By Heather Avery
At The Grove, we are quite accustomed to students in Grade 9 having diverse backgrounds in math, science, and other academic subjects as they arrive from countries and provinces with different curricula from Ontario. We also know it can be overwhelming to meet so many new people in September, both students and staff, at once.
That's why, when we realized that about 85% of the world's students wouldn't be in regular classrooms this spring, we launched Grove Prep, a remote learning program intended to introduce our incoming Grade 9s to life at Lakefield, both inside and outside the classroom. This eight-week program offers mini-courses in math, English, Science, and Outdoor Education, along with a daily physical activity program and English language learning support. But it also introduces students to each other, through small advising groups, and to some of our staff and current students, through interviews, presentations, and guest speakers.
61 students have chosen to enroll in the program - that's nearly all our current incoming Grade 9 class. They join us each week from eight countries and a myriad of time zones, and they are having a blast getting to know our teachers and one another, sharing their interests, their talents, their favourite foods. Parents and students have stayed patient through the initial struggles with learning Zoom and other technologies, and now, as one student reports, "I'm actually really excited to go to LCS next year because I know people now".
The program has also been a great opportunity for our young Associate Faculty to hone their remote teaching skills and to have the experience of creating a new LCS program from the ground up. They are putting their hearts and minds into their creation, and love the opportunity of working with these eager young learners. "Why did we ever stop our Grade 8 program?"one of them asks, "these students are so much fun."
Mr. and Mrs. Bemrose attended as guest speakers this week to share arts opportunities available at LCS. They highlighted the various ways in which students can get involved through our fall musicals, winter dance shows, spring plays, and music programs which take place all year long. Students were able to ask questions and this also allowed them to get to know faculty more personally and help them feel comfortable and excited about starting at LCS next year.
One parent of an incoming student said:
"My daughter is loving all her classes, sessions and meet-ups at LCS. She has morning classes at her present school but the real highlight of every day is her LCS participation. I cannot imagine what the days would be like for her without Grove Prep and Learning at Lakefield. And her advisor sessions have been the perfect place to round out all of the various activities. She loves getting to know you and the other students in your advisory group.
I know these are crazy times for everyone and having my daughter embraced as a part of the LCS community, has made theses past weeks much more bearable for her. She comes off of every Zoom meeting bursting with excitement and so many stories to tell us. She loves math, book club, leadership with Ms. Kee, making eggs with Rolly and so much more. I am overwhelmed to say the least."