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Crofton House News

There’s always something new and exciting going on in our design labs! Take a tour through the space, and you’ll see walls of logos, posters of sunsets, and boxes of intricate 3D models—a snapshot of Mr Tran’s Entrepreneurship 12 class, where they explored “selling possibility” with support from Ms Van Rijn’s Digital Media 12 class.

In January, entrepreneurship students worked in groups to design logos for the class’s two teams: Big Bang and Comets. With the popular Netflix show Selling Sunset top of mind for many, the project grew; students put their logos into practice and created marketing posters for a space-themed real estate company. 

Their next phase beginning in February focused on creating model houses, with students “selling” those houses to their classmates through engaging pitches. The project considered the reality of purchasing homes without seeing the final product—simply the models put together by developers and sold by their agents as construction gets underway. Grade 12 student Melissa created a two-storey, LED-lit, miniature home:

“I learned that Gorilla Glue can be removed with nail polish remover, and I also learned that if you just keep doing something, you'll finish eventually!” she said.

In early May, students learned how entrepreneurs in Vancouver have become an essential part of their community with a look at food trucks! Both blocks of Entrepreneurship 12 and Digital Media Design 12 had a special campus visit from the iconic West 4th-based Chickpea food truck. 

Owner and entrepreneur Itamar shared his entrepreneurship story, coming from Israel and building his business from the ground up. Today, his business–and its colourful, bright food truck!--is a mainstay in Vancouver’s food fare; he is conscious of ensuring his restaurant and truck are a safe space for employees and customers from across the globe, no matter the language they speak.

His advice for students looking to build their own business?: 

  • “There is no I; there is we in life.” 
  • Use your anxiety about ideas as a tool for critical thinking or an option and vehicle to see what could happen. Look at it as a process of “what if”!
  • And as their slogan states, “Change the world, one chickpea at a time. The world needs more chickpeace!”

With his insights in hand and a tasty takeaway box of Chickpea’s delicious vegan food, students finished the term by designing their own food trucks with the School’s 3D printers. Three teams created three separate trucks: an environmentally sustainable truck, a pop culture truck, and a truck for those with varying dietary restrictions. Students collaborated with the Digital Media Design 12 class to translate their design visions into a creative brief and their truck's final branding. Groups worked together to collaborate on branding elements, including writing a creative brief, designing a logo, and doing package and product design. Through the different stages of design thinking, groups created, tested and shared their overall creative concepts.

Grade 11 student Ann and Grade 12 student Maddie worked as the design team for the environmentally-sustainable truck, creating a soft-serve bike.

“It was interesting because it's like finding a way to combine ice cream and sustainability. Thinking about ice cream, it's usually in a truck,” Maddie explained. “How can we combine that with a more environmentally-friendly presentation?”

“I also learned how to use Adobe Illustrator!” Ann said.

The classes ended the year with presentations on current and past iconic entrepreneurs like Coco Chanel and Peloton’s founder John Foley, and discussions of the characteristics of an entrepreneur and the various ways to take famous brands to that next level.

“It’s been an honour sharing in the journey of this year‘s cohort of budding Entrepreneurs. I’m impressed by their resiliency, grit, and ability to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape,” Mr Tran said. “They have demonstrated heart, determination, and most of all, kindness to their peers and the larger community. It has been truly inspiring to witness.”

We can’t wait to see what the Arts and Applied Design Skills & Technology department comes up with next year! 

We are proud to announce and support three new Research Chairs of Teaching and Learning at CHS, conducting their research from 2022-2025. We are excited to see their research come to life here on campus!

Maureen Duteau, Teacher, English, Senior School

Maureen will be investigating best practices for integrating research skills and information literacy in a multidisciplinary way across grades and disciplines in the Senior School. She is particularly interested in developing a systematic approach to teaching research skills so that students can be best prepared to conduct their own research, both at school and beyond. 

An area of focus in her research will be information literacy in a digital world: how students access, vet, evaluate and analyze information and how they can develop the critical thinking skills to become discerning consumers of information who are aware of bias and who seek a multitude of perspectives to inform their own views. 

She hopes that her research can underpin the development of a consistent approach to inquiry-based learning across disciplines and grades, with students benefiting from the reinforcement and gradual development of these skills over time. What’s more, she hopes that students would then have more opportunities and be better equipped for inquiry-based learning— moving beyond knowledge acquisition to knowledge application in new domains, drawing connections and creating new knowledge. 

Simon Ng, Teacher, Mathematics, Senior School & Michael Roberts, Teacher, Mathematics, Senior School

Simon and Michael will collaborate on a research project by jointly teaching a course, swapping the roles of teaching and observing periodically, and working together to improve their practices. 

The idea for their research has come from observations of some prevalent student beliefs around math; namely, that the math is contained in the classroom as opposed to in real life, that math problems are about following correct steps to get the right answer, and that being good at math involves getting to a right answer as quickly as possible. 

By gathering data on students’ attitudes toward math and how these beliefs connect to Social and Emotional Learning and the School’s philosophy on learning, Simon and Michael hope to develop a course that can effectively show students the value of struggle in math and what they can learn from:

  • “getting stuck”
  • thinking about themselves and math
  • the multitude of strategies that can be applied at any time to a problem
  • thinking like a mathematician, which often involves being curious about exploring “what if? “ questions

For more information on CHS Research Chairs, visit the following page on our website.

At CHS, visiting authors are an essential part of the School's literacy program as they are the best models of the writing process. Each year, students are visited by various writers, whether through each School’s libraries or in individual classes—two of which this year were wonderful examples of the ways students are learning and understanding more about Asian culture and heritage.

This month, the Grade 1 class had a virtual visit from Joanna Ho. Joanna is the New York Times bestselling author of Eyes that Kiss in the Corners. Her other picture books include Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma (Fall 2021), Eyes that Speak to the Stars (2022) and One Day (2023). She is a writer and educator passionate about anti-bias, anti-racism and equity work. This was her second year visiting our Grade 1 class as part of the Junior School’s Writer-in-Residence series.

Following a reading of Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, Joanna shared some unique behind-the-scenes pieces with the girls about the images in the book. She explained the meaning behind the yellow colour of the flowers throughout, pointed out the phoenix in its presence from page to page, and shared the inspiration for the grandmother in the story—her own Amah. “My favourite part was the secrets behind the book. I thought that was cool!” said Elaine, Grade 1.

“I enjoyed that Joanna asked us what our favourite shows and movies were–someone said Is it Cake? and everybody knows that, so everybody was so excited!” said Camilla, Grade 1. 

Many also enjoyed Joanna sharing a photo of herself that had been edited to look like a Disney princess with big eyes and a small, button nose. “When she showed the picture of having big eyes, oh, yeah, that was funny!,” Grade 1 student Olivia said. The image showed students the unrealistic beauty standards portrayed in animated movies.

The girls discussed what the main character realized about herself throughout the story and why her eyes that “kiss in the corner and glow like warm tea”, as is written in the book, are a revolution. Answers from students included “that her eyes are a change,” “that she is different, and it’s good to be different,” and “that she realizes she’s beautiful just the way she is.”

Joanna’s advice for aspiring young writers? Read lots and lots of books–the more you read, the better you write! Write a lot and ask for help from your teachers, and never give up!

Following their discussions of her book in class, the Composition 11 students invited author Lindsay Wong for a Zoom reading and Q&A in March about her award-winning memoir The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family. Lindsay is also a part-time lecturer in Creative Nonfiction in UBC’s School of Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program, a teacher of writing workshops, and a freelance editor.

“I thought it was really, really insightful… seeing that she's so young, her jokes and everything, it really related to our generation,” Grade 11 student Emmy said. “I feel like her advice is really applicable… she gets what we feel and how to overcome challenges.”

Lindsay spoke to the class about her writing process, her thoughts on addressing mental health in literature, her experiences as an Asian-Canadian author, and her general tips for aspiring novelists.

“It was one of the most interesting presentations that I was able to have the opportunity to hear in English class, especially because I found that I was able to resonate with a lot of the parts in our presentation, being an Asian-Canadian myself—definitely the part about where she spoke about her identity, and how she talked about her family experiences, I was able to draw a lot of connections in my own life,” Grade 11 student Kelly said.

“I was able to learn a lot about how your perception and your outlook is contingent on your family experiences and on different circumstances that you're born with. That part definitely resonated with me.”

We look forward to welcoming more authors to campus, virtually or in person! Keep an eye on our social media feeds as more wonderful writers join us to share their work. 

What makes a portfolio eye-catching and uniquely you? For Senior School art and design students, that question can be explored through the Art Portfolio Review. This is a collaboration between students and teachers in the Visual Arts program and the Career Education Department—a two-day event now in its second year here at CHS!

Students in Grade 9 to 11 can share their digital portfolios with staff from art and design schools across North America. Each day, students had the opportunity to meet with three to four schools. 

“This helps show the changing landscape within careers and the world around us and the need for creative thinkers and problem-solvers. It’s an opportunity for students to be highlighted in the creative arts and design fields,” Ms Cheong, Department Head, Career Education and Post-Secondary Counselling, Senior School, said.

“Students in this generation could have 25 jobs in their lifetime. So being able to have a whole toolkit of skills, being flexible with those tools, and going into a review and taking feedback from somebody on their work— those are skills to develop that can help them later on in life.”

Ms Poole, Teacher, Art, Senior School, highlights that taking art in School allows students to work together in a collaborative studio environment and build each other up as they build their individual portfolios. 
“In Crofton House’s beautiful art studio, students develop problem-solving skills, explore new materials, processes and ideas together, which ultimately helps them see the world in new ways,” she said. “Students discover how art helps them communicate their own ideas, and create works of art that are personal, well-informed, and meaningful. Each portfolio is completely unique and individual to the student.”

This year, eight art and design schools reviewed student portfolios: 

  • Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) in Toronto, Ontario
  • Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California
  • School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois
  • Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia
  • Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland
  • California College of the Arts in San Francisco and Oakland, California
  • California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), California
  • Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California
  • Parsons School of Design at New School, New York
  • University of the Arts London in London, England

Here’s what some CHS students thought of their first portfolio review experience: 

Victoria, Grade 10

Victoria enjoys digital art, drawing and painting. She is figuring out what she wants to do for post-secondary education, so the portfolio review sessions were an opportunity to explore potential art schools. For this portfolio review, she presented a selection of gestural drawings and some ink sketches, finished character sheets and concept designs, and a few paintings. 

What was the experience like?

As someone who only does art classes in school, it’s really interesting and important to get actual critique from someone involved in the industry or the schools. I was nervous, but everyone was super nice and gave me a lot of constructive feedback that was really specific to what I am doing.

What was a takeaway you had from the portfolio reviews?

I feel like the main thing a lot of schools want to see isn’t necessarily the technical skills—they place a greater emphasis on getting to know you through your portfolio. They wanted to see more pieces based on your identity in art. 

What advice would you give to students considering this opportunity next year? 

Even if you don’t have a lot of finished pieces, and you’re in a younger grade or haven’t done this before–just go for it! This School gives you a lot of opportunities; you are only here for 4-5 years, just do it!

Mimi, Grade 11

Mimi is focused on a career in fashion design, sewing, and patterning. She is looking at applying to fashion schools for post-secondary, with significant interest in programs in the UK. She signed up for the portfolio review sessions to better understand what a strong portfolio would look like, what pieces to present, and how best to present them. 

What did you learn from the review experience overall?

The American schools wanted more drawing and things, which is not my strong suit–so I'm glad I'm not currently considering that. And the UK reviewers said to put fewer things in that aren't fashion-related!

What was the most valuable part of the experience for you?

They were all super nice and told me that I was on the right track. It might sound strange, but the validation around my work was good! Hearing people say your portfolio looks good and that you have a good chance of getting where you want to go makes you so much more relaxed.

How did the process help your decision-making around potential school applications? You mentioned focusing on the UK—do you feel like you understand what that might be like?

Many schools do a foundation year where you have to go through everything; I already feel like I know what I want and have done a lot of experimentation. It was nice to see that there's a school that fits that. Because I know what part of art I like and what I want to go into–because it's not even design that I'm interested in, it’s pattern making—it was nice to hear that if I did take a course there, I would be super focused.

Siena, Grade 9

As a younger student in the Senior School, Siena is still exploring art and experimenting with various mediums. She enjoys watercolour and acrylic painting, pencil and pen drawing, and mixed medium work. She chose to participate in the portfolio review to better understand the experience of communicating with university admissions staff, network, and get some initial feedback on her work to date. 

What was the highlight of the experience for you?

Everyone was warm and welcoming! I think their feedback was really valuable—it was specific feedback, so that was really appreciated. They gave quite technical feedback, but they also shared some information about programs at their schools. I was definitely nervous for the first few, but it was a little less nerve-wracking after about the second one! 

What were some of the helpful takeaways they gave you for your work?

For a lot of my work, one reviewer thought about how I could focus on the background. I tend to zoom in on my objects. So instead of having like a blank background, taking an element and thinking, ‘if you're going to have a beautiful object, have a beautiful background as well’. 

One reviewer gave me some food for thought around material recommendations—because his school is primarily textiles and fashion-based—“could you turn this watercolour design into something wearable”. It was really interesting because it was something that I had never thought about.

How has this changed your thinking around post-secondary education or even future courses at CHS?

It’s shown me that so much growth can happen as artists! When I was chatting with the schools, especially the first session I had with MICA, it was about identifying a theme or inspiration guiding your work—I’m going to start thinking about that. For me, a theme they identified was nature or your environment and sending a message through your work.

What would it look like to be the greenest school we can be, and what steps are we taking to get there? 

These questions drive sustainability initiatives at Crofton House School, though much of the work is done behind the scenes and without us noticing day-to-day.

Leading campus sustainability initiatives is a group of passionate Senior School students and teachers, including the Senior School Social Responsibility Club and Ms Warner, Mr Ripley, Ms Hare, Ms Allen and Ms Wilson. Together, they have been gathering information on how CHS is moving forward sustainably and bringing together insights from different campus departments into how we can continue to move forward positively.

“I hope that over the next ten years or 20 years, we will be able to build in more habits for CHS families and staff,” Ms Hare explained about the future of sustainability on campus. “But how do we start planting the seeds now?”

A Glimpse Into Current Campus Sustainability 

Facilities: Did you know that the new buildings on campus were designed with sustainability in mind? Those facilities include geothermal heating and motion sensor lighting to limit electricity use—which the Senior School Social Responsibility Club got to explore on a club tour in early December. 

“We did a big unit on geothermal heating as a club…,” Social Responsibility Club Co-Captain Sophia said. “We learned a lot about what that looks like, how environmentally conscious the system is, and what it takes to implement it.” 

“And we got to do a tour of the geothermal heating as kind of our year-end project. Getting to see what that looked like and connecting with some of the facility members at our school was a cool experience.”

Various buildings also include control systems programmed to save energy where possible. The facilities team worked with BC Hydro on an energy audit across campus to consider other areas for improvement.

IT: With learning powered by iPads and Mac laptops, considering the life-cycle of devices is crucial for campus sustainability. Currently, campus IT is applying a 4-year life cycle for iPads in the Junior School and moving from a 3- to 5-year life cycle for laptops in the Senior School, focusing on repairing rather than replacing devices, where possible. The department is also consistently considering its carbon footprint when purchasing new software or programs for the School.

Waste Management: Across Crofton House, there are various options for recycling and sustainable waste management. These include: 

  • Eighteen compost locations across campus, including washrooms where paper towels are collected
  • Blue bins in classrooms and offices campus-wide for paper recycling
  • Electronics recycling through the IT department
  • A textiles recycling bin in the Senior School Textiles classroom
  • End-of-life art supplies are being recycled in a TerraCycle zero waste bin in the Senior School art classroom, and the Junior School art storage room
  • There is a whiteboard marker recycling bin in the Ideation Lab, as well as general marker recycling boxes in the copy room and Maker’s Space
  • Recently added on campus are six disposable mask recycling boxes. The sustainability-focused staff brought the initiative forward to the Social Responsibility Club team, who put the boxes into action. 

“We thought it was a good idea because our club values sustainability, environment and social justice. And this is certainly a problem today, that pollution,” Club Co-Captain Ting Ting said.

With the vast waste management availability on campus, recycling in the 2021-2022 school year has been less contaminated than in past years. Great work, CHS!

Future Steps Forward 

While the sustainable initiatives around campus are positive steps forward, there is always more we can do to create individual and systemic change across our community—reducing food waste in Manrell Hall and encouraging sustainable transportation to and from school, for example! 

Senior School students can attend Social Responsibility Club meetings on Tuesdays at lunch. At the same time, different stakeholder groups are being engaged across campus by Ms Hare, Ms Wilson and Ms Allen.