Category: Upper School
The Writers Block March 2023 Issue #4BVG News, Home page, Newsletters and Publications, Upper School
Charting Their Own Course: Final Career Breakfast Highlights InnovationAlumni, BVG News, Home page, Parent Association, Prep School, Upper School
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.”
Pathways to Professional Life: Career Breakfast Spotlights Media
Co-curricular Club Participation Opens Door to World StageBVG News, Home page, Newsletters and Publications, Upper School
When Vanessa Glowczewski was shopping around for a co-curricular club to join as a Grade 9 student at Bayview Glen School (BVG), she landed on one that piqued her interest almost instantly. Three years later, she has honed her skills in that discipline to be among the best in the province at her age.
“I was overjoyed that my genuine interest in entrepreneurship and focused preparation
translated into a Top 3 finish,” says Vanessa, on her recent success at the 44th Ontario DECA provincials. “There were so many strong competitors this year, and I am incredibly grateful that I will get to compete at the International Career Development Conference (ICDC).”
She will be representing BVG and Ontario DECA at the ICDC taking place April 22-25, 2023, in Orlando, Florida.
“Any time we have someone from BVG who is able to represent the school on such a large stage, it is truly a special accomplishment,” says Cameron Stott, Business Studies, Canadian and World Studies teacher at BVG and one of the faculty moderators of the DECA club. “Vanessa will be competing against the best of the best from across all of the DECA chapters globally. To even be ranked amongst some of the most impressive young people for your category is a remarkable feat!”
Founded more than 75 years ago, DECA is the acronym for Distributive Education Clubs of America. It began as a club opportunity for high school students who have taken business, marketing, and finance-related courses. As the organization has continued to evolve, it has retained the acronym as its name while expanding its mission to include interested college and university students from around the world.
“DECA is an organization that allows students to explore various aspects of the business world while learning valuable leadership and communication skills,” continues Vanessa, a Grade 11 student at BVG. “Students compete in case study events belonging to one of five clusters: Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Finance, Hospitality, and Management. The case study format allows students to tackle real-life problems and encourages them to come up with innovative solutions,” she says.
For Mr. Stott, who has been involved with the BVG DECA team for four years and served in an advisory capacity at previous schools for a decade, the lessons learned through DECA stretch far and wide. “The ability to think quickly — students have as little as 10 minutes to read and prepare a presentation on the spot,” he says.
Vanessa’s first exposure to a DECA competition back in 2020 was entirely online due to COVID-19. The 2023 Provincials featured in-person interactions with students, educators and other professionals from across the province. More than 6,000 students took part in the three-day competition, including a 63-member team from Bayview Glen. Several other BVG team members finished in the Top 20, Top 15 and Top 10 during the event.
“Matthew Wong placed Top 10 overall in his category, and perhaps as impressively, earned a perfect score on one of his case study presentations,” continues Mr. Stott. “Our team’s overall performance was very good as DECA Ontario was sanctioned last year, resulting in a lost one year of practice at the competitive level. This was also many of our membership’s first in-person regional and provincial events since the pandemic.”
All of which made preparation for this competition even more critical.
“The BVG DECA chapter offered weekly prep sessions for Provincials in early January, giving students one full month to practice for the competition,” says Vanessa. “During these prep sessions, students learned how to approach the case studies and practiced presenting in front of a mock judge, followed by constructive feedback.”
A BVG student since JK, Vanessa says she has had many public speaking and student leadership opportunities during her time at Bayview Glen.
“These experiences helped me gain valuable skills for DECA, such as critical thinking, initiative, and effective communication,” she says. “Our BVG DECA teachers, Ms. [Alison] Rowland and Mr. Stott, are incredibly supportive. Their guidance has undoubtedly played a vital role in this year’s highly successful BVG DECA chapter performance.”
Adds Mr. Stott, “the Problem-Based Learning approach that Career Studies uses is very entrepreneurial in scope. We frame our Introduction to Business course through an entrepreneurial lens and always have students thinking and applying the broader concepts from the course through an entrepreneurial lens.”
For Vanessa, the DECA experience has also helped her consider future aspirations, with more clarity.
“I am interested in a career in engineering, specifically industrial engineering because it has broad business applications,” she says. “A career in engineering will give me a solid technical foundation while bolstering my creative thinking and problem-solving skills that can be applied in the real world. My ultimate goal is to combine the scientific knowledge from engineering into a meaningful and exciting business venture.”
A co-curricular experience focused on an entrepreneurial mindset for a potential engineer
— a successful formula, indeed.
Learn more about co-curricular clubs and activities at Bayview Glen School
Career Breakfast: Tuesday, February 28Alumni, BVG News, Events, Home page, Newsletters and Publications, Prep School, Upper School
Join us for our third, and final Career Breakfast Speaker Series of this academic school year on Tuesday, February 28 at 7:30 a.m. Enjoy some hot chocolate, coffee and pastries while we shine the spotlight on Bayview Glen alumni focusing on Innovation and Engineering.
Saba Ketabchi Haghighat from the Class of 2016 is an Apple Watch Hardware Engineer based in California. Saba studied Biomedical engineering at the University of Waterloo and completed a number of internships and co-op opportunities before completing her degree. She has held the titles of Software Developer, Facial Rehabilitation Game Developer and Undergraduate Research Assistant in Toronto, France and California.
Konstantine Tsotsos from the Class of 2007, is a technical lead and manager on the Google AR Team where he leads teams of researchers and engineers in developing cutting-edge real-time 3D perception and sensor fusion technologies. His teams’ recent work includes the ARCore Depth and Environmental HDR Lighting APIs, along with other foundational ARCore capabilities. Prior to Google, he obtained his doctorate in computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a focus on visual-inertial sensor fusion and his Bachelor of Applied Science in engineering science from the University of Toronto.
Daniel Mak from the Class of 2005 is General Partner, Strategic Growth at Awz Ventures, a Canadian-Israeli VC firm focused on commercial applications of innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based, deep-tech, cyber security, & intelligence technologies. He currently sits on the board of several startups in the cyber security and intelligence space such as Nanolock, as is the winner of multiple industry awards.
Join us to learn more about their professional journeys!
Students from both the Prep and Upper Schools, as well as their parents, are welcome to attend. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Adriana Dybala, Academic and Career Counsellor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lifting the Curtain on BVG Players’ Drama ProductionBVG News, Events, Home page, Newsletters and Publications, Upper School
Take some mystery, add a dollop of disaster, a serving of silliness and a healthy heaping of humour and there you have it — what to expect in BVG Players’ upcoming production.
“We wanted something a little different than was possible these past couple of years,” says Matthew Clark, Producing Director. “We wanted something light-hearted that we could connect to and were interested in more challenging sets, in particular,” says Mr. Clark who is also Department Head, Curriculum: Upper School English.
The 60-member cast and crew of students is set to perform The Play That Goes
Wrong (High School Edition) on February 23 and 24th in Bayview Glen School’s J.T.M. Guest Theatre at Moatfield Campus. (Tickets Here)
The1920’s whodunit piece will first be performed in front of fellow students, followed by a pair of evening shows for family members, friends and the BVG school community.
The production is the crowning achievement of a journey that began almost 12 months ago.
“In March of 2022, Mr. Clark started the Play Reading Committee where we individually read and shared plays we thought would be fun to put on for the following year,” recounts Katie Bhalla, Grade 12 student and Head of Props for this year’s show. “About once a month, we met and discussed the pros and cons of what production we were reading. Eventually we narrowed it down to a couple options, and after a lot of discussion with department leads and actors, we decided on The Play That Goes Wrong.”
It marks the third time Katie has been involved in a BVG Players’ production.
“The sets and props aspect of this play is very different than the previous productions I have been a part of,” she says. “As the show progresses, the set begins to fall apart and things grow more and more chaotic, so building a dynamic set was an exciting challenge for us to tackle. There were lots of props used which meant that we had to get creative when sourcing them, and we even made a few items like the cardboard barometer and the shield,” she says.
“It’s the play that goes wrong, so if we do everything right, everything will go wrong,” adds Mr. Clark. “From lines to cues to set pieces and props, every aspect of this production will go wrong at some point or another. It has a far more complex set than any other production I remember us doing.”
Like many of the cast and crew, planning, practices and the play process began when school started in September and has rarely stopped since.
“We began calling crews in for rehearsals twice a week after school in November and December, and as we got closer to the actual performance date, rehearsals were three times a week until 6pm,” says Katie. “We also had rehearsals on Saturdays that started just before the winter break.”
Many additional hours are also spent learning lines, developing characters and tweaking production elements.
For Mr. Clark, who has been involved in BVG Players’ productions in some capacity for almost 15 years, this year’s play offered new learnings, on different levels, for all involved.
“It’s a farce so there is a lot of physical comedy,” he says. “Specialists from Rapier Wit provided an introduction to stage combat and focused on doing everything safely for all involved. They also helped with fight direction, since there’s a swordfight, characters trip and drag and throw others around – but don’t worry, it’s all stage fighting so it looks more realistic than it is!”
In addition to many of the unique attributes of this production, the process of more than five months of focused and dedicated effort has also been memorable.
“What really stands out to me is just how much everyone loves being a part of it,” says Katie. “The actors are so into the production — there hasn’t been one rehearsal where I don’t hear someone laughing, and the backstage crew are such hard workers.”
A worthwhile journey filled with new learnings.
“I won’t lie and say that being a part of the play isn’t tiring sometimes, and you will likely have to make some sacrifices, but seeing all the work you put in come to life on the production day is really worth it,” shares Katie. “You’ll most certainly make new friends from different grades, and the collaboration and leadership experience you gain is truly valuable.”
The Writers Block February 2023 Issue #3Home page, Newsletters and Publications, Upper School
New Immersive Experiences Highlight Annual Winter Fun DayBVG News, Events, Home page, Newsletters and Publications, Parent Association, Prep School, Upper School
A popular, decades-long tradition at Bayview Glen School (BVG) took on a new look, feel and in one case — a new name — this year.
“This was the first iteration of the Prep [School]’s ‘Snow Much Fun’ day, says Greg Ryerson, Director of Teaching and Learning, Prep School. The event was “reimagined and renamed” in 2023.
For more than 20 years, Prep School (Grades 6 to 8) and Upper School (Grades 9 to 12) students have celebrated a day of fun, off-campus during the winter.
“This is an important opportunity for students to be outdoors, spend time together without electronics, and engage in unstructured play,” says Mr. Ryerson, who was involved in organizing the day. “It did include curricular ties but more importantly it was a chance to be offsite and engaging in outdoor activities.”
Grade 6 students visited the Toronto Zoo, Downsview Park was the venue of choice for Grade 7 classes, while Willowgrove Farm and Outdoor Education Centre hosted Grade 8 students for the day — in the beginning of February.
“We selected a separate activity for each Grade, looking for curricular connections as well as opportunities to develop student leadership skills, focus on teambuilding, and incorporate outdoor play and exploration,” says Mr. Ryerson who accompanied the Grade 8 class.
“A personal highlight from the Grade 8 trip was seeing the students interact with the farm animals — they really enjoyed that part of the day,” he says. “Having a nice mug of hot chocolate around the campfire at the end of the Grade 8 trip was a wonderful way to end the day.”
For Upper School students, a new format was launched for their annual fun day, called WinterFest.
“The purpose of the day is to build relationships with peers and teachers outside of classroom walls, discover new attractions in and around our wonderful city and try new experiences,” says Melanie Deeks, Health and Physical Education Department Head at BVG and main organizer of WinterFest for the Upper School.
“This year, instead of one choice, students had nine choices,” adds Fiona Fenili, Head, Upper School. “Activities were presented in Assembly and students selected the one they were most interested in. From there we chose the most popular and did a formal registration.”
The revised format and varied options proved to be a successful formula for the more than 270 Upper School students who took part. “An increase of 20% in participation is a highlight and shows that giving students choice is important,” says Ms. Fenili.
Included on the WinterFest menu:
- Cooking Class at the Chef Upstairs
- Ice Hockey at Leaside Gardens
- Activate Arcade
- Skating at Nathan Philips’ Square West & Japanese Grill Lunch
- Gardiner Museum Ceramics
- K1 Speed Grand Prix
- Kensington Market Food Tour
- Escape Room Looking Glass Adventures & Greek Lunch on the Danforth
- Horseshoe Valley Resort
And evidenced by the photos and reactions, these immersive, experiential, opportunities to connect out of the classroom with teachers, classmates, and staff — on a different level — achieved its goal, once again.
BVG Players present ‘The Play That Goes Wrong (High School Edition)’Alumni, Events, Home page, Lower School, Newsletters and Publications, Parent Association, Prep School, Preschool, Upper School
We are excited to invite you to in-person performances of The Play That Goes Wrong (High School Edition) running in the J.T.M Guest Theatre for two nights only. Our Upper School students have had a lot of fun working on this production and are really looking forward to sharing it with you!
- Thursday, February 23 at 6:00 p.m.
- Friday, February 24 at 6:00 p.m.
Tuned in: Upper School Students Deliver Radio BroadcastBVG News, Home page, Newsletters and Publications, Parent Association, Upper School
It was an eye-opening learning experience for Helen Gao.
“I was very surprised about the intensity of being on air while having so many people listening,” says the Grade 12 Bayview Glen School (BVG) student.
A recent visit to a radio station by the Grade 11 and 12 Communication Technology classes, gave Gao deeper insight into a field she is interested in.
“I learned that improv and being comfortable with your conversation is the key for a successful podcast,” she says.
Gao, along with more than two dozen students visited CHOP FM, a student-run radio station, for a tour and the experience of going ‘on air’.
“Prior to the pandemic, we visited CHOP FM 102.7 in partnership with another CIS (Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario) school in Newmarket called Pickering College,” says Anthony Chuter, Communication Technology teacher at BVG. “During the pandemic, our students planned, wrote, produced and broadcast remotely as BVG:radio “on the air” for the channel and for live broadcast.”
This year, with COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the in-person experience — designed to complement the curriculum — resumed.
“We are currently exploring Audio Production and focused particularly on the radio industry,” continues Mr. Chuter. “We have created a variety of audio projects from audio book recommendations to podcasts as a medium for academic discourse and research. We have also had some fun along the way too!”
In recent years, Grade 12 students have used media platforms (weekly podcasts, videos, animation and documentaries) as part of their final Capstone projects, says Mr. Chuter.
Seeing the process of hosting and broadcasting content as well as understanding the production elements involved in a LIVE radio show was a first for many students, including Helen, who left with several key takeaways.
“On the more technical side, the timing of when to talk and when to stop is key for a podcast to have a smooth transition,” says Helen who was also, “very intrigued by the different equipment.”
Podcast topics spanned the gamut from, “lighter topics like sports, music, books and popular culture to more academic topics and research questions,” says Mr. Chuter.
“A number of students were also keen to work in the sound and mixing booth and spoke to the station manager about life and routines working in a station.”
For Helen, the immersive experience provided important food for thought.
“I am already very involved in media,” says Helen. “Given this opportunity to visit CHOP FM cemented my perception of media even more.”
The visit also gave Mr. Chuter additional perspective on both the medium and the message.
“I am so proud of our students and how much they express themselves, their creativity, and aspirations to bring good to the world through creativity, discourse and discussion,” he says.
“From podcasts on environmental issues to support for mental health, there is an endless variety of topics to discuss and listen to. Next time, you see a teen with earbuds in you might think they are tuning OUT the world, but perhaps they are tuning IN and seeking to change the world.”
First Alumni Chapter Visit to New York Sets the StageAlumni, BVG News, Home page, Newsletters and Publications, Parent Association, Upper School
Together, they took a bite out of the ‘big apple’ in what was a Bayview Glen School (BVG) first!
A group of BVG alumni, admin and teachers met in New York recently for the inaugural Alumni Chapter visit in the city.
“Living in New York, I’ve never been able to make it back to Toronto for a BVG reunion,” says Jordyn Taylor, Class of 2008. “It was such nice surprise to have the party come to NYC!”
Jordyn was among a dozen alumni representing nine graduating classes — from 1993 to 2021 — to gather for the evening event.
“I was most motivated to come to see which other alumni were in the city and also to see what teachers may have come down for the event as well,” says Dmitry Bury, Class of 2007. “Given that it was in New York was certainly a nice surprise, and not something you expect given we are from Toronto, but awesome to see!”
Against the backdrop of a night sky and picturesque terrace at the Valbella at the Park, the graduates met with James Lee, Head of School, Carol Anne Ruscica, Senior Director of Advancement and Dina Astrella, Head of the Prep School for an evening of reminiscing and networking.
“As soon as I saw Ms. Astrella, I screamed and gave her a huge hug,” says Jordyn, an award-winning author, writer and editor. “It was such a wonderful surprise to see her in New York, and so special to reconnect with her and reminisce about our time together at Bayview Glen,” she says.
Ms. Astrella was the Head of the Upper School during both Jordyn and Dmitry’s time at Bayview Glen.
“It was also great to meet Mr. Lee and hear about his big vision for the future of the school,” adds Jordyn.
The alumni group represented a vast array of industries, including business, financial services, fashion, technology, engineering, social justice, politics, entrepreneurship and law.
Since graduating from Bayview Glen, Dmitry now works in investment banking at TD Securities. “Funny enough, [I] ended up meeting lots of folks who I had a lot in common with between university, work or people we knew in common,” he says. “[That] made the connections all that much more relevant.”
Bayview Glen School has previously organized several alumni “regional visits within Canada, the United States and internationally,” notes Daniella Brown ‘10, Director of Alumni Relations at BVG. “The New York Alumni Chapter is the first of its kind,” she says.
For Jordyn, the impact of BVG on her life and professional journey continues.
“Taking Writer’s Craft with Mr. Reynolds in Grade 12 helped me develop the writing skills I use every day as a magazine editor and novelist,” says the current Executive Digital Editor of Men’s Health magazine. “Fifteen years later, Norm and I still email each other about our writing projects!”
The connections run long and deep for Dmitry as well.
“My best friends are from BVG. They were my groomsmen at my wedding and remain my closest friends. My BVG experience, including the memories I have of all my teachers, is one that’s very positive, and certainly had a big impact on my life given those are the formative years and help guide you as you progress forward in life.”
The evening was also the first opportunity of its kind for BVG’s new Head of School — to meet alumni where they are — since taking the leadership reins at Bayview Glen in August 2022.
“The evening was a great success,” says Lee. “It was clear, that our alumni are doing very well in New York City – successful, happy and excited to re-connect with the Bayview Glen Team. A big thank you to our [Senior] Director of Advancement, Ms. Carol Anne Ruscica for organizing this event.”
And there is a promise of more of the same — to come — according to Mr. Lee.
“As we continue to identify, engage and grow our Alumni Chapters with a long-term vision and commitment, the benefits will be tremendous towards our School, our current students, and for those who choose to take advantage of the strategic opportunities to build professional networks with one common link and starting point – Bayview Glen.”
Interested in leading a Bayview Glen Alumni Chapter visit in your city?
Contact: Daniella Brown, Director of Alumni Relations, email@example.com