Wednesday, 9 September 2015

..and we're off and running !!!

Welcome back !!!!

Despite the extremely warm weather I'm sure you're already wondering where that summer vacation went.  Our opening couple of days have been hectic with new grade 9's connecting with their Link Crew Leaders on day one and all of our other students settling in to classes.

As you can imagine there is a lot of 'settling in' happening here at school.  Our new grade 9's coupled with five brand new teachers and one new Vice Principal makes for a large number of folks getting comfortable here at school  When you add in the six teaching staff returning from leaves it means lots of adjustments for adults and students as well.  I sure hope things are settling in for your family as your kids head back to school for the 2015-16 school year.

Some Key Early September Dates:

Thurs., September 10th - Opening Parent Council Meeting (Staff Room at 7:00 p.m.)
Friday, September 11th - Photo Day
Thurs., September 17th - Grade 9 "Meet the Teacher" Night
                                       - Club Fair (Lunch periods)

New Staff
Ms. Shawn McRae - Vice Principal.  Ms. McRae joins us after a number of years as Principal of James W. Hill PS.  We're thrilled to have the benefit of her experience - especially with our grade 9 students - and look forward to learning with her over the years to come.
Ms. Jaunna Beattie - Ms. Beattie joins our Math and Science Departments following some years at Nelson High School in Burlington.
Ms. Sheila Maheshwari - Ms. Maheshwari joins our Science Department following a stint up at Georgetown District High School.
Ms. Jayeon Kang and Ms. Victoria Socha- Ms. Kang and Ms. Rocha are joining our Music Program this year working with our full year 9th credit music classes.
Ms. Mary Loeffler - Ms. Loeffler is joining our Moderns department.  She brings with her a host of teaching experience from Appleby College.

Returning Staff
Welcome back....
Ms. Leticia Bottema; Ms. Betty Farquharson; Ms. Michelle Liou; Ms. Chandni Chaudhary; Ms. Allison Proctor; and Ms. Melina Spyropoulos.


Many of our Fall Sports have begun their training and tryouts with meetings this week.  If your son or daughter is interested please encourage them to try out for something that matches their passion and interest.  Although we'd like to have unlimited numbers on our teams it's just not possible.  Many teams have an open membership (meaning if you keep going to practice they'll keep you on the team) however others have limited rosters and so 'cuts' will be made.  Encourage your child to keep the coach in the loop regarding any concerns, challenges, etc. around your continued participation.

Typically the following sports occur in the Fall:

Boys - Varsity Football; Junior and Senior Volleyball; Golf; and Cross Country

Girls - Junior and Senior Field Hockey; Junior and Senior Basketball; Golf; and Cross Country

Connect with Mr. Gruber in the Healthy Active Living/Physical Education department office if you have any questions or concerns with connecting with a coach.

NOTE:  If you are an interested, and qualified/certified, coach (in any sport) we are always open to connecting with you to see if there might be a way for you to help our our Co-curricular Program.  As you can imagine there are some rules, etc. to follow......but we'd love to talk to you about your interest.  Historically OTHS has always had a few community coaches however this need has increased in the past four/five years

Other School Activities

On the 17th we will be conducting a Club Fair in the Atrium.  Over both lunch hours Clubs will set up a booth or display to highlight their specific club.  This is a great way for your child to express their interest in becoming involved in our greater community.


This Thursday (sorry for the short notice) we will host our opening Parent Council meeting here at the school at 7:00 p.m.  Our opening meeting allows for all parents to express their interest in participating with us over the school year.  We really have a philosophy of "if you come to the meetings you ARE a member of our Parent Council'.
This year we are going to try hard to make our meetings a bit more efficient and streamlined with Committee Reports and Updates being prepared by smaller groups.  Our meetings will normally run for 90 minutes however.....we've been known to run over !!!
Feel free to attend whether you're a new OT parent or if it's your final year!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Reminders for all Parents...

....T-minus two days!!!

As we begin a new school year here are some thoughts for all parents, regardless of whether you are a veteran high school parent or are sending your oldest child to high school for the first time.  As a parent who is about to become an Empty-Nester, and as a Teacher beginning my 29th year, I certainly have some experience and perspective on this subject.

If you're an experienced high school parent many of these things may seem silly but they're good to keep in mind nontheless.  For parents about to embark on their first high school experience (as parents)....hold on tight.  It may be smooth sailing for many, but it also can be an exciting, and sometimes bumpy, ride!

A few key reminders:

1.  Your son or daughter (regardless of whether they'd ever express this to you out loud) is a combination of nerves, fear, excitement, and anticipation.  That's OK, and completely to be expected.  While it may not seem like much of a jump from grade 8 to 9, remember they are going from being the oldest in a school to the youngest.....and those grade 12's can seem pretty intimidating - even if they're great too!

2.  You may feel that it's time to back off a bit as parents now that 'they' are in high school.  You may also expect that you will not hear much from high school teachers.  Fight that urge and don't be hesitant about reminding your children (they are still children even if they think they're mini adults) that you will continue to be active in their school years as long as you can.  Please also don't hesitate to e-mail teachers and inquire about progress, etc. if you have any questions or concerns.  I've heard many parents mention that they have been surprised by the volume of contact between HS teachers and parents - I think this is a good thing and encourage staff to maintain home contact as much as possible.

3.  Don't be shocked if your child starts saying that they "don't have tons of homework".  While there will certainly be homework remember that for many of our students grade 9 will feel like 'less work'.  In grade 8 they were on a rotary schedule carrying 7 or 8 different subjects.  In high school students have 4 courses per semester.  Most students will have 2 traditional academic subjects per semester (two of Math, Science, English, and Geography) and then 2 additional courses that we might consider optional (Phys. Ed., Visual Art, Music, Business, etc.).  Each subject (and each teacher) will generate homework based upon a variety of factors and many teachers do try to build in time each day to begin homework in class.

4.  If you're or email us!  Expect your child to miss messages and not to bring things home - again, pretty normal behaviour for 13-15 year old students.  We try to maintain our school website, and to email important messages directly to parents, however it is possible that information may not make it home so please don't hesitate to call or email if you are uncertain about anything.

The First Day of School!!!

Here at OTHS we have a blended start to school on Day One.  Our Grade 9's start the day working with our Link Crew (Senior Students) Mentors.  There are multiple activities planned to assist in making all of our new students feel welcome at OT.  As well new students meet some senior mentors so that they might have a senior student to lean on should any questions or concerns emerge in the opening weeks of school.
Grade 9's will report to school at 8:00 a.m. and proceed to the Gymnasium for opening remarks.
The balance of our returning students will start Period 1 at 11:45 a.m.  This 'delayed' start allows our Grade 9 students and their Link Crew Leaders to spend the balance of the morning getting to know each other and the school.  It's also a nice way to welcome back our senior students after a long summer break.

Students will see a lot of activities start right away (clubs, teams, etc.) and so make sure to jump in with both feet!  Getting involved (in something) is still the best way to ensure a stronger high school experience for all students.  Listen for announcements and postings around the school for information.  We are hosting a Club Fair during Week Two so no student should be unaware of the variety of activities available.

I wish every family, and all of our students, a great start to the 2015-16 school year.  The first couple of weeks will fly by in a blur!

J. Phillips