Tuesday, April 21, 2009

HWDSB Alternative Education Program

Each week The Hamilton Spectator presents a page of news from local schools. It’s a page for students by students. Today, we feature the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s Alternative Education Programs.

Alternative Education Programs
Crestwood School
50 Millwood Place

Principal: V. McCulloch


Wire Sculpture, Self Portrait, Christian Budderick, Grade 10 Phoenix Program

Wire Sculpture, Self Portrait, Jake Reynolds, Grade 10, Phoenix Program

Students in the Phoenix program created sculptures of themselves engaged in a favourite activity. The sculptures were then dressed, decorated and placed in a setting.
By Sean Weech, Grade 10
James Street Alternative Education

I believe in honesty and I had no idea what to write for this monologue; I mean seriously the school gives a wide variety of options (a whopping 3 or 4, if you’re lucky) like my most embarrassing moment or when I met someone special or famous. Now let’s all be honest here. The point of embarrassing stories is that you don’t want other people to know, because it’s embarrassing! I’ll be honest again because I’ve never met anyone special or famous; unless you count the television. If so, then I’m about seven feet away from them every night. So I brought this predicament to my grandparents and within a split second my grandfather in a very stern tone looks at me and says, “You will have that monologue in school tomorrow, no excuses!” So naturally, he himself has no clue what a monologue is, so he googles it and looks up the very word monologue. This was a great help, as I didn’t need to know that a monologue is an oration or a soliloquy, essentially talking to one’s self. Because that’s how they get you, you innocently assume the dictionary will give a simple explanation, but instead it just gives you fifty more words you don’t understand. So I really hope I never ask him why Lay’s potato chips taste so good or I’ll end up with him looking up potato to find out it is an “edible tuber of a cultivated plant”. Originally, I believed I knew what a potato was but it sounds like only God or perhaps a plumber would know what in the world an edible cultivated tuber is. So my grandfather may not have helped me at all but he did give me something to write about, so in his own unorthodox way.

Phoenix Pitches In
Elizabeth Bachelder, Grade 10
Phoenix Program

Approximately 30 students from the Crestwood Phoenix program came together in an effort to help clean up trash on and around the Bruce Trail. Some students met up at the school while others met up at the top of the stairs at Upper Wentworth and Concession from their houses all over the city. Over a dozen garbage bags full of plastic containers, water bottles, pop cans, beer bottles, food, candy wrappers and old clothes were collected and properly disposed of.
This year Crestwood goes GREEN!! Elementary students are starting a Global and Environmental Awareness Club. They will look at ways to make the environment cleaner and Crestwood a greener place to learn. With the help and leadership of our Phoenix students another focus will also be to raise money in support of the Free the Children foundation. Our first meeting got off to a great start with the students eagerly brainstorming various fund raising options and coming up with a slogan for the club. The students also discussed asking other school clubs for assistance in obtaining their goals. Although our club is small their positive attitudes, hard work and big hearts make the possibilities of what they can accomplish and achieve endless. There will be lots more to come from Crestwood in the future.




Why Consider Alternative Education?
By Toni Kenyon, Grade 9
Phoenix Program


Alternative Education changed my life. The program at Crestwood helps students cope with problems, and helps us want to learn. Before coming to Alternative Education, I was a student getting into a lot of trouble. I was getting almost all D’s on my report cards. It was just so bad that I skipped school and I didn’t want to go back. I disliked everything about it and would fake being sick just so I could sleep in and stay home from school! I came to Crestwood in grade 8 and I have not looked back since.
In the spring, I graduated from grade eight and got 5 awards. I was proud that I got 2 A’s and 2 C’s and the rest B’s.
I’m in grade nine now and I love school. I’m here everyday and I do my work. I’m really far ahead in most of my subjects. Alternative Education isn’t for everyone, but for me and lots of other students at Crestwood, it’s a wonderful place to learn.

In my opinion….
By Ace Roxburgh, Grade 10
Phoenix Program

I think that the voting age should be lowered because the election is about the future leader and the welfare of our country. The youth should have a say in who will be the leader; furthermore, voters should be fully aware of the candidate’s past, goals, and values. Personally I think no one person should lead the land by himself. A coalition government should exist, a group of leaders, one from each political party to advise and “fine tune” their decisions. This would be much better because it would be multiple opinions that gradually become a decision that would better the country.

I am 15 years old and have been interested in politics for about 3 years now and it’s a shame that so many kids my age are so unaware about this country’s affairs. Politics should be taught in school early on so the youth of today and tomorrow will be more interested in this country, and would want to provide their time to benefit it. I think if more kids knew they had a choice to help change their futures through understanding politics, they would be more likely to vote when they became of age.

The Green Team!
Jake Reynolds and Chrystal Ogden were among the students from the Crestwood Phoenix Program who helped clean up trash on and around the Bruce trail. More than a dozen garbage bags full of plastic containers, water bottles, pop cans, beer bottles, food, candy wrappers and old clothes were collected and properly disposed of.

Book Review: Song of the Lioness Quartet
Author: Tamora Pierce
By Jacob Fraboni, Grade 10
Phoenix Program


This series of four books is written by Tamora Pierce and features a female heroine named Alanna of Trebond who, at ten years old, decides to become the first lady knight in one hundred years. To become a knight she must first switch places with her twin brother, Thom, since girls were not permitted to be knights. In order to go to the castle Alanna must conceal her true identity by dressing as a boy and changing her name to Alan of Trebond. If all goes as planned, Alanna can reveal her true identity in eight years upon becoming a true knight. What she had not anticipated was what would happen at the age of 14!
Overall, this book is very believable and is based on facts with a slight twist of fiction. I will let your mind wonder about what that twist is… I give this book 4.5 out of 5 because of the great ending. Luckily, another series by this author opens in the same century seven years later!

Friends Group
By Jessica Gallagher, Grade 9
Phoenix Program

I was in a group called the Friends Group. It is a group where you talk about your problems that you have in school. I was in the group for my anxiety. I had problems coming to school, because I was having problems in school.
There are plenty of different reasons why people were in the Friends Group. A lot of people were in the group because they didn’t want to come to school or they didn’t have many friends and were getting picked on. At first people didn’t like the group. But when we got used to it, everyone started to love it. Everyone started becoming friends and started getting along, because everyone had the same problems about school and we started realizing that. This is one of the really good things about the group – you realize that you’re not the only one, and that other people go through the same thing.
We had booklets with activities that we did every week. There was an activity where they give you a problem, and you have to find a good solution. There was a problem for every common situation. The most common ones that happen to everyone are bullying and anxiety. Another skill I learned was the importance of thinking positively. A lot of times people say that they can’t do it, and then they never try. What I learned is that, my thoughts can be powerfully negative or powerfully positive. When I think positive thoughts, then I am more confident. You shouldn’t let your negative thoughts over power you.
This year I will be helping out with the group. I will be showing the new people to the group how the Friends Group helped me. I now am very confident about school, and I love coming here.

By Toni Kenyon, Grade 9
Phoenix Program

I have been a member of the Crestwood GO GIRLS Club for over a year. It is fantastic.
Every Wednesday, a group of girls got together and talked about girls’ issues. We discussed self-respect, self-esteem, and learning to value and appreciate ourselves. Meeting together, we got to know one another really well and formed new friendships. While we were different, we realized that being different is okay, and that we are all unique. In the GO GIRLS Club we also learned about physical changes, personal style, and media images about women’s bodies.
At the end of last year, we went on some field trips. The best trip was to The Beautiful Women Project, sponsored by The YWCA of Hamilton. Cheryl-Ann Webster, the artist, started this project when her daughter’s friend was saving money to get plastic surgery. This project was in an art gallery, and displayed the torsos of women. The artist wanted us to see a whole bunch of different bodies of women. The one that meant the most to me was a torso of a woman with breast cancer, who had had her breast removed. Each torso had a story to tell, and it really made us think about how everyone is unique in their own way.
I learned that I can’t hate myself for the way I am, and I can like myself without paying money to change my body.
I hope every school has a GO GIRLS Club. It’s great to have a place where you can talk about girls’ issues, share your problems, learn new things and have fun.

Native Drumming Group
Dylan Rushton, Grade 8
Crestwood System Alternative Education

I came to Crestwood last year halfway through the year. About a week later I started doing the native drum group with Rod. I am part of the native drumming group with my friends. I have learned a lot of songs and neat things from Rod. I learned about how the drum was made out of moose skin. Rod’s friend made the drum for him. Rod brings in his drum once in a while and me and my friends help him set it up.
Before we play the drum we have to put tobacco on the drum to give thanks to the animal and the tree that gave its life to make the drum. We put the tobacco in our left hand because it is closest to our heart. Sometimes we smudge. Rod will burn one of the medicines, and then we use the smoke to cleanse our thoughts and our bodies.
We sit around the drum in a circle. Everyone is welcome at the drum. It is very important that we are respectful of everyone, and listen to the person who is talking.
You have to have good timing to play the drum. It helps to practice a lot as well. The drum vibrates, and your arm and sometimes your body vibrates, and you can get tired. One of my favourite things is when I get to do down beats. This is when the other drummers go quieter, and I hit the drum loudly.
I also like singing. We have learned different songs. Rod is a very good singer. Rod says that singing is a good way to get our confidence. I like it that no one laughs when we are learning to drum and sing. Everyone is respectful at the drum!

To Strive
By Natasha Pare, Grade 12
Strive Program

Reaching, hoping, working towards a goal
How is this my future?
I want success
I strive – 30 credits is the goal
“You’re a Graduate – Congratulations” I long to hear
by the end of this year
Working in the world, understanding what is real
Helping others to achieve is selfless
Is that the goal?
Still I strive…
Soon I will be among you, an adult, respected and valued for my hard work
No one will know the hurdles I overcame as I strive to achieve my goals

I am
By Elizabeth Bachelder, Grade 10
Phoenix Program


I am creative and my own person
I wonder what I’d be when I’d grow up
I hear music in my mind
I see things that others may not see
I want to be successful
I am creative and my own person

I pretend to be other people
I feel uncomfortable about doing this poem
I touch the cold tin on my Irish Whistle, which helps make beautiful music
I worry that people will really know me
I cry rarely
I am creative and my own person

I understand myself
I say what others want to hear
I dream of staying close to my family
I try to do my best
I hope to know what I hope for
I am creative and my own person

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