Parent Association Welcome and Networking Breakfast 2023

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Thank you to all the parents for joining the Parent Association Welcome and Networking Breakfast on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. The event recording is available for viewing via our post under Edsby news river.

To keep up-to-date with PA events, please visit the PA Events webpage, and check your email and Edsby news river for more details on each event.

We look forward to seeing everyone again at the PA Coffee Socials in October.

Penning a Project for the Ages

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The project concept was carefully crafted, spanned ages, grades and curriculum, and featured a timeless question at its core – what makes you happy? 
“In Grade seven, we covered a whole unit on happiness,” says Rita Iafrate, Teacher at Bayview Glen School (BVG). “What does happiness look like? What does it feel like? What does it sound like?” 

It was the basis for the Pen Pal Happiness Project pairing more than 75 Grade 7 students with Junior Kindergarten students. 

Following their first meeting just before March Break, the two age groups met on multiple occasions over a three-month period to get to know each other and delve more deeply into the question of their individual happiness.  
Students from each grade would also share letters written to their younger and older pen pal partner, along the way. 

“It was amazing to see how caring and gentle the Grade 7s were with their pen pals,” says Andrew Moore, Teacher at BVG. “They were so excited every time we announced that we would be seeing them in person, and they took such care with the letters they sent to the JKs; decorating the envelopes, drawing pictures in the letters.” 

Students in each of the four Grade 7 classes were also able to share the gift of reading with their new reading buddies, while nurturing new friendships. 

The project process also yielded new learnings for teachers involved. 

“I learned that what really bonds people together is that shared experience, something that is relatable,” continues Iafrate, who has been teaching at BVG for 30 years. “For the Grade 7s and JKs, it’s that concept of play and giving them that positive message. It doesn’t matter what age you are; it’s what makes you happy that counts. It’s that feeling of positivity and purpose,” she says. 

As friendships blossomed over weeks and months during their brief visits, so, too, did the appetite for more. In this case, a culminating storybook written and illustrated by each Grade 7 student for their younger buddy, with their JK pen pal featured as the protagonist of the story. 

“They’ve really gotten to know their pen pal,” says Iafrate, of the Grade 7 students. “What is their favorite colour? What’s their favourite animal, or sport? They’ve incorporated all of those personal concepts or facts into each book. They’ve been so engaged and so excited about writing this book for their pen pal. And it also gives them the opportunity to feel like they’re authoring a book. It really gives them that confidence as writers.” 

Further evidence of the students’ engagement and the impact of the project came in feedback teacher Andrew Moore received from several of his students, including — “can we see them again next year? My buddy gave me a hug! Can I adopt mine?”  

A successful project completion, bringing with it a new source of happiness! 

Spring Concerts Showcase a Varied Musical Menu 

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The halls are alive with the sound of music at Bayview Glen School (BVG), once again. Actually, they are rarely ever silent! 

Months of early morning and after-school practices, dress rehearsals and painstaking preparation by students and music teachers resulted in a series of memorable recent performances. 

BVG’s annual tradition of Spring Concerts in the Upper School, Prep School and Lower School showcased the musical talents of students, bands, ensembles, soloists, vocalists and others while featuring a breadth of musical genre.  
The Upper School Spring Concert featured more than a dozen pieces, including a few popular tunes like Skyfall, the Pink Panther Theme song,and Bohemian Rhapsody, a classic from the band, Queen.  

It marked the last performance for many performers who will be graduating in 2023. 
The concert, which was held in the J.T.M. Guest Theatre before a full-house, was also the finale for Diane Drysdale, music teacher who has been filling in this school year and delayed her retirement to support BVG’s music program. 

Another highlight saw Michael Bellissimo, music teacher, Upper School feted by students, many of whom he has taught for the last four years.  

The Prep School Spring Concert featured a mixed musical menu as well, with something for everyone! Songs from Disney, the Jurassic Park theme and even some Irish music with a Celtic focus, highlighted the 70-minute concert. 

Under the direction of Chris Hunsberger, music teacher in the Prep School and Ms. Drysdale, the evening included performances by the Grade 7 and Grade 8 Bands, and the self-directed Upper School Woodwind Ensemble.   

The evening marked the last performance for many students, who will graduate to the Upper School in September and continue to their musical careers at BVG as high school students. 

The Prep School Spring Concert came on the heels of Grade 6 Music Night in early April where students provided their parents with a teaching, learning and performing twist. 

Learn more: 

Parents Face the Music During Grade 6 Music Night  

Online Safety and Responsibility: Speaker Series Focus

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(Source: Pexels)

In the more than 10 years he has been speaking to students, parents, educators and corporations about online safety, the core of Paul Davis’ message has not wavered — resonating even more so now.

“The internet never forgets,” says Davis, in advance of his upcoming visit to Bayview Glen School (BVG), as part of the Bayview Glen Parent Association Speaker Series.  

Research and evidence on the potential harmful effects of the digital world on youth continue to mount. These include impacts on mental health, sleep and self-esteem. 

“Understand HOW we got here and taking responsibility for what was given to children at such a young age,” says Davis, is part of what he hopes to convey to parents through his presentation. 

With more than 30 years of expertise as an IT professional, along with the lived experience of speaking to more than 700,000 young people, teachers and families in Canada and the United States, Davis believes much more education is still required across the board, with parents having a critical role to play. 

“Developing open and transparent relationships with kids on technological use moving forward, while not being afraid to say NO when they have to,” he says is key for parents in helping their kids cultivate a healthy and responsible relationship with technology.

During his return visit to BVG on Friday April 28th, Davis will address different grades during the day, and parents, separately, during an evening presentation. 

Davis, a father of two himself, says he often hears, “Never my child. I trust my child,” from parents. His response? “Technology is not a babysitting tool and there must be an investment of time and knowledge before giving a child a device.”

For parents, that also means clearly understanding what ownership of a mobile device entails and the responsibilities that accompany it before that device is handed to a child.

When it comes to young users of technology, Davis hopes to drive home one central message, “understanding that choices are permanent and ‘I didn’t mean to’ will not be accepted.” 

The Spring 2023 Bayview Glen Parent Association Speaker Series with Paul Davis takes place Friday April 28, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. 

This is a complimentary, parents/alumni-only event for the Bayview Glen community. 
Seating is limited.

Learn more and register here. 

BVG Student-Scientists Shine at Regional Competition 

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It is one for the school record books! 
“Compared to previous years, this is the highest percentage of medal winners, and the most ‘awards’ as well,” says Andrew Vivian, Science teacher at Bayview Glen School (BVG), describing this year’s results at the Toronto Science Fair. 

A contingent of five BVG Prep School students — all in Grade 8 — earned two gold, one silver and one bronze medal during the competition held in early April. 

“The results are thrilling, but we didn’t ask these students to go in the hopes that they would win medals and earn awards, but rather because we thought it would be a great experience for them,” adds Vivian, who has been a teacher at BVG for more than 25 years. “The winning of stuff is just a bonus!” 

Participants and results include: 

Riya Varia: Gold medal, Ontario Water Environment Association Award, and the University of Toronto Department of Earth Sciences Mathew Shawn McConville Award (each $150). 

Stefano Edwards: Gold medal, Young Scientist Award ($100) 

Cindy (Xin Yu) Yan: Silver medal 

Mikaela MacKinnon: Bronze medal 

Armaan Chandarana: Participant 

“When they called my name as one of the gold medal recipients, I was overjoyed,” says Riya Varia, Grade 8 student. “I really appreciate that my project was recognized and found interesting by not only me but by others as well!” 

Riya began working on her project in October and was informed in late February that she would be participating in the competition. 

“The students chosen to participate in the Toronto Science Fair all find science fascinating,” continues Vivian. “They all have that curiosity about how things work, and ‘why does this result in that’. They are also highly self-disciplined about being organized and detail-oriented. Additionally, their projects all had a novel practical application in today’s world.” 

Project themes ranged from Filtering Heavy Metals from Water using Natural Materials to examining Wind Turbine Spin Speeds

“My science project examined natural ways to filter heavy metals from water, specifically using seashells and cilantro,” says Riya. I’ve always been interested in the global water crisis especially since my mom is originally from Bangladesh and mentioned that many parts of her home country still lack access to clean water,” says Varia. “I learned that seashells and cilantro are natural ways to reduce heavy metal contaminants (specifically lead and iron) from lake water. Additionally, seashells were more effective than cilantro in filtration. I also learned the importance of following the scientific process, and I especially enjoyed diving deeper into the chemistry behind seashell filtration!” 

After cancellation of the 2020 Toronto Science Fair due to the global pandemic, and experiencing an entirely virtual event in 2021, the in-person event held at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, was a welcome learning opportunity. 

“What was also striking was the strong presentation skills of the students,” says Vivian, who also teaches French. “Due to circumstances these past few years, the presentation component of the Science Fair has become a more integral part of the unit. So, it isn’t just about knowing your science, it is also about developing the skills to clearly present your work to an audience.” 

The organization behind the Toronto Science Fair is a combination of four different science fairs, each with a history of more than 30 years. The regional event brings together students and potential future scientists, divided by age group — from JK to Grade 12. 

Adds Vivian, “I am proud of how they were all thrilled to be able to participate, found the workshops fascinating, and handled themselves so well with no parent or teacher presence allowed!” 

Parents Face the Music During Grade 6 Music Night 

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Darren Kennedy was looking forward to a spring evening filled with music, courtesy of his daughter and other Grade 6 students at Bayview Glen (BVG).

“I was expecting to file into the auditorium, sit down and listen to a few songs the students had learned, then leave,” says Kennedy. 

He had no idea what would follow. 

“I wasn’t the only parent surprised — the entire parent audience went silent,” he says. 

About 20 minutes into the evening at the J.T.M. Guest Theatre at Moatfield Campus, the tables turned.  

Prep School music teachers, Chris Hunsburger and Diane Drysdale made an announcement that suddenly thrust the parent audience into action.

For Kennedy, that meant a whole new experience, on a few fronts. 

Darren Kennedy (right) takes clarinet lessons from his daughter (left) during Grade 6 Music Night at BVG.

“My daughter was very excited to teach me how to play her instrument, the clarinet, knowing I had zero exposure to musical instruments,” he says.

Grade 6 Music Night featured a role reversal. Students became teachers for 15 minutes, tasked with teaching their parents a song on the students’ instrument.

“She taught me how to put the clarinet together, hold it, where to put my fingers for the three notes we learned, what a half and whole note were and how to read them on the music sheet,” says Kennedy referring to his daughter’s instruction. “She then taught me how to play Hot Cross Buns!”

Each parent-student pairing was dismissed to one of four nearby locations where mini, impromptu music lessons took place. 

“I was very proud of how knowledgeable she was and her patience with me,” continues Kennedy. “She got the chance to make me do something I had never done before and call me by my first name, while I had to refer to her as Ms. Kennedy — transitioned to hilarity — as she watched me get red-faced as I couldn’t even get air into the instrument for the first five minutes, she sorted me out!” 

The experiential learning evening for parents, however, was far from over. Another twist was on the way! 

The student-teachers filed into the theatre seats, while their parents – more than 75 in all — assembled themselves on the stage for their debut performance. 

“We NAILED it (at least in my head we did!),” says Kennedy. 

And, as importantly, the performance met with his teacher’s approval. 

“She was very proud that I ended up learning to play Hot Cross Buns with no squeaks and perfect timing, and that I was willing to go on stage and perform with the other parents.” 

Chris Hunsburger, Head of Arts and Instrumental Music Teacher at BVG helps guide parents during Grade 6 Music Night.

The evening also included other lessons learned for Darren Kennedy.

“It is obvious that the Bayview Glen instrumental music teachers take pride in having an exceptional music program that students enjoy participating in,” he says. 

“Just to have the idea to have students teach their parents how to play their instrument AND have the parents come up to play what they learned, shows they are confident, fun, and not afraid to challenge those they teach — brilliant!” 

And one more thing he says, “I also learned first-hand that playing the clarinet is not as easy as I thought it would be!” 

Charting Their Own Course: Final Career Breakfast Highlights Innovation

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Each of their career pathways has been filled with multiple twists and turns — and one constant — key lessons learned during their time as students at Bayview Glen School (BVG). 

“It is always great to have the chance to contribute back to the community that I benefited from when I was young,” says Daniel Mak ‘05, one of three invited BVG alumni to present at the final Career Breakfast of the school year. “It was an honour to be a guest speaker and thank you for your trust to deliver a note or two that might benefit the students.” 

Daniel began at BVG as a Grade 8 student in 2000, recalling how he felt empowered to try new things during his time at the school, including creating an investment club when one didn’t exist. 

“I was trusted by many teachers and especially Ms. [Dina] Astrella,” shared Daniel. “She gave me a lot of flexibility in leading extra-curricular activities that were not offered by the school back then.  It also made me realize that I could do new things that are not part of the standard offerings and allowed me to have my own journey,” he says. 

All of which has served him time and again in various professional experiences, including, helping run a family business selling carpet and wallpaper to casinos and hotels in his homeland of Macau, working in cybersecurity, deep tech and quantum computing, to his current role as General Partner, Strategic Growth at Awz Ventures, a multi-stage venture capital firm headquartered in Toronto. 

“Fail early, fail fast and just try not to make the same mistake again,” Daniel told the packed audience of more than 100 students, faculty and staff who gathered in the Moatfield Campus Learning Commons for the event.  

Reflecting on the high school version of himself, Daniel says he would offer today’s student this simple advice: 

“Everyone’s path is different, hard skills on paper are only one part of qualifications and get you to the table/job interview, but soft skills, the human element, is what will actually land you the job or provide you with opportunity to lead. Be smart and not always right,” he says. 

Saba Ketabchi Haghighat was the youngest BVG alum on the panel — having graduated in 2016.  She was also the only one to join virtually — from California — where she is a hardware engineer who works on the Apple watch. 

“I believe representation in every field matters, especially as a woman in engineering, and I would love to see more women in our field,” she says. “The Career Breakfast is a great opportunity to encourage more BVG students to pursue a similar career path if they’re interested and aren’t sure how they can get started.” 

Following BVG and a degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Waterloo,  
Saba has worked in Canada, France and the U.S. as a software developer, among other roles, in industries including healthcare and technology.  

“Joining STEM-related clubs in high school allowed me to learn about some engineering-related concepts through hands-on projects and math/programming contests,” she says. “So when it came to looking into universities and applying for various programs, I had an idea of which engineering disciplines I liked more than others.” 

Her advice to students stems in part from her own career trajectory, during which she has had to be resilient often. 

“Don’t be afraid of failing or bad experiences,” says Saba. “They’re all experiences that lead you on the right path, and learning about what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you’re passionate about.” 

As a student at BVG, Konstantine Tsotsos says he “liked spaceships. I thought they were really cool!” 

That passion has propelled him to a variety of experiences centered on cutting-edge technology, since graduating from BVG in 2007.

“I’ve been very lucky in having the right mentors and sponsors at the right times in my life, but not everyone has that,” he says. “If I can play that role for even one student [who is] unsure of how to tackle their future, then I consider that a huge success. That’s why it was important for me to join this event, to try to give back and support the growth of the next generation of engineers.” 

Konstantine’s academic and career journey has included an internship at NASA, a PhD in Computer Science and his current role at Google in San Francisco, as a Staff Software Engineer and Manager, a role that involves working collaboratively to develop real-time 3D perception and sensor fusion technologies. 

“STEM is an amazing path,” he says.  

When it comes to offering words of wisdom to students, Konstantine says: “Keep working both harder and smarter. If you can’t figure out how, look for new people to learn from who are more successful than you. If you want to keep growing, avoid situations where you feel like you’re the smartest person in the room.” 

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