STJE not open in time for September

Should have brought more shovels

St John the Evangelist’s new school will not be open in time for September, according to Dave Bennett, the chair of the Parent Council.

The board snuck the news in as point 2 of a letter to the community, which, sandwiched between caissons and culverts, says that “Due to an administrative delay in issuing the conditional building permit, and an unusually wet summer, the schedule completion date have moved to mid-November 2018”.

The students at St John the Evangelist have put up with years—indeed decades—of disruption: a tiny school without enough outside space, many portables, moving to a school in the Junction, moving to a school north of Weston, and now this: a broken promise to have the school opened in time for 2018.

Weston students streamed into dead end pathways

York South–Weston students are being streamed into high-school programs that limit their life opportunities, according to Social Planning Toronto.

The province formally did away with streamed high-school programming many years ago, but much of the old system persists, SPT says.  The results are profound: students choose “academic” or “applied” courses in grade 8 that will affect their careers, and earnings, for decades—and they do so without knowing the difference.

Further, “low-income and marginalized students [are] over-represented in lower level courses”.

Map of applied courses
A single map in the report tells a sad and scary story: students in the poorer horseshoe around wealthy old-Toronto take more applied courses.

Applied courses are an academic lobster trap: easy to get into, but hard to get out of. Students are asked to take make-up courses in the summer or after school to make the transition into the academic program.

The report recommends:

  • Delaying choices about education pathways for as long as possible
  • Improving de-streaming
  • Providing better support for students who want to move into the academic stream
  • Improving communication about pathways to parents and students
  • Providing better one-on-one support, especially from teachers

 

 

 

Weston – a (comparatively) long history.

Weston has some old structures. Not that old compared to those in Europe, Africa or Asia but for North America, we have quite a few of historical interest.

Strictly speaking, Weston’s oldest structure is the Carrying Place Trail. This was used by First Nations people and explorers between 1615 and 1793. A plaque was dedicated by the Weston Historical Society in 2013.

The Carrying Place Trail Plaque in 2013.

Weston’s next oldest structure is the 1856 CNR (formerly Grand Trunk) bridge that crosses the Humber to the west of Weston and St Phillips. It was recently widened to accommodate the UP Express but the original structure still stands.

The October 5th 1859 sod turning for the Toronto Grey and Bruce narrow-gauge railway by 19 year-old Prince Arthur, 3rd son of Queen Victoria. From: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

The next oldest structure is the long neglected Plank Road Building at Weston and St Phillips. This structure at 2371 Weston was built in 1841 and   in recent years has stood abandoned. Someone obviously owns it and is paying (no doubt reduced) taxes on it.

The Plank Road Building at 2375 Weston Road. From: Google Maps

Weston Presbyterian Church on Cross Street in Weston has an interesting history dating from 1847. The current version dates from 1880.

Weston Presbyterian Church. From: Google.ca

St John the Evangelist Catholic Church was established in 1853.

Weston Collegiate Institute has been going since before Canada was a country (not in the same building!) and is Toronto’s second oldest high school.

Weston Lacrosse Team 1924. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

Weston Village is filled with fine homes and mansions, many dating from around the turn of the 20th Century. Generations of families have enjoyed these homes and their history once revealed can be fascinating.

The City of Toronto has a web page outlining some useful areas of investigation if you are researching the history of your older home. Weston Historical Society may also be useful in this regard.

Readers are invited to share their discoveries.

Weston Collegiate grad to study at Yale in September

Studying in the United States “had always been a big dream” of Debbie Dada’s. She’s “grateful” for the opportunity to do so in September.

Debbie recently graduated from the International Baccalaureate program at Weston Collegiate and she will be studying Global Affairs while doing pre-medical school requirements at Yale University. In the future, she plans to work in global health, specifically for the World Health Organization.

She says that she’s had a “really amazing” experience at Weston Collegiate, having made several strong connections with both students and staff. One staff, Mr. Reid, in particular. He was the staff adviser to to the African-Canadian Leadership Committee, which was one of the first clubs Debbie joined at Weston. “He’s been such a great inspiration and help in this journey—especially in this limbo that is high school where you’re trying to make so many important decisions.”

Not only is Debbie a leader in her school, but she is also one within the York South—Weston community.

In early-2016, along with Shaimaa Helal, Debbie created Find Your Path, a grassroots organization that provides motivational resources and scholarships to students that are the first in their family to pursue post-secondary education. The 2017 scholarship application recently launched. Please email fypcanada@gmail.com for the application.

Since having created her youth-led initiative, she has been working with For Youth Initiative, a local non-profit organization that serves York South—Weston youth. “I’ve seen the journey of Find Your Path. Debbie is one of the main reasons why we started our youth-led network,” said Saron Sahlu, the Youth Incubator Case Lead at For Youth Initiative. “She’s written grants and attended several meetings for the network.”

Good luck, Debbie! Weston is proud of you!

Our Wonderful Walk Around Weston

By: James Silvaggio (Grade 5 student at Weston Memorial)

On Thursday June 8th as the elected Prime Minister of my graduating class, I organized a “Walk Around Weston” with the grade 5 students of Weston Memorial CS.  We visited different places in the Weston community that make our neighbourhood a great place to live!

We started our journey on John Street, where we crossed the Pedestrian Bridge.  We stopped for a while and allowed my classmates to take pictures and enjoy this immense structure.

We continued down John Street to Weston Road.  There we crossed the street at the lights and walked north to the Toronto Carrying Place, where a plaque is mounted on the corner of Weston Rd. and Little Ave.  Suri, from Squibb’s was waiting there for us, and shared the history behind this Native site.  We learned that the Aboriginal people used Weston as a pathway that allowed them to walk near the Humber River.  Just south of Weston, there is a BIG dip in the river that drops suddenly.  This would have been very dangerous.  So the Natives used this path as a way of getting safely to an area that was less turbulent.  Suri mentioned that the pathway extends to different parts of our province. My dad mentioned that the path extends from Lake Simcoe to Lake Ontario.  Shortly after, the British came to Weston and took over.  We know this by the street names in our community like: John, William, King and Queens.  It would have been nice if the British named at least one street after a Native person.  I’d like to think that the streets Elm and Pine were named with Natives in mind.

Then my class went over to Squibb’s to explore the oldest business in Weston.  This year Squibb’s celebrated its 90th anniversary!   First, Suri told us about how her store was not always located where it is today.  In the window of her store there is a photograph of the first owner and his family.  She told us that the first owner was a doctor.  Her parents also owned Squibb’s and now she and her husband run this business.  When we walked inside we saw books, stationary, figurines, school supplies and fidget toys!!  Wow, a 90 year old place has fidget toys!! Very cool! My teacher Mr. Malone said that Suri knows everything about Weston and its history.  I think he’s right.

Our next stop was the newest business in Weston: Zeal Burgers!  The owner, Mark presented to us with “zeal” and confidence. He told us that he had many jobs before this one.  He was 15 when he had his first job!  He wanted to be a teacher (and he would have been a great one), but that wasn’t his destiny.  We are glad to have such an amazing burger place in our neighbourhood.  The burgers are TASTY and fresh! My godfather, Reno Notaro has tried many burgers around the city and he said that Zeal Burgers is the best.  I never argue with my godfather.  He’s always right.  You also need to try his poutine and shakes because they taste soooo good!

We said farewell to Mark and told him that we’d be back soon.  The grade 5s walked to our best transportation system in Weston – The UP Express.  We stood on track 3, and a few minutes later, all of us boarded the train.  We enjoyed the smooth 12 minute ride to Union Station. Many students were taking pictures of the scenery outside our windows.  It was a fun ride.  Then we turned around and made our way back to Weston!

We walked back to Zeal Burgers where 50 warm burgers were waiting for us to gobble up!  My classmates were salivating for their burger.  Mrs. Bellec helped garnish the burgers (I hope she’s not thinking of leaving teaching too), and then we made our way to Elm Park with a tempting burger in our paper bag.  When we got there we ate, played and enjoyed the beautiful June weather.  It was a fantastic experience and we enjoyed our day together.  Thanks to Suri, Mark, Mrs. Madarasz, Mr. Malone, Mrs. Bellec, Luke’s nonna and my mom for making this day possible.

SRO in Weston CI pushes back

One of Weston’s finest has been pushing back against the furore this week surrounding school resource officers. Constable Peter De Quintal has been taking to Twitter, Newstalk 1010, and the CBC to make a gentle case for his role in schools.


The Toronto Police Services Board considered the role of School Resource Officers last week, generating much protest about racism and the marginalization of vulnerable students. One protestor said,

“Police officers in schools have been discriminating against black children, indigenous children and other racialized youth and I just don’t think that there is a world where we need to have guns in schools with kids who are there trying to learn,” Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Sandy Hudson told CP24.

Constable Peter De Quintal, AKA “Star Wars Cop” is the SRO for Weston CI and other schools in the neighbourhood. He is famous for, among other things, bike rodeos, Star Wars toast, and the most charming selfie I’ve ever seen—taken when he was being honoured as a Portuguese community leader.

De Quintal told the CBC “I believe the student body in general wants us there, they’re welcoming. I don’t turn the school into a police state, I don’t patrol the hallways. I’m a resource to them, I’m a means of engagement”.

The Police Services Board postponed any decisions about police in schools until December.

June fair a huge success

The Weston Memorial June Fair was a huge success. Hundreds and hundreds of people, big and small, turned out to raise money for the school. They may have also had some fun.

The excellent people at Zeal Burgers (have you been yet? Go.) were selling burgers for a steal—$3! The games were excellent, the bouncy castles bouncy, and the weather just glorious.