Remembrance Day

Each year as Remembrance Day draws near, teachers think about how they would like to approach this topic with their class. What worked one year won’t necessarily work the next. Last year, we had a virtual assembly and students reflected privately about the day. This year, we are fortunate to have an in-person assembly where students from K-8 will participate by either reading a poem, playing an instrument or even orchestrating the event. Members from the band will play and the choir will sing. To me, coming together as a school is such a meaningful experience and although we do not do it that often, when we do it means that much more. 

In my class this year, I decided against the colouring of a poppy to put together for the class wreath. Instead, students read a variety of Remembrance Day poems and selected the one word that stood out to them the most. They then would write that word on their poppy numerous times. It was very hard for some students to think of a word that represented a poppy. Maybe they wear one or colour one each year but do not know what the symbol actually represents. Here are some of the words my students came up with: respect, brave, remember, saviour, peace, fearless, hero, strong, hope, and  honour. These poppies will be hung on our class wreath and I hope a few students stop to read the words within them and think about why they were chosen. 

I also did an activity where I posed a few thinking questions to the class and asked them to reflect on the answers. Feel free to use these questions with your class either this year or next. These were the questions I posed along with some student answers:

  • What is Remembrance Day? 
    • Remembrance  day is so important the people who fought for us were brave and had the courage I’m so thankful they gave us the peace even if they didn’t wanna do it they still did.
    • Remembrance day is a day where we honour the soldiers that fought for us.
  • How can we remember our fallen soldiers?
    • We can respect the soldiers by taking a moment of silence. 
    • By being respectful during the Remembrance Day ceremony.
  • Why did people fight in the war?
    • They wanted to represent their country and to feel proud to be Canadian 
    • They had to 

Those are just a few of the many answers my grade 7 & 8 students came up with. 

Each Monday, students make a goal for the week in my class and I wanted to share one of my student’s goals this week. He wrote, “To be respectful on Remembrance Day.” I asked him to share with the class why he chose that goal for the week. He shared that each year, he feels that he doesn’t pay attention or respect the ceremony and this year he really wants to do his best to do that. I think it was a very mature goal to select and I look forward to seeing if he writes yes or no next Monday as it is up to each student to share if they felt they met their goal or not. 

I look forward to hearing any suggestions or any new ideas for Remembrance Day activities that I could try with my class next year. 

The Best October Student-led Project- Part Two

This blog post is a reflection of the student-created created drama shows that I blogged about earlier this month. 

One of the reasons I enjoy blogging so much is the chance to reflect. Teachers are always on the go and I sometimes miss the post lesson reflections that are so important. I will look back on this post next year when I start this task again.

The grade seven and eight students in my school came up with eight shows that were written, directed and acted by each other. They performed them over the course of the day yesterday and what a success it was! Of course, all successful events have a few glitches.

The Week of

This week was a four day week for my students so we did not begin to prepare our room for the shows until Tuesday afternoon. My students turned the classroom into a stage- making the front the stage and the back the audience. All desks were pushed back to allow for creepy monsters to hide underneath and to allows room for chairs and mats to be placed in front. They also covered the walls with table cloths and garbage bags. This part was rushed and could have been done better as each morning this week, I picked them up off the ground and re-taped them. Next year, we need to perhaps leave the walls blank and tape props to the walls. 

On Wednesday morning, students worked together to decorate the entire classroom. They made the door extremely spooky as well as all the walls. The director of each show gathered their props and costumes together in one bin. The door of our class also featured the posters from each show (advertising- media literacy piece).

On Wednesday afternoon, each group had about twenty minutes to rehearse their show with sound effects, settings (on the smartboard/projector), costumes, actors and all. This was hardly enough time as I forgot to remind students throughout the process that they would need to be adding the slide changes, sound effects and stage directions into their scripts. This is something I will do next year during the writing process. Also, twenty minutes per show was hardly enough. I timed each show during this practice to get an idea of how to schedule all the shows throughout the day.

Show Day

The day had finally come and it was show time! Students got into their costumes and had a little makeup added to increase the scare effect! We were all dressed and ready for the first show. Classes came two at a time and stayed for half an hour. This was the perfect amount of time as we usually got through 3-4 shows per viewing. Almost our entire school grades 1-8 ended up coming to see the shows.

The shows went about as well as they could with the amount of practice each show had! By the fourth or fifth performance, a few shows were flawless. The slides were controlled by one of my students who started to memorize when the settings would change. The sound effects were played live from a piano that has creepy sound effects. My student improvised when the sounds were not provided for her and by the second performance of each show, she had memorized them. Each audience was so captivated by the stories and teachers were really impressed with the students. Next year, I will tell students that a show around 3-4 minutes worked the best in terms of audience interest and transitions. The actors in longer shows had a hard time knowing when it was their turn and when they were off stage. 

Tips for Teachers who try this in 2023

I found as soon as I released the responsibility to each director- the show was theirs. Whatever happened happened and I did not feel automatically responsible when a show did not go as planned. It was incredible seeing the students take control of what they had created and very rarely did they need any assistance from me. I think the only question I was asked during the show day was “Can I go to the bathroom?” The student leadership, collaboration and responsibility was so impressive.

Taking on something like this may seem like a lot but the amount of curriculum connections are endless. I also heard a lot of students comment on how many memories they were making during this. Students who have issues coming into the class each day did not during our drama project.

What’s Next?

Students are already asking if we can do this again during the Winter months. I think it would be a great idea during December to show all the different ways people celebrate at that time of year. Perhaps instead of acting, we could try telling stories from various cultures. All things to think about and when you get a group of students who enjoy producing shows this much, the possibilities are endless!

Above is a picture of the live performance of “The Crooked Man”- Written and Directed by a grade seven student.

The Best October Student-led Project

This is my ninth year teaching which means it is my ninth October with a class. October is one of my favourite months in the classroom as it lends room for so many exciting activities. For the past seven years, my class has created some sort of Halloween related show or haunted house at the end of the month. Sadly, I missed one year while I was teaching online. I wonder each year if it is something I am doing because I enjoy the tradition or if students are genuinely interested in this activity. So this year, I asked students if they had any ideas rather than share what we could do.

My class of 27 students all celebrate Halloween so we were all set for a brainstorm session. Here are the ideas my students came up with:

  • Escape Room
  • Haunted Gym
  • Student skits in a classroom
  • Student activity centres in the gym

After discussing it with a student-created drama committee, my students came up with student-created skits in a decorated classroom as their favourite idea. Then, we went about discussing how the planning process works. This is what my grade 7/8 drama committee came up with:

  1. Decide on a date (October 27th)
  2. Ask the other 7/8 classes if they would like to participate
  3. Ask permission from our school administration if grade 7/8 classes can show their skits to the other classes
  4. Send an email to all staff
  5. Start to advertise our idea
  6. Sign up classes for the viewing of each show
  7. Come up with a schedule

Yesterday, my four students who had a meeting with admin. were approved for this idea and were reminded to have a fall activity such as a word search or other for students to work on if they do not celebrate Halloween. As teachers, it is important that we use this opportunity to help students and even challenge them to think critically. With our support/modelling they will recognize the importance of being inclusive when the activities are being planned for all students in the school. We can challenge our students to plan alternatives that are equally valued and engaging and still connected to the curriculum. 

Then, we focused on the actual drama part of the project. In our language class, we are working on short spooky stories. My students (along with the other grade 7/8 classes) are working on creating a story where they need to identify the characters, the setting, the problem and the solution. My students presented their plot ideas today to the class and two were selected to be turned into scripts. The rest will be writing short stories and which will be one of their writing marks this term. This was such a fun class activity today as I put on some spooky music and students read their ideas.

During drama class, we came up with seven exciting roles that students can sign up for to be involved in this class project:

  1. Acting in the shows (there will be five shows total)
  2. Script writing (working with the students who had their plot selected)
  3. Sound effects
  4. Set design (how to transform a classroom into a haunted stage)
  5. Costumes, hair and makeup
  6. Classroom sign up
  7. Advertising the event (email, posters, imovie trailer and announcements)

Almost all of my students signed up for three or more roles and are excited to get started on this right away.

Each year, I look forward to this project so much as it includes so many curriculum connections in all of the below listed subjects:

  • Art
  • Drama
  • Language- writing, media literacy and oral communication
  • Learning skills- collaboration

Overall, this is a tradition I really look forward to each year but of course, would not proceed with it if students were not interested.  Learning that is integrated like this, with student voice and leadership at the core and has strong curriculum connections does not have to be limited to a holiday or season. A big idea, social issue or other relevant theme helps to connect and motivate the students’ learning. Knowing your learners, who they are and what is important to them will guide you on selecting themes and connections for your students! I am lucky my students want to make such an impact in their school community as each year even in June, I hear students in the halls still talking about the haunted house/stories. I look forward to this year being better than ever as we are not limited to staying within our cohorts, etc. I look forward to sharing about how it went and perhaps even sharing some spooky photos!

A Day To Listen

September is a busy month in schools as teachers get to know their students, learn new curriculum, set up classroom norms and some teachers even have to deal with reorganization by the end of the month. It has been an especially busy start for my class as many students are new to our school and some are returning back to the classroom for the first time in almost three years. Getting into a routine has been challenging as I know the routine is an important thing to establish in September.

Having said that, September is an important month about Truth and Reconciliation. As September 30th is Truth and Reconciliation Day, schools prepare differently to reflect as a community. Our school spent time considering a school-wide assembly filled with student created land acknowledgements, a video of all students sharing why they wear orange, various poems, Indigenous art and highlights from the 94 Calls to Action. We shared our thoughts with Indigenous members within our board and were asked to remind the school community that Orange “Every Child Matters” shirts should be worn all year not just on September 30th. They also shared other ideas to ensure our assembly was culturally appropriate.

Students in my class as well as many others started looking at the Land Acknowledgement and thinking about what it really meant. Students hear it on the announcements every day but may not actually understand the meaning of the words. Many students came up with really well written versions and were going to read them to the school.

However, our board sent out an email stating that we needed to avoid assemblies on September 30th and that it would be better to reflect and listen within our own classrooms so that we could support student responses within the classroom. We were asked to concentrate on classroom activities instead. We decided to have students read their land acknowledgements over the announcements and some staff shared their student-created videos by email instead.

I was able to share the video with my class from our member ETFO news from September 28th, where Shawnee Talbot explains her connection to music. The video can be found if you click this link: Music is Medicine. My grade eight history class watched her TedxGrandJunction video about her life as a member of the Two Spirit community and how music has been such an integral part of her life. Students connected with their love for music and how it helps them during their times of need. It was a great discussion and I really encourage you to explore our ETFO news article from September 28th for more resources. The entire resource can be found here: Two Spirit Resource. 

I would like to close this post by sharing a reflective piece of writing by one of my students as she shares how she will help others remember the horrible past of Residential Schools:

“I pledge to remember the people who were here before us on this land and how they suffered in residential schools. Also, to help younger people to remember by telling stories, wearing an orange shirt, watching videos about Truth and Reconciliation and making posters to put up on walls. I would want my teacher to bring a friend or a member of the Indigenous Community to share about Truth and Reconciliation. We should also have moments of silence and reflection to honour the children who died in Residential Schools. I also want the people around to acknowledge that it is Truth and Reconciliation and respect the people who may have lost a family or friend in a Residential school.”

I share this post in a reflective lens and understand I am learning and listening each year as we reflect on the horrible past of our country. 

Back again!

Hello!

I am so happy to be back blogging for my ninth year on this incredible platform. Last year, I spoke to being back in the classroom after a year of online teaching. This year, I look forward to blogging about curriculum, class-led initiatives, getting back to normalcy and much more. I am excited to inspire new teachers with ideas and to encourage educators to dig deeper when thinking about celebrations, encouraging all students to love math and student-led projects.

This year, I am excited to be teaching a 7/8 split for the second year in a row. For the first time ever, I have four students that I have taught the year prior so I will navigate how to best serve them (without them feeling like they are in grade seven for a second time in a row). I have various needs in my classroom and I look forward to working with an E.A. for the first time in many years. Not only will I build my program around a variety of IEPS, two curriculums and differentiated instruction but this year I will also program for my students who are working on motor skills and life skills. I have a feeling my prep time will always feel short this year!

I wish everyone a great start up as we all rise to the occasion of engaging all of our students and making them feel like part of a community. Month one always feels long but it is so important to establish routines and the building blocks for a successful year. All the best!

Reflections

Looking back on the year, I think I will find it helpful to write this blog post so I can read it again in September and perhaps some other teachers can read it to assist them in preparations for a new school year. I would like to reflect on things that worked well this year and things that I may leave behind. It has been an incredible year of learning new things, learning how to teach new ways and of course, learning how to get back to doing the things we have loved to do. Without further preamble, here goes it.

Things that worked well

New seats every month

Students looked forward to selecting new group buddies each month in order to form new friendships and work with new people. Eventually, students decided to keep their seats as they had found a group they really messed well with. Students were excited for the change each month and some even reminded me the day before in anticipation for the change. I even threw in the option of teacher’s choice which is when I would assign them a random spot in the room.

Leadership Competition

Each year, I love to run a leadership competition in my classroom which gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their passion and commitment to our classroom and school. Students without the motivation to do anything beyond school work often find the extra energy when this competition is announced. How it works is that students that help out around the class or school would receive a small sticker that they would put beside their name. Before winter break, before March break and at the beginning of June, students count their stickers so far to see who is in the lead. I award the top five at the end of the school year a leadership certificate and a price of their choice. My top student this year volunteered/assisted around the class and school over 270 times this year. I look forward to running this again next year.

Pizza Sales

This year I assisted in selling pizza to the students in our school. Not only that, but I decided to turn it into a small marketing project by having students make posters, announcements and look at the cost/profit per slice. We then looked at the total cost and profit on a weekly basis, tracking why pizza would sell differently from one week to the next. It was an exciting class project as various 7/8 students would sell each week. They used this experience in job interviews for the food sales as I mentioned in a previous blog post.

Job Interviews

I loved hosting job interviews this year which coincided with our resume workshop. Students practiced for either real of fictional job opportunities. They had to provided references and list some experience within the school. The students who were successful were then selected to sell food at our soccer tournament. This was a great way to select the student leaders and I hope to do this again next year with other opportunities.

Student Coaches

Having older students coach the younger students is a great way for them to gain confidence, test their leadership skills and build their resume as a leader in our school. It was great to see my students excel and establish lovely connections with younger students. I also have students job interview for this position as well to ensure equity and transparency within the process. I hope to try this with many more sports next year rather than just soccer.

Equal celebrations for all

Placing the same emphasis on all holidays, board celebrations and spirit days next year will be an important way to establish and promote equity in our school. Making all celebrations optional and making sure all students feel valued. You can read more about how I approached this this year in some of my earlier posts.

Things I would not do again

Pre-planning each month

Planning a month in advance never worked well this year. I would find we would either finish early or late and then I would have to rework the entire plan. I would prefer to plan week by week next year but using the annual plan as a guide. This will ensure that I look at what I did the week before to see where I am going.

Longer assignments

I feel that my students had a maximum amount of time that they would like to spend on a final project/presentation. While students worked on their structures and mechanisms assignment, I found that they would get bored doing it for weeks at a time. The magic number for activities was one week. They would start on a Monday and have to finish or present by the Friday. This would ensure that they put their best effort into it and would also make sure it did not draw on for too long.

Book Roles

Having students all read the same novel with a group of students does have it benefits but of course, none of them read at the same speed as another. I also found that they grew tired of the same six book roles and would rather just do one assignment about the book at the end of reading it. I think for next year I will let them select their own independent novel from the library rather than 1 out of 7 book group books that I had. I would also give the option of all the assignments but perhaps at the middle and end of the book.

That is all I can think of for now but aim to keep a book next year, making sure to keep note of things that worked well and didn’t, marking them down as I go. I hope everyone has a safe and restful summer and I look forward to blogging again in September!

Happy Pride Month!

As we enter into the final month of our school year, I cannot help but get emotional thinking about all the things we have struggled through this year. However, we are at the end and things are brighter and better than ever. We can all safely celebrate the things we haven’t been able to celebrate in years. Having a safe in person grad where students can dress up and celebrate is such a beautiful thing. I know my students are extremely excited and that is why we are throwing them the best grad ever!

Not only are we celebrating the end of a fabulous year but my class has been busy planning a variety of activities for Pride month. My colleague Melissa shared a great resource with me which was a PowerPoint filled with stories for Pride Month. I have attached the powerpoint at the very bottom of the post. My class chose the book called PRIDE, “The story of Harvey Milk and the rainbow flag” which is the story of Harvey Milk and how he wanted a flag for LGBTQ people to call their own. This story was very inspirational as my students had never heard of the history of the flag.

My students gathered in groups of four and came up with a few activities they would want to participate in to celebrate Pride. Here were some of their ideas:

◦ Paint the lockers in the six rainbow flag colours

◦ Make rainbow cupcakes

◦ Make rainbow drinks

◦ Have a mini pride parade

◦ Tie dye clothing rainbow colours

◦ Rainbow food party

Students were excited that Pride month was getting the same recognition as other celebrations and the same amount of time to plan how to celebrate. Our school recently has had a positive space club created by our public health nurse and two teachers. So students shared that the club is already doing some of the above listed activities as their celebrations so we shouldn’t select those.

We also discussed how just recently the Pride flag is being flown by all schools and the confusion around that since the Pride flag has been around since 1978. We discussed how even recently Pride crosswalks are being vandalized around the city. Students reflected on how awful these acts are.

After landing on our two activities, it’s also important that we keep learning about the importance of the month through articles, stories and news events. It is not enough to just decorate cupcakes but it is important to make our lessons embedded with the powerful message that everyone deserves to be treated equally. I wish everyone a happy Pride month and final month of school!

Pride Reading Room 2.0

“I got the job!”

Lately I have been incorporating all of the real life learning experiences into my practice and it has been a game changer. Sleepy heads are lifting, my colleagues are commenting and the entire grade 7 & 8 population are chatting about all that has been going on.

It all started when I started to think about food sales prices for a soccer tournament. I would need to look at the cost of each item and think of how best to increase the price as a fundraising opportunity. With financial literacy a new part of our math curriculum, I knew it would be a great opportunity for my class to do some real life learning. I divided them into groups and have them find the cost of each item and have them come up with some ideas of potential sale prices. My students had a great time coming up with their prices and compare them to the prices in the neighbourhood. They then designed posters and competed for the best food sales poster. We talked about how this compares to marketing in business plans within the real world.

When I pick students to sell food at my soccer tournaments, I usually just pick students that I know would do a good job. I usually pick students within my own class and never really branch out to the other classes. However, the student success teacher at my school was beginning to introduce a program called Xello which allows students to take a career quiz as well as has a feature that allows you to create your own résumé. I explained to the students in my class that they would be creating their own resumes as it would be useful in the future. I also mentioned that there were a few volunteer opportunities coming up in our school year such as helping at grad or selling food at the soccer tournament and mentioned that students could interview for the position if they wanted. I came up with five interview questions that would be useful for both job opportunities. 

I set up interview times and instructed students to find at least two references within our school community. Most found three. Roughly 10 of my students interviewed to sell food at the tournament. The interviews were about five minutes long each. Before the interviews we watched helpful interview techniques, and also read some suggestions online. They practised answers to the questions with her peers and I noticed some students even wrote out their responses and practiced saying them. What once used to be a selection process done only by myself has now turned into a literacy assignment as well as something that students would really use in the near future. As most of my students are going into grade 9 in a few months, this skill will be more helpful for them than many other things taught this year. 

What started out with a project just for my class ended up involving at least 15 other students in grade 7 and 8. I explained that students could interview for the position but they would have to make a résumé first and have at least two references. They ended up joining our class for a résumé making clinic and then I set up their interview times. After checking in with all references, I selected 13 students for the job, as there are two soccer tournaments, I could take two groups. Their interest, dedication and professionalism proved to be very inspiring. It was so great to see so many students come out of their shell, shake hands and introduce themselves in a professional setting. It actually reminded me of a drama activity as well as we both took on different versions of ourself. I would definitely do this again for all future tournaments. My favourite part of the entire experience is when students would show up to support a friend after their interview, ask how it went and then celebrate with them. Seeing their smiles when they got the job was truly magical. I will never forget as one student yelled across the hall to a friend, “I got the job!”

Seeing as this went so well, I decided to branch this out and have students interview for the careers that they selected from the same Xello program. From there, I created a financial literacy budgeting assignment. Students would use their future favourite career and find out the starting salary. They would then use that number to figure out their monthly income and select somewhere to live. We have been talking about the benefits of renting versus buying and some students are opting to share housing with a classmate. They will then look at transportation options, Wi-Fi and telephone options, costs that go with housing, food costs, and other expenses they may have. Some students may find that they need a second job and some may find that that career is very rewarding and can cover all their needs. So far, we have only looked at salaries and housing and most of my students that I am interested in math have perked up for this. Financial literacy is by far my most exciting part of the math curriculum and I decided to test it to the limit this year as I have a very creative group. I have heard students wandering around the halls talking to other teachers about the property they are looking at on the east mountain. It is a hilarious prospect and I love that they are putting their real world skills to the test. I look forward to making this a yearly part of my curriculum. 

Learning in real life contexts isn’t always possible but when I can use it, the student interest is astronomical. I look forward to sharing some of my students’ final projects once they are finished. 

**Colleagues: Xello is a program offered by my board which can be found in our HUB courses. ** Every board has different guidelines and privacy policies. related to the use of third party software with students. 

Prom Project Hamilton

All about Prom Project

HWDSB is involved in some incredible initiatives but I thought I would take the time to write about one of my favourites- Prom Project Hamilton. If you haven’t heard of this event, I am happy to fill you in! Prom Project Hamilton is a non-profit event that focuses on finding students the best outfit for prom (grad or any other formal event they may have). Students can shop and acquire one outfit, accessories and shoes for free. Prom Project accepts donations from stores in the community and from families that have a gently used outfit that they do not need anymore. Then, volunteers sort through these outfits for the months leading up and get them organized, tagged and ready for the big day. Thankfully, I received information about this event and was able to volunteer again, not just for the day of but for the sorting parties leading up to the big day.

Preparing for Prom Project 2022

Sorting through these suits and dresses was easily one of the best parts of my week. Under the incredible leadership of co-organizers Krysta Bucci and Amy Leaming Cote, staff from around HWDSB came together to sort and organize prom outfits. We tagged each item and made sure it was suitable for students to own. Not only that, but we organized jewelry, shoes, ties and other accessories so that come the big day, students could easily browse through each item and find their perfect event outfit. I was always in awe of how hard Krysta and Amy worked to pull the event off. They had little time to advertise this year as they received notice that the event would run later than usual. All 125 volunteers (and 500 students that attended) would surely agree that they pulled off an incredible event.

Prom Project had to create a website for students to pre-register this year due to COVID. I helped my students find the website and advertised in my school to ensure students were all set. Getting our students there is something that is extremely important, so once they were all set on the website, they were halfway to Prom Project. Letting them know about transportation options was the final step. The website was user friendly so that all students and volunteers could easily register. Feel free to browse the Prom Project website. I also made sure to show my students some of the outfits available by bringing in some of my personal donations to my classroom. I asked the grade sevens and eights to model available dresses and suits, making sure to provide suit sizes for all genders. A total of 28 students modelled for their peers, really bringing the event to life! I also made sure to share and post the dresses, suits, shoes and accessories on the days leading up to the event for further advertising. Showing students how beneficial this event would be for them was a super important part of the process. Some students would not be able to afford a graduation outfit and this event gives them the opportunity to attend their event with confidence and without worrying about the costs.

Prom Project 2022

The day started at 8:00am as all of the volunteers gathered in the staff room at Sir Winston Churchill high school in Hamilton. The volunteer lead gave a speech about our roles and responsibilities and we gave a big round of applause for our co-organizers Krysta and Amy. We were graciously blessed with coffee, donuts and cookies to get the morning started. Walking into the Sir Winston Churchill gym was quite the surreal experience. All the gowns, suits and accessories that had been stored in two storage rooms were now displayed in a ginormous gymnasium. Staff, students and volunteers had spent all day Friday setting up the gym so that students could feel at ease while shopping for the perfect outfit. The ties, shoes, suits and checkout areas were at the front while the short and long dresses were at the back. The back wall also beautifully displayed the jewelry selection and the purses. The entire right wall of the gym is where the incredible team of 5-10 seamstresses were located. Alterations took place on site as volunteers hemmed, adjusted straps and took in/let out dresses. I was incredibly fortunate to have my mom come to help out as I know she is one of my favourite seamstresses. She worked with many dresses and suits, making sure that she didn’t stop until the outfit was perfect. She worked one hour straight hemming and taking in a beautiful three layer grey gown. I was really appreciative of my mom as she spent most of Prom Project working on alterations. Her sewing machine was the last one to be unplugged at the end of the event.

My students arrived at 9:00am and about eight girls from my school ran towards me. I quickly asked them about their style and colour preference, their size and then we started going through the racks. We had been talking about styles for weeks so I had a rough idea in mind. With the registration this year, students only had an hour to shop so time was not on our side. The girls pulled about ten gowns each and ran into the dressing room. I quickly ran over to the suits to see that one of my students was in good hands with another volunteer. I am not the best at suit sizes! The change rooms were private and professional, offering many mirrors and private stalls for changing. When my students showed me a dress, I was in awe at how nicely they fit and just so grateful that they agreed to come to this fantastic event. They all walked out with a beautiful dress, some with five-foot trains and others simple and perfect for their style. My toughest critic exclaimed to me on Monday, “Miss, I actually had fun, the dresses were actually nice!” Those words mean a lot coming from a skeptic grade eight. They have missed out on a lot these past few years and giving them the grad of their dreams will mean so much more when they are in something that makes them feel comfortable and confident. I also saw a lot of my old students and was excited to help them find a nice suit/dress for their upcoming formals. The event could not have run smoother. I was happy to see over 30 of my students (past and present) attend, even some grade sevens coming to find a nice outfit. Two of my students found matching pink ties which was very cute.

Things to consider in the future

There were so many beautiful shoes and dress options but I know they were lacking a lot in male clothing and male shoe donations. I noticed it was frustrating for a few families who could only get a later time slot but then arrived to find the XS male options had been taken. I will try next year to start looking for donations earlier and to ask for menswear donations rather than accumulate as many dresses as possible. Especially with so many students choosing from a wide variety of styles, options are key. I also think it is important that we find tights and long sleeve under shirts for students that need these options. I was very thankful we had multiple long dress options but felt bad when I couldn’t find something to cover a students arms. I will make sure I think of these options for next year as well.

If you are ever looking for a unique and fun volunteer experience, be sure to google Prom Project around April/May next year. I will never miss one of these events again!

Feel free to read this lovely article as a CBC reporter finds volunteers to reflect on the day. I am featured towards the end of the article.

Below are multiple photos from the event. You can also follow Prom Project on twitter and instagram to stay connected for future events.

#dayofpink

This year, our positive school council committee planned an excited pink day event in our gym for our whole school. Student leaders in grade seven and eight set up, helped lead the stations and cleaned up at the end of the day. Students created posters and made announcements, informing the school during the week about our commitment as a school to stand up against bullying and discrimination. Our school board’s official statement about pink day is as follows:

On April 13, HWDSB students, staff, and community members raised awareness and affirmed their commitments to combat homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying through Day of Pink. The event celebrates allyship and those who take a stand against discrimination and hate.

Students wore their pink/rainbow colours and participated in excited pink day activities. Our activities were:

  •  Bracelet making
  • Colouring pages of the 2SLGBTQ+ leaders from the day of pink website
  • Photoshoot with green screen with the day of pink background
  • Kindness rainbow with sticky notes of positive messages (pictured below)
  • Nail painting
  • DJ station with positive songs
  • Runway with props

Classes came down for thirty minutes at a time and the student leaders facilitated their stations all day long. The excitement amounts the intermediate leaders was so great to see! They have all been looking forward to these leadership opportunities for so long and it was so fun to see how engaged they were all day long. They even swept up their stations without being asked! Not only that, the staff and students were abuzz with excitement as they chatted about how fun the day was. Teachers were talking about it the next day, thrilled that we were doing something exciting for the whole school community once again. Something with a message that we can all stand behind! 

I think it was such a great day and we look forward to planning another whole school event. I know the grade eights are excited to show their leadership schools again, especially with grad so close and grad awards on the horizon! Pink day was a success and it was our first one since 2019. Can’t wait to do it again next year, but with less feather boas!

How did your school celebrate international day of pink?