Monthly Update – December

We’ve arrived at the last day of classes before the break! Although this is a short month, the Abelard community has learned and accomplished a great deal in just the few weeks since our wonderful fundraiser. If you have been curious about what we have been up to, read on for a snapshot of what our month has looked like!

In their science courses, students have had some very exciting opportunities. Dr. Schwartz reports that her grade 11 biology students have been studying evolution; they examined fossils in class and visited a virtual exhibit about the Burgess Shale mounted by the Royal Ontario Museum. Grade 12 biology students learned about how DNA, RNA, and proteins are synthesized in living cells and about the scientific breakthroughs that led to our understanding of these processes.

Our aspiring chemists have been hard at work as well. Mr. Kilgour’s class covered organic chemistry at a breakneck pace, where students dazzled their teacher by how quickly they picked up much of the nuance and detail. Ms. Nemr’s grade 11 class completed their second unit this month, learning about acids and combustion reactions through a (fiery!) demonstration and investigating double displacement reactions in a lab.

Ms. Veloce’s physics class are learning about energy, and researching interesting physics experiments to present to the class in January. Mr. Cheng livened things up with math games in most of his classes at the end of the month—the lucky winners earned chocolate chip muffins!

Meanwhile, in our social science and humanities courses, students have covered some breathtaking territory. Mr. Blair’s grade 12 Latin students have started reading Seneca while his grade 11 Greek class are reading Plato. Ms. Lefolii reports that students in Canadian Literature completed impressive presentations adhering to classical rhetorical structure. In Grade 11 English, they have just begun a study of Paradise Lost—students seem to love (Milton’s) Satan! In Grade 12 English they have finished working on Moby Dick; while reading this classic, they explored diverse subjects including the workings of a weaving loom, the study of semiotics, the etymology of the word “whale,” and the art of tattooing. Mr. Klamph’s Mandarin class have expanded their vocabulary; they now have the language needed to host a party, just in time for the holidays! Our ESL students have recently been discussing what it is like to run a marathon at the North Pole. The Drama class completed a rigorous unit on dramaturgy and have selected the plays they will perform in May—stay tuned for an announcement!

Ms. Atallah is thrilled with the progress that her Psych/Socio/Anthro class is making. Their recent discussion about “Nature vs Nurture” was excellent; students have been demonstrating nuanced thinking and have been supporting their arguments well. Grade 9 students have learned about nutrition, resiliency, and addiction in a health unit for their Phys Ed class; they finished the month with a skating trip to Nathan Phillips Square.

Of course, there is more to school than classes! Although planned as an extension of grade 11 and grade 12 biology, Dr. Schwartz invited the whole school to a demonstration by Sci High who visited Abelard to show us fruit flies, nematode worms, and red and green glowing mice. Mr. Blair is hard at work with students prepping our delegation (representing Iceland) for the Model United Nations in New York City; they will be submitting position papers in the new year. A group of keen thespians are rehearsing our school’s entry in this year’s Sears Drama Festival.

January will bring new and exciting challenges! Our grade 11 biologists will collect samples from trees to understand biodiversity, and our grade 12s will visit a lab at U of T that uses nematode worms to study drug design to kick off their unit on molecular genetics and biotechnology. Mr. Kilgour’s chemists will dive into kinetics and equilibrium thermodynamics, while the grade 11 class will look at quantities and measurement in chemical reactions. Mr. Young will be embarking on new units with all his classes. They will be composing poetry in grade 9 English, cracking the Bible in grade 10 English, settling in with the American Civil War in American Studies, and tackling WWII in Canadian History. In Ancient Greek they’ll study past tenses and they’ll embark on the final unit for Civics. Ms. Lefolii is also keen for new units in the new year; with her classes, she’ll be looking at remarkable works including Waiting for Godot, East of Eden, and the new Canadian classic Kim’s Convenience! Ms. Ali promises history lectures and practical studio work to help her art students develop their own artistic styles and visual language. Ms. Atallah is gearing up to prep students for AP Psychology.

Before signing off, a friendly reminder for our students: make sure to get some rest while you’re on break! Mr. Blair advises, “Mens sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind in a healthy body, as the Romans would say.” Ms. Atallah reminds us that “our bodies require maintenance and care,” and that “the holidays help us catch up.” While all your teachers want you to get through any homework assigned for the break, make sure you take time to connect with family and friends and to take care of yourself as well! Your teachers will be resting, baking and cooking, eating good food, catching up on reading (for fun!), enjoying hobbies, watching movies, and spending time with loved ones—you should too!

And so, 祝大家假期愉快!节日快乐!阖家幸福安康!Zhù dàjiā jiàqī yúkuài! Jiérì kuàilè! Héjiā xìngfú ānkāng! (Mr. Klamph says you can ask Ting, Tian or Solomon what that means.) Finally, a holiday wish from our Principal, Ms. Lefolii:

Dear Students,

it has been a pleasure to work with you these past three and a half months. Have a wonderful holiday and may 2017 be filled with the joy of learning!

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