Friday, August 28, 2009

Westmount Secondary School

Westmount Secondary School
39 Montcalm Drive
Hamilton, Ontario

Principal: Rick Kunc
Co-ordinator: Gregory Clark



Arasta Kadir - Untitled, acryllic on canvas, grade 12, Portfolio Course

Josephine Macharia Portrait with Hands, acrylic on canvas, grade 12, Portfolio Course

Amanda Mersereau Untitled, acrylic on canvas, grade 12, Portfolio Course

Jonathan Au-portfolio Course Untitled, acrylic on canvas, grade 12, Portfolio Course

Anthony Butler Portrait with Hands, acrylic on canvas, grade 12, Portfolio Course

Amanda Mersereau, grade 11, ink on paper

Jonathan Au- Portfolio Course Grade 12- Oil Pastel on Paper

Kyle Stewart-Portfolio Course Grade 12-Mixed Media on Wood

Zack Bryson-Portfolio Course Grade 12- Ink on Paper

Jody Shaboluk
Visual Arts Department Head
Westmount Secondary School Westmount


Grade Nine Mentor Band: A Change for the Better
Cassandra Taylor, grade 9
This year, Westmount’s grade nine band, under the direction of Mr. Bohn, decided to make a change in the way we operate. We introduced senior students from our Wind Orchestra to act as “mentors” for grade nine students. At first, some grade nines were unsure of how the introduction of the mentors would affect their performances, if they would become better, or if they would be overshadowed by the mentors. But Mr. Bohn assured us all that the mentors were only there to help us, and solos and lead parts would go to grade nines before they went to mentors, since it was still “our” band. For me, I am now the only grade nine alto saxophone player in the band, and the alto sax is not my main instrument either. So having Al, my mentor, there really helps me a lot. During a piece, I sometimes get lost, and I can listen to Al and find my place again, whereas when I am by myself, if I get lost, I am normally lost for a long time. Al, along with all the other mentors, is also there to help us figure out notes and rhythms, and altogether just make us better musicians. When I asked Al for his opinion on the band, he commented, “I think the way we run this band is really helpful to both the mentors and the grade 9’s. As I try and help Cassie better herself as a saxophonist, I find I’m realizing new things about playing the instrument that I had never thought of before.” He added that he wished this program had been around when he was a Grade 9. “It definitely would have prepared me better, for the challenges I face in playing in the senior bands and helping younger saxophonists.” I’m sure that without the mentors there, our music skills would be a little lacking, and our band wouldn’t sound the way it does now. My experience in the band has enhanced my playing and I hope one day to be able to pass on this positive experience to others.

Phil on Films: The Academy vs. the Public
Phil Krusto, grade 11
I have noticed an ongoing battle between the average movie-going public and the Academy of Motion Pictures; they just can’t seem to agree on what movies are good. Nowadays, the Academy never gives big blockbusters any big nominations. The last movie that was a major success at the box-office and received a best picture win was The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King back in 2003. This year, Slumdog Millionaire took home the Oscar as well as seven other awards. This movie is an outstanding achievement in filmmaking, and it’s nice to see a non-American movie win for a change. However, very few people saw this movie before it received any nominations. If you ask someone if they saw it, they will give you one of two answers: they will say they really want to, or they don’t care. This could be because of a poor advertising campaign, or the general lack of interest in “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Slumdog Millionaire is arguably the best movie of 2008, but can the same be said about the other nominated movies? Back in the seventies and eighties, blockbusters like Jaws, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark received nominations for best picture. Now the Oscars concentrate more on artistic movies. 2008 seemed to blur the lines between blockbuster and art for a bit. Movies like The Dark Knight and WALL-E were praised by critics and audiences alike, but both were snubbed for a best picture nomination. This raises some questions, especially if you look at Metacritic’s scores for Slumdog Millionaire (86) and WALL-E (93). No one really wants to see movies that celebrate filmmaking as an art anymore. The average movie-going public just want to see remakes, sequels and adaptations of popular books. The Twilight movie was a bad adaptation of the book, filled to the brim with dead-pan acting (no pun indented) and laughable visual effects. However, it still managed to bring in $350 million at the worldwide box office thanks to the screaming fans of Robert Pattinson. We critics have dedicated ourselves to informing the people about what films will be worth their money and which ones will waste their time; but they hardly listen to us anymore. Besides, people watch movies for different reasons all the time. The public will go out and see Friday the 13th because they want to see blood and guts, not because of a story. And kids will drag their parents to see the Jonas Brothers concert Experience because they like their songs. Maybe someday blockbusters and artistic films can both be honoured by the Academy and the public equally. Titanic is the highest grossing movie of all time, and has won more Oscars than almost any other film. James Cameron’s upcoming movie Avatar (no relation to the show) has the potential to make my dream a reality. I look forward to seeing what Hollywood has in store for the attractions to come.

At Westmount You’re Family
Sarah Whitwell, grade 9
You start your academic journey at a young age, in kindergarten. It’s there that you make your first friends, and begin to adjust to school. Along the way you meet new friends and lose old ones, all the while you become better for knowing them. You learn valuable skills and begin to mature, or not, as you prepare for later in life. Of course it’s around grade eight, when your teacher hands out option sheets, that you realize everything is going to change. You’ll be in a new, strange place, you’ll meet even more people and you’ll have longer classes. Just to make the decision more difficult you have two high schools to choose from. Do you go with the safe one, where your friends are going, or the one that suits you better, the one that will allow you to grow academically? It’s a tough choice but in the end you know you’ve made the right choice. Picking a high school can be tough. You’ll be there for four years of your life and for once you get some say in the matter. Westmount is a unique option thanks to its self paced program. Though in some cases it means separating from your friends or making a commute, Westmount was the best choice for me. As a grade nine student at Westmount I was, of course, anxious about starting high school. Looking back, my biggest fear was getting lost as I moved from my elementary school into a much larger high school, but as soon as I started to look around and take all of Westmount in, all of my anxiety disappeared. Westmount is a school where you can be yourself without fear of what other people might think and, if you have any questions, you actually can just go up to someone you don’t know and ask for help. In all my life I’ve never experienced anything quite like Westmount. Everyone always tells you a school is a community, but in many ways community is too loose a term to describe Westmount. I’d say we’re more of a family. We help and support one another as we learn and grow. Westmount is definitely the place I want to be.

Floorball Anyone?
Dele Ogundokun, grade 9
On February 25th, Westmount Secondary School offered Floorball for the first time to all the students. Westmount offered this exciting sport with the help of Try Day Program offered through Ontario Federation School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) along with the Ontario Trillium Foundation. OFSAA Try day gives schools the opportunity to access funds so that they may introduce a new or non-traditional sport or physical activity to their students. The purpose of the OFSAA Try Day is that it will teach students to live active and healthy lives. Floorball is the world’s most popular indoor form of hockey. When we first offered floorball over 75 male and female students came out and participated in this event. The students were active during four 60 minutes periods because floorball is a fun, quick and active sport which the students were able to enjoy in a fun and safe environment. According to Floorball Canada, Floorball is an excellent alternative to traditional Floor Hockey. Floorball is a much safer game because unlike floor hockey, the rules of floorball do not allow for any high sticking, stick contact or body contact. As a result the game is less physical, more skill-oriented and fast paced. The stick has a curved, concave plastic blade and there is no puck; instead a lightweight, plastic ball is used. The rules of the game require fair play. Westmount students were excited about the opportunity to play this sport and look forward to having it as part of their regular gym classes. Thanks to the OFSAA Trillium Try Day Fund, Westmount was able to provide students with an alternate workout to stay active and healthy.
Fiddler on the Roof: A Musical for Our Time

Emily Lamond and Laura Welch, grade 12

Westmount is abuzz with excitement and anticipation as the opening night of the school musical approaches. Rehearsals are lengthening, but are by no means less intense, and the entire school community is coming together to make this year’s production of Fiddler on the Roof a success. The quality for which past productions at Westmount have been renowned has always been attributed to the community effort within the school, and this year is no exception. Teachers and students from several departments throughout Westmount Secondary, as well as members of the local arts community, are pooling their efforts to ensure that the classic story of Fiddler on the Roof is told with all the honesty, comedy, and beauty with which it was originally written.

The musical’s plot centres around a poor Jewish family living in Tsarist Russia. The individual struggles of Tevye the poor milkman, his wife Golde, and their five daughters, are representative of the severe poverty and crippling oppression that was prevalent during the early twentieth century. In their small village of Anatevka, the Jewish community struggles in the face of adversity as the traditions on which they have always depended shift and change. The ability of the village to cope with change while facing poverty resonates today with many issues in our world, including the current recession, and the oppression of cultures at home and abroad.

Although Fiddler on the Roof deals with these heavy subjects, it is ultimately a depiction of how the human spirit can rise above adversity with the message of hope and loving others above oneself. Everyone involved in Westmount’s production of Fiddler on the Roof is eager to present these values; within the community of our school, they play an important role for our culture of tolerance.

With messages for a changing world, Fiddler on the Roof is a timeless musical, and Westmount hopes to make this production its best production yet.

Arts at Westmount
Meghan Johnny, grade 9

Westmount is widely known for its sports academy and self-pacing system; however, if there is one thing that sticks out in my mind about Westmount, it is the art. Westmount is an artistic school in many ways: the music, the visual art, and the drama and dance.

You can hear music at any time or place in Westmount. The repertoire or the wind orchestra rehearses every day before school. The choirs also send music echoing down the halls. Every day you can count at least 5 different people strumming the chords to their band’s song. Jazz Bands play their tunes: first class jazz and blues songs. Grade 9-Mentor band gives up their Friday afternoons to practise together. Music moves the school and is a part of every Westmount student’s life.

There is another form of art that Westmount is known for: visual art. Everywhere you look there is some form of visual art gracing our walls. There are photographs taken by teachers and students, drawings and paintings by students, and media art pieces as well. The school is decorated by the students and teachers.

The third way that art has an influence on Westmount is in the Drama and Dance department. The musical that Westmount is putting on this year is The Fiddler on the Roof. Other drama and dance opportunities in Westmount are the Dance Ensemble, the Junior Drama Club, the Sketch Comedy Team, and the Dance and Drama classes; all of which are often seen rehearsing in the hallways of our school. Students will always put on a show for those who will watch.

Westmount is known for its academics and sports, but it should also be known for its arts, as it is a school that has a lot of arts to show.
Westmount Athletics

Sarah Gee, grade 10

At Westmount so far this year we have been very successful in athletics, not just in our sports teams but in our classes as well.

Our sport academy continues to be successful for the second year in enabling high potential athletes to reach goals within a flexible environment. Student athletes are able to focus on academics and athletics and have the support to be successful in each area. The recent opening of Studio B has also helped our athletes and other students in the school excel. Studio B serves a variety of purposes, from classroom learning, a dance studio, physical education classes, and is a perfect place to go for strength training and conditioning. Through our partnership with POLAR Electronics, students are able to take advantage of the state-of-the-art heart training electronics and equipment.

Through a partnership with Mohawk College, we have also had the opportunity to introduce a grade 10 co-ed court focus physical education class. Students are able to focus on basketball, volleyball and badminton and have the opportunity to have class at Mohawk College for the whole morning one day a week.

Westmount has also had many athletic successes with school teams as well.
Our Junior Boys Basketball team, Junior Boys Waterpolo team, Junior Boys Volleyball Team, all have won gold this year. The Junior Boys Basketball team was 9 - 1 in the regular season and was tied for first place in the standings. Recently the Junior Boys team was successful in winning the City Championships and is currently preparing for SOSSA.

The Junior Boys Volleyball team also had a very successful season placing first in the regular season, winning seven of eight games. With a tough game, Westmount came out on top in the City Championships. The Junior Boys Waterpolo team was 6 for 6 and placed first in the regular season. It was no surprise that Westmount brought home gold in the City Championship game. Many other teams have had success as well. Way to go Wildcats!
A School of Excellence
Tina Clark, grade 10

Westmount Secondary School is a school of excellence, and academics. It is a school that brings out the best in every student.

Westmount is an amazing school that allows a self motivated individual like myself to be successful. Everyone seems so driven, hardworking and accepting so I had no trouble fitting in. You don’t get judged on what you wear or how you act; everybody knows you for the unique individual you are.

Westmount is a school of academics, where the self-paced program is tailor-made for a student like me. Students can accelerate through a course or take extra time in a certain subject. I use self-pacing all the time. For example I finish a course early so I can take more time on my worst subject - math. Two other things that are unique to Westmount are the carryovers and the sign-outs. You can carryover a subject into next semester and sign-out from one class to catch up on work from another.

Westmount is truly a remarkable school. The teachers care about you, the students are diverse, and the self-paced program helps you in anyway you need. Westmount is a school of pure excellence.
What are we?
Brianna Arthur, grade 11
Solitary, hostile, inconspicuous, sly. All these words can describe a wildcat. But I think these dictionary defining words are lacking something: Inspiring, dedicated, helpful, spirited and most of all excellent. These words would go to describe a different type of wildcat, a unique species, the top dog in a world of cats. You see my friends, these above characteristics, for they are not just words, go to describe a true Westmount Wildcat, the only kind of wildcat I would ever want to be.
To be a Westmount Wildcat is to be indefinable. There are so many things you can be or do as a true Westmount Wildcat that I wouldn’t dare to try and classify. Jock, cheerleader, activist, dramatist, musician, friend, study-buddy, teacher, peer, principal, director, over-achiever. All these people, all these labels, fall under one main heading: Westmount Wildcat. Except, we do not see ourselves as these weak labels because they attempt to divide us. We are a school that stands together. We see past the outward appearances of those around us to what really matters, the common ground between us and we bridge any gaps. We cross that bridge together with an unrivaled sense of comradeship and a truly unique sense of acceptance. Instead of the “him and I” relationship, it becomes all about the “we”. What we have accomplished, what we have dreamed, what we have created and what we have inspired.
In being part of this we, I have discovered part of myself. This undeniably team-oriented school has helped me grow as a person to include others and to genuinely care about the thoughts, and feelings of other individuals all trying to find their place in the world. This sense of we has given me another place to call home. And home is what this school is to many. Most of all it is home to the Wildcats, a fierce, spirited, dedicated group of youth.

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