Here is a sampling of the many celebrations in Ontario schools honouring First Nations heritage and the summer equinox.
Bala Avenue Community School in the Toronto DSB hosted its second annual Medicine Wheel Many Hands for Peace Powwow in June. The event featured veterans, elders and dancers in traditional dress accompanied by musical performances by the school's Bodacious Choir and the Awesome Nations Big Drum Group. The powwow was led in by Shannon Thunderbird, Bala's elder-in-residence, and Canadian musician Sandy Horne. The Toronto Mounted Police Unit and a constable from the Divisional Support/Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit also participated in the ceremony. Thunderbird and Lisa Beischlag, principal of Bala school, plan to construct a First Nations medicine wheel on the school property to reflect the time-honoured spiritual teachings of peace and respect towards all.
In April, the Haliburton Echo reported on an event featuring performances by the Métis Fiddler Quartet to kick off the Celebration of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Culture at J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School in Haliburton. Students enjoyed a free concert and workshop put on by the Toronto-based group, who play authentic Métis fiddle music. The quartet is made up of four siblings from Manitoba, Alyssa, Conlin, Nicholas and Danton Delbaere-Sawchuk. They have been performing together for eight years, sharing their cultural heritage for local and international audiences. This event was part of a larger 10-day First Nations culture festival organized by the Trillium Lakelands DSB.
For more information, visit www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/3250927-bala-public-school-looking-to-build-first-nations-medicine-wheel (story by Hilary Caton) and
www.haliburtonecho.ca/2013/04/08/quartet-breathes-life-into-musical-legacy (story by Darren Lum).
In June, five students from Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute (KCVI) competed in the prestigious Henley Women's Regatta in England. The students, Jenny Casson, Sarah Palilionis, Sarah Cadman, Hanna Vissers and Ashley Cain, had been competing in the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association Championships when the competition was cut short before the end of the regular season because of bad weather. A last-minute application to the annual Henley event was submitted through the quick efforts of the head coach and the volunteer coach, and the trip was organized in conjunction with the board, teachers and parents. The KCVI crew were thrilled to participate and succeeded to the quarter-finals amid stiff international competition.
For more information, visit www.limestone.on.ca and click on District News.
In May, OPSBA hosted an event at the Toronto DSB's George Webster Elementary School to launch the TeachAble Project, a resource to help schools comply with province-wide guidelines under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This resource has been developed in partnership with the Ontario Education Services Corporation and is being implemented this fall.
For more information, contact T.J. Goertz, OPSBA communications, (416) 340-2540, ext. 104, TGoertz@opsba.org.
Back row (left to right): Natalie Black, Jenna Severin, Robyn Fournier, Brooke Buchwald, Megan Davis, Maddison Mallette, Abbey Bell. Front row: Allison Chartrand, Sasha Knight.
A unique program at Fellowes High School in Pembroke is helping at-risk girls develop confidence, learn new skills and earn co-op credits. Through RISE - Riding Into Successful Experience - a small group of high-school-age girls who are experiencing difficulties in a regular classroom work with horses at Sturgeon Hill Equestrian Farm, a local farm owned by certified Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) trainer Megan Davis. Each week, the students spend one day in the classroom and the remaining four at the farm, where they train and groom the horses, do chores and assess their daily learning. They work under the guidance of Davis and follow established EAL program guidelines.
For more information, contact David Kaiser, chair, Renfrew County DSB, (613) 628-5428, or Jake Davies, communications, Renfrew County DSB, (613) 735-0151, ext. 2210, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In June, a local business venture launched by students at Mary Honeywell Elementary School in Barrhaven was awarded the Judges Choice Award for the top overall submission in the 2013 BMO Financial Group National Student Innovation Awards. Lynda Baker-Thorslund's grade 3/4 class and autism program received the award for their Out of This World Cookie Dough Company, formed with the help of a local business partner, France Charette of KPMG, education assistant Marie Hore and Baker-Thorslund.
The Learning Partnership launched the Entrepreneurial Adventure Program in 2003 to spark student interest in developing creative and successful business ventures. Students from across Canada participate in this program, competing for awards in various categories and the overall "best of the best" award.
For more information, contact Cheryl Sevigny, principal, Mary Honeywell Elementary School, (613) 825-4834, or Lauren Peddle, communications coordinator, Ottawa-Carleton DSB, (613) 596-8211, ext. 8829; or visit www.thelearningpartnership.ca.