Board logo and seven students holding Celebrating Student Success banner
In This Issue of the Durham Catholic District School Board's Celebrating Student Success Newsletter:
Year of Community
This year, we asked members of our Student Senate to share what community means to their secondary schools as we celebrate the Year of Community. Each month, we will feature a new article written by students that highlight what makes their school community special.

One St. Mary Catholic Secondary School Student inspires her School Community to Overcome Obstacles

For Olivia Rocha, a Grade 12 at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School building community and achieving excellence means overcoming obstacles and remaining dedicated and
Male and female students standing on a deck outside as part of a retreat
Above: Student Retreat Leaders from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School
committed to her education and personal growth. Olivia is one of the 80 students across Canada to receive the Horatio Alger Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to students that possess an astounding academic record, have contributed to their community, and have exemplified the values of perseverance and integrity while overcoming adversity.
Olivia grew up in a single parent household and has a younger sister who is currently receiving medical treatment for her thyroid disease. In spite of the hurdles in her life, Olivia has always demonstrated the Catholic values of service and compassion. She currently serves as a retreat leader for the school community; leading spiritual retreats for the younger grades and providing guidance to fellow classmates in need. Olivia is also one of the leaders of the school's International Outreach group, which seeks to raise funds for a refugee educational centre in Ethiopia and to help those in Haiti that were affected by hurricane Matthew. She is profoundly grateful for these opportunities, as they have allowed her to contribute to our community and have strengthened her skills and values: "Retreat leaders has allowed me to become a better speaker, a stronger leader, and has further developed my empathy and compassion for others".
Olivia was overjoyed when she was awarded this scholarship, as it will allow her to finance her university education. She plans to pursue a degree in Health Sciences, most likely at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Her long-term goal is to continue to help those in need by attending Medical School and later becoming a trauma surgeon.
Olivia has inspired her classmates by demonstrating that any obstacle can be overcome with determination, perseverance, and faith. Olivia motivates those that are currently facing adversity and advises them to continue to work hard and to be optimistic. "For students that are facing obstacles, there is always a way to overcome them. You should never limit yourself due to a challenge you may face. Instead, use it as a momentum that will make you work harder to reach your fullest potential. Through determination and hard work, you will make your dreams a reality".
Written By Fernado Castillo and Daniela Garabito
Student Senators, St. Mary Catholic Secondary School
Mental Health and Wellness

Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) Partnering with Community Agencies on Youth Suicide Prevention Action Group
The Youth Suicide Prevention (YSP) Action Group, a collaborative sub-group of the Durham Logo saying Durham_s Children _ Youth Planning Network Children and Youth Planning Network (DCYPN), started as a grassroots effort motivated by an opportunity presented by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services (MCYS) in 2013. MCYS offered funding, as a means of mobilizing communities to work together to address the problem of youth suicide. Durham Region has developed a collaborative of over 21 members at this time, representing the various sectors of education, community-based mental health and addictions services, hospitals, youth justice, faith, business and people with lived experience. DCDSB is represented on DCYPN, and has been a member of the YSP Action Group since its inception.
In an effort to build a "suicide-safer community" the Youth Suicide Prevention YSP Action Group has had many successes and accomplishments to date, some of which include:
  • Launching the Durham-specific Be Safe app, a resource for children and youth experiencing crisis. This app is now available in French language;
  • Providing opportunities for free Train-the-Trainer and community safeTALK trainings
  • Supporting all sectors to recognize youth at risk of suicide, along with providing sustainability by ensuring all sectors have trained trainers;
  • Observing and supporting World Suicide Prevention Day on an annual basis. 
One of the projects that YSP is currently working on is creating a list of best-practice media reporting guidelines for reporting about suicide in social media and the news.  The media has an important role to play in suicide prevention.  By reporting in an informed and sensitive manner, the media can help reduce the stigma of suicide (which sometimes keeps people from seeking help) and decreases the likelihood of imitation among those already at risk.  The media also can help raise awareness of supports available in the community and encourage individuals to seek help.  We are hoping to work together to create a suicide-safer community. 
We invite you to visit the DCYPN website for further information on the Youth Suicide Prevention Action Group, and other community initiatives .  
Experiential Learning

St. Mary Catholic Secondary School Students Participate in Model Parliament Programs
Recently two students from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School; Kaleigh Soda and Mark Feraday participated in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario Model Parliament held at Queen's Park, in Toronto. While another student, Kierra Inniss, participated in Forum which is a similar program for students at the Federal level of government. These education programs are designed for civic-minded high school students in Grades 10 to 12, who are interested in current events and provincial issues.

Above: St. Mary Catholic Secondary School students, Mark, Kaleigh and Kierra encourage students to apply for Model Parliament experience.
Our St. Mary Catholic Secondary School students held the following positions:  
  • Kaleigh Soda was member of the Progressive Conservation party and Critic to the Attorney General;
  • Mark Feraday was a member of the Liberal Party and MPP for Pickering/Scarborough East; and 
  • Kierra Inniss was the Prime Minister and member of the Liberal Party.
The highlight for Grade 12 student, Kaleigh was meeting with provincial leaders and networking with people who work in the Legislature. "I recommend that students apply for this opportunity," added Kaleigh. "I was chosen to give the closing statement on behalf of the PC caucus which gave me new found confidence in public speaking."
St. Mary Catholic Secondary School student, Mark added, "It was great working with students across Ontario on creating and amending our bills and debating them in the Chamber."
While Kierra enjoyed meeting MPs, including our own local MP for Pickering-Uxbridge Jennifer O'Connell, and experiencing government process first-hand. This once in a lifetime experience offers students an opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals, make new friends and discover if a career in provincial or federal politics is for you.  

Supporting Students' French Language Learning this Summer

How do we continue to build and support students' French language learning over the
Green and white Franco Ontario flag
summer months?  How can we ensure that skills acquired over the course of the school year continue to build and develop?  Parents play a crucial role in helping to support their children's language learning throughout the school year and during summer months as well.  Here are a few ideas to consider as options for French language learning once school breaks for summer:
  • Both day and overnight French camps can help to provide children with the opportunity to take risks in their language learning and build their confidence, while at the same time enhancing their acquisition of the language in a new setting outside of the classroom.  Building memories while speaking in French will help to create authentic learning experiences that strongly support language acquisition.  
  • Volunteering in the community in positions where French is used is a valuable experience that both elementary and secondary students should explore.  Being a volunteer in these positions will stretch your child's understanding of the French language, while also helping them to gain independence, build new skills and use French in real-life scenarios.  
  • Day trips as a family can also be planned to tourist attractions that offer activities and tours in French.  Exploring the many sites around Ontario and the country in this way is a valuable way to demonstrate to your child your appreciation of the French language and the opportunities to use French outside of the classroom.  Listings of where to find tours in French can be found at 
  • Student exchange opportunities provide immersion in French language speaking areas that best support the development of language skills.   Not only will students come away with a rich language experience, but also a deep appreciation of the culture and tradition of the French speaking area they visit.  You may even want to consider Western University's Family Exchange Program to Trois-Pistoles, Qu├ębec where the entire family can be immersed in learning French together.  More information is available at
Here is just a sampling of the many opportunities to develop language learning outside of the classroom for parents to consider:
Elementary Students
Secondary Students  
The website  also provides a wide range of listings of experiences you may wish to consider for your child. 
Expanding Pathways

All Saints' SHSM Students tour the Lakeridge Health Education and Research Network Centre

In March, students from the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Health and Wellness program at All Saints Catholic Secondary School spent the day at the Lakeridge Health
A group of All Saints students stand over two life size mannequins in the hospital_s simulation lab
Above: SHSM Students from All Saints Catholic Secondary School tour the simulation lab at the Lakeridge Health Education and Research Network (LHEARN) Centre.
Education and Research Network (LHEARN) Centre.  The LHEARN centre is a state-of-the-art training facility at Lakeridge Health Oshawa.  The centre is a training, education and research hub for healthcare providers.  The simulation labs allow staff to train and prepare for real-life situations that can occur the field of health care.
During their day long visit to the hospital, students had a lecture on Medical Terminology so they could better understand how the many complicated medical terms derived their name.  Students followed that presentation with time in the simulation labs where they ran through scenarios that can occur in a hospital setting.  It was an excellent experience for the students and they came to appreciate the continuous learning that goes on in the health care field.
The All Saints Health and Wellness SHSM program is the 25th and newest SHSM program in the Durham Catholic District School Board.  In this SHSM program, students complete at least four 'major' courses related to Health and Wellness, participate in the Cooperative Education program and complete a number of certifications such as CPR/First Aid, Medical Terminology, Infection Control and WHMIS.  We are fortunate to have community partners such as Lakeridge Health Oshawa and the Region of Durham who assist us in giving students such real-life experiences. 
We are also thankful for the work of Antonietta Cillo and her team for the work they do to deliver such a rewarding SHSM program.

Exploring Pathways through Cooperative Education
Cooperative Education student at Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School, Toni-Ann Samuels, is using her culinary skills to create fried calamari at Moxie's Restaurant. 
Female student holding a platter of fried calamari  she made at her cooperative education placement
A bove: Cooperative Education student, Toni-Ann Samuels is using her culinary skills at Moxie's Restaurant.
The Cooperative Education program gives students the opportunity to make connections between school and work and to "try out" a career of interest.  Students are able to see the relevance of their classroom learning in a work setting and to develop the essential skills and work habits required in the workplace and acquire a direct understanding of employer and workplace expectations. 
To find out more about cooperative education, visit your school's cooperative education department or school website for more information.

At the Durham Catholic District School Board, we believe that all students can be successful, that success comes in many forms, and that there are many pathways to success. If you have a story idea for an upcoming newsletter, please email your story for consideration to

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