You know that it’s going to be a good Association Day when Weston Hall is packed at 7:45 a.m. for a new parent breakfast. And that was definitely the case on Sept. 27.
More than 100 early rising parents and their kids filled up on bacon, eggs, pancakes, fruit, muffins, donuts, cookies and yogurt and got a liquid boost from coffee and juice as this year’s A-Day “A-Team” was unveiled. Association Council president Jim Garner ’77 introduced principal Jim Power, head of the Prep and Upper School Don Kawasoe and A-Day co-chairs Jill Carmichael Adolphe, Johanne Dotsikas, J.P. Mackay ’02 and Max Chen ’95 (who flew in from New York City to fulfill his duties).
Cookie, face-painted Blue Army members and Prep boys wearing their colour house flags as capes pounded drums and chanted as they led a parade up the avenue (which was adorned with a blue runner featuring the names of hundreds of UCC donors) from the Prep School to the front steps of the Upper School, where the same dignitaries from the parent breakfast — plus interim Middle Division head Ian Robinson, his successor for next year Naheed Bardai and head steward Ben Mahon — briefly addressed the gathered crowd and thanked volunteers, steering committee members, sponsors, students, staff and faculty members for their support in putting this 36th annual A-Day together.
Prep boys then dispersed to take part in their Soccerfest, while other attendees had a wide variety of options to keep themselves amused.
People could help paint murals by the Arts Booster Club booth, which also offered folks a chance to pay five dollars to have their photo taken while bouncing on a mini-trampoline in front of a green screen to replicate the famed “jumping boy in front of the clock tower” shots that have been the hallmarks of recent UCC marketing campaigns.
While members of the ’89 and ’99 graduating classes played shinny inside the William P. Wilder ’40 Arena & Sports Complex, a bin was placed outside the venue to collect gently used hockey equipment and uniforms as well as books for the Horizons program. Other Old Boys and UCC community members took part in the Allan Harris Old Boys Soccer Tournament and the Michael Evan Jurist Memorial Tennis Tournament, which was won by the doubles team of Iain MacKinnon and Leanne James.
The silent auction tables had lots of traffic and a wide variety of items attracting multiple bids, including: a $2,500 gift certificate for Oliver & Bonacini catering; five $250 gift certificates from Canadian Book Exchange; two platinum Toronto Raptors tickets for a Jan. 18 game against New Orleans; an autographed Ottawa Senators Colin Greening ’05 hockey jersey; a weekend of skiing for a family of four (with lunch) at Georgian Peaks Ski Club; an eight-week winter training camp from Super Elite Football; six front row seats to the 2015 Upper School graduation; and a birthday party at the Norval Outdoor School.
The Norval table brought a hint of the wilderness to the midtown Toronto campus, while representatives at the Think Ahead tent gave away thundersticks, toques, sport sleeves, sunscreen and valuable fundraising campaign information.
UCC clubs and related charities were well-represented, as: Children of Hope Uganda sold crafts; The Key Club auctioned off photos and prints; the UNICEF Club sold green tea lemonade and nachos to raise money for Ebola virus prevention; Chengdu Charity Project sold dumplings to raise funds to pay tuition fees for five Grade 10 students in China; and the UCC Gay Straight Alliance sold cupcakes and pride bands to support PFLAG.
The Blues Booster Club sold UCC spirit wear and other branded items, while UCC blazers and more casual clothing items were on sale from The Used Blues Shop at one booth and graduation rings were being offered at another one across the avenue.
Terry Fox Foundation representative Chris Henry had a tent where he sold T-shirts and other items while raising awareness of cancer prevention and how everyone can lend a hand to helping find cures.
Guided campus tours were given at 10 and 11 a.m. for those new to the school or who hadn’t been back for a while and were interested in seeing some of the ongoing changes happening at the College.
A-Tunes @ A-Day showcased the musical talents of UCC students, staff and faculty members — sometimes in collaboration with each other.
Speaking of music, at least if you’re a fan of ‘90s hip-hop: UCC is certainly no House of Pain, but children had a chance to “Jump Around” on a handful of large, bouncy inflatable rides and play games in the Kidzone. Scholastic strategically set up shop in the area to try and boost sales of its educational books.
Fresh produce, including items from the Prep learning garden, was sold at the Jon Wookey Market. For those who wanted a more immediate (and perhaps slightly less healthy) food fix, there were light refreshments at the snack shack and Prep café as well as free popcorn, free Greg’s Ice Cream, electrolyte freezies and full barbecue lunches. Older attendees could get beer and chili at the hospitality terrace on the south side of the oval in the afternoon.
Old Boys from the leaving classes of 1964 and 1989 were given their respective 50- and 25-year graduation anniversary ties in separate luncheon receptions. Power and Chen presented the ties to the senior citizens, while Garner and former principal Dick Sadlier did the honours for the younger Old Boys. Both receptions featured oral updates of major UCC achievements from the past year as old graduation photos were shown on video screens.
A few major announcements were made about the Think Ahead fundraising campaign on the west end of the oval at 2:20 p.m. Taylor Harris ’09 talked about his $250,000 leadership gift to establish the Taylor Harris Student Experience Fund to specifically assist boys receiving financial assistance cover the extra costs of co-curricular activities. Power introduced a video about the UCC Fund and revealed that the annual giving fund raised $1.36 million in the last fiscal year, up 20 per cent from the previous year and 50 per cent from two years earlier. Finally, board chairman Andy Burgess ’83 thanked campaign co-chairs Loudon Owen ’76, Andy Pringle ’69 and Laurie Thomson as well as other volunteers for their efforts before informing the audience that the campaign has now raised $86.2 million of its $100-million goal. See more details in this article.
The weather was already decent when A-Day started at 7:45 a.m. and it got warmer and sunnier as the day went on, setting the stage for the final event of A-Day: the varsity football game between the Blues and the Villanova College Knights in front of a crowd of 1,000 people. The Blue Army led the team on to the field and two Grade 4 students inspired everyone with their rendition of “O Canada” before the opening kickoff.
The Blues won that game 44-7, but it was far from the only athletic victory for the home teams. Sports have always been a big part of A-Day, and this year was no exception. With two scores yet to be reported at press time, UCC’s football, soccer and volleyball teams combined to rack up 11 wins, one tie and no losses against teams from Crescent School, Trinity College School, Royal St. George’s College, Sterling Hall School and Villanova College.
But whether you were a boy playing, a parent or Old Boy cheering, or another community member just taking in all of the sights and sounds, it was hard to leave A-Day without feeling like a winner.