of School 3


“I just don’t believe in any form of bullying or making anyone feel that they are not equal to anyone else, because I think everyone is equal and I think diversity is such a good thing.” —Joseph Granata, Grade 12 Student



Pink Committee

On April 13, 2011 now Grade 12 student Joseph Granata heard something on the radio on his way to school that moved him to take action. A news story about Pink Shirt Day, an anti-bullying movement born in a high school in Nova Scotia that was sweeping the nation, caught his attention. The story was that a high-school boy who wore a pink T-shirt to school one day was bullied about it and his sexual orientation, so two other boys went to school the next day wearing pink T-shirts as a sign of support and inclusivity.

Joseph found himself still thinking about these students and what they did when he arrived at school that day. As he walked through the halls and talked to his friends he realized no one else seemed to be aware of Pink Shirt Day or its significance. So he taped pink paper to his uniform as an act of solidarity and that’s when people began to take notice. Sally O’Neill, Middle School Counsellor/Health & Wellness Specialist, approached him to ask whether he wanted to do more to raise awareness at the Senior School about this important day. Joseph readily agreed because every time he explained why he had taped the pink paper to his shirt he was met with a positive response. He believed then, and still believes

now, that if people were made more aware of this movement it would be another opportunity to build an openminded and inclusive community within the school. Despite Pink Shirt Day’s humble beginnings in Nova Scotia it has now grown to significantly influence our province’s Education Act and other laws, and has inspired an impressive international movement with the International Day of Pink. Last year approximately 8 million people worldwide participated in International Day of Pink. Through the small gesture of taping pink paper to his uniform, Joseph single-handedly brought the Pink Shirt Day and International Day of Pink movement to the Senior School—and that took great courage, says Sally. This movement gives weight to the well-known idea of the ‘power of one’ as students all over the world take a stand against bullying. “I just don’t believe in any form of bullying or making anyone feel that they are not equal to anyone else, because I think everyone is equal and I think diversity is such a good thing,” Joseph says matter-of-factly. His strong convictions, leadership and charisma helped Joseph form a dedicated committee of students including Meghan Waitzer, Alissa Brayley, Gita Goolsarran, Rina Plotkin and Tara Malek-Gilani, and Pink Shirt Day at The York School was born. This student-led initiative was intended to bring the community together and focus on positive language and inclusivity. “I really liked the idea because it was such a simple concept but it could make such a difference; by doing something as simple as wearing pink and showing your support you could include people and make people who thought they were being excluded feel more included,” says Meghan as she thinks back to two years ago.

In the first year the goal was to get as many people as possible engaged in the Senior School and so the committee put together a poster campaign leading up to the day. Once the day came around most Senior School students were wearing pink and joining in discussions about inclusion and how to promote anti-bullying techniques. Confident from the success of the first year, the committee this year decided to involve the Middle School and expand the awareness campaign by creating a pledge, which hung in a prominent spot in the hallway of the first floor, stating: “I pledge to be conscious of the words I choose, where I say them and how they might affect others.” Every student had the choice whether they wanted to sign the pledge or not. Joseph and his team were thrilled when students bounded towards the pledge, eager to write their names on the pale pink paper. During March Break this year, the dedicated Grade 12 students who make up the committee gathered together for a pin-making party. The pins were created to visually represent the bonds of the community and the inclusivity the Day of Pink aims to achieve. They also prepared hundreds of pink Post-its with different affirmations on them such as: You are kind. You are smart. You are fun. You are awesome. You are beautiful. You are caring. On the morning of International Day of Pink 2013 every locker and office in the Middle and Senior Schools had a note on it, and inclusivity and positive language reigned. Two years, one student-made video, 420 pins, countless T-shirts and pink Post-its later, the power of one has been proven. “I just want people to reflect on their own stance on bullying and think about it on their own and come to their own conclusions,” Joseph says. 7


Junior School students rolled up their sleeves and got into the spirit of Earth Day as they cleaned up the neighbourhood during a day-long Community Clean-up extravaganza. Students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 5 had a chance throughout the day to contribute to a cleaner neighbourhood.

The Community Clean-up effort took place at Yorkminster Baptist Church’s green spaces, neighbours’ lawns on Glen Elm Street and the parkette along Yonge Street from Heath Street up to Davisville Avenue. “The children loved it and really felt they were doing something that was meaningful and helpful and that we were being good members of our community,” says Junior School Principal Susan Charron. Leading up to the day, the Junior School’s After Four Programme Kids for Kids organized the different shifts for each class, and promoted the day with informative Earth Day posters and

reminders of the importance of keeping the community litter-free. The students loved having the responsibility of cleaning up and had a lot of fun doing it. The Primary Years Programme theme of ‘Sharing the planet’ gave context to Earth Day and what students were learning in class was top of mind during the clean-up and the morning’s presentation. The day began with a visit from the Earth Rangers, who brought a ring-tailed lemur, bald eagle and ball snake to the assembly as part of their ‘Bring Back the Wild’ presentation, an initiative to educate young people about endangered species. After the interac-

tive session the Grade 4s were lucky enough to take part in a workshop on water pollution from the Earth Rangers, where they learned about how weather is involved in pollution, how water can be cleaned for reuse and the global ripple effect of pollution. “One of the values of our school and part of our mission is to create engaged citizens of the world and so it is important to develop an understanding of all the different things that can mean from the very beginning,” Susan says of introducing environmental issues to young students.



CHRISTIAN BYRNE, Why do you like making videos? I enjoy making videos primarily out of interest. There are so many variables, so many aspects to control in a video that creating one is both an interesting and a fun challenge. From an audience perspective, film is a great way to quickly and easily get to know a subject. I think in a great film the audience begins to feel a connection with the subject and that’s something I try to achieve in all my Young Artist Series. I want to establish a connection with the audience. Where did you get your inspiration for the Young Artist Series? Being a photographer, I try my hardest to take in my surroundings and look for things unnoticed by many. This


series was an extension of that. I began to look at those who I choose to surround myself with, and discovered that although I knew that Dani, for example, loves to dance and Alex loves to rap, I was unaware of the reasons why they love what they do. Since they are fascinating people, I thought it would be interesting enough to make a video to showcase what they love to do while also doing what I love to do! Why do you think recognizing other students’ talents is so important? The people around me are so incredibly talented and I thought it was important for both kids my age and more importantly older generations to see how talented and passionate young people can be.

How would you describe the student community at The York School? York is such a small school, so its student community is tighter than at other schools I’ve attended. Arriving in Grade 9 was somewhat intimidating at first because I knew a lot of these kids had been together since JK, but everyone was incredibly welcoming and I’ve made some lifelong friends these last three years at York. What was the most challenging aspect? Throughout the making of the series, the technical aspects of lighting, exposure, focus, etc. came naturally to me because of IB Film Studies as well as my own experiences. However, I was completely new to the interview portion of the process and that really challenged me. It wasn’t until the third or fourth run through that I was able to really listen to the answers and pull the best possible ones for the video. I figured out that a good interviewer,

one who can formulate relevant and interesting questions on the fly, is the difference between a technically sound video and an interesting and inspiring film. Do you plan to continue making videos? Of course, however, I will be concentrating more on narrative films. My film teacher, Mr. Noestheden, has been a huge help to me and has really pushed me to further my knowledge and create the best videos I possibly can. What was the most rewarding aspect of this project? After being in the Mac Lab for hours after school (and even seeing Mr. Hamilton go home on several occasions!), nothing is more rewarding than showing your subject the finished project. I always make sure to show it in person and work with them to get the best final edit, and it’s worth every moment of editing to see their reaction.

Please click the image above to watch Christian’s Young Artist Series 11



“I like to get students to think outside of the box and find ways to tap into their passions.” —Jody Roberts, Middle School Art Teacher

Much of Jody Roberts’ life has been intertwined with community service and art. The Middle School Art Teacher fondly remembers spending days with her mother exploring the outdoors while collecting rocks near their cottage and then when evening fell they would return home to paint scenes on the rocks’ smooth surfaces. This enthusiasm for art continued through her teenage years when Jody attended the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Saturday art classes and often visited the gallery with her mother, who asked her to think about and explain why certain pieces spoke to her. Along with art, Jody’s mother also championed community service. When Jody was a child her mother was diagnosed with cancer and, once in remission, she adopted an ardent philanthropic approach to life. Jody was immersed in volunteerism and advocacy from a young age and became an active volunteer and community builder throughout high school and university. She went on a service trip to Thailand in Grade 11, and was honoured with the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for more than 500 hours of community service in Grade 12. When she was a student at the University of Guelph pursuing a degree in Art History she began working with the Volunteer Centre of Guelph-Wellington, and went on to

work at Toronto’s Ronald McDonald House and the Canadian Cancer Society before discovering her passion for teaching. Today Jody works to use art as a means to create an interconnected community within the school and she is always looking for new ways to uncover students’ passions and showcase their talents. “I think a lot of my involvement [in different aspects of the school] has to do with just wanting to make school a fun place to be. Since students spend a lot of time here I want to make it a place they are excited to go to every day,” she says. Jody has done just that. In addition to her Grades 6 to 8 courses in painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, drawing, collage, and art history, Jody has also developed quite a following for ‘Open Studio,’ a lunchtime club that encourages students to explore their passion for art without the constraints of the curriculum. “It’s a free space where students can be creative and enjoy art outside of the classroom,” she says of her pilot project. Jody’s goal as a teacher is to instill in Middle School students the confidence to try something new and learn to appreciate everything around them. She feels fortunate to be teaching a subject where the work created by students can be showcased to the wider school population and sees it as an opportunity to foster both a sense of 13

community and an appreciation for art. “I have the rare opportunity to beautify the school and help students appreciate being here, celebrate their peers and have a sense of belonging,” she says. Jody’s hope as a teacher and an active leader of student life is to give students unique outlets so they can take a leap of faith and try something new, and learn to appreciate what others are doing. According to Fatima Remtulla, Department Chair of Mathematics, Jody is always bringing new ideas to the table. Her reliable nature is complemented by her kind, caring and generous spirit, says Fatima. “She really cares about making a difference, and whatever she decides

to put her attention towards you know that she’s thought about it and deemed it worthy of the time and care she’s going to give,” says Fatima. Fatima and Jody have worked together on many projects, such as the Grade 7 Math and Art Calendar, the student-led Fashion Show, the Grade 9 Amazing Race, where students trekked all over Toronto, and they each have led international Service Trips. They both agree that collaboration is imperative to building community. “The world isn’t made up of just one subject at a time, it’s all of the subjects together, and if you can draw connections and help students see the connections it gives them an opportunity to see the bigger picture and imagine a more fulsome community,” says Fatima.

This is one of the reasons Jody started Art Battles, an assembly-time contest that brings in a local artist and allows students to paint whatever they want during a timed contest. It is a chance for the school to watch art being created in the same way they would watch a sporting event or a live concert. Another project Jody is hoping will foster community is her pilot art camp, called ‘Creative Genius,’ that is taking place in August 2013. Her goal is to start a programme that will allow students to stay connected to art during the summer while trying different media and techniques. Her excitement is palpable as she discusses the logistics of each day of the camp and the experiences she is organizing for the students. Jody’s lifelong commitment to

creating community and encouraging exposure to new experiences will gather momentum next year as she pursues a Master of Arts in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning with a specialization in Creativity at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. All of Jody’s endeavours speak to her passion for both community-building and the arts. During her four years at The York School she has exposed students to new experiences, whether in class, on a Service Trip or in the art room at lunchtime. “I like to get students to think outside of the box and find ways to tap into their passions,” she says. It seems that with Jody’s imagination and collaborative spirit the possibilities for community-building are endless. 15




Volunteers at registration

The York School Annual Benefit on May 3, 2013 was a true celebration of our community. The Eglinton Grand was filled with parents of students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of The York School who all came together for an evening of festivities in support of the school. Thank you to our sponsors, and to those who supported this year’s event. The funds raised were directed to a number of initiatives across The York School; areas include bringing experts

into the classroom, improving student spaces, enhancing our technology, supporting athletics and providing professional development for teachers. These initiatives will give our current and future generations of students a vast array of unique opportunities and have a significant impact on their experience at The York School. We would also like to thank our Annual Benefit Committee, comprised of parent volunteers, who did a fantastic job of organizing the evening. Their teamwork, hard work and thoughtfulness were evident in every detail; we thank them for their dedication, effort and vision for this event.





“I think education is the most important aspect of life, and I want to see my students succeed and improve. It’s great to see them challenge themselves and progress.” —Meesha Tanna

When one Grade 5 student began attending tutoring sessions at alumna Meesha Tanna’s Start Smart Learning Centre, she was so shy she could barely whisper her name. Seven months later, after weekly one-on-one sessions, she now bounds into Meesha’s office each week proudly sharing news of her academic successes. It is moments like this that confirm for 25-year-old Meesha that the learning community she has created is on the right track. The centre has been open for nine months and Meesha’s positive attitude and determination have created an inclusive and respectful learning space where students of all ages can flourish. The individualized approach to teaching and the strong feeling of community she experienced while attending The York School greatly influenced Meesha’s philosophy for the learning centre. She believes that every student learns differently, and remembers how teachers at The York School spent time with her early in the morning and after school to make sure she not only understood the course material but also felt confident about her work. The relationships Meesha formed with her teachers, many of whom she is still in contact with, strengthened the sense of community she felt and made her enjoy learning. She feels lucky to have had teachers who went above and beyond the call of duty, and who cared enough to help her do well and celebrate her successes. It is her hope that her students will feel as welcome and comfortable at the learning centre as she did during her six years at The York School.

After high school Meesha went to Wilfrid Laurier University and earned a degree in Communications Studies. Following that she attended Nipissing University and received a Bachelor of Education in the Primary/ Junior Division. She has also completed her Special Education Additional Qualification Part I and her English as a Second Language Qualification Part I. Now, with 28 students enrolled, two teachers on staff and more calls coming in every day, Meesha is the director of a blossoming business where she tries to bring the skills she has learned and the sense of belonging she felt at The York School. “No two students are the same and I try to differentiate all my lessons based on a student’s need,” she says. Although Meesha individualizes lessons she makes sure there is always a communal and fun atmosphere at the learning centre. Displayed prominently on the wall is a colourful chart covered in shiny stickers. Each one is significant to individual students; Meesha awards them to students who attend a tutoring session, but also for other learning accomplishments. When students reach 20 stickers they receive a small prize. The friendly competition this incentive programme fosters is great to observe because it shows that students are engaged and care about improving, says Meesha. “I think education is the most important aspect of life and I want to see my students succeed and improve. It’s great to see them challenge themselves and progress,” she says. With each session Meesha becomes increasingly excited about the growth of her learning centre and is honoured to be a part of her students’ educational journeys. 19


Grade 12 students Eden Gelgoot and Patrick Kaufmann Graham have made community service a central part of their lives. As part of the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) component of the IB Diploma Programme, each student is required to complete 50 hours of community service over a two-year period. However, Eden has volunteered more than 100 hours and Patrick more than 250 hours in the past two years alone. Read about their experiences, why they went above and beyond the call of duty and what they learned in the process.

Eden Gelgoot—Out of the Cold The warm smiles and the cheerful Christmas carols are what Grade 12 student Eden Gelgoot remembers most about serving food and distributing clothing to people in her community on Christmas Day 2012. She recalls how much people appreciated having someone to celebrate the holiday with, as well as having a warm meal. This is just one distinct memory she has of her six years volunteering at Out of the Cold—Holy Blossom, a non-denominational coalition working to ease the plight of homeless and sociallyisolated people in Toronto. Being part of a community that serves local people is a central aspect of Eden’s life and as a result, she has a highly developed and mature outlook on volunteering. “I like that it’s something that is different from just donating money; it’s something that I can contribute to by just helping, being there and listening —it has been a real source of friendship and community for me,” she says. Since Eden was in Grade 7 she has spent one day a week during the winter months volunteering with Out of the Cold. Initially the time spent there went towards her mandatory service hours for school, but it has grown to be

so much more than that. She has far exceeded the number of hours required and has become an integral part of the Out of the Cold community. “People are not there to socialize. It’s not about the volunteers, it’s about everyone there and we are all working together towards a bigger goal,” she says. Eden broadened her participation in service when she was accepted to be a part of The York School’s Tanzania Trip in Grade 10 and the India Trip in Grade 11. These international service learning trips were very different from the community service she was used to, but she learned valuable lessons about herself, about service, and made lifelong friends along the way. “That’s what I love about The York School. Since it’s small when you participate in these organized service trips, you get to know everyone in all the grades, and I’m still best friends with the people on that trip who are in university now,” she says. When she returned home she continued her work with Out of the Cold with a new sense of purpose. “Both experiences were amazing and I realized that even if you are doing service around the corner it is equally as valued. There is need everywhere,” she says. 21


“I just know that even though I’m not doing that much I’m still doing something to help them, and that’s why I keep going back.” —Patrick Kaufmann Graham, Grade 12 Student

Patrick Kaufmann Graham— Meals on Wheels Patrick Kaufmann Graham’s commitment to community service led to his discovery of many Toronto neighbourhoods that he would otherwise never have come across. Since Grade 8, Patrick has taken part in the Meals on Wheels programme through Mid Toronto Community Services. He has volunteered there every Saturday for five years, which far exceeds the required service hours a student needs to complete. Now in Grade 12, Patrick looks back on his years at Meals on Wheels and realizes that without them he wouldn’t know or understand the diversity of Toronto as intimately as he does. The Mid Toronto Meals on Wheels serves a varied area covering neighbourhoods from Regent Park to Rosedale. “Some of the routes are very nice and have nicer apartments, but some of the other routes can be worse; it kind of hurts to see the type of conditions some people are living in and it can be hard to return. I just know that even though I’m not doing that much I’m still doing something to help them, and that’s why I keep going back,” a very unassuming Patrick says. When Patrick participated in The York School’s India Trip in Grade 11 he took what he learned from his years at Meals on Wheels and applied it to the

experiences he had at an orphanage. Even though it was a huge shift from delivering meals to grateful adults he felt comfortable in this new situation. “You know how to approach people and how to be there, listen and how to help—community service doesn’t necessarily teach you rigid lessons but it has taught me how to behave around others and really open up,” he says. These lessons have allowed Patrick to help locally and internationally, and the impact on him has been significant. He has learned how to talk to adults and interact with children with ease and confidence, a skill that has helped him excel as a mentor. Patrick is part of The York School’s Mentor Programme and takes pride in being able to give advice to younger students. He has developed a strong sense of trust among the younger students and has made many friends in different grades during his years at The York School. In fact, as the year winds down and he gets ready for exams he is sad to have had his last meeting with his mentees. Age has never been a barrier to creating friendships for Patrick, as he has always been one of the youngest volunteers at Meals on Wheels and has made many friends over the years. “The community of volunteers is always cheerful and happy,” he explains. It’s no wonder Patrick fits right in. 23



Teachers and parents can now access student-created presentations, images, audio files or videos and provide immediate comments and feedback. VoiceThread is a tool that allows users to create, share and discuss different projects and it is a unique way of bringing a community of learners together online. “Collaboration can happen instantly,� says Afzal Shaikh, Technology Integration Specialist and I.T. Support, who works with teachers and students to maximize the learning potential of VoiceThread and other innovative technologies. Some examples of how VoiceThread has been used in the classroom include: a recording of Grade 3 students as they performed a play in

French and a video of Grade 2 students narrating biographies of their parents. From the initial stages of these projects VoiceThread allows collaboration and idea-sharing to occur. Students and teachers both benefit from having a forum where suggestions and comments can be made in real time and students get the chance to develop their projects instantaneously. An additional benefit of using a forum like VoiceThread is that it encourages students to learn how to present themselves online in a thoughtful and creative way which is a skill they can apply to any online platform they use in the future. VoiceThread has breathed new life into projects and the method of feedback is so efficient Afzal can see it being incorporated in the future into many interactive projects across all subjects.




“My favourite thing about debating, what drew me to it in the first place, is the people you meet.” —Stephen Dodge, Grade 12 Student

The Debating Team at The York School has become more than just a competitive group of like-minded public—speaking enthusiasts—or fanatics, depending on who you ask— but instead has become a closeknit community in its own right. Every Wednesday afternoon, after the final bell has rung, 50 students from the Senior and Middle Schools squeeze into a classroom; with any other team this would be unbearable, but with the debating team no one really notices. We’re simply enjoying each other’s company, discussing the most recent episode of YorkTV, swapping tales of our most recent public—speaking conquests, learning new styles of debate and pitching resolutions— my personal favourite so far has been “Be it resolved that Humpty Dumpty got what he deserved.” No matter what we cover during the day the practices are always extremely enjoyable. In reality the purpose of the debating team is to communicate. That need for communication, and by extension understanding, is what

allows the debating community at York and across the country to be as amazing as it is. My favourite thing about debating, what drew me to it in the first place, is the people you meet. This holds true at York and at every competition in which I’ve participated. In being a part of that community and in being one of the ‘respected elders’ of high-school debate I’ve learned more about myself than I could ever write. But most of all I’ve learned confidence. The Debating Team at The York School has taught me that confidence and it has the power to build confidence in all its members, if not because of the hard work we consistently put in, then because of how close-knit our community is. Thanks to The York School Debating Team, many of its members have gone on to do some remarkable things. I myself assisted in bringing home York’s first-ever Fulford Cups in the junior category in 2011 and the senior category this past February. Debating was the driving force of my extracurricular activities in my five years at York and that was simply due to the exceptional people I had the privilege to debate with.


TAKING ON CHALLENGE WEEK 2013 Challenge Week took place during the week of May 5, 2013 as students from Grades 6 to 10 spread across the city and the country.


A deeper look One group of Grade 10s experienced a crash course in whitewater canoeing on the Madawaska River. The trip required a high level of teamwork and communication to be successful. Please read further for an in-depth look at how their trip to the Ottawa Valley tested their canoeing and camping skills and how the group formed a strong bond that embodied all the qualities of a supportive community. Living up to its name, the Wilderness Intensive Leadership Development (W.I.L.D.) Challenge Week trip gave 13 Grade 10 students an action-packed experience whitewater canoeing and camping. The aim of the trip was to develop their outdoor skills and help them foster their passion for these activities. With the stunning Ottawa Valley as a backdrop, the students learned how to work together and rely on one another to accomplish many of the tasks at hand. It was these shared experiences and challenges that led to the development of a strong community bond. “I definitely felt a sense of community on the trip. When you’re on an overnight trip with your peers you’re going to have to work as a group

and cooperate. As a group we cooked, camped and canoed, and this allowed us to become closer friends over time. In everything we did, the group always had priority over the individual,” says student Dan Schechner. Many practical skills were taught during the trip, such as safety measures, how to control a canoe in both calm and turbulent waters, how to plan for longer canoe trips, how to mentally prepare for cold water, how to build a tent and how to prepare meals. All of these skills were essential parts of the trip, and accompanying teachers Michelle Browne and Mike Krysa encouraged the students to communicate with one another and try new things. “My hope for the trip was that there would be an increased level of self-sufficiency and self-confidence and that the students would come together through this experience,” says Mike. This hope was realized as the students banded together to set up their tents and make their meals. Teamwork was evident in the food preparation and clean-up as they divided themselves into three separate teams and followed a rotating duty schedule. Everybody executed their roles and the group was well-fed before and after each day’s adventures.

Click to see the full Challenge Week media gallery


“My hope for the trip was that there would be an increased level of self-sufficiency and self-confidence and that the students would come together through this experience.” —Mike Krysa, Teacher

On the final day the group travelled 12 kilometres and navigated eight sets of challenging rapids as they paddled and portaged their way downriver. The mastery of communication and technical skills the group gained was evident as every single student successfully navigated each set of rapids; the teachers and instructors from Paddle Co-op were both surprised and impressed. By being able to work together

on and out of the water, this group of students got to know one another and learned how to communicate with each other in a clear, respectful and practical way. This is a skill that will last a lifetime, according to Michelle. “In any school or work setting you have to be able to communicate your ideas and your perspective on how something should get done; you need to be able to compromise and listen to someone else’s ideas,� says Michelle.



JENNIFER JEFFS When York School parent Dr. Jennifer Jeffs, President of the Canadian International Council (CIC) moved to Mexico with her family in 2001 she took in the people, food and natural beauty with ease; but it was during the Day of the Dead celebration that Jennifer realized how important it is to understand different cultures when thinking about international relations. The Day of the Dead is a holiday that brings family and friends together to pray for and commemorate those who have died; colourful ofrendas, or shrines, are built to remember those who have passed and adorned with favourite items of the deceased. For a Canadian like Jennifer it was quite shocking to see death treated this way, but she appreciated being exposed to both familiar and unfamiliar experiences while in Mexico. Jennifer’s education, research and career inform her belief that there is great importance in being part of a global community and understanding international affairs in a fast-changing and digital world. “I think it’s really important to

understand the context in which your country is in the world because it places you as well. It is understanding the context in which you are growing up,” she says, when asked why people should engage in understanding international affairs. Before Jennifer became president of the non-partisan membership-based research council focused on international affairs she was the Deputy Executive Director of the Centre for International Governance Innovation; before that, the Founding Director of the Centro Estudios y Programas Interamericanos based in Mexico City. She holds a PhD in International Political Economy from the University of Toronto. At first the CIC aimed to increase people’s understanding of international affairs, but it has turned into an impressive speaker forum, robust research programme and houses the Open Canada website. During a time when Canada’s trade relations are expanding to countries other than the United States, it is especially important to understand our new partners and how people in those countries live their lives, says Jennifer. “The CIC aims to increase aware-

ness and concern about global issues that are actually affecting our lives and the lives of others,” says Jennifer. The CIC has 16 branches across the country, with the core of its activities located in Toronto. Members have access to speaker events from leaders and experts from around the world who visit Toronto, as well as a subscription to the International Journal, Canada’s foremost peer-reviewed academic journal on international affairs. The Open Canada website run by Jennifer and her team has become a place where people can access vital information concerning international affairs, but also have a forum to voice their opinions and seek expert knowledge. It acts as a virtual think tank that appeals to a younger digital generation. The site tackles topical issues and themes and engages audiences online through interaction with experts and discussion forums. No topic is off-limits unless it is boring, says Jennifer with a wry smile. According to Jennifer, Open Canada bridges the gap between research that can be dry and news that can be superficial; their work finds the ‘sweet spot’ between the two. Their office replicates the site’s vitality with lime green walls and an open-concept working space for the team, which is housed in the University of Toronto’s Munk School for Global Affairs’ building. Open Canada is known for producing different series (in-depth looks at a particular topic) by bringing essays and experts together online. For example, they recently had a series on drones, unmanned vehicles, which sparked an impassioned debate and drew people to the site and their Twitterfeed from around the world. “The digital age has really transformed the way that we can be in touch with people, learn about and participate in their lives—whether it is giving advice, support or just being a friend,” says Jennifer, about the

closeness of the world and the richness of understanding others. However, not every foray into understanding the world needs to be through formal research. Jennifer also sees great value in immersing oneself in the cultural realm. Foreign films, food and travel can all bring a better and fuller understanding of the world and make us more active members of the global community. If you have a chance to travel, take it, Jennifer implores, because it could be the experience of a lifetime. “There is nothing as enriching as living in a different country and seeing how people live and think and study... you can watch something on TV about Africa, for example, but when you actually go there and breathe the air and meet the people, and eat the food and live the life, it’s going to completely change the way you experience things,” she says. Jennifer encourages everyone to get involved and find their global knowledge outlet; whether through reading, studying, talking to people, getting involved in various kinds of groups, supporting filmmakers, trying a new cuisine, or travelling. There are countless ways to understand the world and with the Internet at our fingertips it has never been easier to join the global community. For York School students in particular, Jennifer understands the portion of the mission statement about becoming “engaged citizens of the world” as an invitation for students to become aware of the things going on in the world and to make an effort to understand how those things will affect not only them but their children in the future as well. “I think the more we travel and understand what other people’s needs are...we can help each other...and we ourselves are enriched by learning about people’s different life experiences and we can start to look at life through different lenses,” she says. 35




The York International Parents (left to right): Teresa Johnson—moved from Hong Kong and has been in Toronto for one year and nine months; Jackie Sklenka—moved from Australia and has been in Toronto for almost two and a half years; Jo White—moved to Toronto six weeks ago from the United Kingdom; Elizabeth Miketinac—moved from Austin, Texas and has been in Toronto for two years.

York International Parents (YIP) is a group of parents whose aim is to provide help and support to families new to Toronto and The York School. This dynamic group includes families from around the world, with a large number of languages spoken. Some families have been here for a number of years and others have just arrived. For more information on how to connect with international parents please contact us. Why is a community of international parents so important? Teresa: When you arrive you don’t know anyone and you relate to people who have lived abroad, so without that community it’s really hard to break into Canadian life. Jackie: It’s that body of local knowledge that you have no understanding about,

even which grocery store to go to, or where to get a bottle of wine or skates. Jo: Having a connection with people is great for emotional and practical support, but also for just knowing your way around the city and knowing what to do and what not to do. Elizabeth: It’s important to have that sense of community and ways to help our children integrate into school, but also knowing where services like doctors are, and where to go and not to go. What are the best ways to experience a new country? Jackie: In my first four weeks here I really missed adult communication apart from my husband so I would talk to anyone! I spent a lot of time choosing an area to walk through just to get some familiarization, even if it just meant getting a sense of north, south, east and west within the city.

Jo: In my first six weeks I have definitely done a lot of walking and talking. I have literally walked everywhere I possibly can to get a sense of the city and a sense of where things are and that has helped me massively in terms of choosing neighbourhoods and meeting people. What is the best part about being an international parent? Jackie: I’ve met the most incredible people and it has opened my mind. This is an amazing city because it’s truly dynamic and diverse. Elizabeth: It’s brought our family together. It makes my children more flexible and empathetic. Jo: It has definitely brought my family closer together and we definitely feel like we’re on a journey together. Certainly coming here has rejuvenated family life. Teresa: It makes the world seem smaller and not like such a scary place. And I think our kids get to experience different cultures from around the world. It gives children a better understanding of other cultures and other religions. I also think it is wonderful to be able to share those experiences and I think that educates others, and the more we can do that the better the world will be. What is your favourite thing about Toronto so far? Teresa: I love the culture in terms of the arts. There are so many theatres and great shows to see. There isn’t really a night that you can say you’ve got nothing to do. Jackie: There are lots of amazing things about this city, but I think what we cherish is the winter. We loved having the chance to learn to ski as a family while living here. Jo: It is a food city. There are lots of exciting things you can do and places you can explore and there are lots of new restaurants that you can go to and

be a bit adventurous. The city has got a real heart and buzz to it. Elizabeth: The diversity of the people. Coming here and getting the opportunity to see the people who hold on to their culture is beautiful. Seeing cultures in a huge neighbourhood is priceless and I don’t think you get that in other places to the same extent you get it here. What are your hopes for YIP in the future? Elizabeth: My hope is to build a community that helps create a strong connection between new parents and current parents. I would love to see YIP embrace the global portion of the International Baccalaureate Programme. Jo: From a personal perspective, I would like to experience what the city and the country have to offer and meet friends through YIP. And it would be nice to see YIP become an integrated part of the school culture. Jackie: I would like prospective families to look at YIP and see a really dynamic and happy community that can be entrenched into the general school community. I would love for the general school community to be able to get information about other countries for their families through YIP. Teresa: We really want to exchange information. We’d like to learn more about Canada and there are plenty of people to help us. If, on the other hand, your child is graduating, for example, and would like to go to Australia for university, there are probably members of YIP who could help with that and give you some idea about what university life is like. Teresa, Jackie, Jo and Elizabeth extend a big thank you to Amanda Dickson, who has been a dedicated York School parent and President of YIP this past year. Thank you, Amanda! 37


Over the course of the school year, our volunteers have helped create amazing experiences for our students and contributed to building a strong community at The York School. Thank you to everyone who volunteered their time and effort this school year! Mary Alexiou-Costakos James Andrews Mary Ellen Aronoff Ali Babul ’07 Jodi Bager Laurel-Ann Baker Corneli Allan Barish Stacey Barish Astrid Bastin Marielle Bax Susan Bedford Sara Bellamy Mercedes Benayon Nadia Binesh Warren Bongard Kathryn Bowen Michael Bowen Tiziana Brazzioli John Brown Tammy Brown Lara Bryant Leslie Buckley-Hunter Maite Burns Dafna Carr Dan Carr Munaza Chaudhry Elizabeth Chasson Jennifer Chown Philip Chown Mary Ciolfi-Kohn Lynn Clarfield Catherine Clutterbuck Andrea Cohen-Solish Louise Collins Laurel-Ann Corneli

Kate Corrin Robin Cruickshank Dimitra Davidson Nettie Dea Colleen Dempsey Amanda Dermer Adil Dhalla ’01 Amanda Dickson Kim Emerson Thorsteinson Cynthia Emond Paul Eves Nazli Fasano James Feitelberg ’12 Joel Feldberg Chris Fraser Peggy Gardiner Leslie Giller Ann Glazier Rothwell Mar Gonzalez Gayle Greenbaum Kristin Greene Laurence Gutcher Jane Gutcher Cathy Hampson Susan Heath ’03 Marjan Heydary Andrew Hoffman Susan Hummel Erin Iles Nicole Irwin Pamela Isaak Teresa Johnson Amy Kaiser Stephen Karam Michael Katz

Skye Katz Andrew Kay Joanne Kent Meg Kettlitz Nargess Khosrowshahi Deb Kimsa Perri Kirshenblatt David Klassen Charlie Lazzam Linda Lazzam Robert Lee ’07 Amy Lengyel Leah Leon Shannan Levere Natalie Lippey Kerstin Lueck Jennifer Mackintosh Andrea Marcus Erin Marcus Mary Martin Melissa McCourt Jo-Ann McDermott Allison Menkes Jack Menkes ’11 Peter Menkes Rebecca Meyer Wendy Myers Jessica Monk Christy Moorhead Nancy Nash Grace Neal Edna Man Linda O’Leary Norman Oliver Leslie Pace Urvashi Passi Tracey Patel Nico Paul Martha Pedersen Lloyd Perlmutter Kathryn Rea

Victoria Ruby Nina Sampaleanu Deanne Saunders Cristina Sava Elizabeth Schad Michael Schad ’11 Elora Schatzker Stacey Schwartz Camilla Scott Alison Sharma Lili Shalev Shawn Morris Shawn Andrew Sheiner Jeanine Sheridan Samantha Sherkin Susan Shinoff Ariane Siegel Evan Silver ’07 Maureen Simpson Jackie Sklenka Lindsay Smith Annette Stramaglia Cathy Tempesta David Thomas Laura Thomas Liane Thomas-Hicks Alison Thompson Liza Thomson Timothy Thorsteinson Daniela Tixi Kelly Toyama Shana Valo ’03 Angela Vavitsas Anne Marie Walker Charlene Wexler Arlene Williams Keddy Williams Jo-Ann Willson Jerald Wortsman Mary Yamanaka Deborah Zemans 39


York on Yonge Magazine - Spring 2013.2