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Parent Education Night, Parents of BIPOC Children Meeting, Hot Lunch Program Sign-Up, & Letter from PA President

JICS at a Glance

We've condensed the important highlights for your convenience:

Topics covered in this post:


1. March Break

We wish everyone a fun and safe March Break, March 11 to 22. The Winter Term ends tomorrow at 3:30pm (6:00pm for daycare students).

The Daycare March Break Camp will be open for registered students March 18 to 22. To secure your child's spot, please register by emailing at with the subject line "March Break." Upon registration, a fee of $325 will be automatically billed to your Pro Care account.

School and daycare will reopen on Monday, March 25 for the start of the Spring Term.


2. School-Wide Cozy Day

JICS students have great suggestions to improve the school experience. A popular request is to hold a school-wide pajama/cozy day. We invite everyone to come to school tomorrow in pjs or comfy clothing and bring a favourite stuffie!


3. Parent Education Night: Surfacing Stories of Difference, with Kai Cheng Thom

Presented by the JICS Parents’ Association

TONIGHT: Thursday, March 7th


In-Person at JICS

Babysitting Offered for JICS Students

Beneath the surface of any community there are stories that swim and are sometimes unseen. This evening will honour diversity, through uplifting these stories in a way that both celebrates them for their beauty, and also recognizes challenges. 


Join the Parent Education Committee, and renowned facilitator and author, Kai Cheng Thom for a carefully crafted and engaging workshop intended to create a space where all of our stories can shine.


The intention of this gathering is for members of the parent community to discuss their experiences of social, cultural and class diversity and to learn more about the experiences of others so that we can generate a collective vision for the future. This conversation is for everyone of all backgrounds and identities. Through this gathering, you will help shape your child’s experience at JICS. 


A Very Important Note: The facilitated exercises that Kai Cheng offers will not require anyone to engage in public speaking if they don’t wish to. There will be many different options for sharing that are inclusive at a wide range of comfort levels. All will be invited to participate in ways that feel right for them, which includes observation only. Expect a warm, welcoming and compassionate environment. No experience or preparation is necessary.  


Registration is required. Babysitting is available for JICS students and requires pre-registration by Monday, March 4th at 11:59pm. Space is limited and we cannot guarantee availability to those who have not registered before the deadline. 

We (the Parent Education Committee) look forward to welcoming and connecting with many of you at this event, which we are confident will be an inspiring and transformative evening.

If you have any questions, please reach out to one of our parent organizer Ann-Marie.


4. Parents of BIPOC Children Meeting

Tuesday March 26 

7:00 - 8:30pm

Room 120 JICS


Created by JICS parents for JICS parents, this meeting is designed for conversation and advocacy for families at JICS with BIPOC children. This meeting will be in-person at JICS and all parents of a BIPOC child are invited to attend.


5. Letter from PA President

Dear JICS Families,


The last few months have been busy! In leu of an “All Parents” PA a meeting, we are writing with some brief updates about how our money has been used this term, our initiatives and activities, as well as with an outline of some of our upcoming events.

One of the goals with which we began our school year, was to cultivate and grow our sense of community. We chose to focus in part, on the beautiful ways in which our own diversity has taken shape, in all of its forms. Specifically, we have been exploring the ways in which our fundraising model can most accurately reflect and honour the existing economic diversity of the Lab School families and be in alignment with the JICS values of inclusion.

Previously, each family was asked to contribute $175/child to the PA. Additionally, parent representatives collected approximately $150/child, to be put toward class gifts.

This year we moved to a pay-what-you-wish model (PWYW) and suggested three donation options– Equity, Opportunity, and Equality. We recognised the risk we took in moving away from an already established, and economically viable model, and feared we would not raise the funds needed for the initiatives, events and resources the PA supports in enriching our school each year.

We are proud to share the outcomes of our efforts thus far!

Donations at a Glance: 

  • Total fundraising went up by 24%, to a total of $30K compared to last year

  • 68% of families from the population contributed, up 7% from last year

  • 42% of those who donated, did so within the Opportunity tier

  • 40% of families donated within the Equality tier

  • 18% of families donated within the Equity tier

Our donations will continue to support important events this school year:

To date:

  • September Parent Social with complimentary babysitting

  • Two community lice checks

  • Gifts for all teachers and staff at the winter break

  • Staff appreciation treats in the staff room in February

  • Support for school events (i.e. Terry Fox Run)




Two incredible Parent Education initiatives, which each include complimentary babysitting:


1.     Kai Cheng Thom: Surfacing Stories of Difference


March 7, 5:30pm – 7:30pm (tonight)!

This workshop is a wonderful opportunity for our community to have their voices heard and experiences recognized in a safe and mediated space.




2.     Elin Kelsey: Why Evidence-Based Hope Matters: Supporting our Children’s Well-Being and Resilience in the Face of the Climate Crisis.


April 5 (Hold the date)

On April 5, communities from local public and private schools, will join our community in a Parent Social Event, before she speaks to us about hope in the face of environmental justice. Please hold this date. And in the meantime, take a moment to check out Elin’s work!


Elin’s Website:



Elin Kelsey at TEDxMonterey: Eco-buoyant!       


Support for three incredible community events:


2.     Date TBC: Grandpal’s Day. More information to come.

3.     June 5: Hotdog night


Other upcoming things to note:


·      June: Grade 6 graduation activities

·      May: A final lice check

  • May/June: Teacher and staff appreciation gifts and activities

·      June: Queer Songbook Orchestra (in partnership with the Patrick Harvie Arts Fund)

These events have been made possible with our contributions to the PA.

Thank you for making our inaugural PWYW model a resounding success! Like one of the founding principles of JICS, our process has been one of inquiry and has been driven by our collective curiosity, discourse, assessment, reflection and willingness to iterate as we learn. We are confident that if our pursuit to find models that holistically encompass our community are founded on collaboration (a practice modeled beautifully by the Lab School children and teachers), we can build on our collective understandings, experiences and ways of knowing. Our growth can only continue to serve our children in robust ways.

Wishing you a safe and restful March Break.


My very best, and on behalf of the PA Executive Team,




6. Cultivating Community Award Winner - Paige Lancaster, JICS Receptionist

The OISE/UT Staff Excellence Awards Selection Committee recently met to tackle the formidable task of singling out outstanding contributors from a pool of numerous nominations. We are thrilled to announce that Paige Lancaster, our receptionist at JICS, has been honored with the Cultivating Community Award. This accolade celebrates the exceptional achievements and dedicated efforts of Paige in serving the JICS community. Each day, Paige goes above and beyond in her role, actively working to create and nurture a community that embodies care and inclusivity at JICS. We extend our gratitude to all the parents who supported her nomination. Join us in warmly congratulating Paige Lancaster for this well-deserved recognition.


7. Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon on March 10 and April 9. Islamic tradition states that it was during Ramadan, on the “Night of Power” that God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad the Qurʾān, Islam’s holy book, as a guidance for the people. For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of introspection, communal prayer in the mosque, and reading of the Qurʾān. God forgives the past sins of those who observe the holy month with fasting, prayer, and faithful intention. Wishing you all the blessings of the holy month. 


8. Happy Nowruz - March 21

Nowruz is the day of the vernal equinox, and it marks the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It also marks the first day of the first month (Farvardin) of the Iranian calendars.  Typically, before the arrival of Nowruz, family members gather around the Haft-sin table and await the exact moment of the March equinox to celebrate the New Year. Traditionally, the Haft-sin (seven things beginning with the letter sin (س)) are:

  • Sabze – wheat, barley, mung bean, or lentil sprouts grown in a dish 

  • Samanu – sweet pudding made from wheat germ

  • Persian olive

  • Vinegar

  • Apple

  • Garlic

  • Sumac


9. Happy Purim - March 23-24

Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of an official of the Achaemenid Empire named Haman, as it is recounted in the Book of Esther.


10. Happy Holi - March 25

Holi is an ancient Hindu tradition and one of the most popular festivals in Hinduism. It celebrates the eternal and divine love of God Radha Krishna. Often referred to as the festival of colour, Holi is a boisterous occasion, characterized by family and friends daubing coloured powders over each other and drenching unsuspecting passers-by with a deluge of water.


Following our March Break, we invite parents to suggest ways to help our students gain insight into the above recent observances and celebrations. Please be in touch with your child’s teachers with ideas. 


11. 30th Annual JICS Read-a-thon

March 1-April 12

Your donations will be used to replace lost and broken books, purchase new books, and to support authors, illustrators, and storytellers to visit with students. 

We are so grateful to our supportive community! Donations of $25 or more will be rewarded with a personalized book plate placed in a new library book.


12. Hot Lunch Program Spring Term Sign-Up

Dear Hot Lunch Families,

I hope that you are well and getting ready for March Break - it certainly feels like Spring is in the air!!

Spring Term (April - June) hot lunch sign up is now available.  DEADLINE IS THURSDAY, MARCH 28th at noon.  Please note that March 29th - April 1 is a holiday weekend and we will be closed. 

Please make sure to get your order in before the due date. It is very difficult to manually add students to the class lists the night before the term starts and that is when mistakes happen, especially as the teachers and servers may not have the most updated list on day one!  

The sign up link is below.  Please remember to add any allergies or food requirements (vegetarian, no beef etc) to your order even if they were on prior orders.

Have a great March!


13. JICS Family Skate - Tuesday, April 2, 5:00-6:00

Lace up your skates, grab your family and friends, and join us at the inaugural JICS Family Skate Extravaganza at UofT’s Varsity Arena (299 Bloor Street W.), proudly presented by the JICS Parents Association.


14. Black History Month

Everyone enjoyed the special school-wide events we planned for Black History Month: steelpan workshop with Winston “Pappy” Frederick, former president and pannist with Trinidad’s Dunlop Tornado Steel Orchestra and the Carnival Spice & Everything Nice Dance Group demonstration and dance workshop. Throughout the year and especially in February, each class and many specialty classes have engaged the students in lessons that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present.

Here is a sample:



This year the focus was on folklore, music, and dances from the Carribean. The Grade 4/5 and 6 students discussed how Black Theatre flourished in Toronto in the 1970s due to Carribean immigration. Then we explored the traditional Carnival characters still seen in celebrations on the streets of Trinadad and Tobago. Next, we examined the fascinating creatures found in folklore from Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas, and Barbados. This inspired small groups of children to collaborate on their own incredible creatures, and to create and perform stories in which the creatures were featured. Soca and Calypso music inspired energetic, imaginative dances from students and creatures!


Grade 1

During Black History Month, the students in Grade One explored the work of various Black children's authors and illustrators.  In particular, we enjoyed "Malaika's Costume" by Canadian author Nadia Hohn, "Saturday" by American author and illustrator Oge Mora, and "You Matter" by American author and illustrator Christian Robinson. We spent a lot of time appreciating the illustrations in their books which were created using collage techniques. It has been interesting to examine collage as a medium by artists in the Black diaspora. The students recognized that collage allows you a lot of freedom, allows you to shape and re-arrange your image, and use papers with a various colours and textures that bring the art and people in these stories alive. We then experimented with creating our own mixed media collages. The students began with the prompt, "Draw something that you love to draw, something you love or something you love to look at". We then layered our work using patterned backgrounds, interesting shapes and types of paper, and ended by adding powerful messages of joy, self-love and pride. 


Early Years Music

The JKs and SKs listened to sounds, instrumentation, and songs from the Caribbean including Steel Pan. Calypso and Soca, in preparation for the school-wide Carnival celebration in February. They were introduced to welcome songs from Kenya (in Swahili) and South Africa (in Zulu) and played percussion instruments to accompany the beat and rhythms. Nursery, JK and SK children also learned a call-and response song from East Africa, and played musical games inspired by African-American clapping songs. 


15. Enhancing Public Education: Fulfilling Our Commitment

Since our establishment in 1925, our school has been at the forefront of shaping elementary educational practices and enhancing global teacher education. A recent testament to our ongoing commitment to knowledge dissemination is exemplified by our participation in the 46th Annual Language Art Conference: Reading For the Love of It, held in Toronto in February. During this conference, our representatives, Krista, teacher-librarian & land-based educator, and Norah, Nursery teacher, presented to an engaged audience of over 50 educators from across Canada, including those from indigenous communities. The focus of their presentation was on "An Introduction to Natural Curiosity: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry." In alignment with the mandate for teachers to integrate environmental education into their teaching (Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow, 2009), Krista and Norah addressed the significant gap identified by Lakehead University in 2021, where only a third of Canadian teachers feel adequately equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for effective environmental education. The duo highlighted how our resource, Natural Curiosity, 2nd Edition, serves as a valuable tool for teachers. They shared concrete examples, demonstrating how educators can integrate an Indigenous lens into their teaching, thereby fostering a deeper understanding of the environment.


16. Upcoming March Events

Readathon Month

Thur 7 – Parent Education “Surfacing Stories of Difference” with Kai Cheng Thom 5:30-7:30pm Register here

Fri 8 – International Women’s Day & JICS “Cozy Day”

Mon 10 to April 9 - Ramadan

Mon 11 to Fri 15 – March Break Week 1 (School and Daycare closed)

Mon 18 to Fri 22 – March Break Week 2 (School closed. Daycare open.)

Tue 19 – Spring Equinox (feasting of JICS bundle)

Thur 21 – Nowruz

Sat 23 to Sun 24 - Purim

Mon 25 – Holi

Mon 25 – Spring Term begins

Tues 26 - Parents of BIPOC Children Meeting Register Here

Wed 27 – Wednesday Afternoon Program: start of 3rd Term

Thur 28 – School-wide lice check (Thank you, PA!)

Fri 29 – Good Friday (School and Daycare closed.)


17. Upcoming April Events

Mon 1 – Easter Monday (School and Daycare closed.)

Tues 2 – JICS Family Skate. 5:00-6:00pm at Varsity Arena. RSVP here.

Fri 5 – Parent Education, 5:30-7:30pm: Why Evidence-Based Hope Matters: Supporting our children's wellbeing and resilience in the face of the climate crisis with Dr. Elin Kelsey (babysitting available) More information coming soon

Mon 8 – Solar Eclipse – School dismissal at 12:00. After-school daycare cancelled.

Tues 9 – Eid al-Fitr (begins at sunset)

Wed 10 – International Day of Pink

Wed 10 – Parent Teacher Interviews

Sat 13 – Vaisakhi

Mon 15 to Fri 19 - La Semaine De La Francophonie at JICS

Wed 17 – Parent Teacher Interviews

Fri 19 – Due date for 2nd JICS tuition payment

Mon 22 to Fri 26 – Earth Week at JICS

Mon 22 – Passover begins

Wed 24 to Fri 26 – International Association of Lab School Conference in Muncie, Indiana




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