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Urban academy news

Weekly Update | September 1, 2023


Welcome to the 2023–2024 school year, UA families! It was so good to see so many faces at the Back to School Celebration/Open House. The energy in the school was palpable. September is always a favourite time of year for educators as we watch with delight as students reconnect with friends they haven’t seen in two months. We also see taller young humans, who have two months of growth—in both height and wisdom—and are raring to be back at school, eager to learn and to socialize. 

In addition to some new students, families and staff who are joining our community, we have a number of exciting ‘new’ things we want to share with you. Here are a few of the wonderful things UA will be offering to our community of learners this year:

Junior School: We are so excited to have built-in more health and wellness to our curriculum. This means students in JK to Grade 3 will get more active time each day, as well as support for healthy living and wellness literacy, thanks to Ms. Scali, who is leading this initiative in her new role as our dedicated Health and Wellness Teacher. 

Middle School: Being a future-focused school, we always want to be innovating and providing students with opportunities that will build valuable life skills. In addition to our Grade 6/7 students getting the unique opportunity to learn project management through their Entrepreneurship course, our Explorations 6/7 Rotation has also introduced an Outdoor Education (OE) component this year. Ms. Manifold, our new Grade 6 teacher, will be facilitating this course and comes with a wealth of experience in Outdoor Education, and a passion for the outdoors. OE at the Grade 6/7 level will be about building the foundational skills that will serve students well in their continued Outdoor Education experiences at school and with family. We are so pleased to provide these new offerings while continuing to provide students with their art course, which will now be in their regular day schedule and not part of their Explorations rotation.

Senior School: We are pleased that our new timetable provides students with choice and flexibility. With the 2-day calendar and 45-minute blocks, Grade 10–12 Students will have more opportunities to take the courses they desire, and the study blocks provide them the opportunity to develop their self-management skills to complete work. Self-management and balancing demands are valuable skills to develop and practice for life beyond UA. 

Further, we are extremely excited to launch our Advanced Placement Program in the Senior School and are pleased to see how many students have selected to pursue AP English Language, with AP World History and AP Economics also getting interest. In addition, we are providing an exam-only option for students who want to self-study for courses like AP Psychology or AP Biology, which we are not yet offering in our timetable. More information about AP Programs will be shared with the Grade 11 & 12 students in the first days of school next week and with families at the Meet the Teacher Night (further details below).  

Timetable philosophy: We created a new timetable this year to maximize opportunities for students to learn and to play; to be in class and to practice independent thinking. You will see all classes from K to 12 are on a 45-minute rotation. This allows more opportunities for students in Junior School to have exposure to daily physical activity as well as dedicated playtime on the decks. It allows Middle School students to have additional opportunities in their timetables to unique course offerings that UA is proud to deliver, like Entrepreneurship and Outdoor Ed, as well as to provide dedicated time for them to move on the decks and in the gym during their breaks. And, it also allows Senior students an opportunity to flex their executive functioning skills by providing progressively more in-school study and independent work time as they age. 

Sustainability focus: Staff at UA have been working hard to see life through a lens of sustainability and this will continue to be our focus for the coming school year. We aim to ensure every activity we create considers the impact on our environment.

With those little glimpses into the coming year, we want to wish you all a joyful long weekend of adventure or relaxation or something in between to end your summers. We are so excited to see the students on Tuesday morning and we cannot wait to launch the 2023–2024 school year!

Yours in gratitude,
Brenda Ball, 
UA Principal