Since November 2020, Grade 7s have been learning about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Agreed on by every UN nation-state, the 17 SDGs share overarching themes to end poverty, fight inequalities and defeat climate change — all by the year 2030.
“We looked at the different goals and then students chose a goal or two goals that aligned with an issue they’re passionate about,” said Jasmine Hare, Teacher, Ivy Compass Program, Junior School. “They researched their goal, developed an action plan, and now they are carrying it out.”
Students have created a wide range of projects. They have been inspired by activists, and are becoming inspiring activists. For example:
Isabella and Noelle are creating a model home using sustainable materials. “We’re using solar panels, and glass to make the house more reusable,” they said.
Reese is making a gender-equality poster. “I feel inequality is a really big issue,” she said. “It’s not right to base a whole person off of one aspect of their identity.”
Rachel and Isabelle are thinking about girls’ education. Their project includes promoting QR codes that would bring people straight to Plan International’s “Send a Girl to School” campaign. “A lot of women around the world don’t have access to the education that we have and I think it’s really important to raise awareness about that,” said Isabelle.
Flora, Taryn, and Maggie are concerned with two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land. “There are a lot of endangered animals because of humans,” they said. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes that led to them being endangered.” They want to save and protect these important species.
These projects and more are on display on a special webpage built by Ms. Hare, and CHS is featuring their ideas on the School’s social media channels over the next two weeks. Follow Crofton House on Instagram to see how you can help Grade 7s take action now on the UN’s SDGs.
Senior Kindergarten students were visited by none other than Zero the Hero on a beautiful sunny day at Crofton House School. She flew in with 100 balloons and congratulations for achieving their 100th day of school! She also said thank you for all of the colourful messages of welcome she saw from high above the ground. “In Numberland, we like to count lots of numbers … from 0 to 100,” said Zero the Hero. “And we also like to count on each other.”
After an animated Q&A session with Zero the Hero about her friends and activities in Numberland, each girl had the chance to pose with the balloons … and teachers too.
Here are some of the things they wanted to know:
Why didn’t you come to us when we started?
I saw all your messages, but I just couldn’t quite make it. But I told myself on the 100th day of school, I’m going to come with 100 balloons so we can celebrate together!
Did you see my message?
I did! We see them up in Numberland and we just love them!
I want to tell you something! My friend said, ‘I think you are a popcorn!’
What are your friends’ names?
My best friend is number 10. My other friends are 6, 20, and even 49.
Are you going to give us those balloons?
Why are they different colours?
In Numberland we don’t just choose one colour, we love all the colours!
Are you going to see what our favourite colours are and then let us have a balloon in that colour?
I will ask you what your favourite number is!
Crofton House School wishes a very happy 100th Day to the Junior and Senior Kindergarten classes and all of our students and teachers. We hope Zero the Hero’s balloons bring joy. Parents and staff can log into Vidigami to view students with the balloons.
Have you heard of “fast fashion”? Grade 11 and 12 students in the textiles class have spent the past unit exploring this important topic that affects so many of us, most of us without realizing it. The students shared their findings—and solutions—with our community in a recent Senior School assembly, helping us all to reflect on the impact we can have, just by changing our behaviours. To help be the change they want to see, students also worked on creating their own looks using upcycling.
What is Fast Fashion?
‘Fast Fashion’ is the name given to unsustainable and unethical practices of some fashion brands. “The price often doesn’t reflect the cost,” said Sarah Kenny, Teacher, Arts and Applied Design Skills & Technology, Senior School. Fast fashion refers to low-quality clothing that’s mass-produced with cheap materials, meant to be worn only as long as a fashion-trend lasts, then thrown away. Students reported that on average, each person buys 80 pounds of clothing per year—most ends up in landfill. One T-shirt comes with a cost of 2,700L of freshwater. And 60% of textiles products are made with fine synthetic fibres (like polyesters or nylon) that slip through sewage filters and end up in oceans, causing harm when ingested by marine life.
Shocking human rights violations go hand-in-hand with fast fashion at every stage of production. “I am very passionate about the lives that we risk for cheap clothing,” said Gabrielle, Grade 11. “It is important to educate yourself and your friends on the working conditions and sustainability hazards that these brands pose,” adds Olivia, Grade 11. “The awful working conditions of labourers and the pollution that is caused due to factory production and micro-plastics in the materials are not well-known to many people.”
What can I do?
Hoping to help educate about the problem, students shared a video and then provided helpful suggestions like swap or borrow clothes from family and friends; explore thrift shops; and wash your clothes at lower temperatures to make them last longer. Here’s what some students are saying:
Lara, Grade 12 is choosing to buy less. She used to shop at Zara, Urban Outfitters and others, but “in that past year, I haven't bought anything from fast fashion brands, which I'm really proud of,” she said. When she does make a purchase, she’s thoughtful about whether or not she truly needs something. Otherwise, she’s trying to upcycle—giving old garments new life by re-using their fabric in new looks.
Maddie, Grade 12 has found another way to stay sustainable. “I've taken to taking clothes from my mom’s closet that she doesn't wear anymore; it's a simple and easy way to reduce my involvement in fast fashion brands,” she said.
Gabrielle, Grade 11 has turned the environmental research she completed into inspiration for her whole family. “We have started to see clothing as an investment, so the clothing we choose to buy lasts and benefits us for a long time,” she said.
Christine, Grade 11 was open about how much she learned and is committed to making the simple change of considering where something is made, how it’s produced, and if she really needs it. “Fast fashion is a huge issue, and changing peoples' shopping habits could be a way everyone could help reduce negative fast fashion impacts,” she said.
Ms. Kenny also shared her advice as we all consider the role fast fashion has played in our lives and closets: “My personal philosophy is that if you’re going to wear it—and truly wear it—then you’re respecting the people who made it. My message is never ‘feel terrible about your behaviour!’ Rather, prioritize. Cut back in small ways.”
If you have creativity and skills like students in Crofton House School’s Grade 11/12 textiles class, then we have one final suggestion: make your own clothes! We hope you enjoy these beautiful and expertly-made garments, showcased in a video fashion show filmed and edited by Lexie, Grade 11. “I have to give all the credit to my students,” said Ms. Kenny. “I did nothing but keep clapping. They’re inspiring.”
Monday March 8 is International Women’s Day—an important event observed each year since 1911. The theme for 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. Exploring this hashtag will show people of all gender identities raising their hand to show their commitment to “challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, and help forge an inclusive world.”
Grade 12 students at Crofton House School worked with their advisory teachers to think about what this day and this movement means to them. Every student was invited to place a post-it note on a board for display, and we caught up with some students to hear more about what they wrote.
Angel talked about having options—whether you want to pursue a career, raise a family, or both, it is a woman’s choice and worthy of our support. She spoke about the way success looks, and points out that it’s not always ‘corporate.’ And finally, she reflected that we all have a role to play in challenging misogyny, because women have also internalized it. We need to take the time to call it out in ourselves, recognize and reflect on it, just as we do with others.
Laura pointed out the ways sexual education could be better balanced to include more than heterosexual sex. She called for raising awareness about other types of sex, including masturbation, to help normalize them, and educate women on the road towards sexual liberation.
Joanna was thinking about freedoms. She was concerned about societies where girls don’t have the option to get an education; or are not extended the same rights and freedoms as males. She wants to be the change and challenges herself to pursue what she wants based on the knowledge she has gained in society, school, and her own research. She hopes to be a model for future generations to show what they could achieve.
Clare’s experience is that being a woman can be a lot to think about. Wearing makeup, wearing dresses—wearing pants—are simple things that she feels people now frame as being gendered and holding meaning. She gets the sense that people don’t take women as seriously because self-expression in make-up or fashion is seen as frivolous or vain. She challenges herself to choose friends and who she spends time with carefully, making an effort to avoid misogynistic people.
For Dani, femininity came up. She spoke of wanting to express more of her femininity but that right now, it feels like empowering women means helping them to take big jobs and wear suits to work—like men. She challenges herself to speak up against inequality and misogyny, even when it’s difficult, such as educating a family member.
From internationalwomensday.com: International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.
Children in Japan know the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who, as a baby, survived “the Thunderbolt”— the atom bomb in Hiroshima—only to succumb to Leukemia as a young girl. She folded cranes in the hospital in hopes of reaching 1000, because as legend says, the gods would then grant her wish of good health. She died with just over 300 to go, and her classmates finished for her so she could be put to rest with all 1000 cranes.
Her story inspired a movement and, each year on August 6, middle-school students in Japan bring garlands of folded cranes to her memorial in Hiroshima Peace Park in honour of their wish: “This is our cry, this is our prayer: Peace in the world.” Eleanor Coerr wrote the children’s book Sadako, based on her novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, to honour her story. Coerr writes, “If you tell people that 200,000 died as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima, it doesn’t have as much impact as the story of one little girl.”
“When I lived in Japan, I went to the Peace Memorial many times and it was something that I wanted to bring back to Canada,” said Jody-lee Parasiers, Teacher, Drama, Junior School. “I think especially in this last year, it has been quite therapeutic for the girls to have this way of grounding and re-centering. It promotes a growth mindset too,” she added. “They compare their first crane to their last crane and they can see their journey and know they’re getting better each time they fold.”
Grade 6 students at Crofton House have surpassed their goal and folded over 1100 of the beautiful paper birds. “Our global wish is for peace and harmony,” said Olivia, Grade 6. We hope they get their wish for the world, but in class, the crane-wish seems to be coming true already: “It’s relaxing and your hands already know what to do, so you can almost do it with your eyes closed,” said Sienna, Grade 6. Some students have turned to origami for mindfulness and creativity outside of school as well. “I now have a stack of paper at home,” said Olivia.
Inspired by their own 1000-cranes efforts, Grade 6s are now attempting to fold 1000 ravens in the same spirit of peace and harmony before the end of the school year. This time, the focus is on the process of reconciliation in Canada, following the example of University of Northern British Columbia in partnership with UNBC’s First Nations Centre. Each raven they fold is an opportunity for students to reflect on the experience of Canada’s indigenous peoples through colonization and its ongoing impact, while expressing their wish for reconciliation.
If you’d like to begin your own origami practice for peace, here are some helpful tutorials:
TAP IN! a podcast that explores topics that are important to Teachers And Parents - making it easy for you to be part of big conversations. Hosted by Susan Hutchison, director, Junior School, and assistant director Wendy Macken.