Toronto’s first black school unlikely to be copied, says Axelrod

The controversial decision to establish one of Canada’s first black-focused public schools to help lower a staggering dropout rate in the country’s largest school district isn’t likely to be duplicated elsewhere in the country, says an education expert close to the project, wrote The Canadian Press Jan. 31. Paul Axelrod, dean of York’s Faculty of Education and part of a team that will make recommendations to the board about the school before it opens, said similar schools aren’t likely to pop up elsewhere in Canada.

"I think it’s very much a product of the local demographics and the local politics," Axelrod said. "You may not have a demand for this kind of initiative in other communities, but if you do, it’s likely to be in the big cities – in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver. But I honestly at the moment don’t see a stampede to introduce this kind of thing. I think this is a real test case."

  • Is there any proof of that an Africentric school will help lower the dropout rate among black students? Any studies, any research? Not really, it seems, wrote Michelle Mandell in The Toronto Sun Jan. 31.

"You can only know if you try it," admitted Carl James, professor in York’s Faculty of Education, who was invited to the press conference as one of the experts who will help develop and assess the new school. "There’s something called action research. Sometimes we just can’t wait."

Dance alumna brings Emily Carr to life

Vancouver’s Mascall Dance will bring its widely acclaimed interpretation of the life of Emily Carr to Sidney this weekend, wrote Sidney, BC’s Peninsula News Review Jan. 30. Traces of E. Carr was choreographed by award-winning dancer Jennifer Mascall (BA ’74), who has been creating dances for over 25 years. She began her career as a student during the first years of the York University Dance Department, in the Faculty of Fine Arts, and was in its first graduating class. Mascall has enjoyed a successful career as a solo dancer and has earned several prestigious awards.

Tunnel visionaries seek to capture young subway rider’s eyes

Subway riders constitute a valuable and captive audience for advertisers, according to Alan Middleton, a marketing professor with the Schulich School of Business at York University, wrote The Globe and Mail Jan. 31, in an article about new high-tech media applications. But it’s the large numbers of young riders on subways – specifically high school and university students – that transit advertisers target.

A notoriously difficult and skeptical demographic to reach, young people are more likely to be engaged by interactive ads, which is why advertisers are embracing technologically enhanced campaigns in subway stations at a rapid pace. "That very interactivity, the sense that I can control the message is very much in keeping with the overall drive of younger consumers," he said. "They’re much more suspicious of passive media."

Striking alumna screenwriter says she’s a ‘union girl’

Screenwriter and York film alumna Annmarie Morais (BFA ’85) should be celebrating the launch of her new US cable TV show, wrote the Brantford Expositor Jan. 31. Instead, the Brantford native is pounding the picket line with some 10,500 fellow members of the Writers’ Guild of America, who have been on strike since November.

Morais had just closed a deal with ABC Family on a pilot episode of The Flip Side, a drama about urban cheerleaders, when the strike was called. "I thought, ‘What side do I want to be on when the strike is over?,’" she said in a telephone interview from her Los Angeles home.

"I’m a union girl. I wanted to be able to join my union in good conscience when it’s over. Now, we’re hoping and praying there’s a resolution to the strike so we can go back to work…. People are a little weary," she said. "It really feels like we are out there taking the fire for something that will benefit everyone. But I really believe that the fight is right. We believe we should be paid fairly for what we write."

  • Morais has glowed at glitzy movie premieres and revelled in recent media buzz over her first major feature, How She Move, wrote the Brantford Expositor Jan. 31. But the Brantford native got one of her biggest kicks from seeing the urban dance drama advertised on public transit in Los Angeles.

"It’s pretty huge out here," screenwriter Morais said in a telephone interview from her home in Los Angeles. "I was driving down the road and looked at the back of a bus and it was just really odd to see my poster go by."

It’s all quite a thrill, says Morais, guest of honour at a special screening at York University earlier this month. The Film & Video Program alumna enjoyed a Q&A session with current students. "It was really, really special to be back at my school and have that experience." Most pleasing have been comments from viewers who say the story resonates with them – despite disparate backgrounds and lifestyles.

Lions goalie is named CIS athlete of the week

Second-year marketing student Devin Ramasawmy of York University’s Lions men’s hockey team was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport male athlete of the week Jan. 30, wrote CanWest News Service and The Canadian Press Jan. 31. Ramasawmy, from Toronto turned aside 99 shots in two outings as the Lions (13-9-0-3) defeated No. 10-ranked McGill (15-7-0-1) and Guelph (10-12-0-3) to extend their winning streak to six games.

Playing for injured starter Carlo De Rienzo, the six-foot-one, 180-pound sophomore faced 53 shots on back-to-back nights, stopping 49 pucks Friday as York upset the Redmen 6-4 and adding 50 saves on Saturday in a 4-3 shootout win over the Gryphons to finish the weekend with a .934 save percentage.

On air

  • Most of Toronto’s radio and television stations carried reports Jan. 30 about the Toronto police announcement that an assault reported to have occurred on Jan. 11 in Founders College Residence, in fact did not take place at York University. CFRB radio reported that police said evidence showed the attack had “nothing to do with the school”.
  • Radio host Tom McConnell of St. Catharines’ CKTB radio spoke about a York student who allegedly posted support messages for Islamic terrorists in a chat room, and asked listeners whether he should be charged, on Jan. 30.
  • Wendy Wong, professor in York’s Department of Design, Faculty of Fine Arts, and associate director of York’s Centre for Asian Research, spoke about the Chinese year of the rat, on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” program (Toronto), Jan. 30.