A controversial Mount Dennis $250,000 art project is finished and was unveiled last night.
“Nyctophilia” is a collection of streetlamps with bulbs of different colours—and in the daytime at least, it’s not pretty. Mike Sullivan, our MP, was a bit indirect in his criticism, but his comment “wherearethetrees” sums up, I’m sure, the critics who think that this art is too urban in an already urban place.
But then look at this, a picture from the new proprietor of the Super Coffee shop in Mount Dennis
Frances Nunziata got some high praise from the retiring Auditor General of Toronto, Jeff Griffiths.
When I asked him who on council most supported him over the years, he named Doug Holyday, Mike Del Grande, Frances Nunziata, Brian Ashton, Jane Pitfield, Michael Walker and most recently, Josh Matlow. He couldn’t name any others, which in itself is very telling.
“I’m so angry that he’s leaving,” says Nunziata. “He’s one of the best employees we have at the city … We do owe him a lot.”
Griffiths worked for 16 years as Auditor General and was responsible for finding fraud and waste in municipal government. This year, among other areas, AG department has overseen the Pan Am Games (doing fine), Toronto Community Housing (not so much), and telephone equipment at City Hall (a total mess).
In the interview with Levy, is quite spare with his praise for City Hall politicians.
Nothing will make a kid more nervous than the thought of freshmen year at a new, foreign high school. And nothing will make that kid groan more if you tell them they have to go to summer school. But a combination of both? Blasphemy.
However, Weston Collegiate Institute is aptly proving to defy these odds by creating a welcoming and stimulating summer school invitation.
The STEM Summer Academy is a brand new summer school program offered to incoming grade nine WCI students, with the goal to make the transition smooth and engaging. Conceived from within Weston itself, this program is the first of its kind to be introduced in TDSB history – ever.
Students attending the program will be exposed to a number of different classes the high school offers: media, physical education, several STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) components, and General Learning Strategy classes (GLS), all in one day of summer school. Throughout the day, the students rotate classes; the aim being they don’t become bored concentrating on solely one subject, as compared to a typical full day summer school course.
By allowing them the time to adapt during the month, students are given a head start to tackle navigating through WCI by themselves, and will hopefully clear up the strange layout of odd-and-even classrooms and bathrooms on opposite sides of the building.
In addition to adapting to WCI climate, the STEM Summer Academy emphasizes developing a healthy mind, healthy lifestyle, and an overall well-rounded character. Students are able to build relationships that will definitely last into their first year of high school.
Examples of activities include robotics, such as building the robots and programming traffic light controls, and filming short How-to-Survive-Grade-Nine videos in their media classes. Students and teachers have also collaborated to create smoothie recipes and then purchased the ingredients at the local No Frills for smoothies in class. The GLS classes, which are typically longer individual courses, have been broken up into separate Math and English components.
“Once the students leave, our goal is to also make sure they’ve also kept up with their literacy,” says Ms. Blair, the principal of Weston Collegiate Institute, who served a significant role in implementing the STEM Summer Academy. “If you look at the teachers, they’re really well-suited for the program itself.”
It’s true – selected teachers all possess credentials to teach in subjects out of their norm, thus offering the students with a truly interesting learning experience.
And of course, the students will receive a full credit upon graduation.
But why STEM?
“Going into high school, you start doing tech with cars, and science with various experiments – but how do they fit together? The students don’t see it, and we as staff don’t make good connections all the time. So what happens is that we need to take an integrated approach of STEM,” Ms. Blair states. “When you really look at the world and all the scientific advancements happening, especially in the field of medicine, it just makes sense to teach it in school.”
It would also help if your principal had masters in the science field too.
Moreover, the STEM program won’t be isolated to just summer courses – Ms. Blair plans to have a STEM club implemented during the school year where members could meet once or twice a week to build robots and engage in other STEM activities.
Ms. Blair stresses that they’re still working over hiccups in the program, being that this is the debut year of the course. Via flyers sent home and phone calls to parents, only feeder schools in the area were informed that this program was open. Yet despite the fresh introductions and fairly reserved one-week advertising period, the STEM Summer Academy was able to attract a large amount of students, as compared to regular summer school programs offered by the TDSB.
After reviewing the results of this summer, WCI plans to make the program huge during open houses and future visits to middle schools the following school year.
“I’ve been in every single STEM class,” Ms. Blair recalls and smiles fondly. “I’ve been in a culminating video, interviewed for another culminating activity, in the gym, and in all their other classes. It’s important for me to get to know the students so that every STEM student can identify me as their principal. It makes for a comfortable environment – almost like a family.”
My own trip to volunteer within the program gave me an inside glimpse into how my future Weston peers were enjoying the program. The kids were excited, cracking jokes, participating in gym activities, and making me happy to even be at school after a grueling three weeks of summer school physics. It’s certainly undeniable that the STEM Summer Academy will introduce many ambitious and excited freshmen and freshwomen into Weston hallways.
Applications will be opened upon acceptance in WCI.
This post was brought to you by:
Weston King Neighbourhood Centre (2017 Weston Road) and Mount Dennis Neighbourhood Centre (1269 Weston Road) responding to those in our community who are coping with economic or social barriers. Visit us at www.wknc.ca,
On a sunny Thursday morning, UrbanArts hosted a launch of their new Recipe for Community book in accompaniment with the unveiling of their brand new location down at Jane and Weston.
The launch featured multiple appearances from significant community faces, including Councilor Frances Nunziata, Rahul Bhardwaj (the CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation), and many others. Distinguished guests spoke of the promising future for the local non-profit organization and mentioned the undeniable hard work put forth into obtaining the building. Other coordinators for the Recipe in Community initiative attended the event as well, coming from St. Jamestown and Alexandra Park to celebrate the success of their neighboring towns.
Recipe for Community, a collaborative model led by the Toronto Community Foundation and City of Toronto Office of Partnerships, focuses on implementing constructive outdoor activities that engage the entire community in developing a sense of communal pride and respect. Each participating community also pieces together a book on their endeavors to be viewed by the public.
The Weston-Mt. Dennis edition of the book features reports of UrbanArts members cleaning areas around the area to create a new, comfortable and welcoming outdoor space for the community. A collection of recipes from local youth are also featured at the end of the book, including several from Jeffery Edwards – or more commonly referred to as JSoul, who also spoke publicly at the event.
“I’m glad that we opened up a new place at Bartonville. I feel that the space will give people and artists like me a place to really train our talents, and also get other youths’ attention about trying out art,” Edwards said, “Being a researcher for Recipe for Community was a really great experience. I was glad to see all the different cultures in one book. [And] setting up a big movie screen for the outdoor theater in the community was one of the best things to see – everyone came out from their houses and down to the park to watch one movie as a big family.”
Now equipped with the extra space, the UrbanArts facilitators and members are eager to properly utilize the building.
“Our goal right now is to make sure we maintain that [the building] is being used at maximum capacity and that we’re reaching out to engage as much as the community as possible,” Marlene Mckintosh, the UrbanArts executive director said. “[They should] know that this space is here to use and that it’s open an available to them, and that they feel comfortable.”
The re-purposed building, originally an auto repair shop, features a vibrant UrbanArts logo, a projector screen mounted in front of the brand new computer lab, a lively kitchen nook, and multiple rooms with large doors opening up onto the yard. Out in the front, a patch of dirt begins to take shape as their new community garden.
Also excited to use the new space is the bustling UrbanArts summer camp. Though most of their camp activities take place outside or at the Chaminade College School, the camp will use the new location for the dance portion of the program, and for computer workshop activities.
When asked if Ms. Mckintosh had added her own recipe to the Recipe for Community booklet, she responded with a laugh. “I was looking through it and I realized, ‘Oh crap!’ You know, I was just doing all the office paper work, making sure it would come together. But it’s nice to see the kids’ recipes in here, and for them to realize that a part of them, their work, is published and here for everyone to see. I want to see the kids do this, because it’s really about them – it’s about how they grow in the community. It’s building their sense of pride.”
Drop in see the UrbanArts building at 5 Bartonville Avenue East and pick up a copy of the book for yourself!
This post is brought to you by:
Mary-Lynn Vella of Syntax Editorial, a Weston-based copywriting and translation services business ([email protected]).
There was none. Phew. That’s a totally typical state of affairs, and, even though I am glad for it, it is not at all surprising that there should have been a week without reported street crime. There are lots of weeks like that. Thanks to GV bringing this up.