JOHN MCCRAE HIGH SCHOOL
Opening its doors in 1999, John McCrae was Barrhaven’s first public High School. As of 2018, the student enrolment sat at 1,300 grade 9 to 12 students. The school is known for their high performance athletes programs and art programs.
STUDENTS HOLD SEMI-ANNUAL SOCIAL SCIENCE FAIR
February 3, 2020
On Wednesday, January 22, students in Rebecca Chambers class held their semi-annual Social Science Fair.
Many different projects were on display covering a range of topics from healthy eating to finding ways to protect the environment.
Grade 11 student Kaiden Villeneuve has spent the past semester learning about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. Instead of just reading about it, the John McCrae High School student decided to go a step further turning vegan and vegetarian for one month each.
“I could have read up on it with different research papers and all of that but then I would never really know how it would affect me,” Villeneuve said. What I learned was I had more energy when I was on a plant-based diet.”
Villeneuve also worked with his classmate Aaron Holland, also grade 11, on a used clothing campaign. After realizing how much good clothes end up in a landfill, the two decided to hold a clothing drive in their school.
In just a one-month period the two grade 11 students raised over 200 lbs. of used clothing which could be reused.
“One thing I learned through the clothing waste project is a lot of people donated a lot of stuff,” Holland said. “It showed that a lot of people have a lot to donate but they don’t.”
Grade 12 student Rene Rostieus had delicious vegan cupcakes at her table. She baked them the night before to represent her work on protecting the environment. As an avid athlete herself, Rostieus wanted to find ways other outdoor athletes could contribute to reversing the impacts of climate change.
She worked with an Organization called ‘Protect Our Winters’, which also encourages outdoor athletes to ook at how climate change is impacting their sport.
“I think one of the biggest things I learned is how powerful it is to be a part of a group that supports and has a similar mindset to yours,” said Rostieus. “I felt really scared about the impacts of climate change has because I felt very alone, but when I found a community which was really supportive that helped a lot.”
The Social Science Fair was attended by many parents, teachers and students in the John McCrae community.
JA OTTAWA: "KATHAROS" AT JOHN MCCRAE
January 24, 2020
On Tuesday, January 21, John McCrae students in the JA Program presented their shampoo product called “Katharos” to a packed classroom of teachers and local business owners.
According to its website, Katharos is dedicated to delivering their customers luxury shampoo products which will leave their hair looking radiant.
“With a gentle lather and high-class certified materials, you can indulge while benefiting yourself, your community and your environment,” says their mission statement on their website. “As a student-run company, we aim to educate tomorrow’s leaders in being successful.”
The students say this semester has been a fun one filled with challenges and moments of success. One student says much of their accomplishments was with students becoming passionate about their product.
“I think we got really passionate about our company and put in extra work to see the success and feel the benefits of having success,” she said. “It was less about work and more about having fun. It was something we enjoyed doing and wanted to take that extra step.”
For more information about the John McCrae student’s product, visit: https://tr3eeo.wixsite.com/home.
About Junior Achievers
JA recruits’ volunteers from the local business community and post secondary institutions to lead hands-on experiential learning activities for students from grades 5 to 12.
JA Programs teach entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness skills by giving students real-world tasks like goal-setting, building a personal budget, exploring interests and career pathways, and working with a team to start a small business.
JOHN MCCRAE STUDENTS TO HOLD DIFD FUNDRAISER
December 13, 2019
JOHN MCCRAE STUDENTS SPEAK AT WE DAY AHEAD OF HOCKEY GAME FUNDRAISER
December 10, 2019
A few students from Rebecca Chambers class at John McCrae will be speaking at WE Day today about a class initiative they have started.
Grade 12 students Madison Hawken, Emma Artichuk, Kathryn Stockdale, and Kayle Osborne will be holding a boys against girls hockey tournament on Friday to raise money for Do It For Daron, a local foundation which helps fund youth mental health initiatives. They held a similar event last year where they raised over $1,200 for the Ottawa-based charity.
Because of their initiatives this year and last, the students were hand picked by DIFD to speak at the annual WE Day event.
WE Day is held in 15 countries world-wide, and features an inspiring line-up of world-renowned speakers, award winning performers and real-world stories of change. Students who attend the event are given a ticket for work they do – usually in their school community – to help better society.
Student Kathryn Stockdale will be representing the group on stage, speaking beside Stephanie Richardson, the founder of the organization and Daron’s mom.
Daron was an athletic and outgoing 14-year-old when she ended her own life in November 2010, In 2014, her parents started the organization to help spread awareness around youth mental health.
The boys against girl’s hockey tournament will be taking place at the Walter Baker Centre on Friday, December 13, starting at 3:30 pm/ Tickets and DIFD items can be purchased at the door.
Even if you are unable to attend the game, the girls are asking anyone who can do so to donate to the Do It For Daron Foundation.
BIKING TO ARNPRIOR AND BACK TO RAISE MONEY FOR CANCER RESEARCH
November 15, 2019
On October 30, John McCrae student Gia Damiankos biked to Arnprior and back – 200 kilometres – to raise money for pancreatic cancer.
She started her bike ride at around 4:45 am, finishing around 3 pm. She stopped to tweet along the way, giving updates to her classmates who were following her journey.
“I decided to bike to Arnprior because my grandfather passed away on October 31st, so that’s the day I’ll be doing the bike ride,” Damiankos said. “I will be raising money for pancreatic cancer because when I was doing research during the summer, I had noticed that cancer associations usually keep pancreatic cancer as the one that they are not focusing on just because it’s the most incurable cancer in all of Canada.”
Anyone who wishes to support Gia can donate money which will go towards the Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation: https://www.gofundme.com/f/purple-for-a-purpose
LEAVING A GREENER FOOTPRINT
November 1, 2019
Even small actions can make a difference.
Grade 11 John McCrae student Emma Tsang is looking for ways to make the world a little more eco friendly.
She is exploring the idea of starting a social enterprise called “E-Treasures”, an opportunity for her to go around Barrhaven and pick up people’s e-waste.
E-waste (also known as electronic waste), describes discarded electric or electronic devices.
“I want to go around Barrhaven and pick up e-waste and take it to a waste disposal place so I could get some money to donate to other organizations such as Zero Waste Canada, and Food Sharing Ottawa – both have a main goal of reducing the amount of waste we have,” states Tsang.
The grade 11 student’s passion for a cleaner environment started at a young age, and thanks her parents for brining her up in a household where recycling was always a priority.
“It kind of started when I was younger,” said Tsang. “I always asked my dad why we have so many old batteries and why we don’t just throw the out, and he taught me that he recycled them. I thought that was cool and realized a lot of people did not actually do that, so I had this opportunity in class to actually bring this idea to life.”
In her personal life, Tsang said she likes to buy only things she needs, and always donates her old clothes.
She is not exactly sure what her project will lead to but is hopeful she will raise a lot of money to give to the two charities. She also hopes it will inspire others to do their part for the environment – even if its simple things like recycling paper and plastics.
“We only get one earth. It is not like we have another earth that we can turn to,” she says. “I think it is very important to preserve it while we still have it in decent condition. Once we get it in a condition where it is too contaminated, too full of waste, it is really hard to bring it back.”
November 1, 2019
Grade 11 John McCrae student Luis Ibarra is looking for alternatives to prescription antibiotics.
While they can be beneficial in some cases, Ibarra says there are other options out there.
He became interested in the topic after learning about it in grade 10 science.
“So far, I have found this website that said that you can use honey, garlic, there were seven natural things that all had antibiotic properties – some of them even had studies done that prove they work,” said the grade 11 student. “I am also learning how natural antibiotics are good but there is also a bad side to them.”
Some of the good things, Ibarra says, include when people get infections or are going in for surgery. But he also says some people abuse them and can try other methods to feel better.
He is still in the early stages of his campaign, but is also looking at the idea of creating an app.
But for now, Ibarra is focusing on educating his classmates and others in his school community.
“This year I was thinking of putting information up, a public service announcement type of thing, to at least raise some awareness of what is happening with the issue,” he said.
HANDS ON LEARNING IN THE TRADES
October 21, 2019
A new program is being offered at John McCrae to help students looking to get into the trades.
The course started by math teacher Sean Mikkelborg, allows students going into the college stream to learn about the math necessary for them to succeed in various programs – especially when construction related. Over 80 per cent of applicants trying for an apprenticeship at the Carpenters Trade Union fail the introductory math skills test. This program is trying to change that…
It is a one high school credit course which is offered to grade 12 students who are looking to take the college route. Students put into practice simple geometry, trigonometry, and fractions, and learn to produce and interpret drawings – which they later will use in actual projects.
For the start of the school year they have been in the classroom learning math skills and have now taken their learning outside to find the elevation of land.
On October 16, the students spent the period outside at Mowat Farm Park, taking the skills they learned in class and put it to good use.
“We are doing surveys finding different elevation points on the field,” said Liam Floyd, who is a grade 12 student in the course.
He was interested in taking the course because he would like to get involved in the trades in the future, and its in his blood.
“My grandpa did it, my dad is in it too, it’s in my blood,” he said.
Other students shared similar sentiments, and all say they have enjoyed the course so far. They say the math has been a good refresher and are now excited to be out of the classroom learning hands on.
“I have been kind of interested in the construction field and doing hands on work for pretty much my whole life, so I just thought this course would help me gain some more experience and explore my options a lot more,” said student Kyle Fillon.
“I am very interested in planning and I am trying to go to university for environmental planning,” said Fillon’s friend Isaiah Butts. “There is a lot of career potentials straight out of high school with doing this and that is an opportunity to make money right out of high school.”
The students will be out doing surveying for the next few weeks, and that will include geodetic elevations, tools and equipment, as well as field work.
After that the students will be doing estimating, calculating the costs and materials needed on site, as well as using an architectural ruler.
Capital Site Development has been generous to pay for the rental equipment which has come from Rob at Cooper rental. If any of the students excel in the course, Capital Site Development is open to the idea of hiring some of the students on this summer.
Mikkelborg is working on trying to get the students in with the union for their co-op placement – a great real-world scenario for the kids.
He is hopeful the students will write and pass their entry exam so they can get their foot in the door.
TRYING TO SOLVE GLOBAL ISSUES FROM A WORLD AWAY
September 20, 2019
It's a topic not a lot of people want to talk about, but for students at John McCrae, it's an important one. As a part of social enterprise work which is taking place in Rebecca Chambers classes, two students decided to take the lead on a student-run initiative called STAIN. (Start Talking About it Now Period), which is looking to find ways to end the stigma around a woman's menstrual cycle.
"What we hope to do is raise awareness and end the stigma around women's menstruation," says Megan Gibbs, grade 12.
"We have made a few goals within our enterprise and the first one is making reusable sanitation products so we can send to women in third world countries," added partner Faith Greco, also grade 12. "We recently did a bake sale (which raised over $100), and we plan on buying the correct materials so we can sew it into pads and send that to women who are less fortunate."
The two students have partnered with Days for Girls, an organization which makes reusable sanitation products for females in third-world countries. Someone from the organization will be coming into the class to teach the students how to make the reusable pads, which will then later be distributed to women in need. The two students say they aren't sure what their next steps are, but plan to raise awareness within their school community. To watch our full interview with Faith and Megan, check out our "Barrhaven School Scoop Youtube page, or by clicking the following link: YouTube Link.
To find out more about Stain., follow them on Twitter @staintweets
INSPIRING STUDENTS THROUGH FAILURE AND SUCCESS.
July 12, 2019
It's 9:05 a.m, and as students at John McCrae High School are getting ready to start their day full of learning, students in Rebecca Chambers classes are beginning the "unlearning" process. You see Chambers uses a different approach in her classroom, one that can be seen as a bit strange to some, but the results have been nothing but positive. Failure is expected in her class - it's an opportunity for her students to encounter real world problems, and try to find ways to overcome them. She allows students to choose what they want to learn, and uses many modern day educational tools including social media and podcasts. Almost all of her students have a Twitter account, and uses it to network with people in the community for their assignments.
Her lessons of course also include a bit of traditional teaching, but Rebecca is always trying to find new ways to inspire her students. She's worked countless nights, weekends and holidays, and has even dedicated a large portion of her summer to starting workshops with other like-minded educators. Over the past few months we have told you the stories of many of the students in Rebecca's classes, and have covered the countless events her students have organized which have included; a Do It For Daron hockey tournament, a 5k autism walk, science fairs, a movie premiere at VIVA retirement, body image workshops, stem cell drives, and abilities not disabilities campaigns - to name just a few. But we have not told you the story of the teacher who was behind it all, supporting and encouraging her students to be the game changers of tomorrow.
"I am not completely sure how to describe my classroom other than controlled chaos," Rebecca said on her blog, a personal initiative she started during the fall 2018 school year. "I am attempting to create a student centred, experiential, innovative and creative environment that values skills over content and reflecting on process over testing, doing things for a purpose, encouraging my students to help solve problems (Become Seekers and Peekers as Don Wettrick says) to become change-makers, to learn to embrace failure and learn from it, all while using social media."
Much of her passion came from her own school experiences. Rebecca admits she wasn't a fan of high school, and so that's why she wanted to become a teacher. She wanted to be the person she wishes she had growing up.
"My goal as a teacher was to make my classes a place where students could feel good about who they were, gain self-confidence and to know that I cared about them," she said. "I also wanted to make it a place where students were engaged and could get out of their seats to learn the material."
The first half of her career for the most part was traditional, but after being introduced to Sir Ken Robinson's Ted Talk in 2011, she was inspired to change her teaching methods.
"Since then I have continued to follow so many different progressive educators and have taken pieces from all of them to work on my ever-evolving classroom," Chambers said.
A quick look at her blog posts shows the magnitude of learning and creativity which takes place in her classroom each and every day. This year her students focused on passion based projects, which allow the students to choose a project they are passionate about, and incorporate it into something big. We shared some of their projects this year, which included a group of students creating an organization called AND (Abilities Not Disabilities), who worked with a group of students at Woodroffe High School who are disabled. They wanted to show members of society that despite not being like everyone else, they are still capable of having many amazing talents.
And then there was another group who spent their time at VIVA Retirement trying to help with senior loneliness. They started by finding ways to bring the residents together, and tried to find things they had in common with one another. That blossomed into a bigger project, where the students interviewed the residents for a documentary, which premiered early this summer, and can be found on YouTube at: VIVA Movie
Those are just two examples of some of the projects we profiled this year which took learning outside of the four walls of the portable classroom, and actually benefited society. Other students also raised money for many local charities and organizations through different projects, including; over $1,200 for DIFD, $18,85 for Children at Risk and $570 for the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.
And then of course there was the social science fairs at the end of the semesters where the students spent five days working individually and with classmates to find ways to connect their projects, their classmates' projects course experiences and personal experiences to their respective curriculum. That's on top of other fairs that were held across the city, including one at Lansdowne where some of Rebecca's students sold fire started and compost bags, and donated the money to charity - and another at city hall where some of her students discussed a topic they were passionate about including; missing indigenous people and gender bias in sports. Speaking to many of Rebecca's students over the summer break, they all admitted they were already missing her classes, and thanked her for everything they learned over the past year.
"I really liked Mrs Chambers class because of how you can choose what you want to learn about," said Renée Rosteius, grade 11. "It's so much easier to go out and do something when you really care about it. I also love how we're valued on the difference we've made in the world instead of what we memorized from a textbook."
"Mrs Chambers has allowed me to connect and work with many different community organizations that I wouldn't have been able to do in a traditional learning environment," said Emily Deschenes, grade 11. "She constantly encouraged her students to work hard and to be passionate about their work."
"I loved being able to use my own creativity and thoughts to come up with my own ideas and follow what I liked rather then what my teachers like," said Anna Cole, grade 12. "It gave me the opportunity to see that failures aren't necessarily failures, they are just learning experiences."
They all admit that they walked out of her classes with a new meaning to life, and the willingness to learn something new. Rebecca pushed them out of their comfort zone, encouraged them to try new things, and always made them feel accepted and like they belonged. One student also credits Rebecca for allowing her to expand her career options, and feels the skills she learned in her classes will carry with her through life. Now as one school year comes to a close and another begins in less than two months, Rebecca Chambers is already working on creating new content for the 2019/2020 school year, trying to find new ways to keep the students engaged while giving back to society. And that's exactly what she's doing...
To read Rebecca Chambers blog and learn more about her "unlearning" teaching methods, visit: Unlearn With Us
A LOOK INTO THE PAST
June 14, 2019
On Monday, June 3rd, two students from Rebecca Chambers class at John McCrae held a successful film premiere.
It was held at VIVA Retirement where the Jillian Leck, grade 11, and Rachel Vavel, grade 12, have been doing their placement for the past semester. They started off their placement by creating a map showing where all the residents were from, as an effort to strengthen the friendships and relationships the seniors have with one another. That's when they decided to take it a step further, and decided to create a documentary about the seniors lives. It featured stories about relationships, the Great Depression, the Korean War, and growing up in small rural countries. The theatre at VIVA Retirement was packed, with not a dry eye in the room. After the premiere, both Rachel and Jillian said they were proud if what they accomplished, and said they both learned many life lessons.
"I think it went really good (and) I was really impressed with how many people showed up," said Jillian. "The whole thing I really enjoyed and I'm sad that I'm not going to be as much involved with them anymore."
"I think it was really powerful and the residents enjoyed hearing about other people's stories," said Rachel. "Learning about all the different people and building that relationship with them (the residents" was probably my favourite part."
The documentary has been posted to YouTube for anyone to view.
GARDENING FOR A CAUSE
May 17, 2019
For grade 11 and 12 students in Jessica Packer-Quinnell's applied biology course, they are spending their Friday's playing in the dirt. Packer-Quinnell admits that she has killed anything she's ever tried to grow, but that's not stopping her from taking on this new adventure. She alongside her class have started a school garden, with the intentions of growing different vegetables and herbs to support the school's breakfast program.
"We decided to plant it for the school breakfast program so we can provide healthy options for everybody in the school," said grade 11 student Alex McDonald.
The students started this gardening adventure at the start of the semester in February, and are now at the stages of transplanting the seedlings from a makeshift greenhouse to bigger handmade bins that will be placed outside of the school. Packer-Quinnell's father is a handyman and came into the class to teach the students how to make the plastic garden bins. They started with cutting the top of the bin off and then placing tubes inside to help with water drainage.
"Some people were cutting out boxes, some people were drilling and other people were cutting out tubes for the water," said grade 12 student Kaitlin. "Everyone had a part to play and everyone knew what they were doing and it was really successful." But it wouldn't be a learning opportunity if it wasn't for challenges. The students admit that some things are harder than others to grow, and said have some breaks in the semester have made it difficult to constantly water the plants.
"I think one of the hardest parts here was the overall planning," said Ethan Ostendorf, grade 11. "It's been constant weeks of taking notes and seeing who will take the leadership roles. It's really held up well and hopefully, that will reward us in the end."
Having a large garden like this also brings some heavy costs. To raise money to start the garden, the students planned a spirit week which included a movie day, a cake raffle and an opportunity to pie teachers in the face. Some of that money will also be going towards a bench that will be placed near the gardening area.
"One of the goals that we wanted to get out of the fundraising is that we wanted to put some of the money towards a bench so that the students could sit around the garden," said Lila Cole, grade 11. And despite having a little fun, this group of students say other schools should also look at starting a community garden because it teaches life skills that they will all need to use one day.
"Gardening is so much better than school work and it's been a good learning experience in how to plant," said Bella Sauve, grade 11.
"It's much more interesting than boring note taking," echoed grade 11 student Dominic Murphy. "It actually engages the students and makes us more excited about learning and getting involved in the classroom. It teaches us about hard work and responsibility." And the students are optimistic that this project can grow into something even bigger. They have plans to keep the garden going for future classes, and also one day hope to build large wooden garden bins alongside the school's woodshop class.