Holiday Board-om

School Year Calendar 2016- 2017

School Year Calendar 2016- 2017

One of the jobs I have at the end of November each year is to prepare all of the registration documentation for the following school year. Because the first round of 2017-2018 registrations go out on January 2nd (for current Mentor JK to Grade 7 students), we need to have the school holidays set before we leave for our Winter Break.

The Ministry of Education sets the holidays three years in advance and we follow their lead with regard to when the Winter and March Breaks will be. Setting the holidays should be easy for everyone based on that but this year, public education boards started thinking out loud in the early part of this year that they would like to finish one week later in December and then return to classes January 9th. The “catch” is that Boards need to pre-obtain permission to go against the Ministry guidelines but when they released their list of holidays, there was an asterisk saying “pending Ministry approval”. Even if we had a way of knowing when the Ministry would approve the dates, it was already 4 months since we set our holidays and 2 months after we had given those dates to our families in the registration packages. I cannot understand how the Boards would not know three years ago (let alone two years ago or even 12 months in advance) what they wanted to do or why the Ministry would create holidays that their Boards would not want but I guess that is why I am (glad to be) in the private system!

I have spoken to many teachers, students, and parents who are part of the public boards and have yet to hear anyone say that they are excited to spend an extra week in classes with excitable students during December. When I walked through the Primary Campus front lobby this morning, there was an appreciable increase in the decibel level of the kids just because the holiday decorations were up so I know this will only increase throughout the month of December. The parents in the public school system are very jealous that we are going to be back in school on January 2nd. My personal experience with kids and the winter holidays is that after New Year’s Day, children are ready for the routine of a school day again because the excitement of new holiday gifts has worn off (eg: a week after dropping a few hundred dollars on the latest video gaming system, we just love to hear “We’re bored…there’s nothing to do”!). More importantly, parents need to get some semblance of normalcy as soon after the holiday as well.

Our holidays (or as I like to say “their” holidays) have proven to be a challenge for our high school sports in particular as we have three weeks of the winter season that are not common to most of ROPSSAA but that has been the only stumbling block. I hope that those who like to travel are finding good deals with two weeks of “uncommon” holidays and that those students who do their own gift-giving in December will take advantage of the extra shopping time. As for next year’s Winter Break, you can see on the Ministry website that the Christmas Break will be from December 25, 2017 to January 5, 2018. But you can also see on the site that, despite the modifications made by most Boards, the Ministry holidays for the current year (see the image above – click to enlarge) have not been amended…

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

Mentor/TEAM Guest Blog: The Sound of a Musical

wilkinson-kSomething very special has happened to me during the rehearsal process for The Sound of Music. As we have been working to portray the von Trapps and their story of music uniting them as a family, I’ve come to realize that we as a school are doing the same thing. I’ve had so many comments from teachers and parents expressing the same sentiment: “I love The Sound of Music – it’s been my favourite since I was a child.” Mr. Macdonald even mentioned that at one time as a young boy, he pretended to play the pipe organ processional for Maria’s wedding on the arm of the Macdonald living room easy chair!

I am told that it was only in the very beginning of the school (when there were under 100 students in all grades) that students young and old have been involved in the musical. Watching the young actors look up to the older ones and seeing the teenagers take such care of the children has been heart-warming. Knowing that there are 27 students who want to take part in the pit band is incredible. With all four divisions involved in the show, it’s hard not to feel the ever-present sense of community and love for this music surrounding me. We all seem to connect with this show in one way or another.

Throughout this rehearsal process I’ve felt a sense of family here at Mentor more than ever. I hope you do too as you watch the show. After all, you are a part of the Mentor family, and family is what Mentor is all about.

Where can I get tickets?

Kara Wilkinson
Head – Theatre Arts Department
Mentor College

“Murdoch Mysteries”

diplomaI had the pleasure of attending the Grade 8 to 9 Orientation Night at TEAM/TSS last Thursday night and was even given the opportunity to tell a few stories about TSS students and teachers. I am not at TEAM School as much as I would like so the stories were from my perspective as a principal that spends most of his day at the Main Campus.

TEAM Secondary School really is the best of both worlds. For students who thrive in small class settings and are leaning towards a college education, the academic environment we provide is a perfect fit for them. Other private schools like TSS exist but not only do we believe that our academic programme is more challenging, we know that none of them are able to provide all of the extra-curricular opportunities that the Mentor/TSS student body combined can. High schools with even twice as many students as TSS rarely have sports teams, specialty clubs, cool trips, and arts programmes and when you think about it, those are things as parents you probably remember most about your high school years. Why is it that I can tell lots of stories about experiences and skills learned from Mr. Murdoch my Grade 10 basketball coach but none about Mr. Murdoch (same guy!) my Grade 10 business teacher?

In my youth (and in my town), there were no real high school choices. There wasn’t a Catholic secondary school anywhere nearby and I had only even heard of one private school (Alma College in St. Thomas). There weren’t acronyms like IB, AP and SHSM being advertised by the Board to entice me to a specific school; it was Goderich DCI or nothing. It worked for me but it was not suited for everyone. Our Grade 8 students (both at TEAM and Mentor) have already found a good “fit” for an academic programme so the transition to high school (while still an adjustment) is not that daunting and actually really exciting.

If you missed last week’s orientation nights at Mentor or TEAM, please contact the school and we would be glad to inform you about the Ontario secondary school system and tell you about TSS/Mentor’s place within it.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School


mamas-papas-california_dreamin“All the Leaves Are Brown and the Sky is Grey”

While the inspiration for the headline could have been the weather on Friday the actual inspiration for this week’s blog comes from Mrs. Pengelly, one of our junior kindergarten teachers. She mentioned to me that the Primary Campus Choir is learning “California Dreamin'” this year. She noted how cool it was that they were singing a song made popular by The Mamas and the Papas, a band featuring singer Denny Doherty. Doherty lived in Mississauga after his active stage career and was a “Mentor/TEAM Dad” with a son and daughter attending in the 1990s.

The degrees of separation don’t end there. Denny’s son, John followed in his Dad’s musical footsteps and was a founding member of the band illScarlett. Their first demo album was recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, a place co-founded by Rik Emmett of the famous Canadian band, Triumph. Emmett’s three children also attended the school in the 1990s and the musical connections continued when jazz great Oscar Peterson’s grandchild attended the school in the 2000s.

We also have some political connections with our parents here at the school. Longtime Conservative member Tony Clement is also a longtime Mentor/TEAM Dad and Mississauga politicians Steve and Katie Mahoney enrolled their children at our school, including current councillor Matt Mahoney. Every single one of the Mississauga mayors in the past 40 years have a connection to the school, too! Hazel McCallion’s granddaughter was a Grade 8 graduate and Bonnie Crombie was a regular at the MTPA Volunteer Breakfast with her kids’ connection to the school.

For me, personally, the most memorable “famous” Mentor parent was here only in my first year at the school. I was a huge hockey fan as a young boy and my favourite line in hockey was from the Buffalo Sabres. “The French Connection” consisted of Gilbert Perrault, Richard Martin and René Robert and I was a right winger in hockey so Robert was my favourite. He had finished up his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs (the year that the Leafs traded Darryl Sittler and broke my heart forever) and was still living in the area. I found out that his son Mike was in his graduating year here and even though René did not come to very many school functions, I did get a handshake from him before the end of the year.

We are still a fairly young school but it is probably only a matter of time before it is not our former parents but our former students who will be the celebrities. Come to think of it, there is so much musical, athletic and academic talent within our walls that I am sure it will be the case.

Possum-bilities? Endless!

opossumIt was pointed out to me on Wednesday night that, with my youngest child in Grade 12, I was attending my final Speech Night as a parent (4 years with the eldest, 8 years with both kids and 4 years with the youngest for a total of 16 years!). I told my daughter afterwards that I thought it was her best one of the lot and her response was “You don’t remember my ‘Opossum’ speech in Grade 3, do you?” She inherited her mother’s looks and intelligence but definitely has her father’s wit!

Many, many years ago, we invited a graduating HS student by the name of Mike Zogala to speak to the Grade 8 class at their grad ceremony. We hand-picked him because we knew he was an excellent speaker and marketing-wise, we hoped he would be a great example of “how your kids will turn out if they stay at Mentor for high school”. His very first lines to the audience were: “I have dreaded Speech Night for 13 years. Now that I actually have a choice in the matter, I say ‘yes’ to giving a speech in front of students and parents! What is wrong with me?”

Mike had those feelings of dread almost 20 years ago and I imagine if I took a quick poll of the HS students who presented their speeches on Tuesday (TSS) and Wednesday (Mentor), the majority would agree that they could think of much better things to do on a school night. What I will also bet is that if I asked the question “was Speech Night worth it?” to our alumni, they would no doubt be on the other side of the argument. University students come back and tell us all the time that when it is time for group presentations, they are almost always voted as the person “to do the talking”. One of the shyest girls I ever coached in volleyball is now a liaison officer for a university and talking in front of strangers for a living. And Mike Zogala? Last I heard, he is a lawyer in New York City and I assume still uses “persuasive speech” in order to be successful.

As we prepare for our first Open House this Saturday, I think that one of the great advantages we have as a JK to Grade 12 school is the school-wide events we hold like Speech Night. We smile at our kids while they recite poems and songs in kindergarten and then before you know it, they are in their graduating year discussing varied topics like “Memory and Self-Identity”, “The Butterfly Effect”, “I Speak Cantonese, NOT Mandarin”, and “Hilma af Klint”. I doubt that my kid (or anyone!) will ever need to speak again about Hilma af Klint (a turn-of-the-century Swedish abstract artist obsessed with the paranormal…to save you a Google search), but the skills used and experience of presenting this speech will be used for years to come. If you know a family who would find the same benefits in a Mentor College and TEAM School education that you have discovered, please invite them to come see our school this Saturday morning!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School