Newcomer Orientation Week better known as NOW is a week-long SWIS program designed to assist newcomer students adjust to life in Canadian high schools. Every year, during the last week of August, students participate in a variety of activities led by Peer Leaders who are trained by Settlement Workers and school teachers.
This year has been a special one as more schools were offered to join NOW. Led by 24 Peer Leaders, 8 Settlement Workers, and 4 teachers, Approximately 130 students from 12 schools have participated including Central Toronto Academy, Harbord Collegiate, St. Mary’s, Bishop Morocco, Arch Bishop Romero, Bishop Allen, St. Joseph’s College, Central Technical School (CTS) and Western Technical Institute, Lakeshore Collegiate, Parkdale, Bloor and Jarvis.
As part of their activities, Students shared their experiences and challenges of what is like to be a newcomer student in a very different school system. From leadership skills, and visiting neighborhood libraries to finding the Guidance office or even practicing simple tasks such as using your school cabinet “locks”, students become experts in many of these interactive games and activities during the NOW program week. And as they gain more confidence in their language and ability to advocate on their behalf, some of them start newcomer clubs in their school, quickly becoming productive members of the school life.
Culturelink’s SWIS program found creative ways to continue providing NOW to more schools and students and parents who usually participate in the last day graduation ceremonies. This year was a tremendous success.