School board staff recommend a teaching research centre at York

Toronto should open its first black-focused public school in the fall of 2009, says a school board staff report aimed at improving academic achievement among students of colour, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 24. But the board should also launch Africentric programs in three schools by this fall, as well as invest in a new centre for research and staff development at York University, urges the report made public Jan. 23.

The staff recommended the board work with York and, later on, other postsecondary institutions – as well as community agencies – to establish a centre for research and staff training focused on "best practices for improving school achievement" among all at-risk students, at an initial cost of $15,000.

Runako Gregg, a graduate student at York and a member of Toronto’s Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, called the recommendations "quite progressive and definitely a step in the right direction." But Gregg, 25, cautioned that while making the education system more welcoming to black students is important, there’s also a need to address the "root causes of this disenchantment," including poverty and racial stereotypes in society.

York’s dean of film studies wants to go digital

Academic and cultural institutions are embracing digital media all across Canada, wrote Playback magazine Jan. 21. Schools and professional media centres from Halifax to Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto agree that the digital revolution has arrived. Still, nagging questions remain. What exactly is digital media? And how exactly will it affect TV, film and communications in the coming years?

One thing is clear. Everybody wants to buy the latest digital equipment. Brenda Longfellow, dean of film studies in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, hopes to acquire the Red One, a state-of-the-art digital camera that is capable of recording resolutions of up to 4520 X 2540 when using a Super 35-sized CMOS sensor.

Longfellow, who heads up a film department filled with such award-winning directors and cinematographers as John Greyson and Ali Kazimi, says, "we see ourselves moving wholly into HD in the next few years."

Sole Survival: Schulich prof says Air Jordans will be around for years

In anticipation of the launch of the newest Air Jordan XX3 basketball shoes, Nike is rolling out countdown packs, each with two pairs of retro Jordans, their edition numbers totalling 23 (e.g. X and XIII will be packaged together), wrote Maclean’s in its Feb. 4 issue.

In the event that version XX3 is the final pair in the Nike Air Jordan basketball shoe series, special editions will likely follow in the years to come, keeping sneaker freaks happy and stretching Jordan’s iconic status well into old age, says Robert Kozinets, marketing professor in York’s Schulich School of Business, who compares the 14-time all-star’s global appeal with that of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

York dance team inspired How She Move script writer

It took an all-star stepping sisterhood to make How She Move a showcase for a dance form that women have had to struggle to infiltrate, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 24. Annmarie Morais (BFA ’95), writer and producer of the TV series “’da Kink in My Hair”, wrote the script for How She Move. She was introduced to step at York University and made a short documentary about steppers.

In North American colleges and universities, stepping is often done as a form of cheerleading. "It is a way to build up moral, as it must have been for the African men taken from their families to work in the mines," says York student Danielle Bullen of Black Ice, a professional, mostly female Toronto crew that formed at York 15 years ago.

Writer Swan is enchanted with West Coast visit

Your journey is not over until you bestow a gift on the lands you have visited, knowing full well that you will never be able to repay half the riches they bestow on you, wrote Vancouver Island, BC’s Westerly News Jan. 24. This, one of the 10 principles of travel according to Jacob Casanova, is one that author and York professor emeritus Susan Swan took to heart during a recent visit to Tofino, BC.

Swan was the final writer in the Wickaninnish Inn’s Writers and Readers series, which began in October last year with Timothy Taylor and continued in November with C.C. Humphreys. Swan also acts as Chair of the Canadian Writers’ Union, a position she is increasingly active in since retiring from teaching creative writing in York University’s Faculty of Arts.

Local filmmaker featured at festival

At the age of 19, Vince Pilon is already a seasoned veteran of the film world, wrote the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder Jan. 24. He returns to his hometown of Cornwall, Ont., this weekend for the first public showing of his latest short film, Witchwood, at the second annual Aultsville Film Festival, the same event which showcased his short The Mirror during its first edition in 2007.

Pilon, a graduate of Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School, is now in the first year of York’s Specialized Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts Program in Film Production, an experience which is expanding his horizons as a filmmaker.

On air

  • William Van Winjgaarden, professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about a study he did, which challenges the results of a US study on jet contrails and climate change, on CFRB radio’s Bill Carroll program, Jan. 23.
  • Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations, and Zannalyn Robest, vice-president of community for York’s Black Student Alliance, spoke about racist graffiti found on the walls in York’s Student Centre on City-TV, Jan. 23. The incident was also reported on Global TV.
  • Alan Young, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about a recent federal court decision on medical marijuana, on CTV’s “The Verdict” Jan. 23.