Bonding At The BBQ
“Don’t forget to tell our story,” says Eric Halling as I walk towards the exit of Western Technical-Commercial School’s It’s the second week of July, and while most of Western students have left the building, there’s a group of over 100 grade 8 here in the cafeteria having the time of their lives. They are chowing down on teacher/chef Dominic Di Nanno’s vegeterian risotto, mediterranean salad and homemade bread brought steaming-fresh from the oven.
These are the students from Western Tech’s “Power Your Future” summer school fun camp, and from the noise in the cafeteria, and the excitement around the ping-pong tables, they’re obviously having a ton of fun.
The camp headed by Halling with a group of fantastically dedicated Western teaching staff (the regular teacher’s during the school year) is meant to give incoming grade nine students a learning and summer fun experience. Classes in numeracy, literacy, health and nutrition are balanced with field sports, ping pong, art murals, board games, nature walks, field trips and theatre improv. Best of all, it’s totally free. At the end of the day students have not only been exposed to elements of the Grade Nine Curriculum, they’ve had a great time getting to know their fellow student bonding over the BBQ.
“These kids are fantastic,” says Math teacher Joe Montagnese. “They will be a stellar group of grade nines when they come to us in September. Plus, they’ll know their way around; they’ll start the year having already made friends. Some of them are so smart they are already doing work that we cover in Grade 11.”
The camp is meant for all incoming grade nine students, regardless of ability and interests. The only requirement is that students are registered for Grade nine at Western Tech for this coming September.
For ESL staff member Cinzia Strazzeri it’s the perfect opportunity for New Canadians to integrate into Canadian culture and make friends. “I’ve got a group from around the world. This is their first experience in Canada and their first experience in a Canadian school. What better things can we offer them than some language skills and friendship? They’re going to feel so much more confident when they return to us in September. It’s the perfect introduction to Western Tech and life in Toronto.
The camp runs all of July and already there are plans afoot for the following year. “It’s our first time doing this,” says Halling.”Obviously we can make it even more fun and even more educational. This has been a pretty good start though.”
Hallings modesty is undercut by the wide smiles on the students faces and the roar from one of the ping pong tables as one of the students scores the winning point in the final game. Bonding at the BBQ and playing ping pong in the cafeteria at Western Tech has made this summer an exceptional one for a whole new group of high school students.