Friday, 29 April 2016

Spring has sprung.....finally!!!!

Hello OT Community.

It is with sadness that I share news of the passing of one of our students.  Ben Yacula, a grade 12 student, passed away earlier this week.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and  extended family at this very difficult time.  They are in our thoughts and prayers.

Being respectful of the privacy, and wishes, of the family we do not have further information to share at this time.  As additional details emerge (around memorial services, etc.) we will share with our school community.  Thank you for your understanding.

As it appears that winter has relinquished its hold on Oakville I'm sure we're all pleased with the longer days and warmer weather.  Here at school it does also mean a reminder to students, and their care-givers, that despite the warmer weather OTHS is in fact a high school and not a beach club.  Thank you for reminding your children that school is a work place and that clothing should always be appropriate for such a location.  Thanks for saving the beach wear for special the beach!

As you read this blog post you may also be aware of some other news coming from school:

a) Report Cards have been issued (sent home with students) today (Friday, April 29th).  If you do not receive a report card at home....please review with your child and don't hesitate to contact the main office.

If you have any questions for a staff member please contact them directly via e-mail to set up a personal appointment (or electronic communication) to review your questions and concerns.

b) Following long deliberations I have communicated to the board my decision to retire effective the end of this school year.  After 30 years with the HDSB I am looking forward to pursuing new adventures in the years to come.  It has been my pleasure working here at Oakville Trafalgar High School.  Working with your children, and the staff here at OT, has been a tremendous opportunity for me.  I thought it might last another couple of years, however - as you well know - life sometimes presents interesting twists and turns.  I will definitely look back with appreciation and thanks to all those families who have extended such warmth and support over the past two years.  Over the next two months I will definitely continue to enjoy supporting our community and working with your children.  OTHS is truly an outstanding school !

c) ATRIUM renewal continues....  This past weekend our Atrium saw the second (of four) phase completed with the painting of the hand rails around the Atrium.  When viewed together with the new flooring the Atrium is beginning to reflect a clean, more modern look.  Over the course of the next few months look for information from our Parent Council around the most significant phase of Atrium renewal - painting of the entire Atrium (from floor through ceiling).  The painting is actually Phase Four however due to the significant cost involved our Parents Council is considering a fundraising initiative toward this project.  Our original estimate for the painting work was priced at approximately $34,000.00.  Keep your ears and eyes open for a Parent Council message a bit later this spring.


Tuesday, May 3rd           Parent Connections
Thurs, May 5th - 13th     AP Exams taking place at school
Wednesday, May 11th     Springfest
Thursday, May 12th        Parents' Council Meeting
Thursday, May 19th        Senior Prom
Wednesday, May 25th    Blood Donor Clinic


Spring Sports are well underway!

It's great to see our Red Devils Teams competing across Halton.  OT students are out representing our school and we're looking forward to continued success in a number of sports.  Congratulations go out to our Red Devils Baseball Team - the first baseball team in a number of years - for victories in their opening two games of the season.  Way to go guys.  Keep it up.

Thanks also to the many staff (and parent volunteers) without whom inter-school sport would not be possible.  On behalf of all of us thank you for the additional time and commitment you make for OTHS students.

ARTS Updates:

A few OT staff and students are down in the Big Apple this weekend!!!  A number of students are exploring New York City - seeing a show; touring the sites; and experiencing the City that never sleeps.  Hopefully staff will encourage some sleep!

Our Musicians are getting ready to head off to Nationals in the next little while.  Good luck to all up in Ottawa.  Thank you for continuing to represent OT so well.

JUNE EXAMS - students received copies of our June exams schedule today.  Please check these dates carefully and make your calendars!!!  It won't be long before they're here.

All the best.

Friday, 1 April 2016

April updates...

While we await warmer weather, and endure April Showers, semester two moves along.....

Last night we had a very strong turnout for our Semester Two Parents' Night.  I trust that everyone made it home before the torrential downpour?  If you were unable to attend last night, and have concerns around your child's progress to date, please don't hesitate to contact (via email) a staff member directly in order to arrange a meeting (face-to-face or via telephone/email/etc.).

Some key dates in April include:

April 5th       Parent Connections Event
April 8th       PD Day - staff will be at OTHS working on Board and OT School goals
April 14th     Parent Council Meeting
April 22nd    PD Day - this is a 'system' PD Day.  Staff will be involved in Subject Based
                      groups at a variety of High Schools across the region.
April 29th     Mid-Term Report Cards

What's going on at school?

Mathematics Success - Today I received some amazing news about our Mathematics stars.  OTHS has finished THIRD in CANADA on the recent Cayley Mathematics Contest!!!  Congratulations to all of the students who wrote the contest - and to our top three scores from Scott Yu, Jianru Ren, and Javan Jiang.
This is OT's highest standing in the Cayley Contest in recent memory.  Congratulations to our Mathematics Department as well for this outstanding achievement.  Of the top 8 finishers, only OT is located East of Calgary.  All of the other top 8 schools were from the Western provinces (interesting).

Opening Exercises -  Starting on Monday, April 4th we will be making a very slight adjustment to our opening day process.  There will be NO change to our start and end times of the day.  We are moving the daily announcements from 8:15 (right after O'Canada) to the start of Period 2.
We believe this adjustment will improve in-school communication and hopefully have a positive impact on reducing late arrivals to Period 1.
There is no impact on bell times for period 3, 4, or 5.

Spring Sports Season - Tryouts have been on-going for most spring sports for the past couple of weeks.  While teams have been indoors for the most part we're all hoping the weather continues to improve and we'll be on the fields shortly.
We're excited to be fielding a Baseball Team this year (for the first time in a number of years).  The team is a Varsity Team with students from Grade 9 though 12 eligible to try out.  Ms. Preiner is the staff sponsor for the team this season.

For students interested in Tennis - look for information later this month on tryouts, etc.

OT Arts - Our Music students continue to prepare for Nationals - in Ottawa - at the end of the month.  We're very hopeful for a tremendous showing and know that the experience will be a tremendous one for all OT Musicians as the hosts always provide a great variety of musical experiences for the students.

Thank You's 

Parent Council - If you are in the school please take notice of our re-modelled Atrium.  Over the March Break PHASE ONE was completed - all carpet was removed and replaced by high-end flooring material that is both much nicer to look at and much easier for our custodial staff to clean and maintain.  Thank you to all parents who contributed a donation to our Parent Council.

Approximately $14,000.00 was applied to phase one.  Stay tuned for more information from Parent Council as we work to complete Phase Two and Phase Three.

Phase Two includes both the painting of all railings in the Atrium (black) and the installation of additional bench seating for students.  Right now the students mostly 'lean' or sit on the walls of the 'garden areas' and we'd love to provide bench seating (both for aesthetic value and practical use).

Phase Three of the Atrium is the most costly improvement of the three.  Parent Council (and School Admin) would like to completely re-vitalize the look of the Atrium with a floor through ceiling re-painting effort.  A pre-project estimate placed the cost at approximately $30,000.00.  Naturally this  expense is significant.  Parent Council is considering a fundraising effort to assist/complete this work.

Stay tuned for further information later this spring.

Winter Coaches and Parent Supervisors - Thank you very much for all staff and parent supervisors who generously donated their time and expertise over the Winter Season.  Without their commitment we would be hard pressed to offer the variety, and fullness of program, for students in the school.

As I have shared previously we are still challenged to find staff supervisors for all possible teams and clubs.  Don't hesitate to reach out to the school if you might like to be involved.  While the commitment is significant the rewards are plentiful.  Parents/community members may contact either Mr. Gruber or myself to explore opportunities here at OTHS.

Looking Ahead

The months of May and June are very busy in the life of a student.  It is never too early to begin thinking about commitments as we enter this final 8 weeks of the semester.  Specifically:

a) PROM - Thursday, May 19th.  Senior Prom at Liuna Station.
b) 15th Week Reports - Friday, May 27th.  In-danger reports for struggling students.
c) Final Exams - begin Wednesday, June 22nd and conclude on Monday, June 27th
NOTE:  These dates will appear different to many senior students as we (previously) have always started exams on a Thursday!
d) Commencement - Wednesday, June 29th

In like a Lion!

MARCH - "In like a Lion and our like a Lamb"

March sure came in like a Lion (let's hope it does go out like a lamb) with a big snow storm earlier this week.  The students (and staff) were excited for the possibility of a SNOW DAY !!!  Alas, it wasn't to be and students and staff all made their way through the snow (and increased traffic) to school.  As we rapidly approach March Break (March 14-18) I'm sure we're all hoping that we've seen the last of any big storms.

Student Activities

Sports - The winter sports season is winding down with many OT teams achieving great results on the court; the ice; the slopes; and in the pool.

As I put this blog entry together our Snowboarders are up in Collingwood showing off their skills against the best high school boarders in the province.  Following their success regionally we fully expect to be celebrating provincial medals next week.

Last week our Skiers competed at OFSAA as well.  Once again OT students were extremely successful with

Our swimmers are competing in Windsor this week.  Our Senior Boys team captured the Halton and GHAC championship last week and are chasing medals at OFSAA.

Thank you to our Volleyball, Hockey, and Basketball teams for their great effort this season.  While championships eluded us it was fantastic to see how our basketball teams competed hard each and every game.  It looks like basketball is making a rebound (no pun intended) and we look for continued success in the years to come.

Our Volleyball teams were competitive with the best in Halton again this year.  While we came up a little short the girls were in every game and a break here and there may have spelled a different outcome.

Our Red Devils Hockey team had another strong season even if they fell short of their championship goals.

Thank you to all coaches and players for representing yourselves, your family, and your school with composure and class.

OT Improv

Our OT Improv team has been competing with other Halton schools over the past couple of months and last weekend they performed well at Regionals.

OT Debate

This year marks OT's return to Debate competitions and our students represented OTHS well in competitions against other Halton schools.  Thank you to Ms. Cohen for bringing this challenging opportunity back to OT.


5th Week reports will begin heading home (via e-mail) on Monday, March 21st (through Wednesday, March 23rd).  All Grade 9 students and any student who is currently performing below expectations (using a threshold of marks below 60% as our benchmark) will receive a Markbook Printout for each class.

If a family does not receive a markbook printout it is indicative of your child doing well in each class (not being a student of concern).

Markbook Printouts will NOT indicate a cummulative grade at this point in time.  Due to the limited evidence available staff are formulating impressions based primarily on the learning skills being demonstrated in class (Initiative, Self-Regulation, Collaboration, Independent Work, and Responsibility) as opposed to a volume of evaluations that have been collected.  Any assessments or evaluations that have been collected and graded will be visible on the printout.

If you have a child in Grade 9 you should expect to receive your emails no later than Wednesday, March 23rd.  If you do not receive one for each class please contact the school asap.


Parent-Teacher interviews will be held on Thursday, March 31st (6:30-9:00 p.m.).  Our format for this evening will be similar to in previous semesters.  First there will be an informal (not private) meet and greet where parents may say hello, and receive quick feedback on the start of the semester.  At 7:40 p.m. we will begin more formal (more private) interviews where parents may engage in greater conversation around areas of concern.

Parents are encouraged to avoid waiting for the official parents' night is questions or concerns are presenting themselves.  Please don't hesitate to reach our via email to any staff member should you wish to discuss your child's progress AT ANY TIME in the semester.

Look for information around Interview Night to arrive in your email inbox following March Break.


Thursday, March 31st - All grade 10 students will sit for the Literacy Test (a graduation requirement in Ontario).  The morning of the 31st will see a special schedule for all of our Grade 10's.  Over the course of the previous five months our Literacy Team has been working with staff and students to ensure their readiness.

If you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact the main office.


As a part of our on-going effort to maintain the positive physical environment of the school we will be replacing a number of 'locker fronts' over the March Break.  I believe the fresh, bright, new lockers make the hallways look better and create a more positive sense of pride and ownership of our school for all students.

I want to thank your Parents' Council for their continued support of plans to re-vitalize the Atrium.  While our project has taken far longer than expected we are close to seeing some changes in the space used by students each and every day.  I'm not sure the changes will be ready over March Break......but we're getting closer and closer (materials picked out; orders submitted; we wait to secure installation dates, etc.)