Blyth Academy Newsletter Term Three 2020

The beginning of this Term started out like any other; students were engaged in the classroom, the hallways were bustling, and experiential learning was happening in and around the campus. Today, we find ourselves in a much different situation — students are continuing their same classes and activities, but they now come together and connect with teachers and classmates through our virtual classrooms. While teaching and learning continues to be disrupted across the province, we are fortunate that our staff and teachers have worked hard to make Blyth Academy Yorkville’s virtual classroom model a success. With the extended closure, we are committed to continuing the same small class sizes and personalized education that our students and families expect. Live virtual classes, office hours, guidance support and even extracurricular activities have continued through our virtual tools. In these uncertain times, we believe that our students benefit greatly from the structure, social interaction and support their school provides them.

Here are a few highlights from Term Three at Blyth Academy Yorkville.

In and Around the Campus

Junior Achievement, World of Choices, Empowering Young Women
Junior Achievement, World of Choices, Empowering Young Women provides high school girls with an opportunity to hear from women who have achieved success in a variety of sectors. In early March, they brought together five inspirational speakers from top companies to share their stories and inspire students. Attendees also had the chance to meet nine fantastic employers and explore the limitless opportunities available to them as they make their career choices.
StemCellTalks 2020
Earlier this term, students at Blyth Academy Yorkville were lucky enough to attend StemCellTalks 2020, a program organized by ‘Let’s Talk Science’ and run out of the University of Toronto.

Students participated in a program that exposed them to current developments in Stem Cells and Organoids, and along with student mentors from the University of Toronto, they explored some of the ethical considerations that underpin the groundbreaking research in these areas.

There were lively debates throughout the auditorium, informed by experts in the field, about the use of organoids vs animal models for scientific research, the use of brain organoids for research purposes, and a hotly contested trivia round to end the day.

A big congratulations goes out to Sol Shlesinger who won the opportunity to attend a holiday program at the University of Toronto for her question about the ethics of scientific research to the panel of experts during the audience Q&A.

Virtual Classrooms

A Note On Our Virtual Vitality

With Term Three exams fast approaching, I want to take a brief moment to applaud the students and faculty for their remarkable efforts these past weeks. As I’ve said through this period, I have been overwhelmed by the resilience, empathy, intelligence and engagement of our entire community. We are, all of our – students, families and staff – uniquely privileged to be able to function as seamlessly as we have through these challenges. Seeing the daily email exchanges, classroom discussions, Edsby posts and student work, with their insight and nuance and humour, has added a new dimension to my appreciation for this school. I am both proud and grateful for all of your contributions and achievements.

We know this has now been easy, but we are carrying on, as the saying goes. Evidence abound in pictures, videos and text. Please know that the school will continue to support as always. Wishing all the best of luck in exam preparation. You will do brilliantly. And we look forward to more virtual progress in Term four, hoping to rejoin at the campus as soon as possible.

All the best,

Michael Booth

To view one of our recent virtual English classes, please click here.

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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