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November and December @ ROCS

Royal Oak Community School

December 22nd,2023

Dear Royal Oak Families,

It is with such gratitude that we reflect here at school on a truly beautiful term at Royal Oak. I personally feel so lucky to spend each day with your children, and in a community with such dedicated staff and families.  This environment is one of growth, caring, support and often, a lot of laughter, and it is a pleasure to say goodbye to 2023 under these conditions for community wellbeing and happiness! 

2024 has much in store to look forward to, and we welcome three new families to our community in Term 2, with students joining the Grade 1, Grade 3 and Grade 7 classrooms. Please be sure to say a big hello and welcome to Faye (Grade 1), Gabriel (Grade 3) and Ari (Grade 7).  

In the classrooms, we turn our attention to new learning, and the “hum” of deep learning that comes with Term 2. Teachers know students deeply, the children are connected as a knowledge building group, and we are able to dive right into topics and extra challenge. We hope you have had a chance to feel more connected to classroom happenings via Toddle and weekly teacher updates, as well as this newsletter which encompasses many wonderful reports from the classroom each month as well as things to look ahead to. This newsletter however, also has  some happy news of celebration, and sad news of saying goodbye and new beginnings.  I always feel very sentimental about change but also know the adage is true, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. We hope part of what children learn in our classrooms is about adapting, evolving, resilience, acceptance and personal growth, and so we too, open our arms to these. 

I want to extend a very Happy Holidays to each and everyone of you, as well as my gratitude. It is a true pleasure to work as a team with you, our parents, in supporting our incredible children here at Royal Oak each day. May the holidays bring you time for reflection, cozy pyjama days, and making memories with your family.

See you in 2024,

Warmest regards,

Julia Murray, Head of School

Saying Goodbye to Ms. Ireri

Our beloved Ireri is moving on to a new job, and as you can imagine, had a very difficult choice to make in leaving our amazing community. As many of you know, Ireri currently commutes over two hours each day to come to us at Royal Oak. She has been offered a job very close to home, that will allow her to only work three days a week, leaving two days to spend with her children and family. Though we know she cannot be replaced, we are happy for her in this next phase which will include a better life balance for Ireri and her family. It will be a sad day saying goodbye, but also know Ireri will never be far from our hearts or our community. We are currently interviewing and hiring for the Administrative Assistant position, and look forward to sharing the details with you in the new year.  Ms. Ireri will be back in the New Year to help 2 days a week with her official last day being on Tuesday, January 16.

ROCS Night with the Ice Dogs

On Thursday, November 9th, our ROCS students and families were  part of the School Hockey Free Skate and Game Night with the St. Catharines Ice Dogs Ontario Hockey League team.  Our own school had the opportunity and privilege to sing O’Canada on centre ice at the Meridian Centre then watch the game in our own ROCS section. It was such a fun evening and the students did a wonderful job, belting out the anthem. We are so proud of our small but mighty group. 

Winter Events at ROCS

Tree Decorating on Queen St - Royal Oak is taking part in the town's Tree Decorating contest again this year. We decorated the tree at the end of November and it will stay up in town until the end of the Ice Wine Festival in January.  The tree this year showcases the art of our Lower School students, whose hand-prints make up our nature-inspired ornaments. Thank you to our wonderful teachers who helped with our decorations this year. Please go take a look at our tree located just in front of Bistro Sixty-One on Queen St.

NOTL Christmas Parade- On Saturday, December 9th, ROCS staff, students and alumni walked in the NOTL Christmas parade again this year. About 25 individuals from our community came out to support our school on the parade route that had us positioned just before Santa in the parade. Students handed out holiday candy and cheer to the spectators. Thank you to all who joined us for this wonderful yearly event! Check out the front page of the Lake Report to see us shine!

Holiday Performance- Our Royal Oak School Winter Concert was on Thursday, December 14th, at the Old NOTL Courthouse from 6 to 7:30 pm. All classes participated with beautiful music, songs and dancing. The teachers even got into the spirit with a handbell song and singing. Thank you to all the parents, past and present, who gave donations for our concession stand and bar and to The Exchange Brewery, Ziraldo Estate Wines, Craig's Cupcakes and the Frosted Cupcake.

Newsies at the PAC- The Junior and Middle school classes were treated to a wonderful field trip to the First Ontario Centre for the Performing Arts to see the Yellow Door Production of Newsies.  The actors were phenomenal as they portrayed young newspaper sellers fighting against the big newspaper companies. Based on a true story, the newsies risk their safety, livelihood and freedom to fight for a better life and demand respect by forming a union.

ROCS alumni, Diego R., performed as part of the chorus of Newsies.

Community Help for Crossroads Principal, Kate Fish

Kate Taylor Fish, Principal of Crossroads School, lost her home and beloved dog in a devastating fire on Friday evening. If you have the ability, please consider donating at the GoFundMe page which has been started to help their family start over.

 Fundraiser for Kate Fish by Nicole Auty : Fish Family House Fire 

We have also received 2 Great Wolf Lodge day passes for four to be used to raise money for the Fish family. This prize entitles you to the very exclusive option to visit Great Wolf Lodge for the day to use the waterpark (regularly only available to hotel guests). Exclusion includes no use over the holidays or Saturdays. Valid until the end of March 2024.

Each 4-pack of day passes is being sold for $200 and there are only two 4-packs available so will be sold on a first-come, first served basis. You can email to let us know if you are interested and make the payment to the same account indicating that is for the Fish Family.

Royal Oak Volleyball Game 


Wheatly School

The ROCS Middle School students did a fantastic job playing their volleyball games against the Wheatly School, on Thursday, November 23rd. The Junior Middle class surprised themselves and surpassed their expectations, winning 3 out of their 4 sets against the other team. Their effort was exceptional, positioning themselves and working together to gain a superior lead over Wheatly. The Upper Middle students showed wonderful sportsmanship as they performed phenomenally well against the overly competitive Wheatly team. Well done to all the students and teachers who helped to make this experience such a positive one.

ROCS had their first Open House of the year on Friday, December 1st. Our school opened its doors to several families and community members who wanted to see our wonderful school firsthand. The families toured the school with the help of our student ambassadors, who gave a first-hand look at how ROCS has shaped their educational experience thus far. Special thanks to our Grade 7 and 8 student ambassadors: Wes R. Brooke M. Lev P. Sienna R and Lou R.

Congratulations to Mr. AW

This is the year of many celebrations at Royal Oak, and we add Mr. AW, our P.E. Specialist, to the list of teachers getting engaged (Ms. McMackin) and married (Ms. Nyenhuis), this year. Mr. AW will be marrying his wonderful fiancée, Neesha, in Sri Lanka in January, in a ceremony planned for many years and we send Jack and Neesha our warmest Congratulations and best wishes!

Mr. Hill, our P.E. Specialist in 2021 and 2022, will be teaching Phys. Ed for the month of January and leading an outdoor Adventure unit to take advantage of our beautiful natural environment and the snow! 

Winter Season Reminders

We wanted to pass along some important updates for the weeks ahead as we navigate winter weather once again, and also the respiratory viruses that come along with the season.  Absentee rates have been incredibly high over the last few weeks and using every layer of protection we have at our disposal is the best way to navigate a very difficult cold and flu season ahead. Washing hands, coughing or sneezing into sleeves and keeping personal space in and out of the classroom are always enforced, and we will carefully monitor students for symptoms at school and ask that all families continue to keep children home if they are sick. 

As we move into January and the wintery weather, we want to remind families that Royal Oak's policy on these potential snow days is to open if we can safely ask our families and staff to navigate the roads. We check Niagara Regional Police reports on road conditions, speak with staff members by 6:00 am who come from areas like Welland and Port Colborne and also watch the weather reports closely.  With that said, if Royal Oak needs to close for a snow day due to unsafe roads and weather conditions, you will receive a full school email and Toddle by 6:45 am, alerting you to the closure. On the first day of a closure, we will have a true "Snow Day" with no online school operating. If inclement weather goes beyond one day, we will activate online learning and use Toddle for remote lessons, and your child's classroom teacher will be in touch the evening before to share the plan. 

Personal Fitness at F45

The Middle School finished their ‘Personal Fitness’ unit off with an F45 workout at Mr. AW’s F45 studio in Virgil!

Students completed a 45-minute resistance class led by coaches Mr. AW and Mrs. Julia! Everyone did an amazing job and surpassed expectations with their efforts and positive attitudes. See you next year Team!

Royal Oak Character Award Winners for November/December

November’s character trait focused on Courage; courage to be oneself and to persevere through difficult times to show one’s true strength of character. The Primary Class presented an assembly all about this as they read a book about being true to yourself.

December’s character trait was joy and caring for others. The Primary Junior class presented this on the last day of school before the break.  During this season of giving and remembering loved ones and thinking about how we should take care of those who may need some help, the students and families of the ROCS community gave to the YWCA of Niagara’s Toy Drive. We filled a barrel full of toys for the organization that helps families in need this holiday season.

Congratulations to the November winners:

Early Years: Simon A.C.

Primary: Scarlett H.

Primary Junior: Shanli R. 

Junior Middle: Olive P.

Upper Middle: Soleil C.

Congratulations to the December winners:

Early Years: Emma R.

Primary: Hannah R.

Primary Junior: Robert M.

Junior Middle: Josiah S.

Upper Middle: Sienna R.


Make way! Make way! Moana is just 2 months away! The cast has been working hard with practicing our lines and our songs for the past 2 months. As this is a full-school show starting in January we will be rehearsing all through drama classes! Each grade is responsible for being part of the ensemble, please refer to the costume list attached for what your child is meant to wear. If you have any questions, please let me know at costumes are going to be mostly draped fabrics over black clothing, so if you have any to donate that would be appreciated. We are looking for parent volunteers to help with costumes so please let me know if you can help out. We are also looking for help with props! We are searching for tropical florals, coconuts, and woven baskets! 

Rehearsals will be running every lunch recess, so please let me know if you would like to come in and volunteer for costumes or prop work. 

I am so excited for everyone to see this wonderful production on Thursday, February 29th, 2024!!! This will be our biggest production yet at Royal Oak!!! 


Early Years:  Villagers Maui Ensemble, Monsters

Primary and Primary/Junior: Ocean ensemble, Villagers, shiny ensemble

Junior Middle: Villagers, Ancestors

Upper Middle: Backstage (all in black), ocean ensemble

Moana costumes
Download PDF • 3.95MB

Walking Tour

On Friday, December 15, the Middle school grades had the pleasure of taking a historical walking tour with town local, Ross Robinson. Both grades are currently learning about the history of Canada, the junior middle grades are specifically learning about why people decided to move to Niaraga on the Lake. Ross took us on a fantastic tour that he specially created for our group. He taught us about why the houses are designed the way they are and how important the Niagara River is to our community. If you need anyone for NOTL trivia, the middle school kids are the ones to ask! A big thank you to Ross Robinson for taking us on a historical and hilarious tour! If you are interested in taking this free walking tour, please follow the QR code below! 


Early Years

What a fun November and December in Early Years! We were so lucky to welcome Ms.Taylor into our class community as she completes her first teaching block. In Literacy, we’ve continued learning about our Letters of the Week, working through Literacy centres, and discussing syllables. We’ve also continued our daily Heggerty lessons, where we are learning to listen to words and identify if they rhyme, what sound they hear at the beginning and end, breaking words into syllables, and much more. In Math, we wrapped up our Numbers unit, learned about probability, talked about different 2D shapes, and have been working on patterning. In Inquiry, the kids learned about the four seasons and winter holidays around the world! We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and can’t wait to hear about what the kids got up to over the two-week break.


It is hard to believe that we are nearing the end of 2023! Time is just flying by! The Primary Class has been incredibly busy the last few months, especially with hands-on activities and learning. One of the most amazing activities that the students were engaged in was our Pumpkin Unit. Using a single large pumpkin, students completed math, inquiry and literacy activities. They counted the seeds, represented the number, discovered how pumpkins grow from seeds to fruit, and wrote about how they carved their pumpkins. At the end of the unit, the students had so much fun returning the pumpkins to nature (the forest)! Learning about living things was another unit that allowed for hands-on learning and discovery. During one of our discussions about the physical characteristics of living things, the girls and boys showed interest in the topic of cells. Using student curiosity is important in our Inquiry process. As a result, the primary students were given the opportunity to build a plant cell using pasta and learn the names and function of the organelles found within this basic unit of life. To complete this activity, students constructed a display, labelling each plant cell organelle with name and function cards. The Primary Class has been busy being mathematicians. Number Talks and Which One Doesn’t Belong have been introduced to the students to practice their mental math abilities and willingness to apply and communicate their mathematical thinking. Patterning and graphing have been explored over the last few weeks. The students have been actively creating and extending patterns using manipulatives, labelling the patterns using letters, identifying the core and making patterns to match a given pattern rule. Within our literacy program, the Primary Class finished the read-aloud The Chocolate Touch and began the classic tale, Charlotte’s Web. The students enjoy listening to this novel and ask to listen to this story quite often during the week. They are learning how to be attentive listeners, realizing the importance of even the tiniest of details! Finally, the story The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi was explored and used for writing and STEAM activities. The students were asked to design and create a name stamp using cardboard and Wikki Stix. This activity proved to be challenging, as the students quickly realized their names were backwards. With patience, cooperation and perseverance, the students were able to create a stamp that produced their name. WOW!! The Primary Class has been so busy! I wonder what the New Year will bring for this special group of children! 

Primary Junior

Our primary juniors have had a fantastic semester! From watching the captivating play "Newsies" to wrapping up our Pumpkin experiment and dazzling guests with their performances at the Winter Showcase, it's been a journey filled with accomplishments.

In the classroom, we've been honing our multiplication, division, and financial literacy skills. Our cereal box book project has been showcasing the creativity of each student.

As we head into a well-deserved break, I wish everyone restful holidays. Looking forward to an exciting new year!

Junior Middle

Happy Holidays! Wow, here is the end of the 2023 year and our busy month of December. This month has been a wrap-up month as we say goodbye to beloved units and teachers. We have come to the end of our "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" novel study unit with a bitter-sweet end. While we had a wonderful time creating potions, learning spells, and reading about magic we are sad yet excited for our next novel study! In January, we will be launching our novel study of "Bridge to Terebithia" where the students will read the classic novel and learn what it takes to run a country. We will be creating our own imaginary worlds complete with a government, trading resources, and creating a currency. Another end to the year is saying goodbye to our Brock Teacher Candidate, Miss. Dow. Miss. Dow has been in our class since November 6th and has been an amazing addition to our classroom community. While here, she has taught us so many great things! From how to write a procedure text, to how to represent numbers and finally history of Canada! She has been a helpful face around the school as she has used her dance background to choreograph numbers for our February production of "Moana". Miss. Dow will be visiting us again in the new year to continue to use her skills to help out with production.  It has been such a fun start to the school year,! I cannot wait to launch into 2024 with new units and new adventures!!

Upper Middle

How time has been flying in the Upper Middle class, it is already December! As we near the end of the term and calendar year the Upper Middle students have been working ever so diligently to learn about and explore new topics. We also were able to travel to Wheatley School once again to participate in inter-school volleyball after spending some time practicing at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre. 

In mathematics we have spent time learning about representing, ordering and comparing numbers in various forms, using fractional, decimal and percentage benchmarks to estimate and express given values. We have also explored solving, estimating and representing perfect and imperfect squares. We are wrapping up this December with fraction operations and word problems! We are looking forward to learning about patterning in math come January! In Language Arts, our debate was excellent and both sides presented their arguments beautifully on the topic of the development of the Greenbelt. We have since moved into working on comprehension skills and letter writing which we will end the year with as students use what they have learned in their inquiry units to write to the past to share how times have changed! 

We continue to host the Royal Oak Coffee Cafe on Friday Mornings so stay tuned for when those will be happening during morning drop-off in the front of the school. In other news, the Upper Middle class did a spectacular job in their performances in the winter concert along with the rest of the school. We also were lucky enough to venture out on multiple field trips including a performance of Newsies starring ROCS alumni and on a historical walking tour of Niagara-on-the-Lake where we learned about the rich history that surrounds us. On the walking tour students were able to showcase the knowledge learned in our inquiry units that taught us about different periods of Canadian history and make local connections. 

Have a wonderful winter break from the Upper Middle class! Take this time to rest and spend time with family and friends. See you in January! 

A Look Ahead at ROCS

Offerings in the Community

F45 offers functional F45-minute workouts that are fun, fast and results-driven. Two personal trainers coach each class and modify exercises on TV screens, to meet your individual needs! We offer a mix of cardio & resistance training in a circuit-style class, within a state-of-the-art facility and you’ll never do the same workout twice!

Two locations (NOTL & St.Catharines)


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