For those of you who have been born and raised in the GTA, cultural diversity has been part of your life. For people like me who were raised in small town Ontario, it was not…in fact, I was thinking this week that if they held a Celebration of Cultural Diversity at my high school, they could have held it in a classroom! I had no friends who were of a different culture, skin colour or religion and even if I counted in the entire high school, there would have been 3 students in one of those categories. It wasn’t until I got to university (and even more so once I started working at TEAM/Mentor), that I realized what a vacuum I had lived in all those years!
At the conclusion of the Culture Show concert last Thursday, Mentor high school principal Mr. Whyte noted that it was one of his “favourite nights of the year” because it involved every student of the school. All JK to Grade 8 students had the opportunity to tour the pavilions during the day where they were guided around the world by what ended up being almost 1/3 of the high school student body! The concerts included dance, vocal and instrumental performances by students from all four divisions of the school. Mr. Whyte then also pointed out that this was an event where PARENTS also play an active role; whether they are sewing costumes, coaching dances, cooking desserts, or delivering toothpick-pierced treats, they are proud of their heritage (or in the case of some students, an “inherited” one as they represent a country of which they simply have an interest).
The biggest takeaway for me (and hopefully for the hundreds of volunteers, performers, and guests) at the Culture Show is that our school is like Canada in miniature. Almost 40 countries were not simply represented but they were celebrated. The ability to celebrate everything that makes us different is what makes us the same.
Mentor College/TEAM School
“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.
We are really looking forward to tomorrow with the three presentations from social media expert Paul Davis. Our Grades 5/6 students and our Grades 7/8 students will each receive an age-appropriate presentation about both the wonders and the pitfalls of social media. I have not seen a Paul Davis presentation before but I imagine the students go into the auditorium thinking they know everything there is to know about social media and come out realizing (but perhaps not admitting) that there was lots they did not know (and that they didn’t think anyone over the age of 21 knew more than they did on the topic!).
For the evening seminar at 7:00, I imagine that Mr. Davis frequently sees the exact opposite set of emotions. I am sure there will be parents come into the talk with a combination of fear and ignorance and leave at the end with more comfort and confidence in their knowledge about online activity. Parents, I imagine many of you are like me. You have pretty much mastered emailing (even adding attachments!), you consider yourself quite proficient at looking up stuff on Google and YouTube videos and get Magnum P.I.-type satisfaction in finding old school friends on Facebook.
I also guess that, like me, you do not have much interest in Instagramming, Tweeting, Tumbling or Snapping, but this is where our kids are now. And if your kids haven’t hit their tweens yet, I have no idea what you will be dealing with in a few years but I do know that you need to educate yourself NOW. There is a delicate balance between letting your kids be independent and keeping them safe and with online activity, that balance can shift even quicker. This is why we are inviting ALL parents to the evening presentation.
One parent asked me if he should come to the presentation and my answer was “only if your kids know more about the internet than you do!” Based on that, I expect a full house!
Tickets are available in each campus office and the presentation starts at 7:00 at the Main Campus.
Mentor College / TEAM School
Like many of you, I was glued to my TV on Tuesday night watching the baseball wild card game between the Blue Jays and Orioles. And while the game itself was fascinating (and the right team won!), I have been just as interested in watching the “Beercangate” controversy unfold.
Just in case you haven’t been following the story, an almost-full can of beer was thrown from the outfield stands at an Oriole outfielder as he was making a catch. In the 48 hours since, police and amateur online detectives have been trying to unlock the mystery of “who threw it?” After one day without solid leads, police released the photo of a “person of interest”, a name soon followed and the world went berserk from Mississauga to Maryland and beyond.
What I cannot understand is how the culprit was not caught within 10 seconds of the incident. I have been to many sports games, concerts and other stadium events and I am pretty sure that I would be able to identify the beer chucker. I might know who in my section purchased a can, who was acting rowdy enough to endanger a player and mostly, I think I would notice anyone who took a huge wind-up to launch a projectile from that distance. I think I could do this for a few people either side or for a number of rows in front of me…maybe 10-15 persons or so. Everyone in that section was looking at the play; there must be at least a dozen people who saw it happen and could identify the person. The health of a baseball player and the reputation of Blue Jay fans are in question so why has no-one stepped up and pointed a finger? And if I was in the same position, would I have the integrity to do so myself?
I am wondering if this is the part of the challenge that schools have with anti-bullying strategies. I think our kids are WAY more likely to point out wrong-doings (publicly or anonymously) than we are because they have grown up with the message (at our school and previous ones) that wrong is wrong and that if you see something that shouldn’t be happening, you should tell an adult you trust. The kids get it but maybe parents (sorry, but the people in that section look to be parent-aged, not kids) aren’t quite there yet. How many of you remember being in a classroom after some sort shenanigans had taken place and heard the teacher say before storming out of the class “Nobody leaves this room until they confess!”? How effective was that? We sat there are argued with each other until one of our classmates falsely admitted (or was “pressured” into) their guilt.
Your kids will tell you that the real culprits are the people nearby who saw it happen and know who it was but didn’t say anything. It will be interesting to see if this “person of interest” is an innocent bystander or not. As our kids have been trained to recognize, the “innocent bystander” cannot be innocent while standing by, only when they stand up.
Mentor College/TEAM School
Every year I enjoy listening to the evening news on the first day of school (“Principal Caught Speeding in a School Zone” is my personal and, unfortunately, annual favourite). I think that as staff members, parents and students, we obsess over having all the proper “stuff” and forget about the more important back-to-school item…routine!
As parents, we hit up Costco for things to pack in lunchboxes and our kids agonize over which red pen at Staples has the best underlining feature but we don’t think about the more important things. How many of us didn’t have the “Where will we meet after school?” conversation until we were driving for the 5th time around the school on Wednesday (unsuccessfully trying not to look like we are not texting our kids). Have you waited at the afternoon bus stop to find that your child didn’t get on the bus and were prepared to request an “amber alert” before your high school student FINALLY called you back to say “Sorry I forgot to tell you I was trying out for basketball!”. This admission is usually followed by “When are you coming to get me?” and replied with “When you have graduated!”.
Now that we are back in the swing of things, please make sure you are being mindful of your surroundings. High school students who are out on lunch break need to go to an intersection and look both ways before crossing the road. For staff, parents and students driving around the schools (and in the parking lots), please ensure that you are paying extra-close attention behind the wheel. If the past 30 years are any indication, we will be paid visits from both police and parking control officers as early as today. We flood the sidewalks and parking lots with staff members to keep foot and vehicular traffic moving but we cannot get you out of a ticket for stopping, parking or U-turning in the wrong place. Our city works on the complaint system so as long as we are all doing our part to move around the schools safely, we should see fewer visits from enforcement patrols. I think that all of those signs are there for a good reason but you can post a message below if there is any signage you want me to try to get changed (as I have had some success in doing this in the past).
Enjoy the weekend and get rested up for the first five-day week of the 2016-2017 school year!
Mentor College/TEAM School