C.W. Jefferys is Still the Place to Be

Photos Courtesy of C.W. Jefferys

BY CHRIS BLACKWOOD

GUEST WRITER

Due to its reputation for strong academics, athletics and perhaps most importantly, its strong arts programs, CW Jefferys Collegiate Institute has been recognized as one of Ontario’s top high schools.

However, over the past five years the school’s public image has taken a major hit because of acts of violence which has occurred within its walls.

In particular, the May 2007 shooting death of 15 year-old student Jordan Manners inside of the school has caused many in the public to view Jefferys as a violent school.

Because of this, a group of CW Jefferys Alumni students, to hold two special basketball games between the current Jefferys basketball team against alumni on Dec. 4 to give the school’s image a positive boost.

Although the event was pulled together in three weeks on a shoestring budget, it attracted more than 165 people.

Organizers say they plan to make this an annual event.

Let’s Play Hockey at Brookview and Oakdale Park Schools

Photos courtesy of Brookview and Oakdale Park Middle Schools

BY CRAIG CRONE

PRINCIPAL, OAKDALE PARK MIDDLE SCHOOL

Hockey is a game that is intertwined within the cultural fabric of this country, however, the equipment required to play the game can be very expensive making it inaccessible to some Canadians.

The Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) program at Brookview and Oakdale Park middle schools has changed that for 8 local boys and girls by providing an opportunity for them to chase their dreams on the ice.

“I’ve always believed that when it comes to trying something new and giving it my all, the sky’s the limit,” said Abigail, one of the players on the first year hockey team at Oakdale Park Middle School.

The HEROS program not only gives children an opportunity to learn the game but also teaches important life skills such as discipline and team work.

New Dance Studio at Jane St. Plaza

Photos courtesy of Donna Butcher

 

Definitely Dance is a new dance studio located at 2885 Jane St. Definitely Dance offers classes in ballet, jazz, hip hop, ballroom and zumba! Definitely Dance offers classes from beginner to advance and welcomes all ages (two to adult). Definitely Dance offers the most affordable dance classes in Toronto and upon registration every student receives a free T-shirt! For more information or to register for a class please contact Definitely Dance by calling 416-389-7024 or by e-mail at definitely-dance@rogers.com.

Green Expo in our community

South Bronx environmental activist Majora Carter, appearing here with her dog Xena, will be the keynote speaker at the Green Exchange Gala at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club.

The Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre is set to host an event to make our community a little greener.

The Green Change Exposition and Gala, which runs until Feb. 12 seeks to promote environmental awareness and sustainability in the York West community.

All events will take place at 2999 Jane St., except for the gala featuring prominent American environmental activist Majora Carter which will be held on Feb. 12 at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club. Tickets to the gala are $75 per per person and formal attire is required for the event.

You can RSVP through the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre at 416-663-2733 ext. 411

Ken Jeffers inspires students to be proud of their heritage

Ken Jeffers, Toronto's Manager of Access and Diversity, has been working to break down barriers to racial equality for almost 50 years. To his left is a picture of himself as a university student running 40 miles in protest of the Orangeburg massacre. Photo by Omar Mosleh

By Omar Mosleh
STAFF WRITER

(*EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally ran in the December 2009 issue of the York West Advocate and has been posted in honour of Black History Month*)

For many, 13 is an unlucky number. But for Ken Jeffers, it marks the age when he discovered his calling.

Jeffers first got involved in fighting for civil rights as a teenager. Living in Trinidad and attending Queen’s Royal College, he was an avid member of the school’s cricket team.

When one of his friends was kicked off the team for looking “scruffy” – this

friend was not well off and couldn’t afford new clothes – Jeffers managed to get his classmates to boycott the team until the coach changed his mind and reinstated him.

“That got me my first introduction on how to change things,” he said. “I have a
real strong sense of fairness. I’m very disturbed when I see people getting treated unfairly, or taken advantage of.”

Jeffers has spent the better part of his life battling racial inequality. In 1968, he took part in a racial segregation protest that resulted in the killings of three students by police in the Orangeburg Massacre in South Carolina. And in 1992,

during the Yonge Street riots following the Rodney King acquittal, he helped calm the angry African youth.

Today, Jeffers serves as manager of access and diversity for the City of Toronto.

He chairs numerous committees and leads countless initiatives to promote

equality, such as setting up the the Harriet Tubman Institute, a facility that researches the migration of African people.

Jeffers has also worked as a teacher and youth worker. He recently visited Conflict Mediation Services of Downsview to discuss the strategies he uses to curb youth violence.

According to Jeffers, many youth in marginalized communities engage in gang warfare because they do not value their lives. He says young people – especially from minority backgrounds – are not raised in a way that fosters appreciation for their heritage.

“Institutions are not structured to teach children how to love themselves,” he said. “None of the solutions are based on race or heritage, but the problems are.”

To combat these problems, Jeffers encourages his students to appreciate their

cultural history and be proud of who they are. By empowering youth, he teaches them to value their own lives and those of their peers.

“Because institutions don’t want to acknowledge and manage something they don’t know about, they leave it alone. The success of the program I designed, for a black, Latino, Muslim, any child, is based on pride… They have to be inspired.”

Education conference: schools must teach the values of social cohesion

All photos courtesy of TDSB.

By Avis Glaze and Tom Kear

Schools must teach the values of social cohesion.  Schools play a pivotal role in helping to shape the future of our communities and, indeed, our country. They can serve as a laboratory of what effective human relations look like.  They teach skills such as respect and responsibility. These were leading statements of keynote speaker Dr. Avis Glaze, at a meeting of parents, teachers and students that nearly filled Westview Centennial Secondary School’s auditorium last May 15.

The Making Connections conference was the brain trust of leaders in the TDSB’s North West 2 family of schools and York University’s Faculty of Education.  Increasing the participation of parents with teachers in the education of their children was the main concern.

Avis Glaze is well-known as an international leader in the field of education.  In her opinion, the staff of a good school teaches and models empathy for others, and works hard at ensuring equal opportunity for both genders and all races.  Parents also do their part in making sure that their children attend school and are adequately fed and clothed. She stresses the fact that this is also an important part of a good stewardship of the contact that teachers have with the young lives in their care.

Addressing parents, Dr. Glaze pointed to the great influence of consumer marketing and advertising on children, placing material desires prominently in their minds.  Parents, therefore, need to ask questions that help their children focus on life-long and career-oriented goals.  They also need to know how to creatively say ‘no’ to some of the material and short-term wants expressed by their children, so they don’t grow up with a sense of entitlement.

She stressed the need for systematic and intentional career development within our community.  Children need to have some awareness of the kind of career they would like to pursue, she said. This process should begin early before all the stereotypes that limit their potential set in. In the middle grades, they should participate in career exploration in which they learn about a variety of occupations that match their interests and potential. The key here is for them to keep their options open and to take a variety of courses. Career planning in a more specific way starts in high school.

Glaze believes all forms of assessing what students know and are able to do is important.  She believes that parents have the right to ask, as one articulate mother once did: “What is my child learning? How is she/he learning it? And how do I know he/she has learned it?”  The assessment of students is done by both teachers in the classroom, and by the Ministry of Education in province-wide tests or even by students themselves through self-assessment.  From these assessments, the parent and the child know where they stand.

In conclusion, Avis referred to two education priorities she believes administrators should focus on: one is special attention to keeping young men in school and assisting them to graduate, and the second is education for eliminating all forms of prejudice, including homophobia. She is a strong human rights advocate who believes that we cannot be selective about the human beings for whom we advocate. People’s rights must be protected while we demonstrate that we also accept the responsibilities of living in one of the best countries in the world.

Dr. Glaze’s inspiring talk was ushered in and ushered out with uplifting music from the documentary Playing for Change. Listen to and watch the musicians play their inspiring music at www.playingforchange.com.

Glenford Duffus, TDSB superintendent, thanks the conference organizing team. A special thank you note goes to Larry Maloney, vice-principal at Westview Centennial Secondary School, for his leadership of the team and the other members of the Parental Engagement Committee: Yvonne Goulbourne, Craig Crone, Michael Harvey, Kervin White, Alison Gaymes, Rita Paul, Sukhwinder Buall and Frank Costa. Also, a special thanks to our partner York University under the auspices of the York Centre for Education and Community.

Parents and community members also participated in a variety of workshops in the afternoon. Here’s Westview teacher Rosalie Griffith on two of the Making Connections workshops:

Pathways to Success – Life After Secondary School (Secondary)
Presented by  Kervin White and Alisia Meilach

This session was well supported by parents at the conference.  Approximately 50 parents and guardians from a variety of schools in the area were able to benefit from a review of the various streams and specialized programs offered at the secondary level in the community.  A thorough explanation was given of the differences between Applied, Academic, Locally Developed, Open, College and University courses.

Additionally, the cooperative education and apprenticeship options were discussed. The most important aspect of this session was its interactive nature.  Parents were able to ask any questions that they had regarding post-secondary pathways and requirements.  Current and retired teachers who joined into the session helped to facilitate and add additional information.  Parents in attendance seemed to greatly appreciate this session; they left with their questions answered and smiles on their faces!

Communication – Communicating with your Teenager
Presented by  Szimbah Hanley

This session focused on the Virtues project and its approach to communication.  While issues of discipline and correction were addressed, the main focus was on how to speak positively to one another and to your teenager.

The Virtues project was explored in connection to using principles of positive character traits when dealing with an adolescent.  Parents were encouraged to model positive responses and behaviours and to, in turn, teach these to their children.

Detective Jon Ling of the Toronto Police on the workshop he hosted:

The title for my presentation was Youth Crime and Your Child, and the following topics were discussed with the audience:

  • A brief history of the laws regarding youth in Canada, including the much maligned Young Offenders Act and the Youth Criminal Justice Act that replaced it.
  • An explanation of why the law was changed and the principals behind the new act, a move from punishment to rehabilitation.
  • A discussion of the current trends in local youth crime; group violence, female youth violence, the use of weapons, and sexual assaults.
  • A discussion of gangs, what is involved and why a young person might join a gang.
  • Violent media and how it may affect your child.
  • What the Toronto Police Service is doing in regard to youth issues and youth crime.

The presentation was mainly attended by parents and it provoked some
good conversation in regard to youth crime and youth issues.

Other Making Connections workshop topics were as follows:

  • Achieving Healthy Relationships – Life Under One Roof (Elementary and Secondary)
  • Safety – Keeping Your Child Safe (Elementary and Secondary)
  • Schoolwork – Supporting Your Child with Schoolwork (Elementary)
  • Making Connections – Engaging in Your Child’s Schooling Experience (Elementary and Secondary)

 

Sgro proposes new pension bill to the House of Commons

Judy Sgro, the Liberal member of parliament for York West has recently unveiled a proposed new bill which seeks to create new rights for Canadians in regard to their pension plans.

According to an Oct. 1 press release, Bill C-574 entitled “An act to promote and strengthen the Canadian retirement income system,” would put into law that every Canadian has “the right to contribute to a decent retirement plan, and to be provided with up-to-date, unbiased and conflict free information on their retirement savings.”

In a presentation on the floor of the House of Commons, Sgro noted that this bill showcased the continued support of the Liberal party for seniors since the party introduced old age pensions 83 years ago under the leadership of then Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Too often financial illiteracy, inadequate opportunity, and economic instability strip away the hard earned savings of our seniors and that must stop,” Sgro said in the press release. “Bill C-574 is the first bill of its kind ever proposed to better protect our seniors and their nest-eggs, and I am proud to present it today.”

Sgro, the official opposition critic for seniors and pensions added that she was hopeful her colleagues in the House of Commons would support her proposal and act on it immediately by making it into law.

Our seniors are counting on us,” she said.