Monday, 1 May 2017

New Educational Adventures


I'm thrilled to be embarking on a new educational journey as I embrace 'semi-retirement' from Day School and pursue my interest in experiential learning through international travel.  Over the course of the next few years I will be sharing information about international travel learning opportunities for students (and staff) that I know are hugely impactful for anyone who embarks on similar great adventures.

One company that offers fantastic learning programs for high school students is Blyth Academy.  Many may already be familiar with Blyth however if you're not.....check them out (  OR e-mail at  Blyth offers a tremendous variety of learning opportunities via their International Summer Program, and for those looking for a full year experience their Global High School screams adventure and experiential learning.

This summer I will be working as a Program Manager for their July Costa Rica Program - a 24 day learning opportunity in a fantastic Central American country.  Students on this program will be enrolled in one of six-eight Grade 11 or 12 high school courses ranging from Biology and English to Advanced Functions or Recreation and Leadership.  Days will be comprised of both classroom and out of classroom time exploring Costa Rica and the surrounding region via organized activities as well as through personal exploration in small groups by the students themselves.

I am a huge supporter of international travel study as a life changing learning opportunity for any young person.  Getting away from whatever 'bubble' you currently reside in....and walking the streets, soaking up the sights and sounds of another nation, is enriching and life changing for a high school aged student.

Over the course of the next few posts I'll share some information about other opportunities that exist for any high school student.  I hope you'll do some searching and engage in conversations with either your parents or your students.  For now here are a few links to a variety of companies/schools that offer opportunities that range from one week to a full school year.  Have fun checking them out...

International High Schools (Canadian HS):

Neuchatel Junior College -

Canadian College Italy -

International Experiential Leaning:

Blyth Academy -

EF Education -

More to follow.....but for now.....get outside and open your eyes to the world!!!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Is it really June ???

Welcome to June!

Greetings to all.  Now that June has arrived we're into the home stretch of our school year.  I do want to caution everyone that 15 class days remain on our schedule and then we have five days of formal examinations.  Even though the weather has us all thinking about summer....the holidays are still one full month away!

As a friendly reminder to all parents/guardians/and caregivers....thank you for reminding your son/daughter that OT is a place of work.  School is not a beach club, or a night club, and we continue to expect OT students to dress appropriately.  Thank you for reinforcing this expectation at home.  A synermail message will be sent home at the end of this week to review expectations around dress while at school.

OTHS Achievements:

The past few weeks have seen many successes for OT students.  Here are but a few:

a) Math Competition Stars

Congratulations to OT students for their awesome achievements at the Halton Math Competition.  At the Senior Level OT students finished FIRST and THIRD against opponents from other Oakville locations  Our first place team was comprised of..... while our third place team included....

At the Junior level OT students once again were the class of the field.  Our Junior team members were Doug....

b) Rugby Rolls...

Once again OT has dominated on the Rugby pitch.  Both senior and junior teams won Halton Championships in comfortable fashion.  This week our senior girls and boys teams are representing GHAC at OFSAA (Ottawa for the Girls and Markham for the Boys).  Both teams are hoping to continue their excellent results against the rest of the province.
NOTE:  Our Senior Girls Rugby team had an excellent OFSAA Tournament finishing with a SILVER Medal.  While the girls fought hard they were narrowly edged by a very strong JF Ross team.  Awesome season girls.
The boys team began their tournament this morning.  Stay tuned for updates.

c) Baseball's a Hit.

For the first time in a number of years OT has fielded a baseball team....and an undefeated season has resulted!!!!  Congratulations to the players and coaches on an undefeated regular season run.  Playoffs are underway and everyone is hopeful of continued success.

d) Music Rules

Last week our tremendously talented musicians performed their Spring Concert in front of a full house.  Under the wonderful guidance of Mr. Clarke, Ms. Kang, Ms. Socha, and Ms. Malloch families and friends were treated to some amazing talent.  Music continues to grow at OT and we're all looking forward to continued success in the years to come.

e) Track and Field

Congratulations to the athletes who represented OTHS in Track and Field this year.  Our numbers continue to grow and OT is continuing to make more of an impact  across the region.  Last week one of our athletes achieved a remarkable feat.  Congratulations to Rachel Don-Wauchope for her GOLD Medal in the Midget Girls 3,000 m race at the South Regional Meet in St. Catharines.  Rachel heads off to the OFSAA Championship Meet this Saturday in Windsor.  Good luck Rachel.
Congratulations to our other athletes who competed down in St. Catharines as well.  It's a great accomplishment to  compete in Regionals.  Way to go Chris, Roberto, Jacob, and Ryan.


Our Senior Class Prom was a wonderful event at Liuna Station in Hamilton.  All students looked amazing and their conduct was excellent.  Congratulations to our graduating seniors.  You've made quite the impression over the past years and we know you'll continue to achieve great things in the years to come.  All the best.


Exams are almost upon us.  Please take care to note one change from previous years.  Exams will begin on a Wednesday this year.  Our Exam schedule has been released and all students should have marked the date and room location for each of their exams.  All exams begin at 9:00 a.m. and all students are expected in their exam rooms before the starting point.

If there are any challenges/problems/conflicts with your child's exam schedule please notify the main office as soon as possible.

Time for something different.....

Following 30 years with the Halton District School Board - including 20 years as a Teacher (History, Physical Education, Co-operative Education, and Guidance) and 10 years as an Administrator - I have made the decision to retire.

I am very interested in continuing to work in Education however .... it's time to consider some alternative opportunities.  Over the course of the next six months Laura and I will be re-locating to Niagara on the Lake and I will begin considering some options.  Foremost in my mind is the possibility of pursuing International School opportunities.  Whether in an Administrative capacity or perhaps as a Counsellor, I continue to enjoy working with young people in a High School setting.

Regardless, I know that I will continue to remain connected to education whether I'm coaching a basketball or football team as a community volunteer, or by returning to a school-based location in a far-off locale.  I look forward to a 'next phase' of life-long-learning via the challenge of an international school, and know that despite retiring from the HDSB I will continue to maintain close ties with education.

For now.....until next time.....


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.)

Friday, 12 February 2016

Semester Two is underway!!!

Greetings OTHS Community!

Well, we've moved through our first week and things are quickly settling into a rhythm here at school.  While some cold weather has arrived it's great that we've not seen much snow.  Should any terrible weather pass through parents are reminded of the HDSB Web Site where school closure information would be posted.


Once again OT students performed extremely well on their final assessments and exams.  Students in all grades have achieved excellent results.  While there have been some struggles we'll be sure to connect with those students and provide support to help them get back on track.  We are fortunate that this is not a significant challenge however our goal is for "every student" to be successful.

Report Cards were distributed to all students today during their period 5 classes.


This past week a large contingent of OT students participated in a regional business competition.  All OT students did well however we had two students who performed beyond our expectations.  Congratulations to Steven Han and Eva Hong for finishing in the Top 6% of all competitors.

As a result of their finish Steven and Eva have qualified for the DECA International Competition scheduled for Nashville, Tennessee later in the spring.  Wow!  Way to go Eva and Steven.

Thank you also to Ms. Bottema, Ms. Farqharson, Mr. Preston, Ms. Burton, Ms. McNichol and Mr. Pearson for their support of our students.  Our Business Department is outstanding - and their support and encouragement (and time) is very much appreciated.


All of our OSSLT students (Grade 10's primarily) wrote a practice test this week.  This is in preparation for the provincial graduation requirement later in March.  The practice test does allow us to identify any students who may require some additional preparation for the test, and we will be coordinating extra assistance for students in the coming weeks.

If your child has been identified as a student who may require additional preparation you will be notified by our Literacy group.  If you do not receive any notification it has been determined that your child is in good position to write the test without further assistance.


Now that we're back into also means that sports, music, drama, and other club activities are back in full swing.  Regular season games are winding down and the playoffs are just around the corner.  Good luck to all OT teams as they push toward the playoffs.
Spring is also a time for Music and Drama competitions and as such we have many artists and performers working toward their goals as well.  Stay tuned for updates on future music competitions, Sears Drama dates, and Improv events.


#1  Coyote Update - We continue to work with the Town and Regional Police around any Coyote sightings.  Thankfully there have been no recent encounters.  Last week a representative from the Town spoke with OT staff around Coyote/Community challenges.  One of the primary challenges for all community members will be to be vigilent around issues like: garbage; feeding Coyotes; and our reaction should we encounter a Coyote.  Thank you for doing your part to ensure that you are not feeding (or leaving food out for) Coyotes and that you do not encourage their 'comfort' around human beings.  As we learned, Coyotes are singular creatures (aside from a partner).  They do not naturally seek out human interaction.  It's only when we condition them to expect food from us, and when we do not make an encounter uncomfortable for them,  that they will interact with people.

#2  Student Drivers - while our weather has been great so far.....please remind your son/daughter that driving to school is a privilege and that they must be careful on our neighbourhood streets and in the school parking lot.  As you might expect excessive SPEED is what we observe most often.  It doesn't take much to cause an accident and I know you'll share my concern that all drivers (parents, staff, and students alike) take care in and around the school.


Even though we've just begun semester two it is time to begin selecting courses for next year.  This week our Guidance Department met with all returning students and outlined the course selection process for this year.  As in previous years students will be selecting their courses online using MyBlueprint.  All students are familiar with this software and should have no issues selecting courses online.  Parents are encouraged to engage with their students to ensure that the proper courses are selected.  Please pay close attention to selecting the correct Grade AND LEVEL (Academic and Applied for Gr.9 and 10 + U, M, O, or E for senior students).
If this process is generating concerns or questions please contact the Guidance department as soon as possible.  Students and parents may also contact other teachers to enquire about appropriate course selection as well.  While our Student Services staff have the overall view of HS many of our subject specialists have valuable insight as well.

As we begin the Family Day Weekend I want to wish everyone a fantastic long weekend and hope that you are able to find some time with family and friends.

All the best.