Across the Boards - ET Fall 2015

Upper Grand DSB Pilots Technology Program

A pilot program launched in April by the Upper Grand DSB and the Wellington County Library System will provide easier access to technology for rural students. The board has purchased five Chromebook laptops, which have been sent to public library branches in Drayton, Palmerston and Mount Forest. The laptops are for the exclusive use of students, who can access lessons on the cloud or through the board's virtual learning commons. The laptops can also be signed out for seven days.

For more information, visit www.ugdsb.on.ca and read "Upper Grand Students Have a New Way to Do Homework" in the News section; or contact Maggie McFadzen, communications, Upper Grand DSB, (519) 822-4420, ext. 725, maggie.mcfadzen@ugdsb.on.ca, or Mark Weidmark, communications, Upper Grand DSB, (519) 822-4420, ext. 544, mark.weidmark@ugdsb.on.ca.

New Program at Keewatin-Patricia DSB for At-Risk Students

According to a July 8 report in the Kenora Daily Miner and News, the Keewatin-Patricia DSB has taken over a program for at-risk students. Academic Connections through Empowerment was formerly an independent learning program in Kenora for students who are out of school while they are dealing with issues in the criminal justice system. The goal of the new program is to enable these students to return to a regular school setting. Funding from the Ministry of Education allows for a full-time teacher and mental health support services for the group of 10 students, who will be learning academics along with a range of practical life skills courses.

For more information, visit http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/ and search on July 8, "School Board Offering New Programs"

Special Education Innovation at Renfrew County DSB

Special education students at Arnprior District High School now have an inventive new facility to help them transition to a real-world environment. In June, the school opened a working one-bedroom apartment, renovated from an existing classroom, and complete with kitchen, bath and den. The project is the brainchild of Sarah Spratt, the board's Transitions Program teacher, along with life skills teachers Jessica Hawleys-Malina and Donalda Stevens. Their goal was to create a safe and caring place where students in the special education program can participate in the practical realities of independent living. Students will learn life skills, literacy, housekeeping, budgeting and finance, and much more. Students were themselves involved in the planning and creation of this apartment, side by side with the many education and community partners.

For more information, contact Dave Shields, chair, Renfrew County DSB, (613) 582-3483, or Jake Davies, communications, Renfrew County DSB, (613) 735-0151, ext. 2210, daviesj@rcdsb.on.ca.

New Theatre Arts Program at Avon Maitland DSB

In June, the Avon Maitland DSB announced a new performing arts program that will offer students comprehensive training in all aspects of theatre performance and production. My Academy is a partnership between the board and the Stratford Festival. Training in performance, design and stage management will be delivered by festival performers, production artists and administrators, beginning in February 2016. The program has two parts: an after-school program open to full-time grade 7 to 12 students and a credit course offered at Stratford Central Secondary School. Students will mount an abridged Shakespeare play to be staged in May at the Festival's Studio Theatre.

For more information, visit Avon Maitland DSB at www.yourschools.ca and read "Festival and Board in New Arts Enrichment Partnership" in the Announcements section.

Ontario Student Photography Contest Winners

In June, the work of several Ontario public school board students earned top honours in a new national photography contest. The Imagine Culture Photo Contest, run by Passages Canada, aims to develop cultural awareness among young people aged 5 to 29. It drew a field of more than 560 entries in its inaugural year.

In the Elementary category (K-6), submissions from the entire grade 6 class from Cornell Junior Public School in Toronto (Toronto DSB) received second place. Their entries reflected the importance of cultural and religious activities in their daily lives.

In the Intermediate category (grades 7 to 9), first and third places were taken by Harman Gosal and Alexia Addo-Nyarko respectively. Both students are in grade 8 at Sir Isaac Brock Public School in Brampton (Peel DSB). Harman's photograph, A Turban's Symbolism, is a reflection on the turban as a symbol of peace, and Alexia's, Coming a Long Way, expresses lessons learned from practising tolerance. Second place in this category was awarded to Serena Knight, a grade 8 students at Katimavik School in the Ottawa Carleton DSB. Her photograph pictures a pair of costly chopsticks that symbolize the love and support given to her mother by family in Hong Kong, as she made the difficult and unconventional decision to leave her homeland and pursue dreams of a career in electrical engineering in Canada.

Donna Anaddakumar, a grade 12 student at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute in Scarborough (Toronto DSB), received second place in the Senior category (grades 10 to 12) for her photo Divisions Destroyed, which celebrates the value Toronto places on the diverse ethnicities, faiths and gender preferences among its citizens.

Marco Adly, a grade 10 student at École secondaire Jeunes sans frontières in Peel DSB, took the grand prize in the Senior category with his photo of a Canadian memorial ceremony honouring the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS terrorists in February.

For more information, visit www.passagestocanada.com or contact Maddy Macnab, program coordinator, Historica Canada, (416) 506-1867, ext 264, mmacnab@historicacanada.ca.