Monthly Update – January

We’re back at it! After a restful holiday, students and teachers at Abelard are tackling a dizzying breadth of concepts and learning exciting new skills.

In grade 9 science, students have been working through the study of optics. They’ve learned about curved mirrors and reflections, and how these are used practically (like on telescopes such as the Hubble). Ms. Nemr’s students are learning about quantities in chemistry; they completed a mini lab experiment where they calculated the number of H2O molecules they drank in one sip of water. Mr. Kilgour’s aspiring chemists wrapped up organic chemistry (a unit in which they did very well), and moved on to chemical kinetics. Dr. Schwartz’s grade 12 biology class took a trip to the research lab of Dr. Peter Roy in the Donnelly Centre at U of T. There they learned about how the nematode worm, C. elegans, can be used in drug discovery screens. They also carried out labs to learn about molecular biology. The grade 11 biology class did labs that introduced them to aspects of biological diversity, and participated in debates on ethical questions related to medicine, agriculture, and the environment. Mr. Luciuk’s students learned about electricity and magnetism; of note was an in-depth discussion about the microscopic origins of magnetism. Mr. Amatuni’s computer class modeled their first real, working prototypes on the base of Cisco network’s simulation platform after an intense immersion in the fundamental concepts of the Internet.

In English, Ms. Lefolii reports that they have been busy! Her grade 12 students have been studying the influence of William James’ Principles of Psychology on Virginia Woolf’s ground-breaking development of stream-of-consciousness as a narrative technique, and they’ve written fascinating essays on the concept of text in Moby Dick. In Grade 11 they’ve been discussing the thorny issue of Free Will in Milton’s Paradise Lost, and exploring Heironymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, a bizarre 16th c. visual counterpart to Milton’s poem. In Canadian Literature, they have been following the current controversy over award-winning author Joseph Boyden, and discussing how identity is a central concern of not only the literature of our own country, but of literature in general. Poetry writing with the Grade 9 English class is gaining momentum as students begin to get used to the idea not just of reading metrical poetry but actually writing iambic pentameter. Mr. Young affirms with enthusiasm that budding poets lurk beneath math and science aficionados! Our ESL students have been talking about everything from going on adventures in the Australian Outback to how we can be more responsible with our spending.

Among our other language learners, Mr. Klamph reports that in Mandarin they have been talking about illnesses, allergies, and seeing a doctor. They are getting pretty good at describing symptoms and talking about taking medicines. They are also on the way to mastering a unique grammatical structure (with no equivalent in English) for talking about changes to objects. Mme. Rossinsky’s grade 9 French class is working full blast on food/cafe/restaurant vocabulary; they are fully capable of ordering in French. In grade 10 French, students bravely fought their way trough an un-adapted (though shortened) version of Hugo’s Notre Dame. They also studied French Art and Artists and composed their own fairy tales. Grade 11 French students are studying what is, according to Mme. Rossinsky, the best unit of the course: they are learning how to declare their love (should they ever need to) to a French-speaking person. The grade 12 French Civilization class is studying the Enlightenment; Mme. Rossinsky is confident that all are now fully enlightened.


In the social sciences, Mme. Bratchuli shares that the geography class has just started exploring connections between landforms, geology, and human activity in Canada. They have learned, in detail, the factors that determine climate in different geographic regions all around the world and in our own country. Dr. Atallah is tackling psychology with her students; they have been on a mission to understand how neurons function – a fun challenge.

Of course, February will bring new and exciting projects. Among many other new ventures, students enrolled in Writer’s Craft will continue their exercises in imitation by penning their own “faux” Cormac McCarthy. Grade 9 French students are going to try to cook some traditional French food. The Grade 11 biology class will go on a trip to Allan Gardens to learn about plant diversity. Mr. Luciuk and his students will be building electrical circuits once they’ve finished learning all their theory. American history students are about to open the book on the Civil War.

We are all also marking the Chinese New Year in early February – the celebration kicked off on January 28 and continues until February 11. (Solomon, Constantine, or Oscar can teach you some Chinese New Year’s greetings!) We are also very excited about the Sears Festival and our school’s performance of an adaptation of Chekhov’s hilarious comedy The Marriage Proposal. The performance will take place at Bishop Marrocco High School on the evening of February 27th. Everyone is welcome to attend! For tickets and other information, contact the school.

Here we go!

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