PLEASE BE AWARE THAT DUE TO THE HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES CURRENTLY IN EFFECT, MANY OF THE ACTIVITIES AND EXCURSIONS LISTED BELOW ARE POSTPONED FOR THE 2020 / 2021 SCHOOL YEAR.
HOWEVER, QUEST REMAINS DEDICATED TO PROVIDING ALL STUDENTS WITH A RICH, ENGAGING AND EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.
- What makes Quest "alternative"?
A number of important factors contribute to Quest’s position as an alternative school including our delivery of curricula, our size, our physical space and our values.
While we deliver the same Ontario curricula taught throughout the TDSB, Quest does so through the lense of outdoor education and experiential learning. As such, Quest takes three (3) overnight trips each year, tied directly to our courses of study. We conduct classes outside of the classroom and even outside of the province! Students create two live performances each year (Winter and Spring concerts) which take over our space and become the focal point of our studies. Students focus on writing, performing, singing, props, costumes, lighting and sound, while teachers interweave the subjects with concert preparation process. Each year, approximately 6 weeks are devoted to alternative methods of study (like those listed above). As a result our remaining time in the classroom often features intensive bursts of academic activity.
The small size of our community gives us a level of intimacy rarely found in middle schools. Staff and students build a strong educational community which fosters commitment to group- and individual-responsibility.
Housed within Withrow Avenue Jr. Public School, itself an open-concept school, Quest is almost entirely modular. We have two designated classroom, but the remainder of our school changes to house concerts, woodworking, cooking, sewing, yoga, dance, and a host of other activities. The ability for us to change the layout of our school, provides us the freedom to deliver alternative programming.
We value holistic education and strive to cultivate students' academic, personal and social growth.
- What are the overnight excursions like at Quest?
There are three overnight trips each year at Quest. In Fall, students travel to a TDSB-approved camp for a 4-day overnight excursion. We focus on building and strengthening our community while engaging in multiple periods of academic study in the great outdoors.
Each January, Quest travels to Quebec for a 5-day, immersive trips focusing on the French language, culture and folklore of Quebec and winter sports. In June, we reflect on and celebrate the year with a final camping trip to a TDSB-approved camp. The focus shifts to transitions both Grade 7s and 8s will experience in the coming weeks. While there are costs for each trip, we are dedicated to the inclusion of all students and work hard to ensure every student attends each trip. We use funds from our limited fundraising to offset costs for all students.
- Is Quest a school for students with a Gifted designation?
All students, regardless of education needs, are welcome at Quest. While we strive to explore the full depth and breadth of the Ontario curricula, we are not a replacement for the Gifted program offered at TDSB schools.
- What kind of student does well at Quest?
A great diversity of students succeed at Quest. We work with students over two years to cultivate a strong work ethic and a desire to learn in and out of the classroom, but students that enter Quest with a positive approach to their own education, will likely reach this goal more rapidly.
Strong learning skills, including organization and time management, are also great assets to students entering the program, but we work hard to cultivate these skills regardless of a student’s abilities upon entry.
- Are there extra-curricular sports?
Yes, though they are limited. We offer a rigorous physical education program that travels from the gymnasium through the local skating rink to overnight camps and all the way to Quebec. Swimming, skating and outdoor athletics are an important part of the program.We are just beginning to incorporate extra-curricular activities into our program and they change from year-to-year based on student interest. In 2019/2020, we have or will compete in Cross-Country, Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee and Track-and-Field.
- What is the French Program like at Quest?
Quest offers a Core French program that is interwoven with other subjects, our alternative programming and our trips. It is demanding for all students regardless of their previous level of study.
- What is the Music Program like at Quest?
Music is an essential component of the Quest experience. All students participate in vocal music in preparation for various camping trips and as a part of Winter and Spring Concerts.
Students also participate in either the Band or the Strings program under the instruction of two amazing itinerant music teachers. Classes are held twice-a-week and students are expected to take home their instruments to practice in between these classes. No previous musical experience is required.
While Quest does have a good number of instruments, students are occasionally asked to rent an instrument for one of the two years of study.
- What is the Art Program like at Quest?
Quest values all aspects of the Art Curriculum including Visual Art, Drama and Dance. The latter two strands are taught in opposite terms. Visual Arts is taught weekly throughout the year, but is also incorporated into projects across the curricula. Similarly, the skills developed are utilized during Winter and Spring Concert, Ecoquest and other elements of our alternative programming.
Each year in June, one week is demarcated as “Special Art Week” during which guest artists are welcomed into the Quest space and lead small groups of students in a variety of artistic endeavours. In the recent past, workshops have included bookbinding, pinata creation, water-colour painting, mask-making, food design, and many more.
- How do Quest students fare at secondary school?
Our students attend a variety of high schools, from the neighbourhood collegiate to any one of a number of schools with a specialized focus on the arts, athletics or science. Quest students and parents report that they have been thoroughly prepared for the transition to high school. Despite the drastic change in size of school, Quest students bring a background of personal organization, initiative and academic readiness to their new setting, often assuming leadership roles in student government and other aspects of school life.