Winter Newsletter

Meeting Summary from November 30

Thank you to all who attended our second School Council meeting of the year on November 30th. Principal Parravano presented a school update, including EQAO results, announcement of Helen Saroglou as our new full-time administrative staff member and the TDSB’s search for our new head custodian. Please click here to view our full meeting minutes.

Fundraising at Withrow

A lot of people wonder why we have so much fundraising at a public school. Due to our socio-economic location, our funding from the TDSB covers only the basics. If our school community wants to see other purchases or initiatives above the basic level, then we, as a parent body, need to fundraise to provide for all the “bells and whistles” that make Withrow extra special. In the past, the money raised has been used to fund technology for the school, garden education, school yard improvements and, recently, purchases of musical instruments and sports jerseys.

Historically at Withrow, we have done our fundraising through three main avenues: the Annual Giving Campaign, the Silent Auction and the Fun Fair. The AGC is a direct ask for cash and every dollar is used for the students. The Silent Auction uses the talents of a dedicated committee of parents to solicit donations and transform the gym into a posh venue for an elegant event. The Fun Fair has another fantastic body of parents remaster the school yard into a hopping, bouncing, singing, dancing, face painting bundle of fun.

This diverse range of fundraising vehicles means parents have opportunities to donate in the way that they are best able and that is most meaningful to them and their families. We all have a choice regarding how we donate to Withrow: you can volunteer time on one of these committees, or donate money to the AGC, or attend the events with an open wallet…or all of the above! Recently, we have received requests for other types of fundraising such as partnership programmes with local businesses. What a great idea! All of our Fundraising With Everyday Purchases can be found on our website, under “Ways to Support”. We currently have relationships with:

Important! All orders MUST go through the campaign pages of each fundraiser to get the fundraising dollars!

The decisions on how to spend the funds are always based on an open and democratic process. All parents and guardians at Withrow have a say! 

Annual Giving Campaign

Hopefully you’ve all checked your child(ren)’s backpacks and found our Annual Giving Campaign request. We have worked hard over the years as a community to make our schoolyard something of which we are proud.  This has been  accomplished through raising money via the fun fair, silent auction and your generous giving campaign donations. This year our primary focus is to install our climber in the area recently coined by our children: The Woodchip Area.

We hope you consider giving this year; donations of any amount are appreciated.  If you would like your donation directed towards a specific use, please make note of it via Paypal or include it with your cheque.

Property Update

In early November, H&S and our school administration met with the TDSB viability team to understand the process of installing an awesome climber in what is now being called The Woodchip Area. We were very excited to hear that this project could potentially be completed within a year. Of course, there are many levels to this process and we are hoping that before purchase, the children will have a vote on a choice of three. We have, as an outstanding community, raised enough money for the climber which we are hoping will fall under $20 000. The small surprise for some of us was that the installation generally runs two and a half to three times the cost of the actual item. Yikes!!! We are almost at a close with this 4 year project. The pit has been repaired, the trees have been planted (Thanks, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation), the track has been built and the field is solidifying as you read, and all this is thanks to a community that gets involved.

Withrow Cares Reminder

This year, with our increased awareness of Aboriginal issues and focus on the Canadian First Nations, we have chosen to support two charities:
1. Help send Inuit Care Packages to families in the North
2. Club Amik

Last year, Nanook Fareal decided to flip the Christmas tradition to send care packages to the north. As you may know, food in the northern part of Canada is quite expensive. She created a GoFundMe page and this year’s goal is to raise $10,000. Although this is not a registered charity, we hope that you would consider helping out this wonderful initiative. If you are interested please click on this link for more information.

Club Amik is an Aboriginal Literacy Initiative providing books and magazines to children in Ontario’s North. Club Amik is a registered charity. The charity provides books and resources to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation to approximately 35 communities. Please see the website for more information.

Lunchtime and After-school Programs

Lunchtime programs are open for registration starting on the morning of Thursday December 15.  Registration forms can be found on the afterschool blog. They will also be available for pick up from the office. Registration is on a first-come basis (with some priority given for students who have not attended a session this school year) and will close when programs are full. Programs are capped at 15 students for Chess and Drawing Club, and 20 students for Raising Readers.  Programs available for registration are: Chess for primary students for the winter and spring terms, Chess for junior students for the winter term, Drawing club for the winter term and Raising Readers for the winter term.  Registration will be confirmed by the end of the first week of school in January.

Registration for After-school Programs is also open.  Information can be found on the afterschool blog but registration is handled directly with the provider.

Silent Auction Update

The Silent Auction Date has been set so start booking your babysitters for April 7th 2017!
It’s the best night out in the neighbourhood, with delicious cocktails, friendly faces and great items for purchase. As always,  all proceeds go right to the school!
But…. we need your help! As you are out celebrating and shopping this season and in the coming months, please consider asking your favourite watering holes, restaurants, shops and service providers if they would like to support our school! It’s a great way for businesses to gain exposure and clientele. After all, don’t we all love to find a new delicious eatery, massage therapist, or nightspot?!

Please consider sharing your faves and any outreach you do with us at withrowauction@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Upcoming Dates of Interest

December 14 – Winter Concert
December 15 – Pizza Lunch 🍕
December 16 – Carols by Candlelight in Withrow Park (7pm-8pm at the Fire Pit)
December 23 – Last Day of School

January 9 – First Day Back
January 20 – PA Day
January 26 – Pizza Lunch 🍕

September Newsletter

School Council Meeting

The first School Council meeting of the year will take place on Wednesday, October 5th, 7–9pm. Parent representatives from each class are asked to attend, as well as any other parents/caregivers who are interested in what’s going on at Withrow. This meeting is targeted at people new to the school; we will discuss what the School Council does as well as discuss some of the fundraising we do through our Home and School arm. One topic we would like to broach is what people think about how we do our fundraising. And for those of you who are old hands at the school, we are looking to fill a co-chair position for the 2016–17 school year, so if you’re interested, let us know! We are always looking for volunteers who want to get involved and make our kids’ experiences at Withrow the best they can be! Childcare will be provided.

Lunchtime and After-school Programs

We have just opened another lunch time chess program for Juniors (Grades 4-6).  Registration opens on Thursday (tomorrow, September 29) at 8:30 am in the office.  There are also 2 spots left for lunch time drawing on Thursdays (grade 2-3) and a few spots for Raising Readers (Grades 1-2).

Registration for all after-school programs continues.  We have added Chess (Mondays after school), Lego (Quantum Kidz on Tuesdays) and Lego Programming (Bricks4Kidz on Wednesdays).  Programs will be cancelled if there is insufficient enrollment.  Information for all programs can be found on the after-school blog – http://withrowafterschool.blogspot.ca/.

Withrow Silent Auction

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Silent Auction Preparations are starting!

There is nothing silent about this Auction (despite its name). In fact, this is the most coveted event in the Withrow parents’ calendar each year. To keep it that way, we require fresh blood for our committee. Everyone can help.

Do you want to be our:

  • Advertising and Social Media Guru
  • Volunteer Monitor
  • Food and Drink Manager
  • Class Art Director
  • Donation Hustler …?

For all this hard work you will dive deep into the Withrow community, spend fun evenings with like-minded parents, get to check out amazing cocktails before the auction and generally feel good about yourselves for knowing that you have contributed to an event that brought in $31,000 for the school last year alone. If you are interested, just email us at withrowauction@gmail.com.

Fundraising With Everyday Purchases

For a limited time only, we’ll be selling COBS Bread cards* – good for 12 loaves of bread  for only $30! That’s half price off fresh bread!

Our neighbourhood COBS Bread (on Danforth at Broadview) has generously donated these cards to Withrow, with 100% of proceeds going to our Home and School Association. If you love fresh bread (we know you do!), this is a great way to get a fabulous deal and support our school at the same time!

To purchase, fill out the sign-up form and we’ll email you with payment details. Cards are available until October 6th, so get yours soon!

*Maximum of two cards per family, please.

To view all of the “everyday products” we fundraise with, check out the fundraising section of our website.

Lost and Found

Can you believe there’s already a ton of items in our Lost and Found? The first clean out will take place on October 7th, so please ensure you check the Lost and Found by that date to retrieve any missing items. 

Greening Committee

Parent Gardeners!  Withrow School needs your help, and would welcome your assistance with the weeding, pruning and general taming of the Withrow Native Garden (located just beyond The Friendship playground structure).

Created in 2009 from grant monies secured by parents, the Native Garden was originally an outdoor classroom and educational resource for teachers, showcasing a stunning variety of plants native to Southern Ontario. But over the years, this space has grown wild!

While parents are welcome to hop the fence and weed anytime (e.g. after school, weekends), please ALSO mark your calendars for a special WEED-FEST on Friday October 14th from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Gardeners with knowledge, skills and tools are especially welcome.

Please indicate your interest to paulinestanley@rogers.com.

Withrow School Food Garden Update

We’ve had another productive spring and summer in the Withrow School Food Garden. It’s hard to believe this is already my 7th growing season working as the School Garden Educator at Withrow! In the past few months, I have done a few presentations about my work in school food gardens, which has given me a chance to look through pictures from the past few years. I’m constantly amazed by how much the garden has changed and how much I have learned from working in the garden with students and collaborating with teachers.

Despite the dry spring and summer, we’ve been able to explore and taste a number of things from the garden. Every spring, we have plenty of “volunteer” plants sprouting from last fall’s seeds, and even this fall, we have salad greens and herbs popping up from plants that went to seed over the hot dry summer. And new lemon balm plants seem to be finding their way to all corners of the garden, which always makes the kids happy.

Mme Boujos’ class has already had a chance to do a bit of harvesting to make some kale and herb pesto, which they really enjoyed (even those who were adamant they did not like kale nor garlic)! One of my favourite cooking lessons last spring was with Mme Johnna’s SK class. There wasn’t yet enough to harvest in the garden, so we used some Ontario storage crops from the farmers’ market, such as beets, radishes, carrots and cabbages, as well as some chives from the school garden. Students peeled, grated and cut the veggies and we added a simple dressing. The only complaint I heard was “We were only allowed 4 servings!” Seems it was quite a hit!

One of the new lessons I’ve started with over the past year is Garden Mapping and Planning. During the first lesson, we map and measure the garden, and learn why farmers or gardeners need to know how big their fields or gardens are. During the second lesson, students have the chance to plan what they would like to grow in the garden. They take into consideration what grows in Ontario, what can grow in the shade or needs a lot of sunlight, and how much space different plants need. I was definitely inspired by the students’ plans when planning this year’s garden!

Garden Club has started again for the fall season and we have already started doing some garden maintenance. We have students from a range of grades, which is really nice. A couple of the older students have been in Garden Club since they were in grade 1 and are now able to take on more of a mentorship role in the club. I know that they can work independently on certain tasks while I work with the younger ones, or that the older students can lead a small group of younger students with tasks they have become familiar with. I really enjoy working with this group of young gardeners. Garden Club is open to new members in grades 1-6 in September and in April.

If you would like to read more about my work at Withrow and in other neighbourhood school gardens, check out my blog or follow me on twitter.  ~ Elin