Blyth Academy Ottawa student Anya Swettenham won The Spirit of the Capital Personal Courage award after being nominated by Blyth Guidance Counsellor, Clare Glassco.

Spirit of the Capital Youth posted Anya’s courageous story:

“This experience has shaped my outlook on life dramatically, I have chosen a more positive outlook.”

When Anya learned that the breathlessness she had been experiencing was more than just asthma she was devastated. With a diagnosis of life-threatening pulmonary hypertension her life quickly shifted from one of soccer games, violin lessons and swimming to oxygen tanks, a lost year of school and avoiding daily physical exertion of any kind. During her year away from school Anya became keenly aware of her surroundings and current events, she developed an interest in human rights and social justice. As she returned to school, Anya threw herself into both her studies and her passion for social change with energy and enthusiasm. While juggling constant appointments at CHEO and both the symptoms of her disease and the side-effects of its treatment, Anya still manages to arrive at school everyday filled with optimism and an impressive determination to break down boundaries not only in her life, but also to look at ways to break them down for others as well.

Anya also single-handedly organized the Harmony House Drive that Blyth Academy Ottawa students participated in over the last week.

Anya attached a letter about the drive to 100 blue bags with Blyth logos on them, and she and several classmates dropped them off at 100 houses nearby.  The letter talked about Harmony House (a local battered women’s shelter) and the items that they needed. It informed residents that Blyth students would come by at a certain time to pick up the bags if they left them with their donations on their front porches.  An amazing number of our neighbours did just that…thanks to Anya!

Needless to say, we are very proud of Anya and all of her accomplishments. We are so lucky to have such amazing students at Blyth Academy!

Though our physical doors remain temporarily closed, the minds of our students stay open. Summer classes are continuing to meet on their regular daily schedules, in virtual classrooms with face-to-face instruction and peer interaction.  The Blyth Academy model of small class sizes, flexible scheduling and individualized approach have enabled us to remain faithful to our standards. Our commitment to ongoing and meaningful communication between school, teachers, students and families has been critical to this effort.

Although our students have transitioned into summer mode and COVID-19 restrictions have begun to loosen, we are looking ahead to what September will hold for our campuses and families.
We want to be clear - our preference and our priority is to get students back to our campuses, but we must ensure this is done in a safe and effective way. While we await official guidance from Public Health and the Ministry of Education, a "return to school" task force has been hard at work putting concrete operational plans in place for all likely scenarios. This includes a full return to campus with safeguards, a blended model of virtual and in-campus learning and the continuation of fully virtual classrooms. All scenarios will provide robust learning and live, daily instruction and interaction with teachers and peers. 
With ten campuses across Ontario, we realize that each one of our schools is a unique space and community. We will be implementing across-the-board policies on hand washing, facility cleaning and social distancing measures. Each school is also prepared to pivot individually based on the guidance of local health authorities and to best serve students and families. 
Our recent survey showed that over 80 per cent of Blyth Academy families are eager to return to campuses, and we are hard at work to prepare for this day. As September's scenario becomes clearer and more information becomes available, we will continue to communicate. 

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