It was hard to tell who was having more fun last Wednesday at GREC — the organizers of the music workshops going on, or the students participating in them.

“Teaching is an art form,” said vice-principal Kristin Stevens, the main coordinator of the artistic events. “Art finds its way into everything (and) fun is always our focus.”

This particular event, made possible by Al Rankin, Blue Skies and Live Wire Music, the Parents Council and an Arts grant from the Limestone District School Board, featured about 150 Grade 4-8 students from GREC, Land O’Lakes Public School, Prince Charles Public School and Clarendon Central Public School. The students spent the day rotating through music and instrument-making workshops including flute making, indigenous drumming and song, drum making and acoustic instruments.

“The students are making art,” Stevens said. “They’re learning indigenous drumming and the value of arts endeavours.”

Judy Montgomery and Pam Giroux led the indigenous drumming/singing workshop.

“We’re having loads of fun working with the students,” Montgomery said. “We’re teaching them why we have music — why people sing.

“We give thanks to Mother Earth and our connection to the Earth.

“It encompasses the language and gives a sense of peace and well-being.”

And to get a sense of what’s involved in making music, students got a chance to make their own instruments.

Lily Legacy, who’s been known to create symphonies with nothing more than plastic buckets and enthusiasm, led a drum-making workshop where students made their own “indigenous inspired” hand drums out of tubes used for pouring concrete footings and packing tape.

“They’re super cheap,” Legacy said. “And they’re making drumsticks from dowels and hockey tape.

“It’s a good day.”

Over in the wood shop, students were drilling holes in dowels and creating unique flutes.

“When I’m not teaching, I’m making music or doing carpentry,” said teacher Julia Schall. “These kids are super engaged.”

Finally, students got to spend some time with Teilhard Frost, a fiddler by trade but also a music historian and on this day, he was passing along his knowledge of the not-so-common aspects of acoustic instruments, showing how just about anything can be used to make music.

“I picked some grass in the front yard of the school to show kids how to make notes blowing through it,” he said. “You don’t need anything other than what’s always been around to make music.

“You can be a drumset — without a drumset.”

Frost said he showed the students the relationship between a conch shell and a trumpet.

“You want people to know you’re there,” he said. “And a jug is the basis for hip-hop and beatbox.

He said this is the basis for his acoustic music project — “No Batteries required.”


23 girls from Sydenham High School and Granite Ridge attended a day-long “Women Write” event at GREC on April 29.

The day started with a journaling presentation and workshop with Carol Pepper, a local artist, writer and educator, and Rosemary Pratt, a teacher at GREC. Students learned about the benefits of journaling, and different ways to journal as a means of expression. They also made journals and took them away.

This was followed by two successful women entrepreneurs and performers, Emily Fennell Taylor and Ky-Lee Hanson, two highly successful women working in the local arts communities.

Emily Fennell Taylor (also known as Miss Emily) led a session on songwriting, and shared her own experiences working in the music industry. She also offered advice to girls wanting to pursue songwriting and/or music as a hobby or profession.

Ky-Lee Hanson, is an award-winning non-fiction writer and the owner of Golden Brick Road Publishing House. Golden Brick Road Publishing House publishes work by women only. Ms. Hanson offered tips for writing successful non-fiction books and encouraged girls to pursue a variety of diverse careers in the publishing field (including graphic art, editing and distribution, for example). She also handed out and signed copies of one of her recent books, “Dear Time, Are You on My Side?”.

Emily Fennell Taylor and Ky-Lee Hanson wanted to inspire young women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated fields, such as music and publishing. Due to the challenges they faced, they want to show young women that achieving their dreams is possible, while giving back to the community.

Emily Fennell Taylor is from Prince Edward County, and has had a 20-year musical career, including opening for, and collaborating with, The Tragically Hip.

Ms. Hanson founded her publishing company after having difficulty finding a publisher for her own work. Golden Brick Road Publishing House’s mission is “to focus on women’s leadership and empowerment” and “develop content that effects positive social change.”

This event was part of an on-going Artist in Residence program in local schools, coordinated by Kristin Stevens and funded in part by the Limestone District School Board (currently funded by AIREE Grants from the Ministry) with additional support from Live Wire, Blue Skies, and GREC Parent Council. The purpose is to promote The Arts and Indigenous culture to students in both Elementary and Secondary schools in Limestone District School Board, and overcome gender bias in career paths.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017 14:23

Saint Paul’s Contributes to LPS Playground

LPS students Owen and Emily Desjardin and Grace Silver, all from the congregation of St Paul’s Anglican Church Sydenham, present a playground enhancement cheque for $1,300 to Lisa Welder, parent council treasurer and Jeff Peck, fundraising chair.

This summer, the Limestone Board removed the play structures at Loughborough Public School, having deemed them unsafe. Faced with a hole in the ground, the Parent Council set out to raise money for a replacement, and within two months reached their goal. This structure, designed to accommodate up to 45 children at once, cost over $40,000 to buy and install. One less costly playground enhancement is in the works, but the details aren’t finalized.

St Paul’s had agreed to match any money raised at the church’s 180th anniversary, and at the church volunteers’ hot chocolate and coffee table at Hallowe’en, to go toward purchase of school playground equipment. “The whole village uses this playground,” said Welder, waving toward the sweep of parkland running from the school down to The Point, “we’re so lucky to have this space."


In response to the release of the provincial Education Quality and Education Test results, the communications department of the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) might score well, above the provincial average, if they were being tested for creative writing skills.
The headline on the LDSB release that accompanied the province wide release of results, which took place in late September, was the following: EQAO results show achievement in some levels continuing to improve.

While it is true that results for Special Needs students in the board improved, the other result that was touted, a narrow improvement in grade 6 reading and writing scores, is diminished when you look at the comparative data in the tables at the bottom of the release.
In every single category, Limestone’s results lag behind province-wide results, by an average of 12% on the three categories tested in grade 3, 8% in the categories tested in grade 6, and 6% in the grade 9 math test.

The only parity in the release came from the scores of Academic stream English students, who met the 92% provincial success rate in the literacy test. Applied level English students, at 40%, were 4% behind the provincial average of 44%.
Math results, in particular, are a concern for all ages of students in the LDSB.

47% of Limestone grade 3 students tested at the provincial standard level in math (the provincial average was 62%) and only 39% of grade 6 students reached that level (50% - provincial average).
77% of grade 9 Academic stream math students in grade 9 reached the provincial standard (83% - provincial average) and 38% in the Applied stream reached the standard (44% - provincial average).

“We have, and will continue, to make math teaching and learning a priority among our staff and students,” said Limestone Board Director of Education Debra Rantz, in response to the results. “We have been getting better at the early identification of students who are not meeting math expectations and we will remain focused on supporting these students.”

While there are some exceptions, the results in primary schools in Frontenac County tend to be at below the rest of the Limestone Board in terms of results.

Again math continues to be a difficulty, but there is some good news at the High School level. Grade 9 students at Sydenham HS are actually at or above the provincial average in math scores, and Granite Ridge EC students are not too far behind, while the results at North Addington EC lag quite a bit, but in North Addington’s case the small number of students makes it difficult to generalize from the results.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 21:34

Protests Against Closure of Yarker Public School

A rally of about 30 people of all ages was held on Wednesday, February 8 in front of the Limestone District School Board offices on Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston. It was a protest against the board’s proposal to close all the public schools in Stone Mills Township and the school Selby, starting with the Yarker Family School.

The Yarker Family School educates children from 3 years 8 months in Junior Kindergarten up to 8-9 years old in Grade 3.

“Closing this school would increase bus ride times for our youngest students to more than an hour each way. The possibility of being bullying and witnessing inappropriate behaviour by these very young children goes up the longer the bus ride.,” said Gail Knowles, one of the protestors.

Students from Yarker and Selby achieve the highest standardized test scores, #1 and #2 respectively, of all the schools in the Limestone board.

“The board has proposed that students from Yarker be sent to Odessa Public School where the test scores are #39th. This means more than half the Odessa students failed to meet provincial standards. Since the board rarely mentions scholastic achievement it would appear that school closures have more to do with balancing the financial books than anything else,” Knowles added.

According to Knowles, the provincial funding model has serious flaws, giving school boards money to build new schools but providing only limited funds to maintain schools that are already here.

“They are forcing students from their a rural school where they learn well, feel safe, and are fully supported by their parents, and sending them away from their home community to a large penitentiary sized school doesn’t seem to work certainly when the standardized test scores are compared.” she said.

Supporters of the Yarker School and other schools slate for closure in the near future are encouraged to express their opinion about possible school closures by writing to the Minister of Education and elected representatives.

Robin Hutcheon, chair of the group called Rural Schools Matter, holds her sign outside the Limestone District School Board offices on Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston on November 8, 2017. She, along with about 30 others, are protesting the possible closure of all of the public schools in Stone Mills Township and the school in Selby.

Published in General Interest

The Sydenham Golden Eagles Junior Football team got off to a great start in their game against the Frontenac Secondary School Falcons at Richardson Stadium in Kingston on Saturday afternoon (November 5). The two teams had been the class of the KASSAA (Kingston and Area Secondary School Athletics Association) League this year and were facing each other in the final.

The Golden Eagles got an early interception, and quickly scored a touchdown midway through the first quarter. They rode that momentum throughout the first half, and went to the locker room with a 12-2 lead at half time.

In the third quarter, however, the Frontenac Falcons began to establish their ground game, chewing up 5 or 6 yards a pop using effective mis-direction to keep the Sydenham Golden Eagles front line off balance. This in turn made their passing game more effective. Late in the third quarter they scored a touchdown, and after a successful conversion the score was Sydenham 12, Frontenac 9 as they headed into the 4th quarter.

The Falcons defense kept shutting the Golden Eagles down, and while the Golden Eagles defence was able to keep them in the game, the Falcons marched down the field as time was running out. A final defensive stand by Sydenham prevented what would certainly have been a game winning touchdown, but the Falcons settled for a field goal with 2 minutes to go to tie the game at 12.

As the clock ran down, the Golden Eagles finally penetrated into the Falcons end. A punt at the buzzer made it into the Falcons end zone for a potential game winning safety but was easily run out to the 10 yard line by the returner.

In the overtime shootout both teams failed to score from the others 35 yard line on the first try.

Then on the second attempt, the Frontenac Falcons re-established their running game, earning two quick first downs. With the ball just outside of the ten yard line, a pass and run took them to the 2 yard line. That was all their front line needed, as they pushed the defensive line back on the next play and the ball was run into the end zone.

The Golden Eagles had one more chance but failed to get a first down, and it was over. They went down to a 19-12 season ending defeat.

With an undefeated season, and a close 2 point win in the semi-finals, it was successful season for Sydenham and will likely bring good results at the senior level over the next two years.


On October 27, a packed bus left NAEC early in the morning for a trip to Toronto. Students started their program with a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum. There, they saw the work of Dale Chihuly, a famous artist who works in blown glass. Students saw boats filled with huge glass globes, a landscape of glass including creatures from above and below the sea, various vessels, and some installations called “Persians”, inspired by the patterns in Persian Rugs.

As well as seeing the Chihuly exhibit, students visited other areas of the ROM, including the dinosaur exhibit, the Chinese exhibit, the bat cave, and the rock exhibit.

The group split into two for the next part of the day. Photos are not available for this part of the day, because one group was in the pitch dark, while the other was in an art gallery (a traditional “no-photo” zone).

Ms. Dunphy and Ms. Shepherd accompanied students to “Onoir”. This is a restaurant where the food is consumed in total darkness. The premise behind this is that all the diners’ senses are concentrated on their food, rather than being distracted by their surroundings. Students and staff reported having a delicious meal, and said it was a lot of fun to eat in the dark. Many said they would like to go again.

Ms. Allan and Ms. Harnden took their group to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the “Mystical Landscapes” exhibit. This featured an international array of different landscape artists, such as Van Gogh, Gaugiun, Monet and Georgia O’Keefe. There was also a good representation of Canadian artists, including Emily Carr, Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven. The focus of the exhibit was the concentration of artists on the soothing effects of the natural world in times of upheaval. Students were pleased when they recognized the works of artists they knew, but also enjoyed seeing the works of artists th  


An inconspicuous escarpment in northwest France has captured the imagination of a 16-year-old girl from Canada.

“They’re heroes,” Shannon Suffron said quietly, referring to the Canadians who fought for control of the 8km escarpment in World War One.

Known as the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the campaign made history when the Canadian Corps scaled a steep barrier separating them from the German Sixth Army. The Canadians captured most of the ridge during the first day of attacks on April 9, 1917. Three days later, they secured their final objective, a fortified knoll located outside the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle. It was a pivotal victory in the war.

Almost 100 years later, the battle remains a symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice. Prior to battle, the ridge was considered unsurmountable.

Awed by her countrymen’s courage and innovation, Suffron is looking forward to seeing history come to life when she joins a handful of classmates from La Salle Intermediate and Secondary School (LISS) at the battle site in April 2017.

Suffron is one of five LISS students from South Frontenac Township travelling to France to honour the achievement of our country’s forefathers at a 100th anniversary memorial service.

“I’m very excited,” said the teen in late 2016. “I think it’s a great opportunity to see first hand what I studied at school the year before in Grade 10 History.”

Using the topic to complete her final school project, Suffron studied the battle extensively.

“It’s known as a big Canadian milestone,” she said. “That was our first step in becoming our own country. Our victory earned the world’s respect.”

Aware many of the men who fought in the war were only a few years older than her, the teen paused and said, “I couldn’t imagine people in my grade going to war. Their courage was remarkable.”

Eager to travel overseas for the first time, Suffron noted, “It’s going to be interesting to see how Europeans live and experience their different lifestyle.”

After the service, which is expected to be attended by representatives of the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office and British Royal Family, students will have time to visit Paris and see attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and Louvre. LISS is one of three schools from Kingston participating in the trip to France.

“To be there exactly 100 years later is pretty spectacular,” said Laura McDowell, trip coordinator for LISS.

A History and Geography teacher at the high school for the past 18 years, McDowell confirmed that the Battle of Vimy Ridge is part of the curriculum for Grade 10 History. She will travel with the group to recognize the impact Canadians had on World War One. The Kingston contingent of 49 people is part of a movement of 15,000 Canadians planning to attend the service.

“It’s nice to have the opportunity to travel with them,” she said. “It’s exciting.”

According to McDowell, LISS students plan to fundraise to help offset the cost of the trip such as transportation to the airport. To make a donation, call 613-546-1737 ext. 239 or write This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“It’s not just people from Kingston there,” said the teacher. “There will be students represented from across the country. It’s a pretty incredible opportunity.”

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 21:31

NAEC students have a ball

On October 7, a group of students from North Addington Education Centre travelled to Kingston to visit the Kingston Glass Studio. Students took it in turns to try their hands at glass blowing, in order to make a spherical ornament. Each student chose the colours and style of their ornament, and blew it into a spherical shape with the help of the professional glass blowers at the studio.

“It was great to make your own glass ball, but it was just as much fun to watch your peers doing it,” said Emma Fuller, a grade 12 student. Students had to wait several days for the ornaments to cool enough to be transported, and were delighted with the results. This trip was in preparation for a trip on October 27 to the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the ROM in Toronto.

Grade 7 to 12 students at NAEC have also been having fun with a ball. They have been using inflatable bubble balls in a variety of activities. These balls were rented from Skyza, a new company from Pembroke. The balls are very large, with shoulder straps to keep them in place and keep the players’ heads protected.

Students have played Bubble Soccer, Sumo Wrestling, Last Man Standing, and King of the Hill. The great advantage to using the bubble balls is that students are protected from injury when making contact. It is also good exercise, because speed is not as hazardous. In addition, students spend a lot of energy manoeuvring while playing Bubble Soccer.

Amber Verbruggen, Grade 7, said, “It made you feel like you were on a roller-coaster.” Noah Gray, from Grade 8, observed, “It was fun because we got to “crush” people without getting in trouble!”

Wednesday, 05 October 2016 22:29

Granite Ridge Sign Costs Covered

On Sept. 22, members of the Granite Ridge Education Centre Parents’ Council joined with administrative staff at the school to celebrate the end of a successful fundraising campaign. The parents’ council made a commitment to raise $22,000 to go along with an $11,000 commitment from the Limestone Board for an electronic sign at the front of the school.

It took 26 months to raise the money. Parents’ council members raised money at their Ladies’ Night events, through tea and coffee sales, Nevada funds, and through their share of proceeds from the annual Polar Plunge at the Frontenac Heritage Festival.

The sign provides a public face for the school and informs the school and local communities about upcoming events.

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