Sunday, May 03, 2009



Literacy is a major area of need for a large number of our students. The goal here is to include the development of reading and writing skills in all courses that we teach at this school to meet the needs of our students. To that end we have all our students free read for the first 15 minutes of period 1 classes on Mondays, period 2 classes on Tuesdays, period 3 classes on Wednesdays and period 4 classes on Thursdays. Each teacher has developed a test practice booklet in their subject area and we have used it with all their students in semester 1. In semester 2 all grade 10 students wrote booklet 1 in their period 1 grade 10 class and booklet 2 in period 2 grade 10 classes. These completed booklets were marked by our literacy mentor team of 4 English teachers under the direction of our Head of English, Literacy and Library, Diane Leach. Based on this the team felt that about 40 of our grade 10 students would not need much help to pass the test. Another 90+ students would need some support to be able to pass. The literacy team concentrated on this group and repeatedly gave these students extra support. On the test day, students that stayed the full time and worked hard to complete each booklet was given a ticket to turn in for a free piece of pizza.

Graduates this year...

2009 Graduates of College Heights is a priority for us at this time of the school year. I plan to personally speak to each potential graduate at least once before the middle of June to help insure that they are well on their way to earn the necessary 30 credits and complete the required 40 hours of community service. This year we should have our largest number of graduates in our history, approximately 110. Our objective is to have each of our graduates have the necessary knowledge and skills to eventually work in one of the pathways to employment that we offer here.

Specialist High Skills Majors...

Specialist High Skills Majors continue to be an important addition to the pathways to employment careers that we offer at College Heights. This year we hope to graduate approximately 25 students with the specialist high skills major red seal in the areas of Construction, Hospitality and Tourism, and Manufacturing. Next year we hope to add graduates in the areas of Agriculture and Health and Wellness.


Coop programs here continue to be one of our priorities. We know that if a student is able to complete a coop placement in a local company, that students chances for future success after leaving school increase greatly. With that in mind every pathway here involves students taking a half day Coop called Designing your Future. This is designed to build student’s employability skills and help in planning their future after high school. In grade 12 we then expect our students to take a full day or a half day Coop that is specific to their pathway. The intent here is to continue to build their technical skills in their pathway area by working in a company in their pathway area. If our grade 11 students are not able to handle a first coop placement we strongly encourage them to take our at risk coop program. This takes our students to a carefully selected group of work sites where they build their employability skills working as a group under the supervision of their teacher assisted by staff at the particular work site.

Continuous Entry Coop Program...

We have also implemented a continuous entry Coop program for senior students who we have lost from College Heights and will, most likely, not graduate from school. This program can admit students at any time during the school year and will, where possible, allow these students to continue to work in their present job and receive Coop credits while they are being paid. It is possible to earn up to 13 High School credits in the Coop area. Mr. Aimola is in charge of this program and it take place in an offsite location. Please see our web site for more information on these programs.

Skills Canada...

Skills competitions are an area we are encouraging our students in our technology courses to take an active part. I feel that this is a good chance for our students to demonstrate the many “hands on” skills they have mastered in their technology courses. This year we had students take part in Hair Styling, Landscape/Horticulture, Machining, Welding, Small Engines, Transportation Technology and Food Preparation. Our students earned a gold medal in Landscaping and a bronze medal in food preparation. In the future we hope to involve more of our students and their teachers in this worthwhile venture.

Recycling, By Law...

Recycling will be a necessary emphasis for the rest of this semester. The Board has been threatened with a $50,000 fine if schools do not recycle waste as directed by law. At College Heights, we are requiring each classroom to separate fine paper from containers. This will also be done in the cafeteria. For this to work, we will have to educate our students to actually pick up their waste when they have finished eating and on the way out of the cafeteria, put containers in one box and garbage in the garbage can. Clearly, this will be an ongoing educational challenge. Mr. Braun of our staff will be in charge of this process.

Ministry Supports Resources and Facilities...

Ministry money has been received recently to upgrade the resources and facilities in some of our departments. In Science, the courses have been revised and new equipment in areas such as light has been purchased. In technology new coolers and fridges have been purchased for the Bake shop and Horticulture shop. Welding equipment for Manufacturing area and sand blasting equipment for the Transportation area have also been purchased and installed.
The autobody shop has had a major improvement in it’s paint booth. The law in Ontario has changed and from now on, only water based paints can be used to paint cars. These paints are much less toxic to all of us and the environment.

Recent School Building Modifications...

Room modifications have been made to accommodate necessary program changes. This year we knocked a wall between two storage rooms out to make an office to house our social worker. We would like to add a wall and cut a door to A hall to create a room for a group of our special needs students. Under new Board rules we have to pay for these changes out of our decreasing school budgets. Hence we will not be able to complete the changes we feel we need to better serve the needs of our students.

Spring Sale...

Please look out for our spring sale in early May. This is a great opportunity to purchase you garden needs and support our Horticulture program, for example.

Yearbook Production and Sales...

Our Yearbook is being created by Mr. Dix and our senior Communications Technology students. For the second year it will have a hard cover and expanded colour pages. This will be an excellent book to remind you of your great days at College Heights. Be sure to purchase your copy now before their all sold out!

Retiring Teachers...

On a final note, this is the year we will say good bye to two retiring teachers who have done great things for our students at College Heights for a long time. Mr. Bell is retiring from our Technology Department after about 25 years of service. Mr. “Willie” Wilson is retiring after about 23 years of teaching Physical Education and Geography. Mr. Wilson has also made an enormous contribution to sports and the development of students as a wrestling coach. Coach Willie has been the greatest transformer of students we have ever seen. Students who joined his wrestling teams over the years have, on many occasions, been transformed into more positive young people who were not afraid to try their best and, on many occasions, were very successful. Coach Willie will be greatly missed.

Retiring Principal...

It is also my turn to retire after 35 years of teaching with the last seven as Principal of College Heights. It was a life pleasure to have served our community for that time. I tried to set the example of always working as hard as possible, to do my best for the people I served in as positive a way as I could, using as much of any abilities and talents I possessed. Good bye folks.

Your Principal - Dave Miller

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Computer Upgrading...

This summer, over a hundred new computers were delivered and installed at College Heights. There were many start-up problems as you would expect with an operation of this size. It took close to a month for us to say that all of our classrooms and offices were connected to our servers in the building and to the Internet outside. The job is not yet finished, but we are well on our way.

One of the intentions of the new computer plan is to give us the tools to update our teaching methods. One of the features of this was the infusion of twenty video projectors for our classrooms. These are to be connected to the computer in each classroom and thereby bring the latest ideas from the outside world to the classroom. We are continuing to work on this.

Specialist High Skills Majors...

This year we have added two new Specialist High Skills Majors programs, Construction and Agriculture, to our existing Manufacturing, and Hospitality and Tourism programs. The Agriculture program, this semester, is based on Coop classes taking place at the Saint Ignatius centre on Highway 6. Our students have had the opportunity to plant food crops last semester and harvest them recently. The food crops have been used by our students in Hospitality and Tourism, to prepare lunch for both staff and students at Heights.

David Rocco Visits Heights...

Mrs. Furfaro, one of our Technology Heads, is our leader in the Hospitality and Tourism program. One of the major goals they have for this year is to continue to focus on preparing healthy menus and encourage healthy eating habits among our students. To that end, TV chef and celebrity David Rocco, visited College Heights recently and prepared a healthy entree. At the same time, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Leona Dombrowsky, visited us, along with our local MPP, Liz Sandals. Both worked with David Rocco to promote a healthy dish as a part of this program.

Hospitality Program Upgrade...

Our Hospitality program experienced great growth this year when we had to expand into the Family Studies room, A103, for an extra three classes this year. We certainly could not afford to add any professional food preparation equipment, but we did add a food preparation table and some small items, to get started. This certainly meets the needs of our students, as many of our students could find meaningful employment in the food preparation area.

New Information Display Panel...

Thanks to Mr. Dix and the senior students in our Communications pathway, who have added a large screen display to our front foyer which shows continuous videos and slideshows of activities throughout College Heights. It also shows upcoming events and other school information that is important to all of our students on a daily basis. Next time you are in the school, take a look see. All of the material, for this system, was taken and produced by our students.

New Grade 12 Math College Course...

In the area of grade 12 Math, Mr. Scott has added a new grade 12 Math college course for some of our students who will be attending a college program in the future. This course is MCT4C1 and it runs the same time as the MAP4C1 course.

Good Attendance Encouragement Program...

Starting in early October, we will be running our good attendance encouragement program. This program, run by Mr. Patrick, will reward every week, on a lottery basis, those students with perfect attendance. We will use gift certificates from Wall Mart and meals from our cafeteria as the incentive. We hope to improve student attendance by positive actions and also by the careful monitoring of the attendance of all our students.

UGDSB Autism Hub...

Our school is the Autism Hub for students needing support in this area that will be attending College Heights. One of our teachers, Ms. Raymond, is looking after this program and we are starting to make the necessary changes to provide the necessary support for these students. At the present time, portable 5 is the area where we hope to provide extra support for these students.

Library Facilities Upgrade...

We are continuing to improve our library. Over the summer, we replaced and moved the computer network in the library. We have been able to add the excellent computer program, Academy of Reading, to the computers on our networks. We plan to use this program in most of our English classes to improve the reading and writing skills of our students. Our improvement plan for the library will continue this year.

New Free Reading Program...

Ms. McGuire, our Librarian, late this past summer, put together a selection of reading materials for all of our classes, to assist in our Free Reading time occurring four days each week. The entire school has the opportunity to enjoy some quiet reading time and increase its level of literacy.

New Student Success Teacher, Mrs. Cook...

Also, this year, Mrs. Cook has become our Student Success teacher and will be assisting our students to be successful in their classes. You will be hearing more from Mrs. Cook as the year continues.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mr. Miller's Summer Blog 2008

Summer is the time when all of us at College Heights make plans to improve the learning of our students. This summer, we are making changes to our library to help it be the center of the literacy development of our students. This summer the computer network in the library is being expanded to 18 computers and moved to a corner. The library will have a computer to manage the borrowing of material and two other computers that users to search local databases of library information. A group led by Mrs. Furfaro is continuing to look at how to improve our library. Our librarian, Ms. McGuire, is working hard to create mobile collections of reading materials of interest to our students that will be available to move to classrooms to support the expanded reading initiative for the fall. .

There are major changes taking place with computers at College Heights this summer. The Board has come up with a computer plan that will result in all computers being replaced every 6 years. College Heights is slated to have 193 computers to handle all the computing needs of the school, except for the computers needed for special education, which are in addition to the 193 total. This summer, approximately 100 new computers will be installed here. The other 93 computers here will be two years old or less. Every classroom will have a computer with high speed access to the internet. Teachers will be able to do attendance on Maplewood, our student management database, or access other information sources such as the IEP Engine which manages all the IEPs of our students who have one. Most of our networks in room A106 and A107 will be replaced by new computers built and supplied by a Canadian company from Oakville called MDG. All our new computers will come with a service plan that guarantees that a machine will be fixed or repaired within 24 hours of it being reported to the company. We here will have to get our act together to make sure a problem is reported very quickly. Our computer server, which is now quite old, in computer terms, is being replaced this summer by an IBM server which has a very large amount of RAM and storage well above the gigs level. The Board IT staff, who do a great job for us, is also replacing our outdated switches that manage traffic on our network with new state of the art switches manufactured by Nortel. The have found a way to connect our library to the fiber optic backbone of the school. This will increase the speed of our library network.

The Board’s computer plan also includes the provision of 20 new video projectors for classrooms. Over the summer we will decide what room or rooms will be most suitable for these projectors to be placed and how we will install them to prevent any from walking away from us.
We have finalized our school improvement plan for next year and will work hard next year to implement steps to make it successful. The first goal is to improve the success of our students as measured by credit count. We will take steps to make sure that more of our students pass all of their classes. This will be done by carefully monitoring the progress of our students and intervening when they need help, involving parents when ever possible. We will use differentiated instruction strategies in more classes and use child development information and information contained in IEPs to teach materials in such a way that more students will learn the required material. An important aspect we will pay attention to is the organisation of the material in our courses to enable our students to better understand the body of information contained in each course. A key part of everything we do here includes literacy improvement and we have a plan to do this. This plan includes all students reading 4 times a week and being assisted to improve their comprehension skills. Having more students pass the literacy test is a good measure of the success of our strategies. We plan to have 40% of our grade 10 students pass the test. That would be up from the 31% who passed this year. To do this we will have all our students complete a test practice booklet in all their classes, each one prepared by the teacher of that class and it will be part of the curriculum in each class. Students will be given appropriate feedback on how to improve their performance. This process will be repeated in second semester before the test. All grade 10 and 11 students writing the test will be taught the necessary literacy skills and given extensive opportunities to practice these skills. This should give our students even better preparation for the test than ever before. These strategies are all part of our literacy plan for next year.

Next to literacy, student attendance is the major problem for us at College Heights. Too many of our students miss too many classes. This has a major impact on the learning of these students. We plan to continue to track attendance of our students and intervene to try and improve attendance. We will try to involve parents as much as possible to try to get their students to attend their assigned classes.

We will all work together to improve the self esteem of all of us in the building. Activities that will help to create a positive environment in the building for all of us will be run next year. Workshops to give ideas on how to improve a student’s self esteem will be organised and the good ideas learned will be implemented.

Improving the responsibility of our students is an important step to preparing our students to face their future after they leave us. Next year we plan to improve the responsibility of our students by teaching leadership skills to all our students and provide opportunities in all our classes for our students to practice these skills.

The final goal of our school improvement involves the teaching of problem solving skills We will focus on problem solving skills in the widest context. That means solving problems in the classroom and in many different phases of a student’s life.

One of the ways we are improving the programs we offer to our students is the implementation of the Specialist High Skills Majors in different areas. This school year we offered high skills majors in Manufacturing, Hospitality and Tourism. Again we have students graduating with both these extra skills. Next year, we will add Construction and Agriculture to our high skills programs. Mr. West has plans to have his students build special model homes which you will hear about in our fall newsletter. The Agriculture High Skills major will involve senior students who have taken our Horticulture courses learning more about Agriculture on coop placements at Agriculture specific sites. Our Hospitality program has started to increase in size with many more of our students opting to take foods courses. Next year we will have to schedule three foods classes in our Family Studies room, A103.

If you have visited our school site this spring and summer, you would have appreciated the beauty of the gardens and the landscaping here. All this has resulted from the hard work of our Horticulture students under the direction of Mr. Boutin.

In the area of staff changes, we say good bye to Mrs. Fair after three years as Vice-Principal. Mrs. Fair has moved over to GCVI. Mrs. McDonald has also left us for Wellington Heights in Mount Forest. We also say good bye to Ms. Stockford of our cosmetology department. Mrs. Atanasoff will be on leave for the first semester next school year. We will welcome Mrs. Burns as our new Vice-Principal and starting September 2009, will be Principal of College Heights. We welcome back Ms. Rivers from a maternity leave. In our office, Mrs. Evans will return to us as our receptionist. Next year Mrs. Cook of our staff will be our Student Success teacher.

Coming up on Wednesday August 27 is a pre-registration event for our new grade 9 students. The event starts at 10:00 AM and will end with a barbeque at noon. Returning students will have a chance to pre-register at 1:00 PM in the afternoon. An orientation event for our new grade 9 students is planned for the morning of Tuesday September 9.

Our parents have given us their recommendations for improvement of the learning of our students. These recommendations are posted on our school web site. To see the proposal, go to our school website and scroll down to our Billboard News section.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

5th Annual Ultimate Frisbee High School Tournament

Registration opens April 2, and closes May 4, 2007

College Heights will be hosting the 5th Annual Ultimate Frisbee High School Tournament

When: Friday, May 18th, 2007

Time: 9am - 3pm
Where: College Heights Secondary School
Teams: Co-ed 7 vs 7 (4/3 split))
Format: Two divisions - Division A experienced teams - Division B developing teams
Farthest Huck Competition at Lunch time
Cost: $60.00 per team
Food: College Heights will be hosting a BBQ
Registration: First 24 teams to pay their entry fee

Mail Payment:

College Heights Secondary School
371 College Ave. W
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 1T3

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Principal's Blog - February 2008

Minister of Education Visits College Heights February 21, 2008

Minister Kathleen Wynne visited College Heights on Thursday February 21 at 12:00 PM. She and two of her aids were treated to a lunch prepared by our students in the Hospitality Services program assisted by Mrs. Lori Furfaro, Mr. Shawn Doucette and chef Peter Darrach. Along with the Minister, we welcomed the Director of Education, Dr. Rogers, six of the Boards Superintendents and four Trustees. We, with the help of Mr. Charles Benyair, told our guests about our Career Pathways and the two Specialist High Skills Major programs that we currently offer; Manufacturing and Hospitality & Tourism, and the two new programs we have applied for, for next year, Construction and Agriculture. Minister Kathleen Wynne and party left us at about 2:15 PM, after a brief tour of our Welding shop.

Literacy Initiatives

Many of our students have difficulty reading and writing, hence, we are implementing our efforts to improve their skills. Our main initiative is our literacy lab, which is housed in room A109. In that small room, we are able to handle a maximum of 8 students. A mixture of teaching approaches modeled on the “Language” program and the use computer software called Academy of Reading. The room has 6 computers with the program available to the students. Over the years we have observed most students advancing up to two reading levels after one semester in the lab. This semester a class for grade 11 students was created to extend the program to help reading challenged students for a third year.

This year we have implemented a free reading program in every class. In this program every teacher will provide appropriate material for students to read for at least 15 minutes twice every week. After reading, teachers will take steps to get students to talk about or write about what they have read.

In the area of preparation to write the Literacy test in the early spring, every teacher in our school was given time to prepare a test booklet that looked exactly like the literacy test but used material from their course. Our head of Literacy, Ms. Diane Leach, picked up the blank templates to make this possible from a contact at a school in Brampton. The plan is for every teacher to use the developed booklet in their classes before March break. Teachers were given direction on how to assist students to read text and how to improve comprehension of regular text and graphical text. Teachers were also given direction on how to help students to improve the writing of a short piece, an opinion piece and a news story.

Library Improvement

Some of our staff members under the leadership of Mrs. Lori Furfaro, have been looking at strategies to update our Library. Staff from our school have visited two other vocational schools to look at the use of libraries among other things. Staff visited Sir Guy Carlton in Ottawa and Thames Secondary School in London. This will be a long term task and I will share information on the progress of this project.

Professional Learning Community (PLC) Time for Teachers

This semester, staff will be spending time with their department colleagues to develop four smart goals and the action plans to implement the following with their students: how to improve the success and the literacy skills of the students taking courses offered by the department; how to improve the responsibility of our students; how to improve the self-esteem of our students taking courses in the department; and finally, how to improve the problem solving skills of students taking courses in each department. Later this semester, all these plans will be merged and our Heads and staff will develop the school improvement plan for College Heights for the next school year.

Computer Technology at College Heights

The Board is in the process of selecting a computer vendor to supply the computers to replace all the computers in all of our schools over the next few years. The goal of this plan is to ensure that all schools in the Board will have updated computer technology for student and staff use and these computers will be replaced every six years. A basic part of this plan is to also allow teachers to include modern technology in their teaching. Hence, most of the classrooms will be equipped with a digital projector and every room will have access to the Internet and student work on our file server. College Heights, under the leadership of Mr. Dix, will develop a plan to implement this Board initiative in our school and all this will be in place before the summer.

Healthy Active Living at College Heights

We at College Heights put a great emphasis on healthy active living for our students. At this school, every grade 9 and grade 10 student is required to take a physical education course. The intent of these courses is to prepare our students for a life of healthy active living. To help in this development, we have instituted a much larger exercise room in A-hall. We are in the process of adding the necessary pieces of equipment to make this a state of the art fitness room.

For students who are team sports oriented, we are continuing to add and develop our sports teams which compete in District Four. This year, we have boys and girls basketball and volleyball teams taking part and improving their skills. The other major team over the years has been our girls and boys wrestling teams. This year, as he has done for nine years in a row, coach Wilson will be taking team members to the Ontario wrestling finals at OFSSA. Great job coach Wilson and students!

Specialist High Skills Majors

College Heights is the only vocational school in Ontario that has implemented this latest Ministry of Education initiative. Last school year, we implemented a pilot Manufacturing program in partnership with Centennial. We had Centennial students come over to College Heights to take our welding and machine shop courses. We also ran different accreditation courses for our high skills major students here and last June five students graduated with a red seal on their diploma to indicate their success in the Manufacturing High Skills Major program.

This year Hospitality and Tourism was added to the Manufacturing pilot. Extra money from the Ministry was invested into College Heights to begin this new addition. Our students have clearly benefited from these programs.

Next year we hope to implement a Construction and Agriculture program and look forward to the benefits our students will experience.

At Risk Coop Programs

We at College Heights encourage as many of our senior students as possible to take a Coop course to help develop employability skills. We have observed that any student that successfully completes the Coop course, with the required working time within a company in the community, will no longer be at risk of graduating. So this year we implemented an at risk Coop program under the direction of Mr. Ron Aimola. The key part of the program was for our students to spend time working under the direction of Mr. Aimola at Ignatius College. Students also had the opportunity to work at the food bank, the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity. This course was funded by the Ministry’s Learn to 18 project and is running this semester also.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Principal's Blog - October 2007

On Monday October 1, our students were introduced to the ideas behind the junior achievement program.

On Thursday October 4, 2007, Premier Dalton McGuinty visited College Heights and briefly addressed our senior students in an assembly. This event was a huge success for us with both video and sound bites shown on many TV stations and pictures and stories in many newspapers on Friday.

On Friday October 5, 2007, our students had a chance to spend 2 hours with Mitch Dorge, the drummer of the rock group, Crash Test Dummies. Our students were fully involved for the event for the entire presentation which was organized by Beth Charles of our staff.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Principal's Blog - September 2007

From Wednesday September 5 until Monday September 10, 2007, our grade 9 students were bussed up to Ignatius College in Guelph to spend a morning taking part in an orientation experience. This event was organized by Vice-Principal Dorothe Fair amiably assisted by many staff members. The event was a big success!

On Monday September 17, the Half Pints Basketball group presented an assembly showing the basketball skills of these very short people as a backdrop to a message on anti bullying. The event was very well received by staff and students.

On September 25, Tuesday, in the afternoon our students took part in a positive thinking and conflict resolution assembly presented by Duane Morganson.

On Wednesday September 26, just before lunch our students had a chance to take part in the Terry Fox run/walk.