In an effort to keep the CDS community informed of the latest news around the School, I wanted to create a space on our website where I could offer a range of CDS facts, stats and interesting history in the form of news nuggets, rather than entire stories.
We want you to be one of the first to know about what is happening in our hallways, in our Boardroom, with our campaign plans and emerging Archives; a CDS Heads Up of sorts. I hope you find this page of interest and check back regularly.
I have now written a number of letters of this sort over the past few years. I have been told that parents appreciate them, but I would imagine some don’t. If you find yourself in the latter camp, my apologies – especially since this letter is two pages!
The Country Day School is proud to be a member of the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) organization. To be a member of CAIS, you must commit to maintaining an internal culture that strives to continually improve.
I am pleased to announce Mr. Andy MacMillan as our new Outdoor Education Coordinator for the Middle and Senior Schools. With a rich and varied background in outdoor experiences, Andy is well-positioned to extend our already successful Junior School outdoor education program into our Middle and Senior Schools.
Pictured to the right, is The Country Day School’s newest playroom – our new robotics lab! While much of our facility-related attention of late has understandably been on our new Dining Hall and rejuvenated Senior School, there are other interesting areas being repurposed as well.
The Country Day School was illuminated in green and blue Tuesday evening for the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Celebration of the new Dining Hall and rejuvenated Senior School. More than 250 current and past CDS parents, students, alumni, faculty and staff, grandparents and friends enjoyed an evening exploring the building which allowed them to happen upon musical performances by the CDS Senior Choir and Band, and gourmet food and beverage stations, provided by our new Dining Hall food provider.
The largest campaign in The Country Day School’s history is nearly complete and we will celebrate the opening of our magnificent new building on January 26th at a cocktail reception and ribbon cutting. The 51,000 square foot addition includes a state-of-the-art Marché style Dining Hall, which opened in September, and a spectacular addition to our existing Senior School.
As of today, we are about as far from summertime as possible, but my thoughts were drawn there this week nevertheless. You see, in the summer, the students aren't here and the physical spaces at the School just don't feel right. One might think educators find peace in the absence of activity that the summer affords – but it's quite the opposite.
The food program in our CDS Country Kitchen has been a tremendous success. Our students are eating a healthy, hot lunch and the majority of the logistical issues associated with our start-up have been properly sorted.
A few years back, CDS began the practice of hiring “Associate” teachers. Earlier this week, three new Associate teachers started work at the School, so I thought it might be an appropriate time to elaborate on the role.
If you’ve ever built a house or been involved in a major renovation project, you will appreciate the meaning of the saying, “the devil is in the details!” With the majority of the main structural elements in place for the past month or so, construction activity on our Dining Hall and Senior School has turned to the myriad of small to medium-sized decisions that seem to pop up around every corner.
This is “Auction week” at CDS and this has me in a somewhat reflective mood in terms of how our building project has progressed. Certainly the scale of the project is now unmistakable. The new building has an impressive physical presence and many who have had the opportunity to walk the inside of the building have commented on how the property is now shaping up to have much more of a campus feel.
Thankfully, spring is finally in full force, allowing the construction team to make excellent headway on our schedule. As everyone can see, a lot of work has been completed already, but we still have many things left to do. Once again, trust that we will keep you up-to-date on progress through the rest of the school year and through the summer.
In the results of our Parent and Student surveys last spring, both constituent groups resoundingly identified our talented and connected faculty and staff as a key strength at The Country Day School. Following best practices in education, this engagement routinely takes the educational experience outside the classroom in order to enrich activities and deepen the learning experience.
I am pleased to report that our construction team has made remarkable headway despite having endured one of the most challenging winters on record. I am optimistically writing in the past tense as snow is forecast for tonight!
Inevitably, in scheduling a project of this scale, there are unexpected factors that can present themselves and significant hurdles that must still be cleared. Rest assured, the team will continue to make every effort to maintain their present level of progress. We will continue to keep you informed with specific building updates approximately every two weeks - from now through to when the building opens.
One of the amazing intangible qualities of The Country Day School is the sense of comfort our students feel when they are on our campus. A few years ago, our Student Council President described our physical surroundings as “cozy.”
How will the new building provide the same sense of comfort?
Earlier this school year, I penned a Recipe Series on issues relating to our new Dining Hall. The spotlight has now transferred to the impressive structure that has risen on our campus in such a short time span, which contains the new Dining Hall and rejuvenated Senior School. Therefore, it seems fitting to launch a new mini-series addressing various aspects of the new building’s design and purpose.
Our school community has resoundingly expressed an interest in a having a robust lunch program made available. Every morning as you enter the campus, you can literally see our progress towards that long-anticipated goal.
Feeding almost 800 people a hot healthy lunch each day will be a challenge for sure, but one that will be well worth the effort! We have been working hard across many fronts to ensure success of this long anticipated program, but today, I thought I would highlight two measures in particular.
Achieving a heightened sense of health and wellness in our lunch program is a key point of our Dining Hall vision outlined in Recipe #1 – but we need to ensure our students come along for the ride. To achieve this we intend to take a broad, multi-faceted approach.
One of the School’s Guiding Principles is to raise social and global awareness. Somewhat unexpectedly, our highly-anticipated lunch program is shaping up to be an enormous opportunity to help make this worthy goal a daily practice for our students.
Remember those times when the pace was slower and you had more time to savour the little things like freshly prepared foods made from simple ingredients? The pace of life has increased so much and so rapidly, that people are finally taking a step back and realizing that we need to make changes to our lives in order to make life more reasonably paced, simpler and healthier.
As we prepare for the opening of our new Dining Hall, we want to ensure that students not only have time to eat, but also the opportunity to pause and think about what they are eating.
In many houses, the kitchen is thought of as the centre of the home. The same will be true of our new Dining Hall and Marché-style kitchen here at CDS, with just a short walk to each of the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools.
Our Dining Hall will feature a high, open, wood ceiling, a central fireplace, a mezzanine for additional seating and be able to seat more than 300 students at a time.
In our health-conscious culture, we must be increasingly aware of the needs of those individuals who have special dietary restrictions. Our Country Kitchen will not only be nut-free, but equipped to safely handle all food allergies and intolerances, as well as the need for gluten-free, low-fat and low-sodium options.
When I went to high school, my cafeteria offered few options beyond burgers, hot dogs and french fries. In fact, I wonder how I am alive today, because I literally ate fries and gravy with a Coke every day for lunch. I even remember how much it cost - $2 for the fries and a loonie for the Coke! (Note: a “fryer” has been specifically banned from the new CDS kitchen!)
First and foremost, our food service program is based on the promotion of healthy eating and lifestyle choices. We want our young people to adopt, at as early an age as possible, a truly balanced and informed viewpoint when it comes to what they choose to eat.
So says the late, great James Brown and I’d like to soon say the same! Our Making Connections campaign team is holding a fantastic event on November 19th in support of our new Dining Hall and rejuvenated Senior School called the Bag Lady Extravaganza!
The results of the 2014 Parent and Student Survey were sent home in The Backpack on October 30. If you have not yet had a chance to review them, I would encourage you to do so. We have presented the highlights, areas in need of attention and improvement, and new school initiatives for both surveys in a six-page brochure available on the featured content page in MYCDS.
On June 12, CDS honoured 76 graduates who received nearly 300 admission offers to schools across Canada, the U.S. and the world and were offered more than $1.3M in scholarships and awards for their post-secondary education. Fifty-six students graduated as Ontario Scholars.
Yes, I am showing my age and the students won’t have a clue what I am talking about, nevertheless I was thinking about the School’s increasing presence on the Robotics front and the song popped into my head!
Student life at CDS is robust and active - young people in our school get involved in wonderfully diverse and fulfilling ways. One of these endeavors is the generation of our student newspaper The Eversley Register which recently switched to an online version: www.eversleyregister.com.
The CDS team certainly has been busy preparing the way for our exciting new capital project - our plan to build a Dining Hall and a new Senior School represents the largest building project in the School’s 42-year history!
What a blessing for us that there are hundreds, possibly thousands of trees on the CDS campus! In fact, as part of our Junior School Outdoor Education program, our students are taking an inventory of the many different species of trees spread across our 100 acre campus.
As you may have noticed, in the interests of student safety (and reducing the frustration associated with pick up) we are once again targeting the following of proper procedures for picking up students.
As a young man, my sport of choice was road cycling – particularly long distance rides. I’m not a young man anymore so I hadn’t cycled in quite some time, until two summers ago that is – when a fellow parent at CDS cajoled me into taking a ride or two again.
The Farrow Group is the architectural firm we have hired to design CDS’ new Senior School and Dining Hall. Among other things, Farrow has carved out a niche for approaching the design process with a focus on promoting health.
In my last Heads Up entry I wrote about data-driven schools – the recent trend of schools endeavoring to quantify as many variables as possible in order to measure success, or improvement. While The Country Day School could produce many impressive statistical measures to demonstrate its success, it is my opinion that these qualitative measures are not at the root of our success.
Practices in the field of education seem to go through cycles – methodologies will become the norm then go out of fashion, only to return as the prevailing practice once again. One of these itinerant phenoms is the notion of data-driven schools, whereby success markers are incessantly quantified.
The School recently published our Snow Day Protocol. Because all students use some sort of motor vehicle to get to CDS, road conditions factor prominently in our decision to call a snow day. The information can be found here.
Head of School, Mr. Liggett’s band “Blue Jam and the Electric Toasters” won a major high school star search competition in the 1980s in a performance at the Concert Hall in Toronto amidst chants of “blue toast” from the crowd!!
The new building project includes the provision of a teaching kitchen where students (and even parents) will be able to connect various aspects of food and healthy eating and cooking with their regular curriculum.
The Country Day School currently has no debt on its balance sheet! The school has taken on debt in the past in order to fund projects. Whenever the school considers a loan, prudent financial practice is followed in order to ensure that debt loads do not exceed key affordability ratios. The new building project will require the School to take on some debt – the amount will not be known until the success of our fundraising campaign is determined. The more successful the campaign, the less debt the School will need to leverage.
Since the announcement of our new building project in May of 2012, the School's building committee (composed of Board members and School staff) has facilitated two formal RFP (Request For Proposal) processes – the first to hire an architect and the second to hire a construction manager. A large number of competing bids were received and the committee unanimously accepted the services of The Farrow Group as our architect and Triaxis Group as our construction management firm.
We have had three community forums so far designed to elicit important feedback on the nature of our new building project. These sessions were attended by students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff and local representatives. Staff and faculty have also attended a large number of user group meetings.