Posted by: gsstrojantalk | December 3, 2013

A Delegation From British Columbia Visit GISS!

District 91 Visit Banner

On Monday December 2nd, 2013 seven members of the Nechako School District visited GISS.  District 91 is located in central British Columbia in the Vanderhoof area.  Included in the group was a high school principal, k-6 principal, a teacher rep, parent rep, Trustee and two District reps.  Phil Dawes from the UCDSB planning department led the group and arranged the visit.  Our Trustee, John McAllister joined us along with Trustee Jeff McMillan.  Bill Montgomery from our UCDSB program department was also kind enough to join us.

I wanted to share some reflections from yesterday’s visit with you.

The Nechako folks are in the process of converting from a k-7, 8-12 configuration into a k-6, 7-12 arrangement.  They have heard of the wonderful things the UCDSB have done in the area of transitioning and came to check it out for themselves.

We first visited the intermediate wing.  I introduced the group to Jared Trombetta, grade 9 student, who I felt could provide the perspective from a student who came in with the first wave of 7’s, continued on through 8 and who has now made the transition to grade 9 here.  I knew Jared would do a great job.  I’d like to congratulate him on his new appointment as a principal for the Nechako School District!  The offer came quickly and without hesitation and I believe they are currently negotiating the terms!:)

We went into Matty Brown’s French class.  We then popped out into the hall to see the students get ready for their field trip.  They were intrigued by the 7/8 combinations and the illusion of walls between classes. They got a visceral sense of the energy and spirit of collaboration.

The group enjoyed a fantastic lunch down in hospitality.  Chef and his team always impress!

I brought along Mike Bell, Brenda Asselin, Kim Marshall(parent of a grad and two current students) and I had students Mackenzie Williams-Selby and Lindsay Kilgore join us to provide a secondary perspective.

The conversation flowed freely throughout the visit.  It is always so nice to hear outside perspective on what goes on here.  Picture their amazement at our hospitality program and learning of our SHSM and then to learn that just across the hall a group of Sport SHSM students are receiving Mental Health First Aid training.  There were many comments about just how polite our students are.  In Patty West’s class I asked the grade 12 students to share what they liked about the school.  A student who transferred to us from Regi said, ‘there is nothing wrong with this school.  That’s what makes it a good school.’

The story of George Funnell and his angels, not surprisingly, moved the group.   The support for George over the years and his support of our students and school is a living testament to the strength of this community and the power of a small, caring, community school.

The bell schedule impressed them.  They saw the huge potential of having the large two-hour block of instructional time available through our MSIP structure.  They also loved the ability students have to sign into other MSIPs to get the help and support they need during the school day.

Our guests were surprised at how quiet the halls were during class time.  They marvelled at the size of the building, the classrooms and the width of the halls.  Like everyone, they noted just how immaculate the building is maintained.  The work of our team of custodians, led my Richard Hartley, is always a source of pride.

We ventured down to the Learning Commons where Nancy Clow, our Learning Commons Informationist, dazzled them with her forward thinking and ingenuity.  They loved the space and the concept!

Things that we, perhaps, take for granted like having a separate music/drama room space impressed them.  They thought the gym was great, especially for 7/8s to have access to.  Like me, they were confounded by the waste of space that the mezzanine represents. We will endeavor to find a good use for all this square footage!

The Trojan Training Centre blew them away.  Their trustee(in her 70’s) started using some of the equipment in the cross-fit room!

The computer labs, art room and tech shops really impressed them.  We can’t take for granted just how spacious these rooms are!  As Judy Belanger, our amazing art teacher, commented, ‘the space impacts the students’ behaviour.  They are challenged to fill it.’

The break-out room continues to be a source of envy for other schools.  It is a large area that continues to be underutilized.  This is not a failure of the space, it is just that we have so much room in our building.  We have some plans in the works to better utilize this large space.

It appears that there isn’t a school on the west coast either that affords it’s football team its own room!  Perhaps we all need to remind our boys of just how spoiled they are.  They shouldn’t take it for granted.

None of this, however, compared to their appreciation for what the staff does within the space.  No one worth their salt on the east or west coast thinks that schools are what they are because of the bricks and mortar.  They marvelled at the description of collaboration that takes place on staff.  Mike Bell shared how things in the intermediate division grow organically and provided current evidence of how the cross-pollination is looking in science, hospitality and tech.  Of course, the Trial of Johnny Cade was discussed.  I never take for granted the hard work and the team work that makes this the amazing place that it is!

I am always very proud of the work ALL the staff do for our students!  Thank you!

I am also very proud of ALL our students and I think it is validation to hear that others recognize immediately just how nice, friendly and polite they are.

Lastly, none of this would be possible without the support of our fantastic School Council and community.

I did charge a small ‘fee’ to our guests.  I asked that they all go to McKenna Modler’s Facebook Page and ‘like’ it.  This is now the cost for any school group that wants to come visit.

We all have lot to be proud of.  Our work, however, is not over.  Despite the accolades, we cannot rest or conclude that we have ‘arrived.’  Preparing young people for the challenges of the 21st century is hard work and it’s important work.

Rest assured, we’re on it!

We have committed to keeping the conversation going with our new friends on the west coast.  Ken, Libby, Barb, Julie, Rosalie, Eugene and Manu are welcome additions to our extended Trojan Family.

Great stuff!





Posted by: gsstrojantalk | November 26, 2013

Principal’s Report for School Council – Nov. 25th, 2013

Each month we meet as a School Council to discuss what’s going on at GISS.  As part of this meeting, I provide a Principal’s Report.  Now that I have ‘rediscovered’ my Blog, I thought I’d try posting them here.

November 25th, 2013 Principal’s Report:

Teachers have recently completed secondary Mid-Semester Report Cards.  The teachers have spent a great deal of time and effort working to craft individualized, meaningful feedback to students and parents.

Currently we are already working on the timetable for September 2014.  This week we will post the January Exam Schedule.

Our Senior Boys Football Team won the EOSSAA Title for the second year in a row.  They just played in the National Capital Bowl in Belleville this past weekend.  They lost to Moira in a well-fought match.  The team played a strong game and had a great season.  The team was recognized as playing with character throughout the year.  Coach Chad Haffie did a great job and his efforts have been much appreciated.

We were visited by representatives from Glengarry District High School and Russell District High School today.  We have been asked to host a school board from northern British Columbia this coming Monday.  I am proud that we are recognized for our successful transition to a 7-12 school.  Last year, as you recall, we had a video link with Parry Sound and shared our success with them to assist their efforts to transition.

Our staff worked collaboratively today in our staff meeting in the areas of School Success Planning, Transition Planning, Evaluation and reflection.  I will posting our new, revised, school success plan on the website and the summary report from last year’s school performance audit.

I shared that we want to provide more support to families and students in transitioning into the school.

Chris Boston, Principal

Posted by: gsstrojantalk | November 26, 2013

Principal’s Report for School Council Oct. 28th, 2013

Each month we meet as a School Council to discuss what’s going on at GISS.  As part of this meeting, I provide a Principal’s Report.  Now that I have ‘rediscovered’ my Blog, I thought I’d try posting them here.

October 28th, 2013 Principal’s Report:

Samantha Leonard has joined our staff as a secondary teacher.  She is teaching English.

I shared that it has been an interesting Fall for critters here at the school.  We had a very large hornets nest removed from the gym ceiling and had a sick beaver join us for an afternoon.

We have introduced our new boat-building project in our secondary Construction classes.  The classes will be building a St. Lawrence skiff which will eventually be on display in the new museum that is being planned for here in Gananoque.  Coffee House was a big success.

I shared that we have been visited by Almonte District High School who came to check out our programming from 7-12.  I also shared that I was contacted by an administrator in the Toronto Board who was inquiring about how we run our MSIP program.

Our Intermediate Staff presented their collaborative approach to team teaching at the Small Schools Summit in Cornwall.  Their “Trial of Johnny Cade” video was the focal-point.

Our Diabetes Blitz raised $2700.

Our extra-curriculars are well underway.  We already have 15 activities.

I also bragged about the success of our website.  It has been used across the board as an example.

Chris Boston, Principal

Posted by: gsstrojantalk | November 18, 2013

Leading and Following

It has been quite some time since I have taken advantage of this blog.  My time has been spent enriching our school website, Facebook and Twitter content.  I will, however, embark upon more regular contributions to this blog.  It is my intention to provide more in-depth explanations and musings here to help provide insight into our efforts here.  It is my hope that this will provoke deeper connections with interested stakeholders.

I’m not entirely comfortable with sharing my thoughts this way.  It’s scary but, I can’t expect anyone else to act with courage and do scary things for the right reason if I don’t do it myself so, here I go. . . . .

11 13 Entrepreneur Design Challenge

Leading and Following

I have believed for some time that both teaching and school leadership involve a careful balance between leading and following.  In the classroom a teacher has to follow the interests of the students to ensure that there is relevancy in what is being taught.  A teacher must know their students and the art of conducting a lesson that is responsive.  At the same time the teacher must know their curriculum and the science of orchestrating a lesson that leads the class to new learning directly connected to the big ideas in curriculum.

As a school leader I think it is very important to respect the traditions of the school and the school community.  There are key rituals, events, people and routines that must be considered when making big decisions.  This must be balanced against the need to lead the school toward our 90% graduation rate goal and providing students the skills and abilities they require for life in the 21st century.  I believe it is critical for me to listen to parents, staff, students and the community to understand what they expect of the school.  With equal measure, I understand that all those stakeholders expect me to do the critical work of staying current on what we know now about Teaching, Learning and Caring For Kids in the 21st century.  I have to then be strategic in connecting those realities in order to extend the competencies of staff, increase the achievement of our students and further the trust of our community that we are leading our students ahead into the future armed and ready.

Seth Godin provides an interesting, and brief, perspective on the difference of being tenacious and persistent in this endeavor.

Recently we have begun infusing elements of Design Thinking into how we take on challenges.  We have also been making efforts as a  staff to do more of our ‘work’ in front of the students so that they can see and learn new process skills along with us as we learn.  It is no surprise that when someone is brainstorming a playing with new ideas, it attracts attention.  It creates questions and an environment that welcomes input.  Mr. Brown was engaged in a very challenging task to come up with a grant proposal for an entrepreneurship project.  His public work attracted the attention of curious students and staff.  I hope that this is the beginning of a new, innovative, culture.
“If you build it, they will come . . . . . and design.”

A recent article on this balancing of leading and following comes from ‘Big Think.’

Let me know if you have any questions, observations or comments.


Posted by: gsstrojantalk | July 3, 2013

Grade 12 Commencement Ceremony – Graduation 2013

Grade 12 GradsThursday June 27th, 2013 we celebrated the graduation of 72 young people from GSS.  It was a special night.  Yes, it was a warm night but it was worth sitting in the heat to join together as a community to share in this special event.  It was a packed house and it was a special time to recognize the achievements of a group of wonderful young people.

Over $30 000 was handed out to students throughout the evening in the form of bursaries, awards and scholarships.  This did not include all the entrance scholarships students also earned for themselves from the schools they will be attending.  This was, indeed, a special community recognition of our own Gananoque Secondary School Trojans!

Steve Beckett and McKenzie Williams-Selby did double-duty as both graduates and emcees for the evening.  They did a great job.  I can’t thank our guest presenters enough.  Joining us for the evening was much appreciated.  It was very cool to have Merideth Brown perform a song for us and Jessie Cross delivered a great valedictory address.  She captured what makes this place so special – the people and the relationships.  It was also very cool that Mr. Tamblyn was able to quote Jessie’s valedictory address from grade 8 in his closing remarks.

I have attached a copy of the evening’s program here.  This version includes the names of the recipients of the awards.

Graduation Program June 2013

Congratulations to all our graduates and their families.  We look forward to hearing about all your future successes.  Please stay in touch.

Following is my Principal’s Address that I shared at the beginning of the evening followed by the text of Mr. Tamblyn’s closing remarks.

Principal’s Opening Remarks:

Welcome.  This is a special night.  This is a special group of young people.  Thank you for joining us this evening to recognize the accomplishments of this amazing group and to celebrate this milestone in their lives.  I have so much that I want to say to you, and you know I like to talk about this school but I will keep it short.  I admit, however, that it will be more than 140 characters.  I have been collecting ideas all year and I spent a long time writing my speech and then I asked Ryan Dorey for his advice on giving my speech and, without hesitation, he replied, “Look up.”  Thanks for that Ryan.  Now, I can’t look at the speech I wrote.

I’d like to start by extending a special thank you to Mr. Carswell, our Associate Director, for joining us this evening.  I would also like to express my appreciation to the 29 presenters who have joined us this evening.  I also want to thank Steve and Mackenzie for taking on the Emcee role.  I want to thank Sue Hart, our Office Administrator, for all the work she has done behind the scenes to put this evening together.  She’s not with us, however, as she is attending her son’s graduation elsewhere.  It was actually Sue’s initiative to get gowns this year for our graduates.  I think it is a nice touch. It may not seem like such a good idea now to add a layer of clothing on such a warm evening but rest assured that you look fantastic despite how you might be feeling.

I want to thank our fantastic School Council and this year’s chair, Sara Leroy-Cote for their fundraising efforts and tremendous support for the school.  The new tradition of the fundraising dinner is another shining example of what a great community this is.  On your way in, you passed by the beautiful flowers that the Council has arranged.  I’d like to thank Christine Forman and Forman Farms for donating the labor and helping support the school with these flowers.  The council wanted to plant these in memory of Lorie Burgess who passed this year.  Lorie volunteered her time here on our council and at Linklater over the years.  She will be missed.

I want to thank our amazing staff of custodians, EAs, Office Assistants and Teachers who work so hard each and every day for our students and our community.  There are a couple of absent staff members tonight.  They send their regrets as they are off celebrating their own children’s graduations.

Thank you to the parents and family members who are here tonight, and, of course, thank you graduates.

June 27th!  I can’t believe just how fast this year has gone by.  What a year! Can you remember all that has gone on here?  Here’s just a brief list to remind you of some of the unique memories since September:  Frosh Friday, Kissing Pigs, the Turkey Bowl, the Mock Evacuation, For The Love Of Reading, A visit from Olympian Ken Cools, Coffee House, a visit from the Invisible Children Organization, the Wizard of Oz, Gummy Bear Fishing, the Sweaty Sock Pie Eating Contest!, the Silly String Assault, An amazing football season finishing in The Capital Bowl!, the Inside Ride, the Lip-Sync Competition, Winter Wake Up Week, , the Remembrance Day Assembly with special guest Cpt. Simon Mailloux, the Terry Fox Assembly led by Alex Johnston and Patricia Warren.  The Webster Classics.    Just recently we had our Athletic Awards Banquet – this year we honoured the memory of two amazing men, Jimmy Boltin and Rich Robinson.  We had a very classy Prom.  We held a number of dances.  The Staff-Student Hockey Game, The Staff-Student Basketball Game and the Staff-Student Baseball Game.  Over half the student population participated in some form of extra-curricular this year and there were 40 activities running this year.  Amazing in a school this size!  We had the “Trial Of Johnny Cade” and the “Stewards of the Trail Project”  We painted a teacher’s car, went kayaking, hosted the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Day of Celebration and hosted Dr. Paula Stewart, Chief Medical Officer from the Health Unit for a forum on Nature and Our Health.  We had students visit us here from North Carolina, Kansas, Columbia, Germany and China, Our own Patricia Warren and Merideth Brown went to El Salvador, Noah Clarke-Howes was in France and next year we have a student heading off to Japan.

This year the Hub was re-opened under the leadership of our TASK co-Leaders Alex and Steve.  Each week over 20 TASK members met to organize events and to work together to make it things happen around here.  That is amazing!  That doesn’t happen everywhere.  Alex and Steve and TASK were also instrumental in establishing the new Intermediate Student Krew or TISK.  I am confident that this will be a tradition that will exist here for ever more.  You have left a legacy.  Nice work.

These are just some of the things over the past 10 months.  Add to this list all your memories from grades 9, 10 and 11.  Your years here have been full.  I am so proud of this school and you students.  This stuff doesn’t happen everywhere.  I’ve told you repeatedly that this is a special place and it is happening because you made it happen and people are noticing.  We have been visited by delegations from Perth, Brockville and were asked to share our story of becoming a 7-12 school with the community of Parry Sound.  I have received multiple requests from other schools to come visit to see how things are done here.  You have been making it happen, people are paying attention and I am very proud of you.

I would like to thank the grad class for a new tradition you have started.  We have ordered photos that will be inserted over the doors leading to the science wing.  Jessie, Patricia and MacKenzie have selected photos from this year and have created a display that represents some of what has happened this year.  These will be installed over the next week or so.  Next year when people enter the building they will get a sense right away about what makes this such a special place.  If it works out, grad classes for years to come will arrange to select a new set of pictures to be displayed representing their year.  Great leadership girls!

Not everything has been easy this year.  We have had our share of difficulty.  We were threatened with the Mayan’s prediction of the end of the world back in December.  We lost the penny this year.  We had a labor disruption and students led a peaceful walkout.  We had all those snow days and lost out on having our Holiday Assembly.  This year we saw the tragedy in Newtown and the horror in Boston.

I recognize that many of you have had to overcome personal obstacles on your journey to tonight’s recognition.  I am proud of you.  You did it.  You made it to tonight.

Graduation.  What a time this is for each of you.  Graduation is a time to look back and to look forward.  Nostalgia will continue to set in over the years as you look back at your time here at GSS.  I hope you always look back with fondness and pride of your accomplishments.  As you look forward with excitement and trepidation, remember that you are always a Trojan and are never alone.

For parents and families this is also a special time.  We feel wistful in wondering where the time has gone.  It was only last week that we were helping you tie your shoes and walking you to the bus.  It was only yesterday that we signed your first field trip form or allowed you to attend your first dance.  Tonight we see you graduate from high school.  As parents, I’m sure you are proud and excited about what lies ahead but I’m also sure that you can’t help but think back to that 5-year old again or long to play one more game of peek-a-boo with that two year old version of these graduates before us tonight.  It’s a special time of remembering and of looking ahead.

Tonight we ask that you indulge us as we pass on our last pieces of advice before you leave.

I want to ask you to believe.

I believe in each and every one of you.  This is a room full of people who have, and will continue to, believe in you.  I’m certain that your accomplishments have come, in part, as a result of your own belief in yourself.

Dave Matthews sings, however, that, “We have to do much more than believe if we really want to change things.  We have to do much more than believe if we want to see the world change.”  I want you to consider that.

I have seen many of you do much more than believe this year.  Before the first day of school, some of you were here in this gym providing energy and guidance to our grade 9’s in our first Link-led orientation.  That morning we were all challenged by Mrs. Clark to “be the people that make things happen.”  I think it’s fair to say that you, as a group, met that challenge.   You made things happen this year.

You have to believe but you have to do much more than believe if you want to change.

Why must we change?  The world has become increasingly complex and it’s never going to stop.  We can’t fool ourselves into believing that we can simplify our world.  We can’t.  We can only develop increasingly more complex mindsets.  We have to think differently.  We accomplish this through developing resiliency to overcome obstacles and by exercising character and working together as a community.

In this information and communication age we are inundated with technology and a never-ending stream of information from around the world.  It is interesting and important to remember that in all this information and communication we cannot lose sight of the fact that we do all this sharing and connecting because we have far more in common with one-another than we have different.  Be there for others and trust that they will be there for you.

As much as everyone in this room wants nothing but happiness and success for you, the reality is that life can be tough.  A great deal of uncertainty lies ahead.  Where is life going to take you?  What fortune lies ahead?  What pitfalls lie in wait?

Scary, eh?  Make a choice to believe and make a choice to see that “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.”  Embrace the possibilities.

Lastly, I’d like to share a line from Ray Wiley Hubbard, “And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well I have really good days.”

Be grateful for your friends, your family, your health and the opportunities that you are afforded.

I am proud of you.  I am grateful to know you.  Congratulations and THANK YOU for being the people you are.  Class of 2013: You Rock!

Chris Boston, Principal

Vice Principal’s Closing Remarks:

Good evening parents, family members, members of our staff, Associate Director Carswell, special guests and honoured graduates.  Thank you for being a part of this very special night.

I’d like to begin by saying that the last time I spoke at a grade 12 commencement, it was my own…just a couple of years ago.  I was honoured to address the graduating class that year, and I am just as honoured to be addressing you folks; the graduating class of 2013.   I was toying with the idea of just using my speech from that year, but I thought better when I realized that you probably wouldn’t want to hear that Bryan Adams, Color Me Badd and CC and the Music Factory dominated the charts, or that the mullet (all business in the front, and all party in the back) was the latest hair craze. And yes, I did sport one of those fine haircuts and it was cool.  However, as I was going through some files this week, I did come across something special from my more recent past.  Tonight you heard from your valedictorian, Jessie Cross who did an excellent job inspiring you and helping you reminisce about your past while asking you to also consider your future.  What some of you don’t know is that Jessie is a pro at addressing graduating classes.  She was also the valedictorian of her grade 8 class, along with Tyler Turcotte, at TIES in 2009. Jessie I’m going to hold you to the promise you made me back then.  This is taken directly from Jessie’s speech that I kept, and I quote:

“Although Mr. Tamblyn was not my teacher this year, he did teach me many important life lessons last year.  These lessons will always stick with me.  Mr. Tamblyn used his own personal experiences to help me better understand the relevance of my own actions in my daily life and apply them to all situations.  Mr. Tamblyn actually told me to “Get a Life” (those of you who were in that class will understand what I meant by that) because not everyone can change their name to Gene Simmons, play dress up and rock and roll night and party every day.  So Mr. Tamblyn, I promise to come back and visit you and show you how I have applied your life lessons into my own life.  I promise I will be back before the Montreal Canadiens win the cup, which should give me a couple of decades.”

Now, while that last sentence hurt, I am happy to see all of the successes Jessie and her classmates have experienced over the last 4 to 5 years.   Graduates, you have many things to be proud of and you have many things to look forward to as well.  You are entering a new and exciting chapter in your lives.  You are approaching adulthood and with that comes big responsibilities, freedoms, challenges and most importantly, opportunities.  Give yourself the benefit of living your life for you.  Be a leader, and make decisions that you believe, in your core, are the right decisions.  As you venture through life, heed this advice that I believe is essential to living a happy, healthy, and prosperous existence.

Quite simply, do what makes you happy.  More specifically, as you begin your careers, do what you love to do.  Discover your interests, whether it be in the arts, business, the trades, or health and fitness to name but a few.  When you discover your interests, a passion will soon develop and then explore careers that require those types of interests.  It is then that you will, as the old adage goes, “never work a day in your life.”  Sir Ken Robinson, who is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business, calls this phenomenon, “Finding your Element.”  Essentially he defines finding your element as a journey of self- fulfillment.  This journey is accomplished by tapping into and converging our personal talents and passions.  In today’s world, we are struggling with economic issues, environmental disasters and tense political regimes.  Our students, you folks, are challenged with helping to solve today’s global problems and work to avoid the same issues in the future.  What is the goal?  What are the strategies we will employ?  What is the action plan?  These are questions that you will encounter many times.  By finding your element, you will be better prepared to take action and be satisfied with the results.   You will be a difference maker, and the world needs more of those.  So, in short, be curious, be explorative, be innovative, be passionate and be “in your element.”

Before I conclude, I would like to take few moments to address the parents we have here tonight.  I’m borrowing a few words that I used at the Gr. 8 ceremony on Monday as I think they are appropriate tonight as well.  Parents, we thank you for providing for your children, for instilling in them the values of a good person, and the value of an education as it is the ticket to their future.  We thank you for reaching into your pockets to help us provide out of school experiences for our students.  They are moving on to a new stage in their lives and they will continue to need your guidance and wisdom as they grow older.  I’m sure this is a time of excitement and hesitation for you as your children are growing up.  As such, please continue to be their guide as they encounter new challenges and opportunities.  They will need you to do so.

To the dedicated staff here at GSS, thank you.  Thank you for providing assistance, support, and the care that our students needed.  It is important work that we do, and you have made a difference in their lives.

To conclude, I would like to borrow the closing statement from Jessie’s speech four years ago.  Again, I quote, “As we look out at our graduating class of 2013, we see many faces.  These are the faces of potential, inspiration, and dedication.  These faces have shown that they can do anything, and I mean anything they put their minds to and these faces have made so many amazing memories which are to last a lifetime.” 

Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you Gananoque Secondary School’s graduating class of 2013!  Congratulations graduates!

Rich Tamblyn, Vice Principal

Posted by: gsstrojantalk | February 22, 2013

Character Always PosterYesterday we held our Character Recognition Assembly for our secondary students.  Teachers proudly acknowledged the virtues of many of our students from first semester.  You must know that many teachers are upset that I have limited the number of students that they present certificates to.  I do this merely to keep it within a reasonable time frame for an assembly.  My vision is to recognize students more often in this formal manner so that we can celebrate the achievements of all our students over time.

We are all very proud of all our students of character.

I would like to thank Mrs. Hart for organizing things, Mrs. Ableson, Neda and Hayley for the music and singing, Mrs. Asselin for taking pictures and for the work of the teachers and students in the assembly.

Here you will find my opening remarks followed by the list of certificate recipients.  You can find a collage of photos on our school website at:

Opening Remarks:

Character Recognition Assembly – Feb. 21, 2013

“It’s amazing that we are sitting here in late February already.  It’s been a fast 6 months.  Think of all that’s happened in 2012/13.  I’d like to take this opportunity to give my nickel’s worth now that the penny is no more; I round up.

This was the year that we saw the end of the world and simultaneously learned to appreciate that what some people, or we ourselves, believed to be true years ago might not be true now in 2013.  The Mayans had it wrong.

This year we experienced loss.  We were saddened by the loss of Jimmy Boltin but saw that people stepped up in his honour.  We persevere.  We also lost Jason Henderson this year in his transferring to North Grenville for the sake of his family but I know that staff will step up and fill the void left by his departure.  Gananoque itself was once an industrial town but has had to change and adapt because of the significant changes in the global economy, the economy of Canada and the economy of Eastern Ontario.  Tourism has stepped up to revitalize the economy and this will serve to benefit you for years to come.

Here at GSS we have been joined by The Invisible Children from Uganda, Nancy Stevens from the Kenya Help Organization.  We had Ken Cools, Olympic coach, speak to students.  Simon Mailloux, Canadian Hero, joined us for Remembrance Day and now wants to return because of you.  He was so impressed that he wants to return to work with you.  We have had over 23 different activities that you have participated in involving almost half of the school population.

I have been approached by schools as far away as Kenora inquiring about what it is we do here because people are starting to pay attention.  Tomorrow, 30 parents, teachers and students along with their trustee from Perth are visiting to check out the greatness that is GSS.  Our school will be prominently showcased in this year’s Director’s Report that goes out to the Board and to the province.  He is so proud of what’s going on here. People are paying attention.

At the beginning of the year our Link Leaders challenged us all to be the people that make it happen and you have.  You are making it happen and people are paying attention. The first semester report cards indicate that you achieved 98% of the credits that were attempted and that almost 70% of you are achieving at, or above, the provincial standard of Level 3.  You should be very proud.  We have a huge goal of having a 90% graduation rate.  We are on our way there.  You are making that happen and we are paying attention.  We know that academic success is only part of what we are all about.  We know that to be successful for life you have to have much more than credits and good marks.  We need to develop our heads and our hearts.  The world is far more complex than it has ever been and it will continue to become more and more complex.  We can’t stop it.  We can only develop a more complex mindset to cope and achieve in this complex and challenging world.  To do this we need to learn and to demonstrate caring, fairness, honesty, empathy, responsibility, perseverance, respect and resilience.

This morning we want to recognize your hard work.  We see that you are choosing character over convenience.  You did this when you turned in the $20 bill you found on the floor or when you stopped to help someone or sat with a lonely person in the caf at lunch.  We saw you choose perseverance over quitting and resilience over defeat.  You did this on the football field when the game was on the line, when the performance has to be ready for tomorrow and late at night when the assignment was due in the morning.  We saw you show integrity and be a steward of this, your community.

Character is what you do when everyone is watching and what you do when no one is watching.  We were watching, we’re paying attention and this morning we recognize you with an attitude of gratitude.  Thank you for being the best little school in Eastern Ontario.”

Congratulations to all our recipients.

Chris Boston,Principal

Student Character Certificate Recipients:

Lizzy Somerville

Patrick Stewart

Forrest Redmond

Jordan Moore

Chase Carpenter

Graeme Dorrington

Jill Kellogg

Erica Doucet

Mitch Ferguson

Shayla Olmstead

Nicole Van Allen

Brady Webster

Mataya Tuck

Randi Stevenson

Alysha Pelehos

Tighe Anderson

Sean Kraft

Michaela King

Lambi Vangelatos

Sarah Crawford

Madison Ford

Kaitlin Agius

Jeff Hill

Julie Woods

Rebecca Jackson

Bentley Mabee

Jon Ferguson

Darcy Davey

Alex Serson

Chelsea Welch

Kayla Stanley

Morgan Shields

Josh Leroy

Courtney Schapelhouman

Chad Burgess

Taylor Dennison

Amelia Moore

Emily Sharpe

Hayley Miller

Morgan deKroon

Theo Vangelatos

Taylor Marshall

Ashley Craig

Ryan Campbell

Savannah Hall

Steven Beckett

Wyatt Albertson

Elizabeth Walker

Randi Berry

Students of the Month:

Tighe Anderson

Meredith Brown

Bentley Mabee

Patricia Moore

Savannah Hall

Posted by: gsstrojantalk | November 9, 2012

Remembrance Day Assembly

Today we had, yet another, fantastic and moving Remembrance Day Assembly.  Mrs. Belanger, Mr. Bell, Mrs. Doan, and Mrs. Ableson worked together to organize the event with the assistance of Alex Johnston and Patricia Warren.  Ms. Wand, and Mr. Brown contributed with a song, Mr. Webster added a personal story from his time at RMC and Mr. Goodfellow played the Last Post and Reveille.  Members of the Sound Syndicate added a beautiful song to begin the assembly.  We had a poem in English and one in French from two intermediate students.

Alex Johnston spoke passionately about our responsibility to remember those who have served.

Today’s special guest was Captain Simon Mailloux.  Cpt. Mailloux came from Ottawa this morning where he serves in the Royal 22nd Regiment, known as the Van Doos, as part of the Counter Explosive Task Force.

Captain Mailloux was in Afghanistan in November 2007 when the vehicle he was in hit an explosive device.  Cpt. Mailloux lost his leg as a result of that incident.  Just two years later in 2009 he was redeployed to Afghanistan and became the first Canadian amputee to deploy to a war zone as a combatant.  Captain Mailloux received the sacrifice medal from the Governor General of Canada in 2009.  In 2012 Cpt. Mailloux received one of the first 60 diamond jubilee medals recognizing ‘his leadership within the Canadian Forces and his efforts to help the soldiers injured during the war in Afghanistan.

When not serving his country, Cpt. Mailloux volunteers with the Canadian Forces Soldier On Program raising funds to buy adaptive equipment for wounded soldiers across the country.

Cpt. Mailloux’s story is one of perseverance and courage.  He has been quoted as saying that ‘the amputation wasn’t going to be me.’  It is a story of overcoming obstacles and making the choice to persevere and move on.  Cpt. Mailloux spoke sincerely about his belief that we each have the choice of who we become and are not limited by our circumstance.

I was also struck by his perspective on what we have here in Canada.  “Here in Canada,” he said, “you are afforded the time to grow up. This is the precious gift of time.”  He went on to describe an 11 year old boy in Afghanistan who was forced to take on the role of leader to his family due to his father’s death.

Cpt. Mailloux stayed with us into the afternoon and visited the intermediate classes where he continued to share with our students his inspiring message about having choice and the responsibility that comes with it.  The students had a chance to ask him questions about his time in the military.  He was even able to catch the kick-off of the football game.

I was fortunate to meet with Cpt. Mailloux throughout his visit and hear his kind words about the staff and students here at this fantastic school.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the assembly.  Thank you to Cpt. Mailloux and our other guests who joined us from the community today.

Posted by: gsstrojantalk | October 12, 2012

For The Love Of Reading

If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to log on and participate in our “For the Love of Reading Challenge.”  You can check it out on Facebook at:

Patty West and Debra Savoy have created this wonderful opportunity to share our love of reading.  We know that young people will become better readers and more engaged in reading if the adults around them are reading and excited about reading.

I will continue to participate.  I am wrapping up my first book, “Brandwashed” and will be moving into my second book “Habit” shortly.  While I’m not a fast reader, I love the encouragement to read more.

What I also love about this initiative is that it is a community-wide effort.  I hope that we can continue to find ways to connect students beyond the walls of the classroom to see that learning is not isolated to one place between 8am and 3pm.

Thanks to Debra and Patty and to all of you who are participating.


Posted by: gsstrojantalk | October 2, 2012

Invisible Children Organization

I’m very excited that the students of G.I.S.S. have such a dedicated staff who continue to provide amazing learning experiences for them.

The following is a description of an amazing event coming October 11th to G.I.S.S.  Doug Bowlby has provided this description:

“Since the start of the school year, the Intermediate Division program has been focused around child soldiers of Africa. In particular, we have been studying Ishmael Beah’s Memoir “A Long Way Gone”, his survivor story/escape from the life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone.  Along with teaching Language, Math, Geography and French, the subject matter has been a vehicle for teaching our students about empathy.

Recently we had Nancy Stevens from Kenya Help( come in to our classrooms. She informed and inspired our kids to take action for the children of Kenya.  This has lead to a fundraiser to help Nancy and her cause.

Our hope is to raise awareness and then inspire action.

On Thursday, October 11, we are very excited to welcome The Invisible Children to our school. Their name made headlines last year with the viral video “Kony 2012″(  It was the most watched video in a first 5 days launch on Youtube.  Backed by celebrities, the video had over 80 million views in the first weekend. Very impressive. Now they are coming to GISS to promote their new film “Move” to ALL staff and students.  The subject matter is the affected children of Ugandan civil war.  It will be powerful.  Having this group here is a big deal. Along with the movie, a Ugandan speaker will talk to the kids and the group will also do workshops with the intermediates. Nancy Stevens is so excited about this event she too is coming back to be a part of the day.”

Mr. Bowlby and the rest of the Intermediate team are bringing something very special to the school and I’d like to thank them for their efforts.

C. Boston, Principal


Posted by: gsstrojantalk | September 21, 2012

GISS Cares!!

This morning I drove in listening to a new Dave Matthews track and these lines really jumped out at me, “We have to do much more than believe if we really want to change things.  We have to do much more than believe if we want to see the world change.”(Gaucho)

Fast forward to 8:30am and I got the opportunity to listen to Ken Cools, Olympic & National BMX coach for New Zealand, speak to Mrs. Clark’s class.  Mr. Cools shared his experiences as a high performance athlete, professional BMX rider and Olympic coach.  He spoke passionately about setting goals for yourself and going after them.  What really struck me was his positive attitude.  Everything he spoke about seemed to be something that he loved.  He’s a guy who has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come his way.

You can check him out on Twitter at:

OR, read more about him at:

Shortly after this I listened to our TASK Co-Leader, Alex Johnston, speak passionately about the impact cancer has had on his life.  He challenged us all to live our lives to the fullest and to consider the people impacted by cancer rather than focusing on the statistics.

Patricia Warren organized a fantastic Terry Fox assembly.  Student-leaders carried in balloons representing the different cancers.  We then all headed outside to walk the track in support of cancer research and in honour of Terry Fox.  I even bent the ‘hat rule’ for the day, allowing students who donated to the Terry Fox drive the opportunity to wear their hat.  The boys that contributed were very generous.

And just when you think a day can’t be any more jam-packed with cool stuff, Nancy Stevens arrived!  Nancy has established the “Kenya Help” organization:

She spoke passionately about her regular trips to Ngong, Kenya to better the lives of children by building schools and providing the basics for those in need.

She was truly inspiring.  The students were captivated.  Not surprisingly, when she was done, Mr. Bowlby handed over a $220 donation from the intermediates.  Nancy said that this will buy thousands of litres of much need water.  The students have committed to raise much more to help out.

I have lost count of how many times I used the term ‘passionately’ here but, to be fair, these were amazing people who have gone beyond belief in something to actually making and being the change they want to see.

I want to thank everyone for their contributions today, for their participation in the audience giving energy and for being the people who make good things happen.

Have a great weekend.



Older Posts »


%d bloggers like this: