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Wolf HB

August 30, 2019 Leave a comment

Hey Everyone. Here’s another profile of a former student of mine. I do this to highlight the beautiful kids who’ve come through the program. It’s also a means to invite you out to our annual charity 5 and 10 km run being held on October 20th at Handsworth Secondary in North Vancouver.

 

Introducing Wolf HB

I hate the sound of the alarm on my iPhone? It’s horrendous., nauseating. When you’re sleeping, it’s lurking there. I usually wake minutes before it’s to go off. Not many things worse. Wolf understands this better than most. Instead of partying till the sun comes up like his buddies, he has a few beers after work and trumbles home, knowing tomorrow starts at 6 am with that cursed alarm. This isn’t the rock’n roll life, rather it’s the sign of maturity and focus. The 16 year old lets the alarm go and go and go. The 26 year old, thinks about it , then gets out of bed. The alarm a reminder of the sacrifice needed to move from childhood to adulthood.

Wolf is a contrarian by nature. Never one to pass on a potential argument, he sits in wait for a throw away comment you’ve made that he can quickly dissect and gain an advantage. This didn’t ingratiate himself to many teachers – they didn’t appreciate being lured into a debate with an 11 year old, especially one ready for battle and needing to find that his thoughts and ideas have weight and matter. Wolf’s adolescent life was anything but safe and secure. He grew up in the bright lights and harsh realities of a rock’n roll marriage. His dad grew up in Toronto and was on the cusp of making it big as Platinum Blonde’s first drummer. Platinum Blonde back then was more punk than top 40 and record companies started paying attention to them. Unfortunately, as so many musical stories go, things didn’t work out as planned and as Wolf’s dad left the band, international success landed in their lap’s. His mom and Dad settled in Vancouver and Wolf was raised in a vibrant, loud and reverberating world. You didn’t get a lot of bedtime stories but boy oh boy there were stories to be told and memories that wouldn’t fade – good memories and sad ones.

Wolf struggled to find relevance and interest in school. He had the smarts but just couldn’t endure what traditional school settings offered. He had the usual run-ins with administrators, teachers and cops that most kids who end up in alt programs do but there was definitely something different about him. Most kids show up with an edge, which is really just a buffer between reality and hope. It’s a survival suit. Wolf had this edge but he wasn’t looking just to survive, he wanted to know why this world was so cruel and why people were such hypocrites? They were always yapping about the possibility and opportunity of life but never appreciating the divergent path that a confused kid might be interested in taking. Frost must’ve seen Wolf coming because if there ever was a kid who longed for the overgrown and neglected, if was him. Rap music spoke to him viscerally. It’s rage and anti-authority message finding purchase in his swirling brain. Predictable as it was to many, Wolf ended up looking for a different place to go to school.

Wolf was part of a beautiful diaspora that were being removed from an East Van high school in the mid 2000’s and found a welcome home at Streetfront. I look back at these beautiful kids and am still in disbelief how any school would not want them in their halls. All of them artists and deconstructionists, each of them challenging the chimera that a high school education can be – elusive, frustrating and lacking. Wolf found himself an outsider in his classes. He wanted to know the why; the others just wanted that clock to move faster. He wanted debate and engagement but he found textbooks and a blank page. Soon that blank page became the only thing that mattered to Wolf. He would draw and dream and slide further and further from success. He followed two friends to Streetfront, Dylan Gauthier and Nick McCracken. These boys were like Celine and Jean Genet. I instantly found students who couldn’t stomach the orthodoxy of mainstream education but would appreciate the possibilities permissible in a smaller, more flexible setting.

I can’t remember whether I’ve locked my car but I can usually tell you what shoes a student of mine used to wear. Stupid thing to remember but I remember Wolf’s Osiris skate shoes. Those vibrant NY Knicks colours. Wolf really liked football which was weird for Streetfront. I grew up playing football as much as any other sport and couldn’t believe kids in BC didn’t. They didn’t know how to throw a spiral or catch a deep ball. Wolf did and I remember throwing the football around with him on the field behind the portable wearing those Knicks kicks. I look back now and see that by playing catch, the most archetypal thing a dad does with his sons, I was being a dad for kids who had lost theirs. Maybe, if I look deeper, that’s what I’m trying to do in this job? Fill in the gaps, the losses and the disappointments by being present, by saying “yes” even when I’m a bit tired or have work to do. Regardless, Wolf liked to throw the ball around and that’s how our relationship started.

Wolf liked the looser feel that Streetfront had. He felt like he belonged. Everybody at Streetfront has a story, teachers included. We all ended up in the ratty portable through circumstance and we stayed because of fit. Wolf wasn’t the greatest student but he was super smart, paid attention and he learned. He loved the physical opportunities we gave the kids, in particular the tournaments we participated in. He appreciated the continuity and dependability of the staff. In his life, people came and went, sometimes for good. At Streetfront, they always showed up. I think that’s reassuring for kids like Wolf – walking through that door, you’re going to get corny jokes from Gord, you’re going to see people rubbing Barry’s head. You’re going to find a home with adults that have defined roles and who are willing to accept mistakes and misdeeds. The best teachers have short memories and thick skin. Wolf was one of ours. He felt valued and respected.

Wolf had a great grade 10 year, proudly passing his Science 10 provincial final with a score higher than the Britannia school average. He left us and entered into a senior alternative program where a few of his buddies were attending. He never found the next chapter of his schooling to be to his liking. He became disinterested and disillusioned and eventually left the school. He never graduated high school but he never stopped learning. I always tell kids that school isn’t going anywhere. If it’s not working, take a break but be productive if you’re not in school. Wolf did just that. Never one to feel sorry for himself, he quickly found himself a job washing dishes at a restaurant. It wasn’t glamorous but it paid a wage and it kept him busy. He lived hard in those post high school years, living on the front line of a deadly party scene that was taking the lives of more and more of his friends. Wolf and I always stayed close. We’d text back and forth – he’d espouse his rancorous opinions about carbon and it’s supposedly limited impact on greenhouse gas emissions, I’d give him recommendations on books that he would ignore, I’d absentmindedly tell him to watch Apocalypse Now 30 times and he’d remind me that it wasn’t on Netflix and he wasn’t that keen on watching an old guy film anyways. He’d stroll

into the portable and work his way to the office, always finding himself in the pictures on the walls. He always made a point of staying connected to Streetfront. The place meant a lot to him. It meant the world to us that he wanted to keep coming back.

Wolf was always industrious, even if it was for getting in trouble. His first real job was at Burgoo on Main Street. Burgoo was founded by two guys I knew from ultimate way back and they set out to make high quality comfort food. The concept worked and soon Burgoos were all over the greater Vancouver area. Wolf moved from dishwasher into the kitchen after a short while and the management noticed a hardworking kid, who knew how to work. His personality endeared him to those older staff members and after a few years, Wolf was running the Burgoo kitchen on Main Street. He was now making a real wage, managing real responsibilities and leading a team inside the kitchen. He once told me that cooking wasn’t something that came naturally. He needed to be taught and then practice those skills over and over again. He had the humility and mindset to accept this. Perseverance would win out. And it did. Within a few years he was moved to start up Burgoo’s new kitchen on Burrard Street. He saw that through and his efforts continued to get noticed. Just last year he was promoted to Culinary Training Manager for Forehand Food Groups – the parent company of Burgoo. Now he’s training a whole new crew of crooks and chefs (intended, couldn’t resist). The irony of Wolf becoming a teacher himself, is wonderful. If some of his old teachers could see him now, I’m sure they’d be proud, a bit embarrassed that they didn’t dig a little deeper to see what this kid really was about, but proud nonetheless.

I was sitting on a stoop in Split, Croatia a few days ago, having a beer with a dear friend and texting with Wolf. He asked if he should consider buying a condo? What???? A condo? The texts I usually receive are more like, “hey its Hallowe’en, do we have school tomorrow?” or “DON’T LEAVE. I’m at Commercial and Broadway. I’ll be right there.” This was fantasy. He’d packed away a sizable chunk of cash for a down payment and thought he and his lady should get on this. He thought Burnaby, I thought maybe Port Moody or Coquitlam? He quickly set me straight that his street cred couldn’t take the Burbs – Burnaby was pushing it already. Tom asked me who was making me laugh, and I took the time to explain who Wolf was. Tom would like Wolf.

A few months back, I was out for a beer with the Street2Peak crew and I invited Wolf to join us. We were yacking about things and somehow driving came up. Barry, Gord and I were trying to think of which kids we taught now had their driving licenses. Take that in. Most of you probably can’t think of friends or friends kid’s that don’t have their driver’s license and there we were struggling to think of which kids we’ve taught had actually went through this seemingly obvious rite of passage. That’s Streetfront right there. Think of what it takes to become a driver – cash, an operable car, driving lessons, the idea that having a license is a necessary thing. Streetfront kids don’t have that and as a result they don’t get to participate in life as fully as other kids. A license is freedom. It’s mobility. It’s a way to get the hell out of East Van when things are bad. Without it, you stay, metaphorically and literally.

Wolf came up with a plan that night. He was going to set up a charity to give driving lessons to kids in need. He was going to give them the chance to get out and move through this world. The next day, he informed me that he had money already to go and had a few dudes that were ready to contribute. That’s what life is all about, right there. Thinking about others. Trying to help. I’m suspicious that the down payment on the condo might be the seed money for this charity? Who knows? Regardless, it’s all Wolf.

Wolf knows his life has been tough. He’s dealt with shit that only other Streetfront kids really understand. He’s not looking for sympathy or even empathy – what he wants out of you and society as a whole, is to simply, be nice. Treat people with respect, kindness and charity. Don’t assume you know anything about someone, take the time to talk to the person to find out the real story. That story, is the key. It’s the blood, it’s the sinew of a kid. It’s their DNA. It might scare you but so do spiders. Be a grownup, do your part. Believe in the Wolves. You have no idea how much better your life will be if you do.

Introducing Wolfgang HB, a Streetfront legend.

Strachan Hartley Legacy Run October 20, 2019 Register here

Seattle Marathon Weekend: Nov. 26-27, 2016

November 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Once again we broke our record for the number of Streetfront/Britannia current and alumni running in the Seattle Marathon. We had 31 eager runners – many running their first full or half marathon! Jesse Costucci up until this weekend was our only female student to run a full 42.2 km distance but after this weekend we added 2 more female students to accomplish this feat. Congratulations to Sierra Sidwell and Harmony Patterson!! The entire team did fantastic in what ended up being decent running weather considering there was heavy rains falling before and after the race.

A huge thanks has to go out to the wonderful staff with the Seattle Marathon Association and an enormous and heartfelt thanks to the Vancouver Police Foundation for recently coming on board to support our marathon program. All this would not be possible without the support of so many organizations and individuals!

Every year we have more and more friends and family coming down to Seattle to support this wonderful cohort of unique youth demonstrating the B.R.I.T.annia code – Bravery, Respect, Integrity and Tenacity.

Trevor speaks at the Future of Public Education in BC

October 23, 2016 Leave a comment

Trevor did what he does best… speaking with passion about what Streetfront and alternative education is all about at ‘The Future of Public Education: Beyond the Headlines’. Attendees at the Oct. 5th talk heard from academics, students, parents, teachers and others about both the challenges that the system faces, and the bright lights that are making a difference. Together, they explored the question: At it’s best, what can our public education system achieve? And what must we do to get there?

You can watch the whole event here but if you want to skip ahead to Trevor’s talk he starts at 1:18:30

the-tyee

 

CBC The Early Edition – Oct. 14th, 2016

October 23, 2016 Leave a comment

On the morning of October 14th Trevor along with Blythe Hartley sat down with The Early Edition radio host Rick Cluff to discuss the Strachan Hartley Legacy Foundation annual run and its partnership with Streetfront. The 10th Annual SHLF Run happened on Oct. 16th

Click here to listen to the interview that starts at 51:20 minutes into The Early Edition show.

CBC's The Early Edition

CBC’s The Early Edition

Emily and Trevor on Breakfast Television

October 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Congratulations to Streetfront student Emily Lloyd on representing herself, her classmates, her family, and Streetfront well while telling her story on Breakfast Television. Way to promote Streetfront and the Street2Peak Project!

Watch for yourself here

bt-appearance

Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon completed!

June 27, 2016 1 comment

It was a dark week for Britannia Secondary, considering the speculation of a possible closure but this Sunday the Streetfront Alternative Program decided to focus on what we do best, getting kids to find the strength and determination to show the world how great they really are.

Thanks to all 29 kids who once again demonstrated the greatness of youth. Thanks to all of the parents who showed their kids that they are worth getting up early on a Sunday to cheer on.
Who couldn’t love this job????????????

Indian Arm Canoe Trip – May 30 – June 2, 2016

For our final camp trip of the year we headed over to Indian Arm to canoe the fjord for four days. We had great weather for most of the trip, lots of black flies in the Bishop Creek campsite, seen lots of wildlife, had the wind and tide in our favour and not so much other days, seen many waterfalls, had lots of fun and stored more good memories in our heads. Overall we covered 40+ km’s from our departure point in Deep Cove to Indian River at the end of the Arm.

A very pleasurable trip indeed…