Asha James - Class of '98

In June of 1998, I graduated from Trafalgar Castle School, ready to set out on my own to conquer the world. I attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, on a four-year track scholarship. It was while here, for the first time, I got to see poverty up close. It was the first time I was truly exposed to circumstances where people had to choose between feeding their family or paying a light bill.

Although I had the privilege of attending an all girls, private school, where none of the students I knew had ever experienced the level of poverty I was witnessing; the compassion, empathy, philanthropy, and problem-solving skills I developed while at Trafalgar Castle compelled me to act.

I began by volunteering with elementary school students, just to provide a positive role model in their life. To this day, I still maintain some of those bonds. These skills of compassion, empathy and problem solving that I learned at Trafalgar have become fundamental tenets of my law practice.

I’m a lawyer at Falconers LLP in Toronto Ontario and my practice focuses on human rights, social justice and constitutional law. The best way I could describe the work I do is advocating for the “Davids” of the world when they are fighting for justice against the “Goliaths”. My work also includes advocating for Indigenous people in their dealing with the government. Undoubtedly, the skills and lessons learned at Trafalgar have helped me become a voice and an advocate for those less fortunate than I.

Karina (Legzdins) Langdon - Class of '06

I started at Trafalgar Castle in Grade 8, as part of the elite athlete’s program while I was a high-level horseback rider, and stayed through until high school graduation, at which point I went on to earn my B.A. in History at Queen’s University and then my M.A. in Rhetoric and Writing Studies at San Diego State University. I also did a semester abroad in Ireland to study creative writing. Since finishing school, I’ve held a variety of communications roles in a number of different companies and industries, including finance and pharmaceuticals, start-ups and marketing agencies, and have finally landed in finance. But, I’ve always had my eye on writing fiction with a dream of having a book I’d written available in Chapters or Barnes & Noble. And now that dream is coming true. 

I’ve always loved to write and part of what enabled me to really go after my dreams of being a writer is the confidence I gained at Trafalgar. I had a few really great teachers who provided me with some excellent writing experience and acted as my cheerleaders. It was at the Castle that teachers fostered my love of writing and helped me believe that I could hold my own with the writers of the world. Of course, this confidence has been, and still is, tested over and over again throughout school and my professional life, as it always is, but the confidence I gained through this support network has helped give me the confidence to keep working at it, to keep getting better, to keep trying. 

It’s that kind of support that I think is really unique to Trafalgar and life at the Castle. Whether or not every teacher is your favourite, or whether you're every teacher’s favourite student, absolutely every teacher cares about you. It’s a bit like a family. As I’ve grown up and heard other people’s experiences, I’ve learned that you’re really lucky to find just one teacher who inspires you and who cares about you and your future. But, at Trafalgar, you’ve got a whole staff of them. During my time there, teachers always went above and beyond to make sure that they were doing everything they could to help foster each student’s unique talents. were. And that is really special.

Now, I’m a recently published author and am already finding success in the field. After injuring myself in a riding accident, I was off work for over 1.5 years to heal from a traumatic brain injury. During this time, I found myself at my typewriter, with sunglasses on and earplugs in, finishing the final draft of Unsealed, my first book. I’d started to write it while in San Diego for graduate school and the injury gave me the excuse to finally finish it. Unsealed was launched in Toronto in November 2016 and globally in January 2017. It’s available worldwide via Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, and Nook, and is available online at Chapters and Barnes & Noble. A few B&N stores have picked it up in physical copy, and one has even listed it as a “Staff Pick”!  I’ve got groups of readers in Australia, Scotland, England, the USA and Canada, as well as Mexico, Brazil, and Spain. It’s surreal! And it doesn’t stop there. In May, I’ve been asked to pitch my book to a group of film producers in NYC, so I’m working hard to prepare for that while being a bundle of nerves and excitement at the possibilities that that day may bring. 

I’m really proud of where I’ve gotten to and who I’ve become, and Trafalgar played an early role in developing the confidence to pursue my dreams. Thank you to all the wonderful teachers and staff who were always encouraging me and being supportive of my goals!

My website: www.kmlangdon.com.

Connect with me on Instagram:@the_northern_bookworm.

GRACE ATKINSON - Class of '77

Grace started in child protection in Red Lake, Ontario where she would fly into the remote communities of Pika gimme, Poplar Hill, Sandy Lake and Deer Lake.  She did this from 1985-1987 before moving back to Thunder Bay to be the court coordinator for Dilico Ojibway CFS and then as supervisor.  In 1993, Grace moved to Terrace, British Columbia for a short stay of two years where she took on a youth addiction prevention program developed with youth in Kitimat and Terrace alternate schools.  Grace then returned to Thunder Bay for 1994-1995 at Dilico developing the off-reserve protection team and policy manuals. 

Grace continued her career, moving from project to project.  From 1995-1998 she once again headed to Terrace, British Columbia to do child protection in the Nisga’a communities in the Nass Valley, Then she went to Burns Lake on secondment with the Lake Babine Nation to develop their delegated child and family service program from 1998-2000 and then as training manager at the Caring for First Nations Children Society, training Indigenous and non-Indigenous child protection workers from 2003-2008.  For the past eight years, Grace has been self-employed and helped write the Indigenous Cultural Safely Program. 

When asked what she felt were her greatest career accomplishments, Grace told Allison, “My greatest accomplishment was refusing to contribute to the ongoing colonization, assimilation, and cultural interference of Indigenous children.” She practiced in what she defined as “a very non traditional way, refusing to place Indigenous children in non-Indigenous homes,” and continues to this day to influence others to “consider carefully their stereotypes, biases, and racist thinking when practicing with Indigenous people in health, mental health, child welfare, and Justice.”  Grace has shown her passion through her actions and leadership.  She continues to be a strong advocate for Indigenous peoples and their rights. 

So how did OLC/Trafalgar play a role in who Grace Atkinson is today?  Grace says “I really came into my own at OLC. I believe I honed my leadership skills in those years – and my assertiveness skills,” and as proof of this offers the OLC Athletic Association board for 1977 and the fact that she was the first student in OLC history to resign a position.  She tells Allison that it was an “integrity issue” and she is proud of the stand she took. 

Her memories of the Castle are fond.  As well as developing the foundation of who she is today, she remembers the fun…some of it a little mischievous…as she references cheese nightmares, Gertrude McKitrick and late night study marathons.  The memories are good and the person that left the Castle was ready to lead by example, take risks by not doing things in a way that is the norm or expected, and well prepared for the future. That is what Trafalgar Castle School education is all about. Girls are encouraged to become independent thinkers and be the next generation of bold thinkers, creative doers, and global citizens. Grace Atkinson’s career and life after OLC is a great example of this.

Thank you so much to Grace for taking the time to update Allison and provide us with where she is today.  We want to hear more about our alumnae and how Trafalgar Castle School/OLC has been an integral part in who you are today.  Feel free to contact Helen Walsh and give her your story.

Trafalgar represents at opening and closing 2015 Games

 PanAm_2

Alyssa Parker, Class of 2015, was part of the spectacular opening ceremonies at the Pan Am Games on July 10 held at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, performing with Canada’s internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil dance team.

Alyssa was chosen among 50 dancers after a 300-person audition was held in Toronto last February. With rehearsals beginning in May, the dancers spent more than 125 hours choreographing, rehearsing, and perfecting their incredible routines. Alyssa danced in the eight-minute opening Fireline routine followed by a five-minute dance performance titled Yonge Street in front of a sold-out crowd of 45,000 spectators from across the globe.

“I’ve done some great things with dance over the years but this was by far the most amazing experience I’ve had,” said Alyssa. “Luther Brown from So You Think You Can Dance Canada did the choreography for us and put together an incredible group of dancers from all different cultures and backgrounds. Working with so many talented and multicultural dancers was a very humbling and awesome experience.”

Alyssa has been dancing since she was just three-years old and began dancing competitively at the age of six. She came to Trafalgar for her graduating year as part of the Pursuit of Excellence program and fit in seamlessly. “Coming to Trafalgar was a life-changing opportunity and such a great way to end my Grade 12 year,” said Alyssa. “The small-school environment really helped me learn to manage my time wisely and I feel more prepared for university this fall. The teachers were so supportive and understanding of my dance commitments and I met new and wonderful friends that I know I will have for life.”

Alyssa is headed to York University this fall to study Theatre and is excited to learn and improve in this area of the performing arts. She plans to pursue a career in entertainment whether in television, movies, or Broadway; she says she will go wherever the auditions take her.

In addition to Alyssa’s stellar dance performance at the opening ceremonies, Trafalgar’s dynamic music duo Meghan Patrick and Hillary Kourkoutis from the Class of ’05 also took the stage for the Parapan Am closing ceremony on August 15th. Organized by Live Nation Entertainment, Meghan headlined the biggest party of the Games with Hillary at her side on keyboard. Hillary also performed with Canadian recording artist Serena Ryder at the Pan Am closing ceremonies.

Grade 8 student Clare Gabrielle also performed at the Ajax Convention Centre as part of the Games with her dance studio Tatry Folk Song and Dance Ensemble.

So proud of our amazing Trafalgar talent being showcased on the international stage!!! Look out world…there’s no stopping these young women!

Video Links:

Meghan Patrick's set begins at 1:11:11.
http://www.cbc.ca/player/Sports/ID/2673679257/?page=2 

Alyssa Parker's dance begins around 2:30:00.
http://panam.cbc.ca/videos/live/video/seoname=pan-american-games-opening-ceremony-569674.html 

Following Your Passion

Growing up Ehelwyn Rempel, Class of ’60, could always be found drawing, painting, and creating various works of art. Her talents were recognized when she won the award for the most promising Art student in Grade 12. “I wanted to go to Art college but my father said to me ‘How would you ever get a job?’ So I pursued a career in nursing,” said Ethelwyn.

A Nursing graduate from Toronto Western Hospital’s Class of ‘63, Ethelwyn enjoyed a short but successful nursing career working at the Cobourg and District Hospital and in a doctor’s office. Family commitments led her to Montreal where she didn’t know enough French to find work as a nurse but by then she had picked her brushes back up and began painting on porcelain and never looked back. 

While in Montreal she met Ann Rybolt, a well-known china painter, and became a student of hers in her first set of classes in 1977. It was a passionate love for Ethelwyn and she went out and bought her first small kiln right away. Since then she has studied with some of the best china painters from Canada, the US, UK, and Europe and eventually began offering workshops and teaching out of her home studio in a beautiful country setting.

Watercolours, monoprints, pen and ink, and drawings have always been among her favourite mediums but always a distant second to her love for china painting where she loses herself in her creativity, hand building the porcelain, glazing it, then china painting it. “My favourite subjects have been toads, frogs and turtles but I have also made many bowls and platters and have enjoyed painting flowers, scenes, animals and portraits on porcelain,” said Ethelwyn. “I love insects and also like to add dichotomies and humour to my work. I did a 'Vegetarian Platter' with a dead chicken in the middle surrounded by a hangman's noose. It sold right away!”

Ethelwyn’s work has been published in china painting journals in Canada including Porcelain Artists of Canada and Ontario Porcelain Artists’ Guild, various U.S. journals, and in local newspapers. She was a founding member of an artist's co-op at the Colborne Art Gallery from 1997 to 2002, which remains a successful gallery.

Her greatest success was having a loyal following of patrons who came from far and wide to her shows. “I painted and did things I liked and it seemed to please others,” said Ethelwyn. “There is a difference between having to do it and wanting to do it, and I had the best of both scenarios. Creativity flows as long as you enjoy the work.”

Her main career in life was however raising two wonderful children where her artwork allowed her to be at home and flexible for her family. Her children enjoyed the exposure to art experiences and materials and inherited their mother’s gift of creativity. Ethelwyn held her Absolutely Last Show this past June and is looking forward to the next chapter in her life where she and husband, Al, will be moving from their beautiful country home into an apartment, which means no more room for kilns, pottery and china painting. She plans to go back to watercolours and drawings and has recently been introduced to Zentangle and is developing a new love for pen work.

We look forward to following Ethelwyn’s new creations!

Cadwallader sisters to launch children’s book series at the International Book Fair this weekend

The International Book Fair taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this Friday, November 14 through Sunday, November 16 will host two of Trafalgar’s own alumnae. Nicole Cadwallader, Class of ’08 and sister Christina, Class of ‘11 will be there to feature their children’s book series, titled Mr. Pigglesworth.

The books evolved out of a university Project Management class where Nicole had to come up with a business plan. Her initial idea was to make and sell custom piggy banks for kids. She then decided to take advantage of a free make-your-own book as an added touch to the project. Housebound with her sister during last holiday season’s ice storm, the sisters put their bonding time to good use and had published three books before the New Year.

Soon after, the sisters launched a small clothing collection, which includes infant hats, mittens, and onesies featuring the catchy tagline ‘filthy rich, clean fun’.

“The name Mr. Pigglesworth actually came about when I was naming my new USB, which was in the shape of a pig,” said Nicole. “My peers saw the name on the desktop and it made them smile so I thought if the name sparked their interest, I wonder what something else attached to that name could do?”

Their book series aims to teach kids about financial responsibility and help them develop a greater sense of self. Located in the Hub section booth H16 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Nicole and Christina will showcase their books and clothing, and will also be offering prizes. Drop by the Book Fair this weekend for your chance to speak with the authors!

Nicole completed a five-year Bachelor of Arts, Arts Management Specialist with a major in Studio at the University of Toronto (U of T) including a one-year internship where she learned event planning, office administration, budgeting and project management skills. She recently completed an internship with the Ministry of Training College and Universities where she was part of the Innovation Unit team and is currently enrolled in a Project Management graduate program.

Christina is currently in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Business, Finance Specialist program at U of T and was recently selected by her professor to be a facilitator after obtaining the highest mark in her Management course. This past summer, she completed a summer internship at the Financial Service Commissions of Ontario. Christina is also part of the Investment Society at U of T and is the founder and president of U of T’s Benjamin Graham Value Investing Society.

Food for thought from successful alum

A holistic nutritionist dedicated to living and eating as green as possible, Marina Cortese, Class of 2004, founded Nour-ish, a nutrition consulting company designed to help clients improve their relationship with food while equipping them with the tools they need to replace harmful foods with more healthy and nutritional options.

Marina’s passion for food and health has culminated in another exciting business venture with her new restaurant Oats & Ivy set to open this fall. With an emphasis on taste and nutrition, Oats & Ivy will provide consumers with freshly made to order juices and smoothies; soups, salads and noodle bowls; and tasty treats made from organic and sustainably sourced ingredients. “People are working longer hours, have more responsibilities, and they just don't have the time to prepare all of their meals anymore,” said Marina. “They're also becoming more invested in their health and are looking for better options while on-the-go. Oats & Ivy will help change the fast food landscape by providing nutritionist-approved foods without compromising flavour or quality.”

With no formal business education or training, Marina has relied heavily on hard work; lots of reading; and aligning herself with great mentors, among them are of course her parents; a teacher from Shad Valley who inspired her entrepreneurial spirit; Trafalgar’s own Mr. Huxter who helped her to recognize the importance of balance and the art of saying no; and three business advisors who are helping to bring her vision for Oats & Ivy to life. “The advisors work specifically with small startups and they have been a wealth of knowledge,” said Marina. “Their coaching provides me with the assurance that I’m on the right track and after our meetings, I’m left with renewed inspiration.”

As her vision for Oats & Ivy unfolds Marina is finding great pleasure in the little things. “I love seeing the photos of the bike cart and the whole branding come to life, ordering the packaging, and hiring staff who are as excited about this as I am,” said Marina. “Seeing everything come together really reinforces that this is actually happening. That it’s not just a crazy idea anymore. It’s all very rewarding.”

For those looking to pursue a career in business, Marina stresses the importance of working hard, being passionate, and having fun. “I genuinely love what I'm doing right now. When you do something you love people notice. Conversely, when you do something you don't love, people notice too.”

Those interested in a taste of Oats & Ivy need not wait until the fall! This summer, Marina will be pedaling around downtown Toronto’s core offering a rotating menu selection and building brand awareness on her bike food cart. You may also see Marina here at Trafalgar Castle School on Saturday, June 28 where she will offer some food for thought as part of the 140th Alumnae Reunion Weekend’s workshop series. If you have not yet registered for the reunion, please visit www.trafalgarcastle.ca/140 today!

Alumna sets the stage for fabulous future in film

 Emma Fleury, Class of 2006, is no stranger to the stage. Her passion for the screen and stage began at a very early age where she was cast as a series regular in the popular kids show, Sharon Lois and Bram, as well as a Showtime feature, directed by the prominent Robert Townsend. She was the launch voice of Discovery Kids and spent much of her time in a recording booth as a commercial personality.

Throughout her four years at Trafalgar Castle School Emma was actively engaged in school life participating in sports, clubs, House Plays, and a musical for every year at the School. Her favourite roles were as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and Rizzo in Grease. Emma juggled her artistic pursuits while holding various leadership roles including President of The Athletic Association and Head Girl in her final year. She spearheaded the inaugural speaker series Letting Information Frame Tomorrow (LIFT) conference, which brought students from independent schools across Ontario together for a day of inspiration and practical sessions. “Trafalgar taught me how to be a leader even in moments of adversity and to do what’s right, versus what is easy,” said Emma. “I also learned to be well-rounded, which has served me very well in my profession. You soon realize that no one is going to push harder for you than yourself.”

Emma completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science at Queen’s University (Queens) in Kingston, ON with plans to pursue a career in entertainment law. Yet throughout her studies, she continued to enrol in drama classes each semester.

In her final year at Queens, a drama professor convinced her to audition for a role in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town for the university’s drama major, a bi-yearly Queen’s production where Emma landed the lead role. In that moment she saw the trajectory of her life shift. “Being on that stage in front of an audience again, was my ‘aha’ moment,” said Emma. “It solidified for me that I would never be complete until I got to do this every day for the rest of my life,” said Emma.

After playing the lead in several musicals including White Christmas and Spamalot, Emma began to focus more on film and television. She got her first big break on Ken Finkleman’s HBO show The Good God. Her passion and dedication recently paid off when she was cast as the lead female role in the feature film It Was You Charlie. Emma met the movie’s producers and director at a Toronto International Film Festival party and immediately forged a connection with the director, Emmanuel Shirinian. Taken under his wing, she began work-shopping a character for a role she would eventually audition for. “Normally a director does not see you on camera before you audition, but Emmanuel took a bit of an unorthodox approach,” said Emma. “Over time I had built an understanding of this beautiful character and was blessed in knowing going into the audition room that I was the person he wanted to play his lead female. All I had to do was convince the producers, and the role was mine.”

It Was You Charlie is a drama-comedy about a down-and-out sculptor and former college art teacher, who loses the love of his life, and finds himself desolate and suicidal. Emma plays the role of Zoe, a free-spirited taxi driver, who helps him reconcile his conflicted past with her big heart and persuasive disposition.

While Emma loves acting as a profession she does caution students looking to pursue this avenue that while it is an amazing career, it is not for the faint of heart. “You really need to find people who believe in you and your abilities and never focus on the ones who don’t.”

Emma is currently working with a production company where she is learning first-hand how to produce a television show for a major network. She is also in the development phase of a feature she has written based on the true story of her great-great grandmother who was a knife thrower in the circus in 1905. “I can’t wait to stand there on the first day of shooting, dressed as my idol, about to bring her amazing story to life.”

In the meantime, Emma is living the exciting promotional film festival circuit, which is taking her to amazing places around the world including Busan, South Korea, Vancouver, and California for premieres. “The coolest person I have met is Robert Evans, acclaimed producer and former studio head of Paramount Picture,” said Emma. “Some of you might know him from a little film called The Godfather. He is an unbelievable storyteller and is probably the most respected producer in Hollywood, EVER. I was a little star-struck to say the least.”

Watch for Emma in It Was You Charlie in theatres this August!


No ordinary school day!

Grade 11 student shares unique learning opportunity with alum outside the classroom.

Nicole Park, Class of 2004, was among the six alumnae panelists who joined us for Trafalgar Castle School’s I-Think discussion back in December where she shared her experiences and the path that has led to her exciting career in research.

Nicole’s interest in cancer research began at the age of nine when a cousin was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. “A few years later I happened to look down a brightfield microscope and saw for my first time, human chromosomes in metaphase,” said Nicole. “I was so inspired and truly felt my passion for genetics ignite at that moment.”

For the past ten years, Nicole has been actively working toward becoming an educator and leader in cancer research completing a Bachelor of Science Honours in Molecular Genetics at Queen’s University in Kingston; a Masters degree in Pathology at Western University in London; and is now completing her Doctoral studies with Dr. Peter Dirks, a pioneer in the brain cancer stem cell field at the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto. Upon completion of her PhD, Nicole will apply for a post-doctoral fellow where she will work to establish herself as an independent cancer researcher. After a couple of post-doctoral positions, she plans to apply for an assistant professor position at a university.

Nicole’s passion and personal experiences really resonated with Grace, a Grade 11 student who had been learning about molecular biology and genetics in her classes at Trafalgar. Coupled with her existing interest in research and medicine, Grace took the time to speak with Nicole following the panel discussion and the idea of a site visit evolved.

“It was really inspiring to see alumnae share what their Trafalgar experience meant to them and to learn how this experience influenced their career path,” said Grace. “They were all wonderful role models and great examples of the power of women in the workforce.”

On what would have otherwise been a regular school day, Grace recently commuted downtown to the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, a brand new state-of-the-art facility in Toronto, where Nicole conducts her research along with all the researchers for Sick Kids.

“It was so cool to have a current Trafalgar student shadow me for the day,” said Nicole. “It felt as though I already knew Grace – as if the Big Sister/Little Sister program was in full effect! I think the experiences that we share as Trafalgar students are so unique and special that it really unifies us in an eternal way.”

They began their day with an overview of Nicole’s research on glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive adult brain cancer. Her research aims to better understand the biology of glioblastoma and normal brain stem cells to ultimately improve treatment options for patients fighting this devastating disease. Following the research overview, Grace donned a lab coat and entered the Tissue Repair Room with Nicole where they spent the next two hours exploring glioblastoma cells from two different patients. In their experiment, they introduced a well-known stem cell pathway drug into the culture media to see how the cells responded.

“The idea is that by stopping the pathways in the cells that promote stem cell behaviour the cells will become mature cells and no longer divide,” said Nicole. “Once the drug was added we put the cells onto a plate so that I can measure the difference in the number of cancer cells treated with or without the drug a week from now.”

 

Pictured above is the image Nicole and Grace observed under the microscope of glioblastoma cells from a patient who had undergone surgery to remove the cancer from the brain.

“The entire day was incredible and well beyond my expectations,” said Grace. “One of the highlights for me in the lab was that I was actually able to apply some of what I had been learning in class to a real-life lab setting.”

Next on the day’s agenda was a short walk to the University of Toronto for a seminar on molecular biology where Grace sat in on a presentation by two students who shared their own research and experiences.

Back at the lab, Grace’s visit culminated in a one-hour session with Nicole’s mentor, Dr. Dirks, Staff Neurosurgeon at Sick Kids, specializing in the surgical treatment for childhood brain tumours and brain vascular malformations.

Throughout their discussion Dr. Dirks talked about some of his own research, highlighted some of the greatest discoveries in neuroscience in general, and shared a number of resources for Grace to go away with to explore on her own.

“Dr. Dirks shared his passion for research and explained how it offers him new ways to do what he does in surgery every day, but also stressed that everything in the lab is sparked by your own interests, so you have to truly love what you do,” said Grace.

Grace, who plans to pursue a career in the Life Sciences, set out for the day hoping to gain some insight into the world of research and found herself in a boardroom; university lecture hall; world-renowned lab; and sitting down with one of the leading researchers in pediatric neurosurgeons. Not bad for her first day at ‘work’!

When Nicole was asked about her experience as an alumnae mentor, she had this to say: “A truly important aspect of this collaboration was the ability for me to give back to Trafalgar in some way. I am here today because of my experiences at Trafalgar. To inspire and lead a current Trafalgar student, in a way, completes the circle for me. It was there where I found my inspiration for the sciences and developed leadership skills through opportunities unique to Trafalgar. What I would say to any alum considering this is simply: DO IT!!!! It’s one day to potentially make a huge impact on someone’s life. And what better opportunity than to inspire one of our own.”

Alumnae interested in mentoring a student for a day may contact Rhonda Daley, Director of Advancement and Alumnae Relations at daley.rhonda@trafalgarcastle.ca.

Meghan Patrick, Class of ’05, is one step closer to superstardom!

After eight weeks of intense competition KX96 has crowned Meghan Patrick, Class of ’05, as the winner of the 2013 KX96 Super Star Search.

The competition, which began October 3, saw more than 60 performers take the stage at The Corral in Oshawa. Contestants performed two songs each and were given a score out of 100 based on singing and performance including stage presence and appearance. The contestant with the highest combined score was declared that night’s winner and was awarded a position in the finals held on December 5.

Singing Boys from the South by the Pistol Annies in round one and one of her originals, titled Tightrope, for round two, Meghan rocked the stage with nine other finalists who belted out songs by the likes of Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood.

“We had an awful lot of good talent last night,” said Pete Walker, KX96 Super Star Search host. “I think what probably sets Meghan apart most is her passion and presentation.”

Following the winning announcement, Meghan wowed the audience one last time with her amazing talent singing Jolene by Dolly Parton.

“I want to thank everyone who came out to support me tonight”, said Meghan. “This has been an amazing competition with such great talent and I’m so excited to have been chosen as this year’s winner.”

As the 2013 KX96 Super Star, Meghan has been awarded the grand prize of a recording session with Canadian Country Music Association’s award-winning producer Mike Francis and feature airplay on KX96 radio.

“This spring or summer, Meghan will meet with Mike Francis and Steve Kassay, our program director to pick a song to record with airplay of that song to begin some time late summer or early fall,” said Walker.

Congratulations Meghan! Your Trafalgar family is very proud of you and will all be tuning in to KX96 to hear your song!

Ashley Meek, Class of ‘03

Ten years after leaving the walls of Trafalgar Castle School, alumna Ashley Meek, is a sterling example of being the change you want to see in the world. Graduating in 2003 as part of the double cohort, Ashley went on to study Psychology and Health Studies at Queen’s University.

 

In 2009, she visited a Ghanaian village where she volunteered as a teacher at an orphanage-school complex. “I witnessed the positive impact that comprehensive, participatory initiatives can truly have on communities and conversely, the long-term damage that poorly-planned development projects can leave behind,” said Ashley.

This experience prompted her return to Canada to further pursue her studies in international development. She enrolled in the Master of Social Work programme at York University with a focus on international development, followed by a postgraduate certificate in Project Management for International Development at the Humber School of Business.

Determined to make a difference, Ashley vowed she would only work with organizations that bolster the strength of communities without ignoring the obstacles of deeply entrenched injustices. Today Ashley finds herself back in Africa interning with the African Medical & Research Foundation (AMREF) in Nairobi, Kenya. As Africa’s leading health development organization, AMREF focuses on ensuring access to good health for the most vulnerable and marginalized people in Africa through the implementation of innovative and sustainable solutions to critical health challenges.

“When living abroad, the experience of new foods, exotic animals and historical landmarks are always exhilarating however, it is the privilege to know the extraordinariness of ordinary people that has most impacted my journey,” said Ashley.

Through a Canadian International Development Agency-funded internship, Ashley is working as a programme officer for a six-month mission. Her role involves project development, grant proposal writing, and documentation. In addition, she is working at the Dagoretti Child in Need Centre where she is piloting a drama therapy project using popular education techniques and incorporating improv theatre, movement and dance into group counseling sessions. “Now that I work with youth, I have come to understand that the best thing you can equip young girls with is a belief in themselves,” said Ashley.

Upon reflection of her time spent at The Castle, Ashley had this to offer: “The biggest impact Trafalgar had on my life was the freedom to be myself. The stimulating, supportive environment allowed me to explore my ideas without restriction, to be exposed to new cultures and opportunities and to develop an unshakeable sense of self-confidence; a characteristic that can take some women a lifetime to achieve.”

A project Ashley helped design was recently entered into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenge Explorations funding contest and is showcased as a video. The system for determining who will proceed to the next round is dependent upon audience votes. Help Ashley and AMREF prevent illness and the unnecessary loss of lives and vote on their proposal today.

Ashley hopes her next contract will bring her to South America and aspires to one-day work as a project manager and eventually as a programme manager.


Alumna creates smiles through international mission

Ten days, more than 35 international medical professionals, 117 surgeries, one mission: Operation Smile.

Kallista Hammer, Class of ’10, recently travelled to Peru to take part in the UVoice program designed for university students interested in taking part in medical missions. There, she was responsible for gathering patient stories and photos throughout a 10-day international mission with Operation Smile.

In addition to her mission’s writing assignment, Kallista had the opportunity to log medical records, observe surgeries, and assist with follow-up patient care. She also helped the nurses carry the children back to the recovery room and keeping them company until they awoke from surgery. One case in particular made a lasting impact. “Ariana is a five-month old baby who had her cleft lip repaired,” said Kallista. “One of the most heart-wrenching sounds is the sound of an infant screaming after surgery but when her mother came in, Ariana’s cries stopped and were replaced with a huge smile. The mother held her baby tight and said ‘thank you for fixing her’.”

Operation Smile, an international children’s medical charity, provides safe, reconstructive surgery and related medical care for children born with facial deformities such as cleft palates. “I really wanted to join a club that would give me opportunities in the medical field,” said Kallista.

She first became involved with Operation Smile three years ago when she attended a Club Fair while in her first year at Boston University. She is now president of the Boston University Club Operation Smile where she is in charge of organizing fundraising events, volunteer management and hosting meetings. “Trafalgar is where I gained a true appreciation for volunteering,” said Kallista. “I also owe much of my confidence to Trafalgar. There, I was able to develop leadership and speaking skills that have come in handy throughout my time at university.”

Kallista is going into her fourth and final year at Boston University and is studying Behavioural Biology with plans to apply to dentistry for next year.

Jenny Taylor offers insight and advice after graduating from Humber College at the top of her class


Jenny Taylor, Class of ’11 had the full attention of Grade 9 and 10 Drama students when she returned to Trafalgar Castle School recently to conduct a workshop aimed at building confidence and learning how to shine in an audition.

The workshop began with introductory warm-ups and rhythm exercises designed to make the students feel more comfortable and connected. The students were then lead through a step-by-step professional audition process and learned all about wait times; taking turns; greeting the casting director; properly slating and profiling; picking up lines from the page; and general business etiquette.

“The girls did an especially great job of picking up lines off the page and connecting with the reader,” said Jenny. “They were very confident and present when they entered the room and I was really impressed with their poise and ability.”

In addition students explored the differences between film and theatre acting and had an opportunity to conduct video reviews of their auditions.

“The insight Jenny offered was astounding,” said Grade 10 student Laura Ramirez. “She is a great speaker and offered valuable knowledge on the do's and don'ts in the acting profession.”

Jenny’s love for the stage blossomed early, when in Grade 7 she debuted as Babet in Trafalgar’s production of Les Miserables with just two lines. Jenny graduated as Anne in the 2011 production of Anne of Green Gables. One of her fondest Trafalgar memories is when the cast and crew would all stand and hold hands in a circle and pass the squeeze around before each show. “It always made me cry. That last time on stage as Anne was particularly bittersweet and awesome.”

Jenny has just graduated at the top of her class from Humber College’s two-year Acting for Film and Television program with the School of Creative & Performing Arts and credits much of her college success to Trafalgar. “As much as film is different from the stage, Trafalgar prepared me very well,” said Jenny. “The encouragement and support from my drama classes, drama festivals, house plays and productions really fueled my passion and fire for acting. Otherwise I doubt I would have had the courage and confidence to pursue my dream.”

Jenny has several agency leads and is looking forward to launching her career in film.

Making a splash at Dal


Swimming competitively since the age of seven, Meghan Toswell, Class of ’12 headed down to the east coast of Atlantic Canada to study Health Promotion at Dalhousie University with hopes of continuing her swimming career with the Dalhousie Tigers Women’s Varsity Swim Team.

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Dr. Armita Rahmani, Class of '90


I was born in Tehran in 1974 just before the revolution. One night in 1978 I remember being very frightened. My mother had gathered us into her bedroom and we were to sleep there. She got us up in the middle of the night and we were told to be very quiet. Everyone was afraid. We got into a car and drove to the airport, arriving in Geneva.

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