This week at Alpha…

After a nice holidays, students and teachers are back in action, students working hard at combatting the homework and teachers working hard at replenishing it… people happy to catch up with friends after the break, the school is buzzing with talk of what everyone did on their holidays, with everything from going skiing, to going to Hawai’i, and everyone has something to share.

Alpha’s 2018 Open House is here, with displays, presentations, and information sessions. Open to both current and future Alpha-ites along with their parents, the open house takes place on Wednesday, January 24th, from 6 to 8 pm, where Robotics and Home Economics displays will showcase our some of school’s best electives. Information sessions for incoming grade 8’s, current grade 8 to 11 students, and for advanced placement (AP) will also be present. Plus, small group presentations for incoming grade 8’s, including Mini-School, Learning Support Services, and the French Immersion program, will be held to show grade 7’s what Alpha is like.

Star Search: the talent show where you can blow people’s minds with your awesome hidden talent. Get ready Alpha, because Star Search is coming! Auditions were held last Thursday, but it’s not too late to send in a video if you couldn’t make it. Good luck to those who auditioned, you’ll make us proud!

From Beta

Life of a Minischooler at the end of a term

After the break, we’ve seen a significant amount of stress flowing in the atmosphere of our classroom. The end of a break always does bring such stress, you may say, but of course it’s much more than that. The constant cram of redundant math questions, simple one may say, but doing hundreds of them brings no good to the mind.  The constant reminder of nearing deadlines…. Science fair …… IDS which is agreed by many to be the “Intense death sentence”, and it never fails to disappoint from its definition.

The start of yet another seating plan, bringing the smell of the devastating bottle recycling bin to many unfortunate individuals.  Of course I can’t continue with such pessimistic views, as we have signified the end of the bottle recycling program, replaced with the less rancid fundraising program which will continue to bring our class income. We yet to see the result of this change with the first launch happening this month, how exciting….

A large scramble of fractions and tests thrown at us, a particular test question striked us with relatability,  a student has five hours before going to sleep they have to spend …..[fractions of time on ___] do they have 30 minutes to play drums. Amusingly the fractions have added up to over their available time length, of course this was a mere typo, but still a very good representation of the average mini school student’s night before a deadline.

To end on a brighter note, our immensely adorable beloved dog Akira. Perhaps the only member of our classroom that brings joy to everyone. Eating snacks in the minischool classroom brings an attentive pair of large puppy eyes near you, and so begins the Akira wars; basically a series of events where a group of students consecutively “steals” Akira from each other by leading him to their desks. This ends in three possible ways, someone running out of food, Ms. Neumann intercepting, or Akira falling asleep.


That’s all for now…


Heading into a new term

As the Minischool gears up for the due date of science fair, everyone has been hard at work on their projects, catching up on math, and scrambling to finish overnight humanities projects. However, this means that we are all overworking ourselves, between projects and procrastination, and the loving company of Akira has become a precious commodity.


Each and every day, a subtle fight occurs in which top fighters take out food and other tasty morsels to lure the dog to their side. However, now that we have a new seating arrangement in which we do not sit in two long rows, and we do sit in small groupings of 2, the war heats up, with more competitors. Akira will come running with a longing face towards your table when you hold out food, although he does not stay for long before another morsel catches his nose. Callings of “Sit. Down. Good Boy” happen as often as every couple of minutes, but after he lays down by your side, he might hop up a few minutes later to pursue another piece of food. He goes back and forth between us, perhaps gaining a few pounds along the way. Some argue that the getting up and running around is enough exercise for him to work it off, but who can argue with the privilege of the dog lying beside them?

In other, more academically related news, (see how easy it is to get carried away with the dog?) we have had an extremely math heavy quarter, plowing through 2-3 chapters within the course of just a couple of weeks. Additionally, we will all be moving on to our second semester classes nearing the end of January, leaving most of us away from the fun of Home Ec and Tech Ed, and into French.

Poetry in Voice

In the past few weeks, the minischool has been catching up on homework during Tutorial Days. We have recently started a poem project where we had to pick a poem, memorize it, and present it for a school competition.

Some of the poems include: “Lonely Land”, “The House on the Hill”, “Blanc” and even one called “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes”.

Semester 2 is here and the new classes are…. New. Report cards have not arrived yet, but they will be coming really soon. Though the teachers have assured us already that we all got good marks, it’s quite hard not to worry about them, especially being in this class. And of course, we cannot forget Akira. The classroom dog is still as cute and fluffy as ever and is always eager to eat from other people’s lunches! It seems as though the Akira disease is getting stronger and now everybody in the class wants him to themselves. We would get up now and then to bribe him with treats and convince him to sit by us. Of course, it never really works:) but what would you expect from a dog? Thanks for checking out our blog and actually taking the time to read our posts!

Grade 8’s tackling a new year!

It’s been two weeks already since the end of winter break, and the minischool is still as busy and lively as ever! So far, we have already finished a project on historical Africa and it’s empires. Each group had a specific empire or kingdom that they had to research about. We got to use a microphone for the presentations, though half of us did not know how to use it properly. In humanities, we studied the bayeux tapestry, feudalism in Europe and Japan, Britannia’s government and a few facts here and there about vikings (turns out, English is derived from Viking and they did not usually wear their helmets.) There were quite a few tests and a lot of homework on fractions for scimatics, and people scrambling to finish up their science fair projects. We have been working very hard on them since before winter break and are quite nervous to see how they will turn out.

Due to the smell and the flies of the bottle recycling bin, the bottle recycling crew is now the fundraising team that will host fundraising events to raise money for the our class. (Akira the husky is barking his approval in the background.)

With all this schoolwork, of course, you would think that we would always be super focused and concentrated during class time, but that is not the case. With Akira wandering around all the time, none of us can resist giving him a piece of our food, playing with him or simply just petting him. This always leads to distractions, which leads to no work. But I guess that’s what happens when you have a classroom dog. Thanks for reading!


Classroom Arrangements

With the start of a new year, Mr.Murray and Ms.Neumann have emplaced a seating plan in order to (hopefully) better our learning.

Starting the school year in September, all of the tables were put into two pods, and we were encouraged to sit within the front half of the class, to help us bond, and cooperate. This proved to be trouble, and looking back, it’s surprising how little damage came from it. The next seating plan(ish) had us separating out so that we were diametrically opposite from our neighbors, essentially meaning that no one sat directly adjacent to anyone else. Similar to the last one, troubles arose pretty quickly, and no solution could be found, at least until after winter break. Returning from the break, we immediately greeted with the surprise of a new seating plan. This new seating plan consists of every student having a table to themselves, and all of the tables are separated from each other, in order to reduce unnecessary talking between students. Another feature about this new seating plan, is that now students no longer have the choice for where we sit since all of the positions are predetermined.

As of writing this entry, this seating plan has largely helped our focus in class, but has not yet fully resolved this problem. This leads me to think that there is possibly a need for another seating plan that will systematically solve this problem. The plan that seems the most plausible is to firstly find out which pairs of people cause this problem the most, than using a bit of planning, separate all of these said pairs, so that they won’t be causing as much of these issues. Hopefully a simple solution to this problem presents itself soon.

The Swearing Rule

As the new year rolled around, some students found that they have not yet adapted back to school behaviors, and continued their foul language. This quickly prompted a rule to be set in place in order to both help reduce the use of inappropriate language in the classroom, as well as educate them about the usage of that particular word throughout history. This rule requires that if a student uses a word that is deemed foul and/or extremely unkind, they have to write a 500 word essay regarding the true meaning about that word, how the meaning has changed throughout history, and also the usage of that word in history.

As soon as this rule has been emplaced, the usage of foul or cruel language has rapidly dwindled, with the rule only having been used once so far. Hopefully this successful trend continues on into the future, abolishing certain foul words from our classroom.

The Current Wars

Creative Presentations:

Coming into the new year, everyone had their creative juices restored after a long winter break. In order to harness this creativity and use it to its fullest potential, Ms.Neumann has challenged us to make a presentation about the current war between Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla. However, this was not to be just an average presentation, but rather, she challenged us to create a creative and different presentation that is engaging, doesn’t have any negative views on these scientists, and has to be full of accurate facts that show how they were as scientists. As the presentation time rolled around, we saw all sorts of different and creative means to show off this newly acquired knowledge. Those presentations ranged from videos, to drawings, to memes, to personality test, and even a roll of film.

The videos we saw in class were mainly focused around “dank memery”. The likes of Sam and Nathan showcased their talent to create original, funny content while still making it educational. Their audio was clear and easy to understand. Peter and Josh also created a video which was much more tame but still memelicious nonetheless. Both groups were able to finish and present a true masterpiece during class, and proof of it is that the entire class enjoyed it very much.

Harry and Shaw-Ern made a creative twist on YouTuber “Jacksfilms” video “THE PRIVILEGE QUIZ”. They ask a series of questions which all have 3 options to answer with. Depending on which answer you chose, you’d get a certain amount of points and by the end the total number of points you have accumulated will determine whether you are more like Edison or Tesla. The majority of the class were smack dab in the middle, between Edison and Tesla.

Quinlan, Celina and Sunnie all did amazing work for their presentation. Quinlan and Sunnie both drew Edison and Tesla’s faces and then added a lot of information around it. Sunnie’s was very clean and elegant whereas Quinlan focused a lot more on the information. I’m still not sure if Quinlan intentionally made Edison look like one of the moai statues on Easter Island, but it was a nice touch. Celina created a short story were Edison and Tesla are attending a wizardry school, and a competition to use electricity effectively put Edison and Tesla up against one another. Everything in this category was very well polished but the Grammy goes to Celina for the inclusion of Edison and Tesla as bug eyed anime characters.

The memes created by Brian and Spencer are worthy of being included in the next edition of Meme Review (link in the description). Many lunchtimes were put into the making of these top quality memes. The editing was done very well, and there is definitely no lack of creativity when it comes to the vast selection of memes. Everything from “do you know da wae?” and “understandable, have a great day” made this a very interesting and enjoyable presentation.

The last presentation, by Chloe, featured a fake roll of film with pictures drawn onto it. In other words, each major scene in Edison and Tesla’s life was summarized by a picture, and text, all written on one frame of the film. This was done very well, and led people to believe what it would actually look like if it were played in a movie theater.

All in all, having a creative presentation at the start of the year was a great idea, and resulted in some amazing projects.

China declares to build a Polar Silk Road to Canada

As part of the Trillion dollar plan called the Belt and Road initiative, China recently unveiled its Arctic strategy. China plans to build a Polar Silk Road, sending freight to Canada’s northernmost borders. A government official document declares China as a near Arctic state and plans to ship through an ice free Arctic. Shipping through the Arctic saves 20 days as opposed to shipping through traditional routes.

In September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Kazakhstan and delivered a speech at the University of Astana Nazarbayev, pointing out that the Silk Road connecting Europe and Asia across the East and West will forge different races, different beliefs and different cultural backgrounds of the countries and bring peace and great development of the new Silk Road. In fact, China has been trading overseas with Southeast Asian countries since the Song Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty, the Zheng Dynasty and the treasure voyages.

A month later, during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Indonesia, he further proposed to build the 21st century Maritime Silk Road cooperatively. From building ports in Pakistan, high-speed railways connecting Sri Lanka to East Africa and gas pipelines through Central Asia, China plans to invest over 1 Trillion USD in the Belt and Road initiative, making it the largest investment action taken by a single country in history. When completed, it will be covering 4.4 billion people, accounting for 63% of the world’s population. It will operate with 21 trillion US dollars, which covers 29% of the world’s economic scale and accounting for 23.9% of the world’s total exports of goods and services.

With the original intention of building infrastructure to promote trade, the plan will be based on two routes: a route roughly along the original the Silk Road, from China through Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe; the other through the sea from Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa. Based on the news, an additional polar silk road will be added as well.

Since 2013, the Belt and Road initiative has been extended to projects ranging from New Zealand, the UK and even the Arctic. China has listed 65 countries that will be included in the development of hundreds of projects. In 2014, China’s sovereign wealth fund announced the establishment of 40 billion US dollars for the Belt and Road Fund. In 2015, China and other countries had set up Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with an initial capital of $100 billion. The fund is expected to be used for all over the country. In the same year, China allocated another $82 billion US dollars to three state-owned banks in support of the project.

China’s policies are appreciated by liberal Arctic powers as it takes up responsibilities in sustainability, Indigenous peoples’ rights, as well as protection of wildlife.  Soon the Arctic region will become a multi trillion dollar region, the world’s hotspot for resources and trade. By establishing these powers early on, China is securing a spot in the Arctic region as a powerful player.