Sunday, December 11, 2011

Conference Day and Seniors Brunch

Last Tuesday, Burnett Secondary had the first of it's two annual "Conference Days".  These are days when the school shuts down normal operation and focuses on the topics of Social Responsibility (the December day) and Career Awareness (in February).  The Social Responsibility day has become a highlight of the year for many staff and students, as well as members of our community.  Among the activities planned for the day are:  Guest speakers like Jeff Torres, who spoke about overcoming obstacles and making a positive impact, Jonathan Livingstone, representing Youth Unlimited, who talked about making tough choices, Marion Cassirer, who spoke about her survival story during the holocaust, John Banovitch from MADD, who presented about Drinking and Driving, and Matt Hill and Steph Tait-Run for One Planet, who presented about environmental sustainability.  The day also included lessons delivered to homeroom classes on topics such as Suicide Awareness (Chimo), Stress Management and Healthy Relationships (Planet Ahead), Bullying, Racism, Safe Driving, and Grade 12's spent time updating their Graduation Transitions documents. 

Unquestionably, however, the highlight of the day is the Seniors brunch.  This is the 12th annual event (my first-ever blog post was reflecting on last year's event) where we invite over 120 seniors from neighboring care homes and community centres to our school and offer them some lunch, as well as entertainment (the Jazz Band and Glee club perform) and some good-natured companionship. Writing about her experience in helping coordinate the brunch is Leadership 11/12 student, Jei So.

  Our Leadership teacher once said, “99% of the work for all successful events goes into planning them” and for Senior’s Brunch, we followed her thesis and made this event both successful and memorable.  To be frank, this was not a simple task that my classmates and I could complete in just one class because there were so many things to organize!  All the jobs sure did sound easy, but once we started to work… boy!  Was there a day where we didn’t have a problem?  The day our instructor, Ms Cain, brought up this event, our class was organized into different committees.  For example, we had the invitations committee, food committee, table decorations committee, MCs and so on.  I was part of the invitations group, so I remember making a total number of 180 invitation cards for each of the seniors and actually going to the different senior centres to drop them off!  That by itself was not an easy task because I think we had only 3 days to make all the cards and get them delivered. However, we got a lot of help from everyone (even from people that weren’t in our leadership class!) so thankfully we managed to get it all done in time!  Speaking of helpers, we had A LOT of people that volunteered their own time to help us out and support us! Honestly, I don’t think this event could have been pulled off if people didn’t help.

   On the day of Senior’s Brunch, I could tell that everyone was nervous but excited!  It was such a beautiful moment when the seniors got out of their buses and walked towards the school with smiles on their faces.  Some even dressed up just for this event!  As we greeted them inside the school, we got to have a little chat with them and get to know them a bit!  It was a truly touching moment because for some of them, we learned that this was the only event they went to and actually looked forward to (this pressured us but at the same time, it made us have the determination and passion to do the best we could).  As an MC, although I was very nervous, I felt comfortable talking in front of the seniors mostly because I knew that they were warm-hearted and understanding.  During the event, we had JN Burnett’s Jazz band come in and play wonderful Christmas music while the seniors ate their sandwiches and soup!  This was my first time hearing our Jazz Band play and I never knew how amazing they were!  It almost felt like I was listening to a recorded Christmas album!  In addition, we got our school’s Glee Club to perform.  The performance by itself gave everyone smiles.  We could tell that the seniors absolutely loved their performances because some of them were singing along, feeling the beat of the song, and moving their bodies!  So, thank you Jazz Band and Glee club!  As the event was going to conclude, we decided to add in an “open mic” session where anyone could come up on stage to tell a story, a joke, sing, make a comment, and basically just share their thoughts with each other.  Fortunately, we had numerous seniors that came up mostly to thank us.  That was an extremely precious moment for everyone that participated in Seniors brunch, mainly because their comments made us feel good!  

   The best part of this event was that we truly got to experience the joy of giving back to our community and it really did feel absolutely amazing.  I was so thankful that our leadership class got this opportunity.  One thing that I cannot get out of my mind is when almost 2/3 of the seniors got up to form a conga line with the students, including Santa and the elves!  In conclusion, even though it took us a lot of hard work to make this event successful, it was fun and everyone had a marvellous time.  In addition, it brought people closer together and created opportunities for people to meet new people!  For example, I got to work with some different staff members at the school and I really got to know them better!  

   PS- Senior’s Brunch definitely goes into my list of why I love the month of December the most! I will be looking forward to next year’s Seniors Brunch!


To all of the staff and students who participated in the day, the Conference Day planning committee (Mrs. Musani, Ms. Takada, Mr, Anderson, Mr. Lee, Mr. McDonnell and Mrs. Ten-Pow), Ms. Freeman and the Jazz band, the student-run Glee club, and of course, Ms. Cain, Mr. Ghaug and the Leadership class who worked so hard putting together the Seniors brunch, THANK-YOU!  It was yet another magical day for our students and our guests.  It is always great when we can slow down, help others, and become more aware of how to make the world a better place.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Jason. What a great model for other communities! Burnett should be proud!

  2. Thanks, Terry. We are very proud of our students and the positive impact they are making. Similarly, we are proud of the staff who are encouraging and modeling this type of learning and giving.

    Happy holidays.