Update From Principal Booth

Dear Blyth Academy Yorkville and Orbit Community,

As we fast approach the holiday break, I wanted to send a (hopefully) brief note of best wishes to you all, and wish you a more than well-deserved period of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation in the coming weeks.

I’ve just left one of my favourite events of the year, an inspiring panel featuring 10 of our recent grads, who spoke with the entire grade 12 class about life after Blyth, and how to make the most of this final year of high school in anticipation of the next phase of life’s journeys. We had students currently in a wide range of post-secondary pathways, from Queen’s, U of T, McMaster, Ryerson, Gap Year work experiences, to programs in Health Sciences, Psychology, Sports Marketing, Engineering, Fashion and Commerce. We are so grateful to our returning alums for taking time during a busy exam period to speak with our current students. The zoom session went over two hours, and I thought it might be worth noting a few highlights, which may inspire family chats over the holidays. 

– Blyth has prepared our students for post-secondary life exceedingly well. Because of their experiences with approachable teachers and guidance counsellors, they are now confident and skilled at communicating with profs, admins and professional networks in the adult world.

– The lessons learned at Blyth, from getting started in short terms from the get go, to proper citation, to practicing effective self-advocacy and making strong friend choices, are now being applied. Ms. Lancaster’s voice rings, as one alum put it, “in the back of my mind” while writing essays.

– Heed Mike Minicucci’s advice! He was and remains, always right!  Read the course descriptions of the programs you are interested in, set up your accommodations early, join university societies and clubs, take care of your body and your mind will follow, have backup plans in place, do what interests you… These wise counsels and more are worth heeding!

– Choices change, and transition is a good part of life throughout.

– Blyth is always here for students and families, both while they are here and after they’ve gone.

I’m so very proud of our grads, and of our current students, who posed engaging and insightful questions throughout. Both are meeting the challenges of the day with remarkable resiliency and spirit!

Meanwhile, earlier this week our grade 9 and 10 students engaged in a little holiday fun, capping off our 12 Days of Cheer with a trivia game and baking session. Many thanks to Mr. Lings, Ms. Broyntman and Mr. Wilson for coordinating the festivities!

On other fronts, I am super excited about the newly-formed, student-run debate club. Shiraz and Lucy are doing a fantastic job. I am also really impressed by the peer-study groups that have formed across a number of courses. This is precisely the kind of exercise that will serve our students well not only this year, but in years to come. I am also hopeful that you have received and are enjoying the campus holiday playlist on Spotify. If you are looking to add some classics and some new additions to the canon, please check out the link at:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/20dGky8QndoYQGswnn3iK2?si=p8SMbsX6Qla39Lrmky9vsw

Finally, many thanks to those of you who have returned our parent survey. Your feedback is tremendously helpful to our work, and these comments, coupled with those received from students at the end of the first term, are greatly informing our plans for the remainder of the year. If you have not yet had a chance, please do take a brief moment to offer your comments through the following link:

https://forms.gle/yu5eoxb8BBpYGq9E7

I’ve tried not to burden this final note of the year with yet another COVID update, but unfortunately the times continue to demand it. We wish you all the very safest of holiday seasons. For your reference, one last time, I’ll provide the link to Toronto Public Health’s latest advisories:

Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Holiday Guide

(https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-reopening-recovery-rebuild/covid-19-reopening-information-for-the-public/covid-19-holiday-guide/)

I am extremely grateful to all in our community for their cooperation as we have confronted the stresses of the pandemic. Thank you, as always.

Best,

Michael.

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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