You only have to look at our website to know something special is going on here at UMCA. We believe in educating the whole child.
For us that means development of the intellect, character, and physical health.
Youth are the future. Civilization depends on how the new generation is raised. All that men and women created and established throughout history will come to nothing if each new generation is not prepared to take responsibility going forward, while at the same time preserving the good of the past.
What does this preparation look like in our school? First of all we have a top- notch academic program which expands even beyond the Ontario Curriculum, taught by specifically qualified instructors who teach in the area of their expertise. We focus strongly on character education and teach about manners & civility. We nurture the gifts and talents of our teachers as much as we do our students with continuous learning and enriched, shared experiences. We anticipate that relationships begun at UMCA will last a lifetime.
You can't look around UMCA without having the sense that your head is spinning from the variety of volunteer options, all geared to engaging and enriching our students. These opportunities however do have to be earned by hard work and application of ability. Once students come here they recognize that UMCA is an environment where everyone supports higher learning.
For example, we offered a school wide cruise package to our upper grade students this year for the first time. The replies to the offer capped at 10 and our students will be leaving Toronto on June 28th, 2014, flying direct to Denmark. From there they will tour Denmark through to Copenhagen, board the Costa Fortuna Cruise Ship and travel from Sweden, to Estonia, Russia (St. Petersburg) and Germany, to learn about history and culture. Awesome? This trip was open to all of the upper grades and the students who had top marks and those that decided to go can hardly believe it is happening! This will be the coolest 8 day history/geography course of any high school on the planet!
There are many, many other programs and opportunities our students have to gain enrichment.
Not only was there the Euro trip option this year, other unique experiences such as the Guelph bio trip was perfect timing for high school students who wanted to see into the Canadian university world of science labs, and research & development in Canada. Our science teacher Ms. Petrovic, a recent Guelph Alumni treated her UMCA science students to a fascinating day in on campus in the Guelph Departments of Science. Ask our Science students about that!!
We also published an appeal to our high school students, of 8 reasons as to why they should go on trips such as the Legislative Assembly of Ontario trip. For one thing they only get to go to the visitor's gallery of the Legislative Chamber where all provincial laws for Ontarian s are debated, as a school group. In our own Manners Assembly, we told our students that they are being groomed to be citizens of civil society. They are the future. It will be their generation that takes the leadership a few years from now and maintains the heritage of the past. How can they do this if they don't know what the heritage is? For general knowledge and experience they need to be participants, such things as the Legislature student mock debates!"
We hold weekly assemblies for our higher grade students. Speakers are chosen to provide the topical information such as, most recently, a certified teacher, and a professor at "Brainpower" ('Award winning Enrichment Program Learning Center, ranked one of the top 150 Canadian companies recognized by the Royal Bank as a star! '). We appreciated his taking on such a difficult task as to communicate the issues of Ukraine situation in such a way as to interest our students. We wanted to engage our students in such assemblies to enrich them in their general knowledge, and they certainly walked away with more than they came in with that day! Nobody promised there wouldn't be more questions than answers on a situation which is perplexing the whole world right now. Students could take away from it that Ukraine is being pulled in at least two directions. They can further reason about the pros and cons of each, either among themselves or in the company of adults who are discussing it. That kick-start was a worthwhile achievement!
This is just a sample of the quality of our high school assemblies. Previously we had an assembly on "Manners & Civility in a Civil Society", followed with a presentation on "Financial Literacy and Responsibility". We are continuing to offer more of such relevant knowledge in the weeks ahead.
At UMCA the Administration and Teaching Teams are always reviewing, always quantifying our success. Like farmers some days, we look over our crops and consult on our teams as to what is best, or better, that we can do for such and such classes to make the most of their learning power. Scheduling is always a challenge, but we are never stuck in a rut for better ideas. Recently we decided to capitalize on the phenomenon of end- of- term- loose- ends, with assignments being due, and no new material being presented. We seized the day to schedule the higher grade students to make fuller use of end of year class time for the remainder of the year, by holding classes called specifically "Reading". These classes will be given by one of our English teachers for the purpose of literary enrichment of our students. "The goal of the sessions is to broaden vocabulary and learn about critical thinking. Students will learn how to articulate their thoughts. The method is by analysis of style and content of various pieces of literature. We will read classic short stories from a wide range of authors."
Mr. Mark teaches a Literature course for grades 6 and 7 with a thematic focus on the books of the Nobel Prize winner, Isaac Bashevis Singer, novelist, short-story writer.Several books are discussed, including “The Fools of Chelm and Their History” and “The Golem.” Mr. Mark underscores a tendency to favour the spoken rather than the written form of language of Singer's art and its folkloric basis. Because students are typically familiar with the characteristics of fairy tales, the book “The Fools of Chelm and Their History”, which satirizes fairy tale traditions, as well as the History textbooks, serves as an introduction to satirical techniques. Students begin by examining the ways in which it departs from reality. They are then introduced to the four techniques of satire: exaggeration, incongruity, reversal, and parody, and identify these techniques in the book. Students of Grades 6 and 7 will be able to discuss many deep issues, such as what it means to be human, what one should do with unending power, what one should do to preserve the peace, and many others,Zlateh the Goat.
At UMCA teachers never stop perfecting their practice. Mr. Mark, for example, teaches the credit Course for Grade 12's “World Issues”, which integrates with our high school enrichment program. The Course helps students to interpret the World around us and to analyze culture, economic, and geopolitical relationships, regional disparities in the ability to meet basic human needs, and protection of the natural environment in greater depth. A variety of scholarly publications are included in the comprehensive World Issues Course for Grade 12's for the purpose of preparing students for university level reading and study. For example, one of the choices is the work by Garrett Hardin. Famously, Hardin's work has a common thread throughout, of an interest in bioethics. His essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons", which presents cornerstone issues on how man treats the planet, didn't lose its actuality. With the tutorial on reading and analyzing the essay, Grade 12 students are further challenged to consider a very old dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource - a situation that repeats itself time and again in the history of the modern civilization.
This space does not permit descriptions of our many student activities and programs, except to say they are all designed for the whole child with a view to enrichment. There is everything from dance and talent competitions, Salsa lessons, music and dance lessons, Invention Convention, Cooking Show, multilingual musical theater, as performers, as inter-active theater experiences, and as theater goers. Our field trips are comprised of the Royal Ontario Museum, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Kleinburg Art Gallery and Conservation Area, Roy Thompson Hall for the Toronto Symphony, Camp Eden Woods in the summer, Ski trips in the winter, tournaments, sports & games, Handy-man and Design program, and much, much more. These are woven into the fabric of our school life and all activities fulfill expectations of the Ontario Curriculum.
Our Gala Graduation Ceremony this year will take place on June 23. This year, the ceremony will be held outdoors at the West River Event Centre, a beautiful banquet hall in Vaughan. Family members and guests are always invited in order to join in this special day as our students receive their diplomas along with their peers. All students will receive certificates, but what will be the highlight of our celebration? The academic achievement of our high school students who have all applied and are all accepted in their universities of choice, i.e., U. of Toronto, Schulich School of Business, U. of Western Ontario, Waterloo, Queens, etc. Our students are earning the real credits at UMCA to go into Business & Finance, Medicine, Engineering and Law, to name a few. That is not an exaggeration. At UMCA our students achieve the next level of their dreams for the future!
It's necessary to always keep in mind that at UMCA, privileges are earned and students want them to be earned. You need only read the testimonials of our high school students who all quickly pick up the UMCA vibe, which is like "pure oxygen" for everyone, that everyone is really using the intelligence they have to its maximum, since the mind is regarded at UMCA as being a gift. There is an expectation of everyone, teachers and students alike, that we were are here to perform at our absolute best and to keep striving for excellence. The friendly family atmosphere of unconditional acceptance supports the learning and vice versa, the learning is the purpose for the family atmosphere, two sides of the same coin. Students are not accepted on the basis of our family atmosphere alone, although we have a significant waiting list of applicants. There has to be evidence that a child is actively learning in our program. However, our students are not pressured and pushed like nameless robots. At UMCA, they feel cared for, recognized, accepted, nurtured. They can ask questions as much as they want until they feel certain they understand. They can come at any time for help in anything. All teachers are care-persons because that's one of the reasons we teach. We care. Our students love to come to school. Our teachers love to work here.
So this letter is to publish as well as celebrate the outstanding achievements and vision of our unique, elite private school. It's made for motivated people who want to learn. We provide, the curriculum, the teachers, the materials, the environment, the enrichment opportunities. With steady, hard work students earn the passport it takes to go on to the next level of their dreams.
This is the UMCA story.