Uninterrupted Learning at Abelard: an ongoing commitment to education

Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, The Abelard School remains committed to delivering our robust and fulfilling curriculum.

We have always seen education as a lifelong pursuit, and although teaching remotely is not our preferred form of instruction, we feel remarkably fortunate to be able to continue to share our love of learning with our student body.

We are so proud of our students, who have not only continued to work hard, but some have even produced their best work of the year, proving that the Abelard thirst for knowledge and fulfillment remains intact!

 

Third Term, March 30-June 18, 2020

Abelard began online classes on March 30th, and since then we have been successfully employing Zoom to deliver our traditional seminar-based classes. We are fortunate that our small class sizes allow us to proceed more or less as usual, despite the change in delivery: as well as receiving instruction, the students still have ample opportunity to ask and answer questions, and to offer their perspectives and insights. We are also still laughing and sharing our love of knowledge, and of life.

Our online school day runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the addition of a twenty minute break between classes to allow the students to consolidate and review independently, to prepare for their next class, and to stretch and move about.

 

The timetable is as follows:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

9:00-9:40 Period 1 classes

10:00-10:40 Period 2 classes

11:00-11:40 Period 3 classes

11:40 – 1:00 Lunch (12-12:15 Monday: School Meeting)

1-1:40 pm Period 4 classes

2-2:40 pm Period 5 classes

3:00-3:40 pm Period 6 classes

 

Tuesday, Thursday

9-10:15 am Period 1 classes*

10:30-11:45 Period 2 classes *

11:45-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:15 Period 3 classes*

2:20-3:45 Period 4 classes*

*with short break roughly midway

 

Assignments and Assessments

We are very proud of our students: not only are they still attending all of their classes, they have been completing the homework and assignments thoughtfully and diligently, submitting them through individual Google Classrooms for each course.

Timed tests are given through Google Classroom, with the understanding that academic integrity remains essential. Parent proctors are enlisted in some instances.

Culminating assessments remain an important vehicle for our students to demonstrate the consolidation of knowledge and skills they have acquired through the year. The emphasis in these tests will be on synthesis and analysis. In light of the circumstances, however, culminating tests will be weighted at 5% of the final grade for the course rather than the customary 20-30% for final exams.

Evaluation continues, and all collected assessments will be used to determine the final marks in June, in conjunction with the grades from first and second terms.

Weighting of the individual assignments and assessments will be based on their nature and will be in the best interests of the students.

Electronic report cards will be issued at the end of June.

 

School and Community Spirit

Our aim is to maintain a sense of community and school spirit, and whether we meet in person or online, our commitment to assisting others and to sharing our interests, joy and creativity is important. We continue to hold our regular Monday school meetings, and the student council has been hosting drop-in Zoom lunchtime social hours.

Some of the ongoing extracurricular activities include our student-led film, Minecraft and baking clubs. Many of our students and teachers have been inspired by the Getty Museum’s Quarantine Art Challenge, and have created wonderful and witty three dimensional recreations of famous paintings. The school Yearbook and Literary Journal are currently in production.

 Accomplishments of our Graduating Class

Our Online Graduation and Awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 18th, to be followed by a more formal convocation as soon as the situation permits.

Vice Principal Brian Blair continues to act as our university guidance counsellor and the liaison between our school and the universities, and we are pleased to say that once again our twelve Grade 12 students have all been accepted to university.

Although not all of the universities have completed their admission process, our students have already received an impressive array of university and scholarship offers from post-secondary institutions in Canada and abroad, including:

 

King’s College London:

  • English Literature

University of St. Andrews:

  • English and Comparative Literature

University of Edinburgh:

  • Linguistics and English Literature

University of Toronto:

  • Victoria College: Arts and Science, Vic One Northrop Frye Stream: President’s Scholar of Excellence
  • Victoria College: Arts and Science, Vic One Northrop Frye Stream
  • Life Sciences

University of Waterloo:

  • Mathematics (co-op and regular)
  • Public Health
  • Architectural Engineering

McMaster University:

  • Civil Engineering
  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Mathematics and Statistics Gateway

Queen’s University:

  • Arts and Science: Principal’s Scholarship
  • Computing;

Queen’s University, Bader International Study Centre, England

  • Science

Western University:

  • Social Science
  • Medical Science

York University:

  • Health Studies & Global Health

McGill University:

  • Civil Engineering
  • Arts and Science

Ryerson University:

  • Business Management
  • Journalism

University of Ottawa

  • Public Relations.

Brock University

  • Public Health

UBC:

  • Civil Engineering; Arts and Science

 

We are also thrilled that yet another Abelard student, Lavan Balendran, has won a Schulich Leadership scholarship.

Our congratulations to these fine scholars, who we know will thrive in their post secondary education and be a credit to us and to their future schools.

Grade 12 University Acceptances

       Each year, our graduating students receive acceptances from many, many universities. Not only do all of our graduating students get accepted to university, but many are awarded top scholarships and other distinctions. This year’s Grade 12 class is no exception.
       So far, our students have been accepted to the following Canadian universities: the University of Toronto, McGill, University of British Columbia, Waterloo, McMaster, Queen’s, Ryerson, Western, UOttawa, Carleton, York, and Brock.
       Furthermore, several students applied to schools and programs in the United Kingdom, and have been accepted to: King’s College London, the University of St Andrew’s. the University of Edinburgh, and Queen’s University’s Bader International Study Centre.
       Additionally, our students have received a myriad of scholarships and distinctions from universities and external organizations. These include a Loran National Scholarship, a President’s Scholar of Excellence Scholarship at U of T, and a Principal’s Scholarship at Queen’s.
       Congratulations, Class of 2020 – we have no doubt that you have a very bright future ahead of you!

Nicholas Hawkes Cameron Memorial Endowment

On the second anniversary of Abelard alumnus Nicholas Hawkes Cameron’s tragic death in a car accident, his family has announced that they have established a memorial endowment in his name at the Banff Centre for Art and Creativity. This is an amazing institution that offers tremendous sustenance to budding and established artists of all kinds.

We encourage you to read the message from Nick’s mother, Cheryl Hawkes, below, and to consider supporting this worthy endowment.

Nick was an amazingly talented writer. His creativity, humour, compassion, insight and love for words shone through. As his family, we’re proud to see his talents honoured into the future.

The money has been seeded and beginning in 2021, our endowment will kick into action, offering financial assistance to an emerging writer in any genre, who wishes to spend time at Banff focussing on a writing project.

There is an added bonus. The federal government recently renewed Canadian Heritage’s Endowment Incentives Program. Under this initiative, Ottawa will contribute 40-60 cents for every dollar donated to Nick’s memorial fund. A charitable donation of $100 to Nick’s endowment actually garners $140-$160.

Should you want to make a gift in Nick’s memory, you can go to the Banff Centre’s website, https://www.banffcentre.ca/support-us/donate . Select ‘Endowment’. Then enter Nicholas Hawkes Cameron Memorial Endowment (or just in memory of Nicholas Cameron).

May Adventures

As the school year begins to wrap up, we are reflecting on some of our adventures beyond the classroom. We were fortunate enough to participate in various academic and cultural excursions that line up nicely with our rich curriculum. Continue reading to learn more about what we’ve been up to.

Our Grades 11 and 12 French classes attended a performance of Laurent Gaude’s Écoutez nos défaites, produced by Theatre Français at the Berkeley Street Theater. Students lauded the play for its intense and thought-provoking exploration of history and humanity. Plus, they had the chance to see that they can indeed understand and communicate in a francophone setting!

For the second year in a row, a group of Abelard students competed in the 51st annual Ontario Student Classics Conference (OSCC). The weekend-long competition features various Classically-themed  academic, athletic, and creative events, from Ancient Greek sight translation to a javelin competition. This year, our team surpassed last year’s standard, with Abelardians winning a total of 10 awards in academic, athletic, and creative events. We placed third per capita in academic events, and the students returned with trophies and ribbons in hand and smiles on their faces.

classics1

More locally, our high schoolers not only got the chance to see the Canadian Opera Company’s spectacular production of Otello, but they had the privilege of attending an exclusive pre-show workshop and behind-the-stage tour. Not only was this workshop tremendously fun, but it also helped us better understand and appreciate opera.

opera2opera1

May is also a special month at the Abelard School because it is when the high school Drama class performs their long-anticipated annual play, this year, Molière’s Les fouberies de Scapin. The cast  masterfully translated Molière’s humour onto the stage, leaving the audience in stitches throughout the production. Many thanks to the Drama class and our beloved Drama teacher, Cassandra Silver, for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. Bravissimo!

For the final weekend of May, Mr. Young’s American History class spent three days in Washington, D.C. immersing themselves in the history, culture, politics, and art of the United States. We visited countless famous landmarks, monuments, and museums, and we even went on a walking tour all about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination! From Arlington Cemetary to the National Gallery  to Ford’s Theater, students were able to study first-hand how the United States understands its history and identity. We were sad to bid farewell to this exciting excursion. Our thanks to Mr. Young for all his hard work in organizing this trip.

dc1

Within the walls of the school, the excitement continues. As the end of term approaches, the courses are dealing with more advanced material which integrates what students have been learning throughout the year. For many classes, students are working on their culminating projects, advanced research projects that provide them with the opportunity to explore an interesting topic in-depth and to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired since September. Good luck with the end of term, students – we know you will amaze us as always!

Alumnus Max Binks-Collier Wins Journalism Awards

Congratulations to our alumnus Max Binks-Collier who has been named the Best New Magazine Writer by the National Magazine Awards for his piece “Distant Relatives” published in Maisonneuve in February! Max’s accomplishments don’t end there, though – he has also won an editorial fellowship at The Walrus! We are extremely proud of him for these accolades, and we look forward to seeing what he will achieve next!

Max is currently finishing his Master of Journalism (MJ) at Ryerson University. Previously, he earned his B.A. in Literature and History at McGill University. As a student at Abelard, he constantly amazed his teachers and peers with his gripping, thoughtful, and evocative writing. It comes as no surprise to us, then, that he has had so much success in journalism.

Max is the second Abelard alumnus to be nominated for the award. Nicholas Cameron was also nominated for two awards – the Best Health & Medicine and Best New Magazine Writer – in 2015 for his piece “Life Sentence” also in Maisonneuve. He received an Honourable Mention. You can read both of their award-nominated pieces here:

Max’s: https://maisonneuve.org/article/2019/02/5/distant-relatives/

Nicholas’s: https://maisonneuve.org/article/2014/11/28/life-sentence/

Abelard Law Students Rank Top 3 in Ontario-wide Competition

Congratulations to Amani Chanda, Angelo Ilersich and Milena Loginova, Abelard’s Grade 11 Law class, on placing top 3 in the province for their entry in the Ontario Justice Education Network’s annual Spring Charter Challenge — Ontario’s only mock appeal competition for secondary school students.

Amani, Angelo and Milena formed the Abelard Law Firm to argue for the Crown in an appeal of Gindy J.’s decision in R. v. Barnett, a mock judicial decision that raised complex and evolving Charter issues involving Ontario’s jury selection process and systemic discrimination.
Students all over Ontario formed teams and chose one side of the appeal to ‘represent.’ They researched and wrote a factum with legal arguments in favour of the appellant or the respondent. OJEN staff and Osgoode Hall Law School  Faculty reviewed all the submissions and identified the best ones for each side. Abelard’s team was one of three   recognized and shortlisted by the judges for their “amazing work” on their factum.
Well done, Amani, Angelo and Milena!

Gold Medals for Molly Franssen Keenan

Congratulations to 10 student Molly Franssen Keenan for her spectacular results on various National Junior Classical League (NJCL) competitions. Molly won gold medals in the intermediate National Classical Etymology Exam, the level 3 National Latin Vocabulary Exam, and the intermediate National Roman Civilization Exam. Each of these exams is written by over 1,500 students every year, so we are extremely proud of Molly for her amazing results.

Molly also won a gold medal summa cum laude for writing a perfect paper on the level 3 National Latin Exam, also administered by the NJCL. Over 16,000 students took the exam this year, and Molly was one of only 37 students worldwide to write a perfect paper.

Furthermore, Molly participated in the ClassicaAssociation of Canada’s annual High School Sight Translation Competition, and placed third in all of Canada. We are immensely proud of Molly’s very well-deserved accolades, and, because she is only in grade 10, we look forward to seeing what she will accomplish next!

World of Myth

Our grade 7-8 Myth class was given the opportunity to do something creative about any aspect of Greek myth they were interested in. Some of the students were interested in specific figures like Poseidon, Sisyphus, or the Minotaur, others were more interested in narrative, with projects on Odysseus and the cyclops and Circe, and others in artifacts, like the Golden Fleece or the wings of Icarus. They all did an amazing job!

In the same spirit, the World History to 1500 class was given the opportunity to create anything they wanted in connection with Ancient Greece. Some wrote plays based on ancient themes, others created clay projects, one student was inspired by Plato to recreate Plato’s Cave, another the Shield of Athena, others the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena, and a kylix or drinking cup. What a wealth of interests!

Shai Maharaj Memorial Scholarship

As you know, the Abelard community has suffered a tremendous loss this year with the passing of one of the school’s founding members, Shai Maharaj.
To commemorate his legacy, the Abelard School is establishing a scholarship which will be awarded to students who show exceptional talent for math and science.
All of the proceeds from this year’s annual fund-raising dinner will benefit this scholarship fund.  Donations to the fund can also be made by contacting the school at abelardschool@gmail.com 

It is with great, great sadness that we share with you the loss on Saturday of one of Abelard’s founders, Shai Maharaj, who passed away far too soon.

shai

Abelard simply wouldn’t exist without Shai. He was our principal for many years, stepping courageously into that position when both he and the school were still in their infancy (he was in his late twenties!). He was a charismatic and remarkable teacher who had a profound love for his students, and they in return showered their adoration on him.

Shai was a colleague and extremely dear friend who lived with us through the professional and personal successes and crises of over twenty years at both Abelard and Thornton Hall, until he was sadly no longer able to continue to do so a few years ago. We were saddened by his loss from the school and our daily lives then, and are even more profoundly devastated now by this final, permanent departure.

Alumni, we extend our particular condolences to you, who were his students. We know how much Shai cared for you, what a mark he made on your development, and how proud he was of you and your myriad accomplishments after leaving Abelard.

Let all of us who knew him try to keep the many, many good things we learned from Mr. Maharaj active in our lives. May he himself rest peacefully.

Michelle Lefolii,
on behalf of Alina Rossinsky, Mark Young, Brian Blair and Inga Bratchuli.