The Hero That Could

Every September, KCS students raise money for cancer research by participating in The Terry Fox Run. As I was previewing a Terry Fox video to show my SK students, goosebumps ran down my arm as I had a flashback from the past. I pictured myself sitting at my desk in school, watching Terry Fox arrive in Toronto on television. I knew that it was a big deal because the school’s TV was only brought into the class when something very important was happening!

I would have never thought back then that decades later Terry Fox’s legacy would live on. But here I am talking to my students about Terry’s bravery, kindness and determination. The same conversation I started with my own teacher, Mrs. Shaeffer, thirty-seven years ago.

Terry’s Marathon of Hope sparked a conversation and raised awareness for a nation about a devastating disease. More than $700 million has been raised in Terry’s name for cancer research since that day he ran into Nathan Phillips Square in 1980. Today, KCS has raised over $250,000 since we started participating in the run 13 years ago. My son aspires to be a teacher one day. It is my hope that he can have the same conversation with his students about Terry Fox, but in his story, he can say that they have found a cure for cancer. All because of the hero that could.

The KCS Spirit

Once a month, the halls of KCS are filled with students dressed in the colours of their favourite sports teams, looking cozy in their pyjamas or perhaps looking a little wild for crazy hair day. In January, excitement was in the air as the students celebrated their teams and enjoyed a wonderful Pizza Lunch courtesy of our Parent Network and today’s spirit day is no different.

Always high energy, KCS Spirit Days also represent KCS’s commitment to citizenship and the key habit of making the world a better place. January’s Sports Day was organized by our Grade 3 classes. Under the leadership of our Citizenship Co-ordinator, Ms. Shelley Gaudet, the Grade 3 classes worked collaboratively to select, plan and promote the theme of Sports for their Spirit Day. From Pajamas and House colours, to “Dress Up” and Opposites Day, classes from Grades 1 to 8 will have an opportunity to be the driving force behind one of our fantastic Spirit Days.

Perhaps the greatest message delivered on Spirit Day is working collectively to make the world a better place.  In addition to dressing up, the students donate $2 to support the Get Ahead Project or GAP through The Leacock Foundation.  Where do all of those Toonies go, you may ask?  Ms. Gaudet sums it up wonderfully: “As the world becomes a more global community, students learn how this affects their lives and those around them. KCS continues to support the Get Ahead Project School (GAP), serving children from underprivileged communities in Queenstown, South Africa. They are invited to donate $2 to the school during each Spirit Day…and as a result… KCS has helped GAP’s technology budget annually in an effort to provide sustainable funding for the school. In addition, many classes have written letters, sent sports equipment, and made scrapbooks for the students in South Africa.”

Well done KCS!

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.

Nurturing Relationships Between Children and Their Elders

At KCS, we set aside a special day where the students’ grandparents are invited to come and get a taste of what we at the school are all about. This day is not just a treat for the grandparents, but very much so for us here as well. Because seniors have experienced things that we may never get to, the lessons they can teach us are invaluable. Through all of human history, we have learned from the past to make progress, building upon the lessons of each passing generation.  We have become more civilized, more educated and wiser because of our predecessors.  This year’s Grandparent’s Day was no exception!

Young children get many things from the grandparents or elders in their life.  The older generation can show our young learners how to have a calm presence, be a loving friend, and build a world of experience. Within the current technology-saturated world around them – social media and the “global village” being ubiquitous – the world has become an overwhelming place for children. The days of playing with sticks, rocks, boxes and bottle caps may be gone, but can make a resurgence if we choose to make it so. It is up to us as responsible adults to decide what we expose our future doctors, artists, scientists, teachers and leaders to. Much like the adult coloring movement (evidenced in bookstores worldwide) and how it positively affects the brain, so can working with simple objects to stimulate innovation, problem solving and imagination. In addition to these crucial cognitive skills, social skills are necessary to successfully master our educational system; another reason to nurture relationships between children and their elders.

Although we only officially set aside a single day to celebrate this relationship, we should celebrate our seniors every day. Grandparents can play a major role in learning about who we are and where we came from; also something to celebrate. As an educator of young children, I believe that grandparents have the power to teach so much to young people, to ensure that culture lives on, in and around us. As James Baldwin put it: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them”.

Bonnie De Kuyper, RECE
PK Teacher

Addressing the important question of “How do we keep our kids safe online?”

Stock Photo Child with Laptop

Join us for “Keeping Our Kids Safe Online” – Kingsway College School on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

When organizing a panel for our February 9th KCS  Encouraging Dialogue Speakers Series, our committee kept hearing from families that they would like this year’s panel to address issues around social media and our children.

To start our search for speakers, we called KCS alumna Marianne B ‘01., whose work is with the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) at Ryerson University.  Marianne’s expertise helped guide us in the right direction, and this year’s panel is a result of her leadership.

In our initial conference call, Marianne said something that really resonated with our group.  I’m paraphrasing now, but she said, “When I was in grade 5 at KCS, at the end of the day I went home, played with my toys, ate dinner, did my homework, maybe did some extra-curricular activities or spoke on the phone, and then went to bed.  I didn’t have a phone connected to the Internet, and I didn’t have a laptop or iPad in my room.”  And this was only a little over a ten years ago.

A short pause to think about how things have changed, and will continue to change for our children, leaves one amazed.

Marianne and her parents did not have to deal with cellphones, texting, Facebook’s Likes and Dislikes, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram or cyberbullying.   Although we might not have appreciated it at the time, I’m sure a number of today’s parents would like to see a return to just having their children play with their toys after school.  But that’s not going to happen.  For today’s parents and their children the ‘online world’ is a big part of their everyday lives.  Given this, how can we help our children navigate their digital experiences and keep them safe online?

We are confident our Encouraging Dialogue panel will help families address this important question.  We look forward to seeing you at “Keeping Our Kids Safe Online” on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Bell Let’s Talk Day and Beyond

Mental HealthThe statistics tell us that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, yet 2 out of 3 of those individuals will never seek help, choosing instead to suffer in silence because of the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. That stigma stops people from getting the help that they need and can make those individuals feel even more isolated.  But we can change that, and we’re encouraging our students to do so.

On Wednesday, January 28, our grade 7 and 8 students will join thousands of other students from grades 7 through 12 from across Canada as they participate in the Bell Let’s Talk Day webcast. This webcast will feature Clara Hughes, Michael Landsberg and other guests who will share their personal stories and help encourage those watching to work to end the stigma using Bell’s Let’s Talk 5 simple steps:

  1. Language Matters
  2. Educate Yourself
  3. Be Kind
  4. Listen and Ask
  5. Talk About It

Although Bell Let’s Talk Day takes place on Wednesday, January 28th, talking about mental health issues is not just a one day event.  We encourage our students to have these conversations every day and we actively work to help them better understand what overall student wellness includes.  If they can recognize when something just does not feel right, and they know that they will be listened to without shame or fear, then we’re doing our part to help reduce the stigma and encourage dialogue around such an important topic.  We also know that prevention and early intervention are key for those experiencing a mental health issue.  This was a reason why our school trained our faculty and staff in Mental Health First Aid during 2014.  It is why we strive to promote overall student wellness through our programs, curriculum, and extra-curricular offerings.  It is a reason why our Parent Network began the #KCS_TTM (Talk That Matters) Speaker Series for students this year.  And finally, it is because knowing each and every one of the students at the school is important, not just for academic planning, but also to ensure that we can see when that conversation needs to happen as early intervention in the area of mental health is so important.

Tamara Drummond
Director of Student Life

The Art of Parenting in a World of Worry

WorriedEighteen years ago, expecting our first, I remember saying that I intended to have a different learning activity ready at home for every day of my child’s youngest years.

That was the first of countless parenting notions that didn’t go at all as planned.

It’s easy to laugh at some of what my husband and I thought before the reality of parenting hit. Many assumptions were thoroughly throttled when it became clear our boys were their own individuals, with their own minds (funny we didn’t assume they’d get that from us!).

What isn’t funny is the worry that comes with parenting these days. Media and much of society suggests that there’s plenty to worry about; the threat of future unemployment, mixing with the wrong crowd, bullying, drugs, excessive online gaming, online predators, ‘failure-to-launch’ from home and more lurk in the dark edges of our minds. These potential threats are alarming, to be sure. They are worthy of our watchful eye, and intervention when needed. But Alex Russell, clinical psychologist and author of Drop the Worry Ball: How to Parent in the Age of Entitlement, suggests that the more alarming and widespread problem is how many of us are responding to the threats.

Drop the Worry Ball is an account of how our generation of parents has saved our children from failure, to the unhealthy end that they’re unable to deal with failure on their own. Our well-intended efforts to ensure their lives unfold as desired have left them ill-prepared to face the obstacles, the “non-catastrophic failures”, inherent in a life fully-lived.  Be resilient is one of our KCS Habits because it’s an attribute that’s both a necessary yet under-appreciated part of success. Where children used to learn resilience, today they’re experiencing crippling anxiety or engaging in avoidance behaviours (endless gaming being one example) to alarming degrees. Many feel entitled to getting their way, and have become deft at manipulating parents to make it so. Messing up and not getting what we want is unpleasant, sometimes deeply so. That being said, they’re a powerful way, and arguably the only way, to learn how to pick oneself up, learn from mistakes, and face life undaunted. They’re a whole lot better than a life unlived.

I don’t know if my parents worried as much as I worry about my boys. I do know they let me face life with a great deal of freedom, and my fair share of non-catastrophic failures. They kept their worry in check so that I might become the adult I am today. If my husband and I can keep Russell’s message in mind, our boys will also become self-reliant adults, as my husband and I assumed they would be.

It just may not unfold as planned.

Alex Russell is speaking at KCS Monday, April 14th at 7 p.m. All are welcome and admission is free. His book Drop the Worry Ball will be available for sale at the event.

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

Remember

Remembrance DayOur grade 8 students led our annual Remembrance Day assembly on November 7th.  It was filled with music, visual art, poetry, drama and memories of trips to the Canadian battlefield sites in Europe.  The students respectfully asked us to remember the sacrifices and the courage of Canadians throughout the years and to work for peace.  In short, the assembly was poignant, heartfelt and meaningful to all of us who were in attendance.

On the topic of Remembrance, earlier this year a friend of mine forwarded me this link to a site entitled, “The Fallen”.  It is worth a visit.

Derek Logan
Head of School

There Was A Buzz Around Here Today

Today was an amazing day at KCS.  Five of our teachers, including myself, had their heads shaved in support of The Terry Fox Foundation.  You can see the before and after photos below and on our KCS Facebook page and through our KCS Twitter feed.

We set a goal at the beginning of the school year to raise $25 000, and if we reached the goal, the six of us had agreed to have our hair cut by Cos and Jackie from Cos on the Kingsway Salon/Spa.  To see the excitement in the school leading up to today was tremendous.  The students would come up to the each of us and say things like:

  1. “Are you looking forward to having some taken off the top?”
  2. “I can’t wait to see you bald!”
  3. “Bzzzzzzzz.”
  4. “Can ‘I’ cut your hair?”
  5. “It’s going to get cold soon.”
  6. “Hope you are enjoying your hair as its going to be gone soon.”
  7. And my favourite, “Isn’t this great that we are helping people and their families who have cancer?”

Achieving a goal such as raising over $25K takes a little effort from a lot of people.  We realize how our the parents, staff and faculty helped us raise the $25 000.  A special thanks to our students who opened up their piggy banks, who asked for money for their September or October birthdays in order to donate it, and who went out into their neighbourhoods and asked for donations.  It just goes to show that when many people contribute to a cause by doing what they can, it is possible to accomplish wonderful things.

Derek Logan
Head of School

Volunteers

Last week was a rather busy week at KCS.  We held our 10th annual Terry Fox Run on Wednesday, our 5th Annual Grandparents Day on Friday, and our Welcome Back BBQ on Saturday for about 800-1000 of our closest friends, families and alumni.  In addition to those events, we held a couple of grade parties, a number of committee meetings, and various activities throughout the school.  And that was just last week.  All of these events were successful due to our staff working with our many amazing volunteers.

Our school has been a success for 25 years because of the outstanding commitment by many to give of their time for the current and future students of KCS.  As I said to many of the alumni families who returned on Saturday for a visit, KCS has always been a great school.  Throughout our history we did not always have the first class facility that we have now, but one thing we have always had in abundance at KCS were passionate and committed people, both staff and volunteers.  For those of you who have volunteered to help us out in so many ways over the first month of the school year, you have my sincere thanks.  Your time and efforts ensured we had a very successful first month of September.

Derek Logan
Head of School