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Learning for the Future ‘By Design’ Via Key Partnerships

Several firsts highlight a busy fall season for the Community and Learning Partnerships programme at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS).

“What is exciting is seeing both the evolution of important, established partnerships, in tandem with the emergence of new, impactful collaborations with outside organizations interested in sharing their expertise with our students,” says John Walsh ’73, Manager of Community & Learning Partnerships at SMCS.

SMCS Community Engagement and Learning

The programme continues to expand the diversity of experiential learning opportunities available for students, while adding new collaborating companies to its roster, including Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), and the DMZ (Digital Media Zone) at Ryerson University, among others.

“By connecting the curriculum to what students will experience through these organizations and to what they learn directly from professionals in their fields, we are truly giving our boys important exposure to novel and deeply meaningful learning experiences in a strategic way,” says Walsh, who previously taught science at SMCS.

Here is a round-up of recent activities:

LAW: BLG (Borden Ladner Gervais) LLP (Nov. 26, 2019)

Students in the Grade 12 law programme participated in a law practicum at BLG LLP, facilitated by Jason Annibale ’92 of McMillan LLP and Frank Lamie ’96, OSM, in-house counsel for Goodyear.

Comprised of six visits to the firm, the practicum exposes students to such topics as: legal reasoning and writing, financing, trial and court preparation, litigation, and the evolving business-legal landscape.

The law practicum offering is in its second year, involving a variety of legal firms.

“It was inspiring to see former St. Michael’s students helping us find our way in relation to what might be our future profession,” says Eric Boehlau ’20.

“Mentorship is important and we hope to provide guidance and support to the next generation, that, looking back, we needed ourselves in Grade 12,” says Robert Antenore ’92, Partner, Commercial Real Estate, BLG. “We hope to see all of the students back as young lawyers.”

“The law practicum offered in conjunction with the Grade 12 law course was a great opportunity for my son to learn about the practice of law and the skills he will require in the modern workplace,” adds Mary E. Bennett Sturino, mother of a current Grade 10 student. “My son took part in presentations, led by SMCS alumni in their downtown law firms, similar to those given to articling students. This practicum was inspiring and a valuable contribution to his studies.”

ENGINEERING: GlenDimplex (Nov. 15, 2019)

Year two of the engineering practicum at GlenDimplex Americas, “the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical heating,” began in mid-November, in Cambridge, Ontario.

SMCS Community and Learning Partnerships engineering practicum at GlenDimplex.

Grade 12 engineering robotics students will experience the engineering life-cycle at this firm, and will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to help solve a real-life problem with the company’s engineers.

“The GlenDimplex experience has provided me with invaluable experience that I couldn’t have received anywhere else, and has convinced me that mechanical engineering is in my future,” says Grade 12 student, Alexander Casalanguida ’20.


A select group of Grade 12 computer science students took part in a new practicum at MLSE, the parent company of several Toronto-based professional sports teams, including: the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, Argonauts, among others.

SMCS computer science students at MLSE thanks to Community and Learning Partnerships.

Students saw and learned about how computer science professionals operate in the modern-day environment, directly from senior technicians in the field.

“It was an exciting experience which gave us a first-hand look into one of the many sections of the massive field of computer science,” says John Redmond ’20.

The assignment component of this experiential learning initiative involves the students producing an entertainment application — which has the distinct possibility of being used at Maple Leafs or Raptors games!

COMPUTER SCIENCE: The DMZ (Nov. 5, 2019)

Grade 12 computer science classes also began a practicum at the DMZ at Ryerson University under the direction of SMCS alumnus, Michael McCarthy ’88.

SMCS students at the DMZ at Ryerson University for a computer science practicum in 2019.

At the DMZ, students focus on developing entrepreneurial skills through a variety of lectures and workshops.

This interactive opportunity affords students the opportunity to delve into inquiry-based learning at the post-secondary level, in a progressive and evolving environment.

HEALTH: Heart surgeon biology lecture (Oct. 30, 2019)

Dr. Robert James (RJ) Cusimano, a globally-recognized cardiac surgeon from the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital, delivered a lecture to the Grade 10 science classes on the electric circuitry of the human heart. It was a first for both Dr. Cusimano and SMCS!

Cadiac surgeon visits SMCS science students as part of Community and Learning Partnerships initiative.

The material was part of the curriculum normally taught by the classroom teachers. In this case, students had the opportunity to learn from and question the person who understands the inner workings of the heart.

“The shock and awe of Dr. Cusimano’s opening slide of him holding a beating heart had the student’s attention pretty quick,” says Jenna Hilborn, science teacher at SMCS.

Community and Learning Partnerships brings Dr. Cusimano for a lecture on the heart for students at SMCS.

Fellow science teacher Jacob Lang adds, “The students had an instant respect for Dr. Cusimano — for what he does and his accomplishments. They developed an instant appreciation for the profession and the skill necessary.”

COMPUTER SCIENCE: University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management (Oct. 24, 2019)

The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management served as the backdrop for a new collaboration when computer science students took part in the Machine Learning AI Conference hosted by University of Toronto Schools.

Learn more about the SMCS Community and Learning Partnerships programme here.

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