Northern Secondary School

December 22, 2023

Monday, January 08, 2024 08:42 AM

Dear Northern Families,

Whether you are celebrating (or just celebrated) Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or any other special day(s) I hope you reconnect with those you care for.

On behalf of the staff- thank you to School Council who put on coffee, tea, and delicious baked goods for us on Wednesday morning. What a great way to start the day!

When we return from the break keep in mind that Wednesday is a late start at 9:55am.

In the meantime, I wish all of our Northern Family a safe, health, and happy holidays!

From TDSB Psychology: The 2023-2024 Winter Well-Being Guide is filled with activities, games, wellness tips, identity affirming resources and community agencies to support wellness for all students, caregivers/guardians, families, and school communities over the winter months. Created by Professional Support Services Staff who are part of the Mental Health and Well-Being Committee, the TDSB Mental Health Leads and the System Leader for Mental Health and Professional Support Services, this Guide provides accessible resources and has been translated into the top 20 TDSB spoken languages.

Also from TDSB Psychology please see the December issue of Hearts and Minds: December Newsletter.


Exam Reminders:

Please take some time to look through our Exam ReadiNSS site for information and resources.  More information will be added as the January exams approach – including some in person exam preparation sessions provided by our student services and special education!

The Special Education ARC department is preparing for exams and has surveyed students with computer accomodations on their IEP. We are building self advocacy skills and would like your help by asking you to confirm with your child/ward that they have completed the Google Form emailed to them Wednesday. The deadline is next Friday - Dec 22nd. If your child has any questions please tell them to come to room 112 and speak to Ms. Kearney or email

The easiest way to figure out your exam schedule is to just look at the days below…however, I am attaching the EXAM SCHEDULE this week with courses that actually are running exams.    Exams will be written in the regular classroom.  Students with IEP accommodations will have access organized through our Special Education department heads.  Exams will range from 1-3 hours in length INCLUDING additional time.  This means the longest exam would be 2 hours and additional time (1.5 time) makes that 3 hours.  All students will have access to this additional time if required.  This approach is to remove as many barriers to success as possible. 

Exams:  First semester exams will be held from Wednesday January 24th to Monday January 29th.  Students will follow their Day 1 schedule as follows for exams:

Wednesday January 24th- Period 1 Exam

Thursday January 25th- Period 2 Exam

Friday January 26th- Period 3 Exam

Monday January 29th- Period 4 Exam

ALL exams will begin at 10am.  Exam duration will vary by subject/ year.  Looking ahead, students should make sure they eat a good breakfast as they will eat a “late” lunch on these days once exams are over (late relative to our usual 11:40am lunchtime). Teachers have shared with students if there is an exam for their classes.  There may be changes to this up to and including Friday December 15th, but there will be no change to the four day cycle laid out above.  As an example, if I have math period 2 on a day 1, I will write my math exam Thursday January 25th at 10am.

CULMINATING TASKS AND EXAMS While we are a few months away from the end of the Semester, it is important to remind all families of the following information related to culminating activities and exams: Culminating activities and examinations carry the same importance and the same attendance requirement. Thus, attendance during culminating activities is mandatory. Some courses have culminating activities that take place over several days. Thus, attendance during culminating activities/summative evaluations is mandatory. A culminating activity is the final evaluation in each course which is worth 30% of the final mark. “This evaluation will be based on evidence from one or a combination of the following: an examination, a performance, an essay and/or another method of evaluation suitable to the course content” (p.41-Growing Success). Students who miss culminating activities or summative evaluations will be given a mark of zero for the portion missed with no opportunity to make up the missed work unless there is an extenuating and documented circumstance, such as a medical situation, court date, funeral etc. It is absolutely crucial that students do not miss any time during the end of a semester. Under Ministry of Education and TDSB regulations, there can be no accommodations made for students who miss the 30% culminating activities and summative evaluations at the end of a semester for personal reasons such as vacation or work. Students and parents should be aware that scheduled vacations at this time can significantly impact student achievement. With the exception of a medical emergency, all summative tests and assignments that are missed as a result of these absences will be assigned a mark of zero.


Review of Legacy Technical and Commercial Boundaries:

As part of the Long-Term Program and Accommodation Strategy, the TDSB aims to address outdated technical and commercial boundaries that exist in certain areas of the city. These outdated boundaries were established during a time of academic-vocational streamlining, but now hinder equity of access. The Board is proposing the dissolution of these legacy boundaries by September 2025 to provide equal access to all Toronto students.

The affected schools include Central Technical School, Central Toronto Academy, Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute, Northern Secondary School, Victoria Park Collegiate Institute, and Western Technical-Commercial School. The proposed changes would not affect current programs.  I encourage you to attend public engagement opportunities, which are scheduled for mid-January 2024 through three virtual meetings, details of which will be provided before the winter break. For more information, please visit the Boards’ Secondary Program Review which can be found here: A webpage dedicated to the review of legacy technical and commercial boundaries can be found here:


Black Student Summer Leadership Program

Applications for the 2024 Black Student Summer Leadership Program opens December 18. The Black Student Summer Leadership Program offers mentorship, skill development opportunities and paid experiential learning placements. During the program students are matched with a for-profit or not-for-profit organization representing a variety of employment sectors and relevant to the students’ field of interest. As part of the Black Student Summer Leadership Program, all registrants participate in Youth Participatory Action Research. Throughout the program students will explore societal issues, deliver presentations to their peers and participate in skills training workshops.

Registration opens: Dec 18, 2024

Registration closes: January 19, 2024

Information session: January 16, 2024 | 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Interviews: February 15 -24

Registration link or

Students will need to be logged into their TDSB accounts in order to register.

See flyer for all offerings.


Interac Experiential Learning Program

The Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement invites Black-identifying TDSB students in Grades 11 & 12 to participate in the Interac Experiential Learning Program.

This program offers paid experiential learning opportunities with Interac and focuses on creating meaningful and impactful professional development programming. Interac will provide four engaging in-person sessions aimed at developing students’ transferable skills and building relevant competencies for today’s workforce. Limited spots available.

Information session: January 11, 2024 at 6 PM.

The program is from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in-person at Interac Corporation on the following dates:

January 17 – Personal & Professional Branding

February 29 – Innovation Lab Challenge

March 20 – Coding 101

April 24 - Pathways to Success

Transportation can be arranged. Registration link. Students will need to be logged into their TDSB accounts in order to register.


Northern trip to Chicago:

We are sorry to announce that we have cancelled the Northern trip to Chicago scheduled over March break. Edutravel will be contacting parents to reimburse all finds. You may contact Flora Wellsman if you have any  Questions or concerns -



The TDSB Virtual Library is open 24/7 for students to take out eBooks and eAudiobooks. From home, students can access the online catalogue, and use their student account to virtually check out books.

Please continue to encourage your teens to look for their "lost" and overdue books--including any recent Northern grads that you may have in your households. There will be no fines charged--we want more of our favourite titles back in the Library in January. Thanks!

From the Toronto Public Library, youth librarians:

The Toronto Public Library Northern District Branch has teen programming! For the month of January:

  • Crafty Thursdays between 4pm to 5pm. Weekly themes are found in the calendar. We have crafts throughout Thursdays of January except the 25th. This program occurs in the Teen Zone.
  • The Chillzone between 4pm to 6pm every Monday of January. This is located in Room 200
  • Henna Art Workshop on Tuesday January 23rd from 4pm to 6pm. This program is located in the MFPR

Please find the attached program calendar.


Northern Secondary School Foundation

Season’s Greetings from the Northern Secondary School Foundation. May your holiday season bring many moments of peace and joy!

  1. support has enabled us to- Honour outstanding student achievement in our scholarship program. Help fund new student initiatives in Robotics. Recognize excellence in teaching and learning.

It’s  not too late  to make a tax-refundable donation to the Foundation at  to help up continue our work in 2024.

For more information, contact us at

School Council:

Thank a Teacher. As the calendar year draws to a close, we encourage all Northern students and families to think about Northern staff who have made a difference to them this school year and consider sending a note of thanks. Who has really made an impact for you?


Guidance Updates:

  1. Guidance Week-in-Review: Mark your calendar - Our Exam Prep Sessions will continue January 9th at lunch, and January 11, 2024 afterschool in room 111.

Guidance Week Ahead: Please enjoy a safe and restful holiday.

  1. NSS Course Selection Overview: Mark Your Calendars! Graded Live-Stream In-Class Course Selection Presentations:
  2. Tuesday, February 6/24 Period 2 – Grade 9 Course Selection Presentation
  3. Wednesday, Feb. 7/24 Period 1 – Grade 10 Course Selection Presentation
  4. Thursday, February 8/24 Period 2 – Grade 11 Course Selection Presentation
  5. Friday, February 9/24 Period 1 – Grade 12 Course Selection Presentation
  6. Evening Course Selection Presentation for NSS Community– Thursday, February 8, 2024 6:00pm – Link to TBA
  7. NSS Course Selection Fair – EXTENDED LUNCH Friday, February 9, 2024.
  8. myBlueprint OPENS: Monday, February 5, 2024

myBlueprint CLOSES: Wednesday, February 28, 2024.

  1. Semester 2 Night School Registration and Course Offerings:

Continue to check our website for updates as all of our information you can find here:

Registration Opens: December 1, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. and Closes January 19, 2024.

  1. TDSB eLearning Semester 2: Registration OPENS December 5, 2023 at 10 am.

For more information and course offerings click here.

Options are filling up fast! Don’t wait to register!

  1. TDSB Alternative High Schools Information Fair: Wednesday January 10, 2024 7pm – 8:30pm

Please check out the flyer here for more information and to register.

  1. Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) 2023/2024

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is the formal evaluation and credit-granting process whereby students may obtain credits for prior learning. Prior learning includes the knowledge and skills that students have acquired, in both formal and informal ways, outside secondary school. Students may have their knowledge and skills evaluated against the expectations outlined in provincial curriculum policy documents in order to earn credits towards the secondary school diploma.

The 2023/2024 PLAR Challenge process will kick off with a Virtual PLAR Information Session for Families on January 17, 2024 from 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Please share the information below with your school community.

  1. University of Toronto Outreach Opportunities:
    Summer Mentorship Program:
  • Program Dates: Four Weeks in July 2024
  • Application deadline: First Deadline January 12, 2024
  • The Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) gives high school students of Indigenous or African ancestry a chance to explore health sciences at the University of Toronto over four weeks in July.
  • Click here to APPLY

STEAM Design:

  • Program Dates: July 2 - 26, 2024
  • The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Design Program is an experiential learning program with an equity focus, as it is designed for grades 10-12 students identifying with groups that are underrepresented in health sciences (i.e. Black, Indigenous, Filipino, Latin American, racialized, and/or from any background experiencing socio-economic barriers)
  • Click here to APPLY


  • Program Dates: July 8 – August 2, 2024
  • Blueprint is an academic enrichment program designed for highly motivated Black students interested in science and engineering. Blueprint is open to students currently in Grades 10 and 11, and are interested in careers in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math).
  • Click here to APPLY
  1. IMPORTANT Volunteering Information:

PLEASE NOTE: Events and activities supporting a not-for-profit initiative are approved. If you are unsure if your activities supports a not-for-profit program, please see your Guidance counsellor for approval of the volunteering initiative.

For more information about the TDSB’s policy on Volunteering, click here.

  • for volunteering information and opportunities, please visit your Guidance Google classroom or

You can find the TDSB Community Involvement form here.

  1. Post Secondary Updates:
    1. UPDATE FROM OUAC: Holiday Hours
      The OUAC department is officially closed to speak to students for the holidays from
      December 22, 2023 to January 2, 2024, inclusive. The OUAC website and online
      applications WILL BE available during this time.
    2. Do you have questions about how to access accommodations at your post-secondary school? This chart lists each university's policy/needs around what is required to get accommodations:
    3. NSS Post-Secondary Individual School Lunch Visits 2023/24
    4. NSS Post-Secondary Guide is here!
  2. Scholarship Information:
    1. NSS Scholarship Information Chart 2023/2024 where Northern-specific scholarship information and deadlines can be found (along with other common awards).
    2. Seeking Scholarships has released their November Scholarship Report which has upcoming scholarship dates listed for students applying to post-secondary programs. It also has some great tips this month for writing scholarship essays

Northern students, teachers, and families can access from this link using the password, scholar58:

Please note: This resource is copyrighted and only available to Northern families - please do not share outside of the Northern community.

  1. Online Graduation Requirement – Information and Opt-Out Form

Looking for information about the new Ontario Ministry Online Learning graduation requirement? Please click here

Overview Info:

  • applies only to students who entered Grade 9 on or after September 1, 2020.
  • Students may withdraw/opt out of this new requirement and graduate with an OSSD
    • if you have decided now to withdraw from the graduation requirement, please complete the TDSB Opt Out/Withdrawal Form and return it to your Guidance Counsellor.


Have a great holiday!

Adam Marshall


Follow me @PrincipalNSS