Approximately 1,500 masks were delivered to North Toronto last month for students and the 2020 grads. The masks are a gift from the NTCI Foundation, which recognized the NT community needed a little boost in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The limited edition red and grey masks were produced by Soft-Masks, which is owned and operated by NT alumnus and Foundation board member Lisa Cain (’82) and her business partner Sue Fisher (’84). The masks, which are hand sewn in Canada, feature high quality adjustable elastics and are made from 100% cotton fabric.
This is a historic time for staff and students at North Toronto.
Many of the events and rites of passage that we took for granted are not happening. Iconic events like Maytime Melodies, the prom, track and field season, athletic banquet, face-to-face student council election campaigns and voting, graduation ceremonies, and end of school parties are all not possible. Staff have had to quickly engage students in different modes of learning while still coping with their own personal lives.
Purchase a limited-edition NT mask for $20 at https://soft-masks.ca/ntci and $7 from every purchased mask will be donated to the Foundation. In addition, 20% of sales from all other masks purchased from Soft-Masks by NT alumni or friends of NT between November 16 and December 16 will be donated to the Foundation.
Hail North Toronto! was a key feature of this year’s Red & Grey Day, NT’s annual celebration of athletics and school spirit. This year, each home form picked a theme to celebrate, then decorated their classroom and dressed up according to that theme. Each class sang the school song, and the different versions were then pulled together into two (mostly) spirited videos. Follow along with students in grades 9 and 12 and grades 10 and 11.
October 10 also featured assemblies, a hot dog BBQ lunch, and a performance from the school band. Of course, the day’s main attraction was a packed sports schedule, with students being dismissed early to watch different teams play throughout the day. A great day for NT sports, as the school won or tied every game: two field hockey, two boys volleyball, girls ultimate, girls basketball, boys soccer, and a football game.
This time of year, the
office staff of NTCI is busy collecting applications from potential future NTCI
Alumni–grade 8 students who would like to spend their next four years at North
Toronto. This is nothing new as each year hundreds of applications are received
from students out of the North Toronto catchment area.
While students who are
“in-district” (i.e. within the catchment area boundaries), are able to simply
select North Toronto, those “out-of-district” must apply, even if they are just
across the street from an in-district student. To date, the out-of-district
applicants from NT’s feeder schools (Deer Park, Glenview and Hodgson) or those with
siblings at NTCI have automatically been accepted; the remaining applications
are at the mercy of a lottery for placement.
It is ironic that in
2003, when the old NT building was being considered for demolition, the TDSB
considered NTCI as a good candidate for rebuilding as it was on the TTC line
and would allow out-of-district students, specifically those from the former
North York, to attend easily. At that time, it was the norm that over two
thirds of the school population came from out-of-district, having won their
place at NTCI through the lottery process. In 2009, there were 600 applications
for 270 places.
Today, the tables have
turned. As more condos are built in the area, the school’s population is more
and more in-district. Last year about 500 applications were received for only
200 places; this year will be similar. But unlike the past, fewer and fewer
places are available for the lottery.
The TDSB plays it safe
and erects signs around new developments saying that moving into the new
building does not guarantee that students will be able to attend a local
school. So far this has not been the case, but with NT’s enrolment increasing
each year, there may soon be a lottery for even feeder school students!
For NT alumni, it’s hard to think about our days at North Toronto without conjuring up memories of Red and Grey Day, Maytime Melodies or receiving the latest copy of Graffiti in homeroom. The same is true for Charity Week, an annual tradition at North Toronto that continues to be a hallmark of NT’s student initiatives.
Charity Week has certainly changed over the years, but the purpose remains the same. Students choose a charity that they feel passionate about, and often, something that is relevant to the times. Two years ago, students chose Shine Bright, an organization supporting youth struggling with mental health issues, and most recently selected Forests Ontario, an environmental non-profit with a mission to make forests greener and healthier. The students then raise money for the charity through various fundraising events within a dedicated time frame: this year’s Charity Week was the fourth week of January.
Some of us may recall past Charity Week fundraising events such as the teacher dunk tank, the “lip-sync”, or, the semi-formal at the St. Lawrence Market. However, today’s students have other events including a multi-cultural luncheon hosted by the Classics department, a raffle, and “home form booths” selling everything from pizza to “o-grams” (e.g. sing-o-grams, kiss-o-grams) and services. Not surprisingly, the student service auction no longer exists, likely a sign of these more politically correct times! Regardless, it is wonderful that Charity Week is still very much a part of the North Toronto experience.
As an important part of the school’s legacy, North Toronto C.I. is fortunate to have a large collection of trophies, plaques and awards. Many of these artifacts, recognizing the varied achievements of NT students, are found in the school’s Archives Room. In a recent visit to NT, Nancy Baines, the Foundation’s archivist and a member of NT’s staff from 1969 to 2000, identified some of the significant trophies in the collection:
Ostrander Trophy for Proficiency and Leadership in Athletics (girls) – awarded from 1939 to 75;
J.M. Greene Music Company Trophy for Citizenship, Scholarship and Music –awarded from 1947 to 1978;
The Sifton Trophy for School Citizenship – awarded from 1939 to the present;
The Kerr Trophy for Student Leadership – awarded from 1928 to the present 2018 (awarded for 90 years!).
She also pointed out some of the lesser known trophies in the collection:
Hill, Ford and Kaethler Trophy for Leadership and Co-operation in Grade 11 and 12 Music – awarded circa 1967
The North Toronto Trophy for Junior Oratory – awarded from 1957 to 1962.
NTCI Juvenile Sports Champion Trophy – awarded from 1957 to 1978;
The Seaforth Cup Interscholastic Sports Competition – awarded in 1958;
TS Harbord Invitational Jr. Basketball Tournament – awarded from1960 to 1996.
There are many fascinating stories behind these awards and of the students who were honoured to receive them. Throughout this year watch for articles featuring a closer look at NT’s trophies and their recipients.
Remembrance Day, originally known as Armistice Day, commemorates the end of the First World War on November 11, 1918. While the original reason for the event took place 100 years ago, its observance has taken on new meaning with each armed conflict involving Canadian soldiers – most recently Afghanistan. While most alumni will recall an assembly or other observation of this special day during their years at NT, in recent years Remembrance Day has become even more profound for NT students.
This year’s assembly on Friday, November 9 was held twice in order to accommodate the school’s population. It began with a song video, Pittance of Time, featuring the ghosts of former soldiers visible only to those willing to partake in a moment of silence in the modern setting of a convenience store. The emotional pull of this piece set the atmosphere for the rest of the event. A bagpiper led a procession of NT veterans into the auditorium. Spanning several generations and representing different conflicts, each veteran was introduced by a student volunteer. A slide show followed featuring photographs of NT grads who lost their lives in World Wars I and II. The young faces in the images looked like many of the students in the auditorium.
Addresses were given by two NT grads currently in active service: Captain John Stevens (’83) and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Clarry (’82). A second slide show outlined Canada’s involvement in peacekeeping missions around the world. Music was provided by the Symphonic Band, and Choir. To draw the assembly to a close, there was a reading of “In Flanders Fields,” the playing of The Last Post, a minute of silence, and Reveille.
This outline does not do justice to the organization behind the event nor to its impact. After the assembly, a reception, supported by monies from the Foundation, was held for the special guests, staff and organizers. During this, it became clear how much the assembly reflected the students who produced it, and how deeply they were invested in its meaning. We need not worry that today’s students “don’t get it”. They do – and at NT they created a powerful reflection of this important day.