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    Waterford District High School students take part in virtual competition.

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    McKinnon Park Secondary School students donned spirit wear for the lacrosse toss.

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    A team of Cayuga Secondary School students devises a strategy.

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    The Dunnville Secondary School student behind the BOSS proposal, Viktorija Todorovic, left, takes on the puzzle challenge with teammate Jenna Battle.

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    Hagersville Secondary School students ready to compete.

COVID Can’t Cancel School Spirit of Haldimand-Norfolk B.O.S.S. Competition

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a lot of cancelled plans as it’s changed the ways we’re able to safely connect with each other. In Grand Erie, the cancellation of fall fairs was a blow to the longstanding traditions and togetherness that so many students and staff look forward to each year. The cancellation of the Caledonia Fall Fair, and its High School Challenge for Grade 12 students in particular, left a void. But it gave Viktorija Todorovic, a Grade 12 student at Dunnville Secondary School, a great idea.

“Coming into Grade 12, there were so many events and activities I was excited about being a part of that ended up needing to be cancelled, and I thought others were likely missing these events as well,” said Todorovic. “I felt it was important to bring in some sense of community, and friendly, fun competition to brighten students’ days.”

Todorovic began brainstorming ways to bring that comradery back. The result was a proposal she presented to her school’s administrative staff outlining B.O.S.S. – Battle of the Secondary Schools –  which involved a series of games and competitions that Grade 12 students at Dunnville Secondary and other area secondary schools could take part in via Microsoft Teams. Soon, McKinnon Park, Cayuga, and Hagersville secondary schools were on board.

Over in Norfolk, Waterford District High School decided to get in on the action too. Now the five schools are in a multi-week competition, with each week issuing different challenges and new opportunities for students to earn points for their school, ultimately determining who will be the Haldimand-Norfolk BOSS. Events have included Pink Elephant, which involves looping a slinky to one’s head; Puzzle Speed Run, to see which team can assemble a puzzle the fastest; a TikTok dance challenge, and a Canadian history Kahoot showdown. Schools received a kit with everything they needed to compete, and staff advisors at each school help ensure everything runs smoothly and aligns with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The Battle is in its final week now, and it’s anyone’s game.

“Students have lost a lot this year in terms of the traditions and events that often define your secondary school experience,” notes Pam O’Halloran, vice-principal at Dunnville Secondary, who’s helped put together the calendar of events, and even stepped in as master of ceremonies for the competitions. “But this has provided the opportunity to come together, build a sense of community in our school and with other schools, and have fun during this challenging time.”  

As the competition winds down so close to the holidays, a final element brings in the concept of giving back. Each school is getting involved also by raising funds for their local food banks – something that’s especially important this year. Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan prioritizes opportunities to foster and celebrate inclusive school communities through its Community indicator, and aims to create environments that promote health and well-being through the Well-Being indicator, and friendly competitions like B.O.S.S. meet those goals, with some help from Technology.

Even though Todorovic and her fellow students all plan to bring their a-games to the final week of competition, in many ways, the project has already achieved its goals.

“No matter what the outcome in terms of which school wins, it feels like we’ve all won.” 

Photos by Grand Erie Communications

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