Altruism Week at Calgary Academy
On Sunday, we kick-off a weeklong celebration of altruism at Calgary Academy! Each day we will feature an example of our community giving back – either by volunteering their time, leaving a legacy, or making a generous donation. We’re asking all parents to help spread the word by sharing the link with friends and family, making a donation, or by submitting an impact story on the difference CA has made in your family’s life.
Nutty C and the Perfect Tree
Every teacher brings a lifetime of experiences from before and beyond their classroom to school, and for Grade 10 teacher Charlotte Nixon, it’s her record as a published and celebrated playwright. Earlier in 2020, she began work planning a one-act traveling play, following the success of her January production Frog Prince: The Musical. Like everyone around the world, her plans were impacted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Travelling plays would prove problematic in a cohorted world. Harder still would be in-person cast rehearsals and performances. So, she pivoted and turned a live, one-act concept into an animated film, and Nutty C and the Perfect Tree was born. Charlotte notes, “when we think about what makes the perfect Christmas, it’s often the presents being nicely wrapped, or a lovely tree – everything as it “should” be. Often, the striving for perfect ends up underscoring the true meaning of Christmas and leaving someone out.” Produced by SideNote Theatre, Nutty C and the Perfect Tree is about misguided tree ornaments desperately trying to achieve the “perfect” Christmas, and how the goal of perfection often ends up being what ruins Christmas. The musical features a whole cast of larger than life characters, but one in particular stands out, both for the character itself, and the actor picked to play, Pickle with Pizazz. “I knew right away I wanted Thomas to try out for the role,” Ms. Nixon says. “I tried all summer to contact him and reached him just in time for auditions.” Thomas, a Grade 12 student at Calgary Academy, has amassed a significant theatre background during his time at the school acting in and supporting junior and senior productions. Even further, he identified with Pickle and could bring a depth of understanding and knowing to such an important role. Thomas only had 48 hours to learn the script, record his audition, and send it in on time. Luckily, he was offered the part only a few days later. COVID-19 continued to impact the development of this film, and the cast conducted rehearsals remotely via Zoom. “There was a huge learning curve as we got used to rehearsing via Zoom, but in the end, it was almost better than in person, as I could see the other cast member’s full faces and reactions,” Thomas comments. “I loved being part of such an inclusive community, in a community of actors and crew who were so supportive of one another. Hurdles weren’t seen as problems but obstacles we could adapt to and overcome. We learned not to be afraid of changing things, and it turns out there is so much you can do with the recorded experience. The cast in fact was only together in person to record a soundtrack, which was done while physically distanced and masked. Since the recording wrapped, it’s been a mad dash to production, and so Thomas and Ms. Nixon saw Nutty C for the first time alongside audiences when livestreaming began on November 24. Nutty C and the Perfect Tree will be available for live streaming November 24 – December 31. For more Information on the production and to purchase live streaming tickets, visit https://www.sidenotetheatre.com/nuttycandtheperfecttree
November 2020 SCOCA Meeting
Agenda 1. Welcome/ Call to Order 2. Approval of the Agenda 3. Chair Report- Carolyn Whitelaw 4. Reports: a. Volunteer Update – Shannyn De Kruyff b. Principal Update – Tim Carlson c. Student Council Co-Chairs (CASE) – Thomas D. and Zoe T. d. Sports Update – Nick Waterbury e. Lindsey Meredith and Tim Carlson - Survey Measures and Results Spring 2020 5. Next Meeting- January 18,2021 6:30pm 6. Future Agenda Items 7. Q &A 8. Thank you/ Adjournment
Student Spotlight: Kenzie
It's one thing to expose students to innovative and creative learning opportunities when times are good. It's another altogether amidst a global pandemic, when schools were abruptly switching to emergency remote learning. But that's exactly what CA did back in early March for Grade 8 students participating in The New York Times' annual Student Editorial Contest. For Kenzie B., it was exactly the kind of inspiring class project to help get her through unprecedented times. "My teachers introduced the contest to me as a class project. We had just started it when school shut down, and I kept working on my essay outside of school." Her essay, entitled "Happily Ever After," focused on how fairy tales need an update to include modern values and lessons for future generations. Her argument: "times have changed, and the ideals of modern society no longer match these stories. So why are we clinging on to these unrealistic and often damaging morals?" So, where did such a great essay concept come from? For Kenzie, it was a natural continuation from a school project that had actually occurred a year earlier – the Grade 7 Marketplace project. For that project, students had to make a product and then "sell" it to parents. At the time, Kenzie actually rewrote fairy tales with feminism and modern values and sold modern, hand produced books as her product.
"Rather than have young girls growing up wanting to be princesses, I want them to have healthy values, and be just as strong and brave as the men featured in the traditional fairy tales."Her passion for feminism and equal representation definitely struck a nerve with the New York Times competition. While still learning remotely, she found out she'd been selected as a finalist. "I was shocked. I didn't expect it. My family and teachers zoom called me to tell me the news." Now in Grade 9, Kenzie is excited for the future – which remains full of possibilities. "I'm not 100% sure what the future holds. At some point, I want to publish a book or short story somewhere. Maybe I'll go into law. But I definitely see myself still writing." Congratulations, Kenzie, on a great accomplishment!
Bring Your Brave (Virtually!)
For the last 12 years, each October our school community brings 24 high school volleyball teams together to celebrate the empowerment of young women during the annual Dig Pink volleyball tournament. Over the course of two days, the teams battle it out to see who will claim the title of tournament champion, while wearing pink, raising funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, and showcasing their commitment to their sport and altruistic spirit. Our entire school jumps on board to support this important cause for breast cancer research. Hundreds of students pack our gymnasium for a pep rally that highlights the importance of altruism, and we spend an entire week reflecting on how breast cancer has impacted our individual lives, and how we as a community can help make positive change. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of that tournament. But Dig Pink at CA is about so much more than a volleyball tournament, and our community is resilient. Today kicks off a week-long spirit week, and our mission to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation is more important than ever. Here is a breakdown of some of the events and activities throughout the week:
- Dig Pink Buttons and Disposable Masks – These will be dropped off to homerooms early in the week. Students can wear these on Friday, October 23.
- Dig Pink Silent Auction: October 19 – 23 - Our silent auction is now live! The auction runs for two weeks and has a huge variety of items and experiences available to bid on. All proceeds support the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
- Clothing Sale: October 19 – 23 - A limited number of Dig Pink hats, hoodies, cloth masks, and colour changing mugs will be available to purchase all week during lunch time at the High School front office.
- Crave Cupcake Day: Thursday, October 22 - Cupcakes will be on sale at lunch times in the MPR. All proceeds go to support Dig Pink and the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
- Classroom Contest: Friday, October 23 – Show your support and wear pink! The best dressed class will win a prize. Teachers will submit a full class photo on Friday for the virtual rally that morning.
- Dig Pink Day: Friday, October 23 - There will be a virtual rally from 8:30 – 9:00 a.m. The school will be decorated and all students and staff are encouraged to show their support and wear pink!
Strategic Plan Consultation
Back in 2017, when we envisioned what 2021 could look like, none of us could have predicted the massive disruption to teaching, learning, and life that COVID-19 would have. But we knew the areas we wanted to get stronger as an organization and we put the plan in place to get there. Our developments in learning supports, agile instruction, enhancement in technology, and all of the other learning and strategies we worked on these past years positioned us to be able to take on the abrupt change in the world around us. This time it was COVID-19. Next time, it will be something different. Today, we launch the process for reimagining our future. What will 2025 look like? What do we need to get stronger in, to be able to face whatever comes next? That's the conversation we are about to embark on as a community. Over the next five months, we'll be asking all members of our community to share their hopes and dreams for the future - for themselves, this school, and teaching and learning in general. We'll take these hopes and dreams and start to shape them into three distinct Strategic Plans. One each for Calgary Academy, Headwater Learning Solutions, and Headwater Learning Foundation. While we won’t be having these conversations in the same room over four full days like last time, we will be utilizing all of the digital tools we’ve so recently become masters of. This will be a decentralized process, with opportunities to engage virtually and in small groupings of less than 20. For now, all we ask is you start thinking about 2025. In the coming weeks and months, we'll be reaching out for specific feedback, and the details of the schedule is included below.
- October: Surveys
- November: Focus Groups
- December: Summary Report
- January: Community Connection
- February: Detailed Implementation
- March: Draft Plans Unveiling
Federal Recognition for Longtime CA Teacher
We are delighted to announce that longtime CA teacher and instructional leader Maureen Kelly Gibson has been recognized with the highest award given to teachers in Canada, as one of nine educators receiving the National Certificate of Excellence from the Prime Minister’s Award (PMA) for Teaching recipient. Maureen was selected for remarkable achievements in education and for commitment to preparing students for a digital and innovation-based economy. For Maureen, the award recognizes her incredible contributions to CA over her career with us. This includes her expertise in remedial reading instruction, her contributions to the CA Learning Model and Kindergarten program, and her many examples of outstanding classroom experiences for her students. The committee receives thousands of applications for this award yearly, and uses dozens of different readers and judges to come to a conclusion of the finalists and eventual winners. Thank you, Maureen, for representing Calgary Academy and for the many years of service to our school and to thousands of children that have come through our doors. You can read the full announcement and details of her recognition here: Award Announcement
Outdoor Learning Circles
Some of you may have noticed small clearings in the woods adjacent to the playing fields. A small group of passionate staff have worked to build outdoor spaces that encourage students to be outside more often, are conducive to learning, and, that offer a less prohibitive space to learn and play. Each circle has been cleared of debris, but will retain its natural character. Simple wooden stools will provide seating. Our Grade 12 students have been divided into teams, and each team is responsible for a circle — clearing, cleaning, making the stools, and maintaining the circle. They are tasked with naming their circle, electing a visual recorder of the process, and electing a team foreman who will liaise with the General Contractor — a staff representative. There are three circles in the West Woods. The outer two circles have 20 stools each, while the inner has been left for more creative activities. There are also three circles in the East Woods, with the circle closest to the pump track left creative; the next two have 10 stools each, built slightly smaller for younger legs. The stools are cabled together so they can be moved but not removed. These outdoor spaces will serve as a great space for class discussions and more open ended, activity oriented lessons. The Grade 12 students hope students and staff will use and enjoy their creations - and classes already are!
October 2020 Agenda
- Welcome/Call to Order
- Approval of the Agenda
- Introductions of the School Council Executive
- Chair Report – Carolyn Whitelaw
- President and CEO Report – Dr. Greg Bass
- Principal Report – Tim Carlson
- Volunteer Update – Shannyn De Kruyff
- CAPA and Advancement – Natalie Kowalenko
- Strategic Plan – Lindsey Meredith
- Learning and Innovation at CA – Susan Poole
- Learning Supports – Sarah Hoag
- Next Meeting – November 23, 2020 at 6:30 p.m.
- Future Agenda Items
- Student Council report
- Q &A
- Thank you/Adjournment
The New Normal for PE
This time last year, our gyms were packed with students playing basketball and volleyball. Today, the gyms are empty, and individual sports are in. Last week we sat down with two teachers from the Physical Education department, and what follows is an interview with Tracy Sullivan and Alora Popow. What is different about PE this year? TS & AP: This time last year our courses consisted of flag football, volleyball, basketball and kickball. Obviously, none of that is happening right now. We’ve had to completely reinvent our units to protect our students from COVID-19. There are no team sports, and we are sanitizing all shared equipment after each student’s use. The intentionality in the new structure for PE created much more consistency in programming. Every class gets same programming – one unit per week. This alignment makes it possible for consistency with sanitizing, which is crucial, but has also created a very predictable and safe environment for the students, which aligns much more closely with the CA Way. We’re outside way more than before, which has been awesome. We are seeing payoffs not even related to COVID-19 precautions. Students are taking more individual risks, they are happy to be in class, and there’s been no complains about sanitizing. What’s been your biggest challenge? TS & AP: A lot of our students love team sports and are really good at them. It is challenging not to support their passions. Using PE time for sanitizing instead of activity is also tough. But we’ve felt incredibly supported to get the tools and equipment we need for COVID-safe activities – like a class set of scooters! What have you learned? TS & AP: Teachers are resilient. We originally felt like we had nothing – our usual lesson plan just were not going to work. We all felt like rookie teacher in our first year teaching. Now that we’ve wrapped our heads around the new reality, all we see is our department (and every teacher in the building) coming up with cool new ways to do things. You can teach an old dog new tricks! The shift in mindset, our ability to adapt and overcome, we are all learning new ways to teach – we are even using the technology differently. In summary, things are crazy. But there’s such an atmosphere of “let’s do this; we are a team; we can get through this.” How has this experience informed your views on the educational world? TS & AP: I never thought we could teach PE digitally or remotely. It’s outrageous, but we did it. We’ve learned you really can learn anything, anywhere, at any time. We’ve always believed that personally, but it's different putting it into action. However, just because you can learn anywhere, doesn’t mean it’s a fulsome replacement for a physical experience. Schools are an important place to come together and learn together.