Three Habits for Aspiring Olympians

At KCS, we spend a lot of time talking about the Habits of Mind, Body and Action. So when Olympic bronze medalist Kylie Masse visited us, we were thrilled to discover that her advice for future Olympians lined up perfectly with three of our own Habits!

  1. “Never Give Up.”

We all face challenges. But you can’t let them stop you. That’s why we think one of the most important Habits for success in life is to learn to “Persist”. And Kylie clearly agrees. She spoke to us at length about the challenges she has faced, which ranged from losing international competitions to getting cut from teams. However, she always came back to the same mantra – “Never give up.” It was that drive and persistence that took her all the way to the Olympic podium.

  1. “Worry Only About What You Can Control.”

Letting go of control is a hard lesson for everyone. The first step is to “Think Flexibly” – a Habit that helps us to work effectively no matter what the circumstances. In Kylie’s case, this meant learning to accept that she couldn’t control the temperature of the pool or the noise of the crowd or the speed of the swimmer in the next lane. So she adjusted her attitude, changed her thinking, and focused only on the things she could control.

  1. “Have Fun!”

Kids today live in a fast-paced world, so it’s no wonder the levels of stress and anxiety amongst children is skyrocketing. That’s one of the reasons why we encourage our students to make it a Habit to “Find Humour.” As Kylie pointed out, she could have easily burned out after only a few years of intense dedication and training. But because she held on to her sense of fun and humour, she arrived in Rio with a smile on her face and a calm heart.

Many thanks to Kylie for sharing her story, to the Parent Network for supporting the Talk That Matters Speaker Series, and to Henry and Charlie for inviting their cousin to visit KCS. We may not all make it to the Olympics, but we can all take some guidance from her words of wisdom!

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Resolving to be better global citizens

Imagine a generation of young people working to create a better world. This is the invitation from High Resolves, a program that originated in Australia for grade 7-12 students about how to act as global citizens. This year, KCS became the first school outside of Australia to participate in this program! We were anticipating an affirmation of what we are doing at KCS in the area of active citizenship. We were not disappointed!

With funding from the KCS Pickard/Bulger Family Citizenship Fund, all grade 7 students participated in three workshops: Collective Identity, Independent Thinking, and Social Justice. In each of the sessions, our wonderful instructor and Canadian Program Director, Chantelle Kohn, captured our attention and expertly delivered the vital messages in a respectful, open-minded fashion. Students were initially curious, and even apprehensive about these new workshops, but very quickly they became engaged in these timely, interactive activities. Students were able to move around and engage in collaborative group challenges. This made the 2 hours workshops fly by! They learned about: attributes of global citizens, how to think critically about messages in the media, and how to work towards social justice. At the end of each session, students were encouraged to reflect on their learning and write “I Resolve” statements. These statements demonstrate how students plan to incorporate their learning into daily life as global citizens.

In addition, we welcomed over 25 teachers, administrators, parents, board members and social justice champions from across the GTA to KCS so that they could learn more about High Resolves. We shared our positive experiences with colleagues from other schools so that they too may participate in this program. It was an excellent time for all of the adults to discuss: social justice, student leadership, and how to inspire students to make a difference. Here are some of their insights from the students via an anonymous survey conducted after one of the sessions:

  • “I think that the workshop was an amazing learning opportunity for everyone in grade 7. I learned a ton and will keep putting that learning forward to help the earth and the people that live there. I have a feeling that I can make a change in the world.”
  • “The workshop was fun. The whole concept of the learning process really engaged me in the activities. The presentation was great and overall I learned a lot. Everything was also explained very thoroughly in a way that we could easily understand.”
  • “It was stimulating, and made you think. I enjoyed it!”
  • “The workshop was a life-changing and opinion-switching experience. The instructor/presenter was amazing and taught me and many of my peers about the world and how we can make it better.”

We took a responsible risk when we invited High Resolves to KCS, but we’re thrilled that we did! We are already looking forward to continuing our learning next year in grade 7 and expanding the program to grade 8! Thank you to Chantelle for the wonderful learning experiences and thank you to the Pickard/Bulger family for their continued support of citizenship education at KCS.

Shelley Gaudet
Citizenship Education Coordinator

U13 Boys Great Performance at the CAIS National Basketball Tournament

It was an action-packed three days of basketball as the KCS U13 boys participated in the CAIS National Tournament at Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton.  Playing a grueling seven game schedule, the boys worked very hard throughout the tournament.  Thanks to excellent teamwork and resilient play, the U13 Boys made it to the Division 2 semi-final match where they lost to Holy Trinity.

The prestigious CAIS National Tournament invites basketball teams from across Canada to participate. For the past five years, the U13 boys have represented our school both locally, and as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia.

Each year at the tournament, a single team is awarded the coveted Statham Award for Team Sportsmanship. The recipient of this award is chosen by the sixteen coaches, and given to the team that best exemplifies the true athletic spirit and character of the game of basketball. This year we are pleased to announce that KCS was chosen to receive this notable award!

Additionally, a student from each team is awarded the Jeff Trickett Award for his sportsmanship, heart, and hard work. Congratulations to Rocky for receiving this honour!

Special thanks to the Tevlin family for their continued generous support of KCS through the Tevlin Family Fund for Sport and Outdoor Education. A grant from the Tevlin Family Fund paid for the tournament entrance fee and coaches’ travel expenses allowing our boys to hone their competitive edge and showcase the exemplary sportsmanship skills present at KCS.

Congratulations U13 boys!

Pourquoi apprendre le français? / Why learn French?

« Why learn French? » If your child asked you this question tonight over dinner, what would your answer be? And how might your own experiences with learning the language influence that response?

The truth is there are many reasons to learn French, as our Grade 7 students recently discovered during a brainstorming session with graphic recorder, Disa Kauk. Their individual ideas contributed to the creation of two stunning visual reminders of ‘Pourquoi apprendre le français?’ and I encourage you to have a closer look at them the next time you are in the school.

In order for learning to endure in any subject area, we must see the value in what we are learning and understand our own reasons for learning it. This is especially important in the French as a Second Language classroom as most students only have a chance to practice their skills here at school. Students need to realize that French exists outside the walls of the classroom as well. With a curriculum now focused on authentic communication and real-life situations, this is truer than ever and families can play a vital role. Simply having a conversation with your child about the importance of learning French is a great starting point as it shows your child that French is valued outside of school. But you don’t have to stop there.

Parents often ask how else they can support their child’s French learning at home. Consider family movie nights in French by picking a DVD of a movie already familiar to your child in English and watching it together in French. Instead of watching the Leafs game in English, choose a station with French commentary. Point out French words on packages, in magazines, in stores and during your travels when you come across it. Visit a museum or gallery and take a tour in French. Listen to a French radio station. Take out French library books. You may even consider joining an organization like Canadian Parents for French which furthers bilingualism by promoting and creating opportunities for youth to learn and use French. Detailed information on exchange programmes, summer camps and many other unique language-learning opportunities is available on www.frenchstreet.ca. The possibilities are endless!

As a French teacher, I have seen a real difference in the classroom when students buy into their learning by taking opportunities outside of school to enjoy learning French. When they have more chances to practice their skills in the real world, they are more inclined to transfer that enthusiasm to the classroom and beyond.

Pourquoi apprendre le français? It’s never too early – or too late! – to start this conversation. When will you have yours?

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Wall of Service: Making the World Better

I was on my way to Mr. Logan’s office to chat about the Blue Jays, when something wonderful caught my eye.  Our Wall of Service, tucked neatly beside the KCS School Store, was nearly full!  I highly recommend stopping by the board and reading some of the bricks on display.

It does not take long to realize the incredibly positive impact that our students are making in their community.  There were several cards describing donation drives in lieu of birthday presents.  Other students held fundraisers or participated in events that raised thousands of dollars for many worthwhile causes including the devastating forest fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  I learned that one of our Grade 2 students was recycling batteries specially designed for hearing aids.  Another student shared how he and his family stepped in and collected clothing and other necessities when someone they knew needed assistance with family oversees.

Two of our Habits of Mind, Body and Action ask our students to do what is right and strive to make the world a better place.  A few minutes at the Wall of Service allowed me to conclude that not only are we on track, but that we are also in good hands.

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The KCS Terry Fox Run and the Grade 5 Classes

In the late summer of 1980, in an era long before instant messaging, Canadians across the country were glued to national news outlets as a sombre story unfolded. Terry Fox, who had covered over 5000 km on his Marathon of Hope, had abruptly ended his run near Thunder Bay, Ontario. Only a few short weeks before, a triumphant Terry was greeted by thousands of cheering well-wishers in Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square. Maple Leafs Captain Darryl Sittler presented Terry with an NHL All-Star Jersey and then joined him on his run surrounded by cheering supporters.

It was September 1st 1980, and I can vividly remember the imposing voice of broadcaster Lloyd Robertson announcing that the cancer that had taken Terry’s leg, had spread to his lungs and the future of the Marathon of Hope was uncertain. I will never forget seeing Terry, with his parents looking on, as he lay propped up on an ambulance gurney proclaiming, “If there is any way I can get out there again and finish it—I will…”

Fast forward to September 30th, 2016. Thirty-six years later, Terry Fox’s brave pledge echoes deeply throughout the KCS community. Supported by a team of dedicated parent volunteers and the entire KCS school Faculty, the students celebrated the legacy of a great Canadian by completing an amazing Terry Fox Run. Since its inception, the KCS community has raised over $250, 000 for Cancer Research and we have been recognized by the Terry Fox Foundation as one of its top ten schools. The annual Run also allows our Grade 5 classes to embrace an important leadership role.

Under the guidance of Mr. Sawyer and Ms. MacDonald, the Grade 5 classes educate our school community about Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. Combining art, research and public speaking, each class prepares posters and presentations that share Terry’s amazing story and promote our September Run. This year’s theme was enriched through Terry’s own words as the students shared his memorable quotes. “Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.”

The impact of this leadership opportunity is undeniable. Here are some insightful observations from the fifth grade leaders:

“I feel it’s very important to [stand up] and speak to the audience. Although my hands were shaking, I was hoping the younger kids would understand just what kind of a hero Terry really was!” I knew about Terry Fox before, but I was waiting for this exciting opportunity to help present the Run in grade 5. I was very impressed by the impact that Terry Fox had on all Canadians—I am surprised how so many years ago, word spread so quickly about him and his amazing acts.”

“I was nervous at first, but when I finished my message I was happy that I did it. I was really happy about how much the KCS community has raised for such an important cause. I was happy that grade 5 had this role because it helped younger students learn about Terry. Terry Fox was just a kid in many ways, he decided not to think of himself but others. He helped others realize that they can [make a difference].”

Thank you for a memorable day. Thank you to the Grade 5s for their outstanding job. We look forward to continuing this wonderful KCS tradition and celebrating the inspirational legacy of a true Canadian hero.

KCS Student Tour Guides Leaving an Impressive Legacy

Having been part of this wonderful KCS community for over 18 years, I have had the pleasure of seeing many amazing things. Over the years, we have doubled our grade 1 to 8 classes, we have successfully amalgamated with St. George’s Nursery School to become a Pre-Kindergarten to grade 8 school, and our facilities have improved in countless ways thanks to our three additions and the retrofits we have done. On a personal note, I have had the immense pleasure of seeing my own children flourish here.
KCS Student Tour Guide ClubHonestly, I could probably write a blog like this on a daily basis; there are so many wonderful things that happen here each and every day. Over the past few months however, I have been simply amazed by the dedication and hard work of our 25 magnificent grade 8 Tour Guides. Since mid-September, every day at recess I would have a handful of them poking their heads into my office asking if they could remain inside to practice giving tours. And practice they did. Staff members often commented on how devoted the students were and how seriously they were taking their role of school ambassador.

We had two Open Houses this week, one in the morning and one in the evening. Both were very well attended by prospective families. Following Mr. Logan’s presentation, I stood by proudly as the Tour Guides approached visiting families to introduce themselves. The Tour Guides smiled warmly, made eye contact, introduced themselves, and gave firm handshakes. They confidently led groups out of the Multi-Purpose Room to begin their tours.

KCS student tour guidesNumerous families commented on how poised and capable the Tour Guides were. The students spoke about our facilities, explained our Four Doors program, described our clubs and teams, shared personal experiences, and they answered a multitude of questions. I must admit that I even learned a thing or two about the school from them!

I was struck by how proud the grade 8s are of their school, and how delighted they are to share this with others. I have to say that I thoroughly look forward to Fridays at 12:40 p.m., our Tour Guide Club, when I get to spend time with these mature, dedicated individuals.

When the tours were done last night, I walked the students up to the lobby. I asked two of the boys if they had enjoyed the experience. The first replied that yes, it was great and he was happy that he was able to answer all the questions he had been asked. The second gave me a big grin and said: “That was awesome! I had a great time!” These responses perfectly sum up the positive attitudes and the exemplary behaviour I have seen time and time again from the grade 8s this year. They are certainly leaving an impressive legacy in their final year at KCS, and I am sure they are well prepared to move on to their new high school adventures next fall. I, for one, will not forget my experience with them anytime soon.

Lise Lacroix,
Director of Admissions and Operations

Common Sense on Character

One of our KCS Habits of Mind, Body and Action

One of our KCS Habits of Mind, Body and Action

“It’s great to have him back, but I already run my class and raise my daughter according to his book.” — a KCS teacher

I knew it as soon as I heard Ron Morrish, speaker and author of Secrets of Effective Discipline and With All Due Respect, over 10 years ago. His message on how to develop self-discipline in children would transform my approach as both educator and mother of two young boys. Seven years ago he first spoke at KCS. This month he visited with faculty once again.

Many parents and visitors have remarked on the manners and behaviour of our students. Stand-out moments for visitors are how often they’re greeted by students and have the door held open for them. For a bustling community of 369 students, over 60 staff, and the many parents and others who join us each day, the atmosphere is happy, respectful and purposeful. While there are many good reasons for that, one is Ron Morrish and how KCS has incorporated his pointers into our day.

Ron is the first to say that much of his advice captures how many of us were raised. He says it’s the “common sense” that, unfortunately, is less common these days. So what’s included in this common sense on character? Here’s a small sample:

  1. Always model the behaviour you seek
  2. Teach the behaviour you seek; don’t assume children should know how to behave at all times
  3. Be clear and ensure follow-through on directions
  4. Make sure small things are done properly and consistently (manners, holding doors, routines)
  5. When mistakes happen, require a “do-over”; mistakes mean more practice doing things right
  6. Take proactive steps so children can be successful behaving as they’ve been taught
  7. This all takes persistent work

Parents, you’ll be glad to know that your children’s teachers spent an afternoon enjoying a refresher from Ron Morrish. And to the parents and educators seeking more self-discipline among the young in your midst, consider looking into Ron’s teachings. As it has for many of us, it could really make a difference for you too.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

A Groundswell of Gratitude

Our students have much to be thankful for. What’s nice is that they are thankful, and make no secret of it. Here are just of few of the ways our students express their gratitude.

Gratitude Journals
Our grade 3s are keeping gratitude journals. Messages of gratitude also cover their walls. They recently all prepared lunches for a local Out of the Cold program, and included heartfelt messages that will warm hearts as much as the lunches will fill bellies. I stopped by their class the other day to pick up the lunches and had the pleasure of hearing them share what they had just written in their journals. One was grateful for the fact his mother spent her time registering him for lacrosse. Another was grateful that his father coached his hockey team. A third was grateful for his guinea pig’s delight when he came home from school every day.

100 Reasons Why We Love KCS
100 Reasons Why We Love KCSOne of our SK teachers recently created a 100-days-of-school mural, composed of 100 hearts completed by our JK, SK and grade 1 students, as well as some teachers and administrators. In each heart we wrote a message of what we love about KCS. The messages include:

“I love using numbers and counters.”
“I like going to the library.”
“We get to play chess.”
“The teachers are very funny.”

Compliment Friday
Each end of week assembly includes Compliment Friday where students are invited to share a public thank you in front of the whole school. Last week’s assembly included compliments to teachers for their support during exams, a guest teacher for jumping in when their teacher was away, friends and classmates for generally being awesome.

Class Meetings
Class meetings at KCS start with an around-the-room sharing of compliments or expressions of thanks. Last week I had an unexpected opportunity to join a class meeting dedicated to a student facing an exceptional personal challenge. Each of the other 41 grade 6 students gave a compliment to their classmate. This student was praised for being resilient, being brave, being funny, having a positive attitude and being a great friend.

One of our KCS Habits is Make the World Better. One way to do so is to express gratitude. Our students’ obvious gratitude makes our little part of the world much better. For that, I’m grateful.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

A Dad’s Lesson

Be KindAs is usual, when I arrived at work early Monday morning, I took the time to skim through The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star – I put the Sports sections of both papers along with the Life & Arts section from The Globe for reading later in the evening!  Sometimes I cut a few articles out to read when I have a moment or two over the lunch period.  On Monday, I clipped this article out:

http://www.thestar.com/life/parent/2014/01/20/how_do_you_raise_kids_to_have_good_manners.html

We expect good manners at KCS, and when we don’t witness them, we take the time to teach or remind our students about their importance.**

As I was nearing the end of the article, I was reminded of a lesson my Dad taught me during the summer of my grade 5 year.  Our family was going on a three week vacation to England.  It was our first and only trip on a plane together.  And while I have many great memories of that trip, one in particular stands out.  We were in London visiting various sites before we set off to visit our relatives throughout the south of the country.  All five of us (I have a younger brother and sister), were sitting on the Tube.  It stopped at one of stations and an “older” lady got on.  Looking back, the lady may have been 35 or she may have been 75 (when you are a kid, everyone looks old!), but to my Dad that didn’t matter.  He looked over at me, and said something like, “How long will it be until you stand up and give that lady your seat?”  Only seconds it turns out!

It’s funny, my Dad taught me a lot of things in life (as did my Mom!), but for some reason the lesson above was triggered when reading the Toronto Star article on Monday and every time I’m on public transit around the world.

Derek Logan
Head of School

** For instance, if I was this author’s editor, I would have reminded him that you should not use WTF in your article if you are trying to show good manners.