As parents and as educators, we know that Middle School is an exciting time of exploration and transition. We want to ensure our students have a safe and supportive space to explore new skills and interests as they begin to exert their indepence. At Havergal, we believe that shaping the strong female leaders of tomorrow begins with fostering a growth mindset today.
Throughout this key development stage, we encourage our Middle School students to try new things, keep an open mind and step out of their comfort zones. We work to instill in them the confidence to explore, while simultaneously reducing the pressure girls of this age often feel to be perfect. The Middle School years are a period of immense neurological development for girls. As adults, we think mainly with our prefrontal cortex, which centres on judgment and the understanding of long-term consequences to our actions. Because of the way the brain develops, teens rely more heavily on the amygdala when processing information. The amygdala is the emotional-response centre of the brain. This influences the decisions teens make, and we need to remember that teens are prone to feeling more than they are to rational thinking. This is also why they need parental and teacher encouragement to try, to explore and to take risks in a safe environment. They naturally feel more self-conscious and their concern for what others think increases at this age, so they do need encouragement to step outside their comfort zone, along with support in understanding why their emotions are so strong and powerful at this stage of their lives.
It’s with this understanding of adolescent neurological development that we craft our Middle School Program. We know that ages 11 to 14 are key opportunities to have new experiences that foster strong and varied neurological pathways, teaching their teenage brains that they can try something new, they can challenge themselves and they can succeed. This process of exploration and repeated patterns of trial and error serves as the foundation for their confidence as young adults. The Middle School Program at Havergal is designed to provide students with the right balance of support, structure and choice to help girls thrive during this transformational time.
Our Form Program provides students with age-appropriate wellbeing sessions to help nurture the learning, social-emotional and interpersonal skills that are important in their development and will help set them up for long-term success.
To encourage exploration, our Co-curricular Program gives students the opportunity to discover new activities, explore and experiment safely while building confidence in a multitude of other disciplines in arts, athletics, community service and global learning. Students have the flexibility to develop new skills or discover new passions. Equally important, girls are challenged to try something they never thought they would try, and with that, learn what they enjoy and what they do not. With a wide range of nearly 30 clubs, they can investigate interests ranging from Robotics to Drama.
Lastly, we want to ensure our students can access the support they need during this time. For this reason, we offer additional 1:1 development support. This individualized approach is different for every student and is offered to whatever degree is necessary. For some, this could mean working with a dedicated Middle School guidance counsellor or their Form Teacher. For others, this might be 1:1 time with the Head of Middle School. Finally, Middle School students have access to a variety of other health and wellbeing supports including a school social worker, nurse, athletic therapist or athletic trainer.
Linked here is a good article outlining the changes in brain development that happen during adolescence, along with tips for parents to encourage healthy habits in their teens. As we strive to empower the leaders of tomorrow, we look forward to working with Havergal parents in encouraging this phase of exploration and growth. By instilling a passion for learning and fostering a growth mindset, we can help ensure our students have the future-ready skills they’ll need to lead in an ever-changing world.
The last day of classes before the March Break is Thursday, March 10.
All students must take home all of their belongings from their lockers during this time.
Classes resume for all students on Monday, March 28.
We wish everyone a restful and engaging March Break!
Highlights of the Middle School Performing Arts Program
Cissy Goodridge, Director of Performing Arts
The start of 2022 has been busy for our Middle School students in the Performing Arts.
On January 25, the Brenda Robson Hall was alive with sounds from our Grade 8 music classes. While our families could not come together for a live concert, our students and their teachers prepared a recorded video of their music showcase. The showcase featured performances by the band, vocal and string classes and was a delight for all who watched. View their performance here.
The Middle School Dance Troupe has been working regularly every Wednesday afternoon and their debut performance was shared in Prayers on January 20. The dance was set to Am I Wrong? by Nico and Vinz and was choreographed by the students.
Now that the academic Grade 8 Band course has finished, the Grade 8 Co- Curricular Band will start rehearsals in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for an email from Ms. Spigott with more details about rehearsals.
After March Break we will be starting auditions for the Middle School Musical Theatre Club. This musical review will showcase songs from a variety of musicals. If you like to sing and dance, Musical Theatre Club is for you.
Bravo to all of our performers!
Athletic Opportunities Keep Middle School Students Moving
Carla Di Filippo, Athletic Director
Throughout the pandemic, Havergal never lost sight of the importance of athletics in relation to the wellbeing of our students. Athletes were thrilled to have the opportunity to put on their green and gold team uniforms and compete for the Gators. With a focus on reaching the most students, a priority was made to offer a range of different sports with various levels of competitiveness.
All of our traditional athletic opportunities were back this fall, such as field hockey, basketball, soccer, swimming and cross country. In addition to these, two new sports were introduced: tennis training and disc golf. Tennis training was perfect for students who wanted to try tennis for the first time or work on their tennis skills with committed coaches. Disc golf is a fast growing sport with courses all over Toronto, including one on our very own campus! This fall students practised and played tournaments against other schools and even travelled to E.T. Seton Park to play on a professional level course.
The competitive spirit continued into the winter season with sports such as badminton, volleyball, swimming and alpine skiing. Just like the fall, we wanted to offer more opportunities for our students to participate in athletics. With the purchase of new cross country skis and the enthusiasm of Mr. McCulloch, nordic skiing was the obvious choice. On any given day, you can find a team of students making their way around Ratcliffe Field training for the CISAA finals. We also offered a U14 Hockey Team for the first time in Havergal history. With no other school offering a girls team, the squad plays in the CISAA boys D2 non-contact league. It is an honour to watch the team battle it out on the ice as the only all-girls team in the league.
Looking forward to the spring, we will be offering our most popular sports in ultimate Frisbee, tennis, track and field and softball. We are also offering rugby 7’s in the Senior School to build off our strong U14 touch league and a brand new Golf team.
After a period of uncertainty during the pandemic, building strong relationships with others is a priority. There is no better way to meet others, gain confidence and reconnect with your classmates than through sport. Our Middle School students have done just that!
Perseverance, Resilience and the Middle School Play
Jennifer Mills, Middle School Drama Teacher
Another year, another show! However, this year saw Middle Schooler’s taking on some of the greatest challenges we’ve yet to encounter. With the unpredictability of whether or not we’d have a live audience, students showed incredible adaptability in adjusting to ever-changing circumstances. To accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, we selected the play Ten/Two by Lindsay Price. This allowed us to keep Grade 7 and 8 students separated while maintaining a large cast and crew. And while we missed the mixed-grade bonding, students were afforded the unique opportunity to take on a significant acting challenge: two-hander scenes.
Our tech crew also learned more than ever by taking on greater responsibilities in lighting, sound and show-running. Finally, our design team did an absolutely gorgeous job creating our set. They took ownership over their designs and blew me away with their creative interpretations of the script.
We had one of the largest groups of students ever, with 61 students involved across acting, tech and design roles. Each student approached their role with great seriousness and I am immensely proud of how this group handled uncertainty this year!
Photos and a recording of the show are available here.
HCPA 2022-23 Nominations Open
Deadline: Friday, March 25 at 9 am
Are you interested in becoming more involved in the Havergal community? Now is your chance! The nomination process for the 2022-23 Havergal College Parent Association (HCPA) is now open and there are a wide variety of positions for parents in both the Junior and Upper Schools. Please read our nomination letter for more details and a full description of each volunteer position open for nomination.
It is very easy to become more involved in the Havergal community, connect with an amazing group of parents and have some fun along the way. Nominate yourself or another parent for any of the open positions. Don’t delay, the deadline for submissions is Friday, March 25 at 9 am.
GO-VAXX Mobile Vaccine Clinic at Havergal
On Saturday, March 5 the GO-VAXX mobile vaccine bus will be on-site at Havergal College’s Upper School parking lot (1451 Avenue Road) from 10 am to 6 pm to administer first, second and booster doses for those aged 12 and up, and paediatric Pfizer vaccines for children ages five to 11. Vaccinations will be available to everyone—students, parents, faculty and staff, Alums/Old Girls—as well as friends, neighbours and beyond. All are welcome!
GO-VAXX is a partnership between the Ontario government and Metrolinx, whereby GO buses have been converted to serve as mobile vaccine clinics to provide a safe, reliable and convenient option for people to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.
Walk-ins are available, while supplies last. To book an appointment, visit the COVID-19 vaccination portal or call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Bookings are available beginning Friday, March 4 at 8 am. Visit Ontario.ca/vaccinebus for more information and watch for reminders on our social media channels.
Message from the Middle School Prefects
Zoe and Alexa
Middle School was an immensely formative time of our lives. We still remember our MS Prefects from Grade 7: Meg and Steph. Though we don’t remember their last names, we will never forget the joy, life and fun they brought to the Middle School. It has been our goal to do the same.
When we entered the Senior School, we lost touch with the Middle School, but it has been amazing to be able to reconnect with such a memorable part of our time at Havergal as Prefects. We have especially enjoyed leading our MS Council made up of 11 Grade 8 and 12 Grade 7 students. As formal leaders, it has taught us how to mediate large groups and has given us the opportunity to support budding leaders. With the help of our fantastic council, we have planned wildly successful events like our Halloween Movie Night. After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, it was an incredible way to safely gather the Middle School community for a fun social event. We were happy to plan it and thrilled with all the positive feedback we received!
Another part of our role that is not as obvious is getting to work with our outstanding advisor, Mrs. Patterson, the Head of the Middle School. Not only is she organized and down-to-earth, but she also loves and cares about each and every student. Her passion and appreciation is contagious and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with her.
Though not everything has gone as planned so far this year, we wouldn’t change a thing. The Middle School is where the magic happens and we are so grateful to be a part of it again.
Meet Our Faculty & Staff
Upper School Head of English and Drama
Jennifer Goldberg is the Head of Havergal’s English and Drama department and a Middle School Form teacher who currently teaches Grades 7 and 12 English. She holds three degrees from the University of Toronto: an Honours Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Education and a Masters in History. Her scholarship has been published in Historical Studies in Education and she has presented at the National Association of Girls’ Schools, Conference of Independent Teachers of English and the Havergal Summer Institute. She has taught every grade in the Upper School and worked cross-departmentally in the Social Sciences, on the Admission team and as Havergal’s Chair of Teaching and Learning.
As part of the Middle School team, Ms. Goldberg feels privileged to work alongside colleagues who are experts in both their subjects and the learning needs of middle years students. She sees firsthand how the Middle School’s focus on discipline-specific understanding and thinking establishes the foundation for a high school experience marked by rich growth, challenge, and opportunity.
When she’s not in teacher mode, you’re likely to find Ms. Goldberg listening to an obscure podcast, baking her way through her latest cookbook acquisition or trying to broaden her toddler’s reading taste beyond his current favourite book, Toot.