December 2015 - In This Issue of the Durham Catholic School Board's Celebrating Student Success Newsletter:
Students collaborate on School Mental Health Initiatives

Students from Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic Secondary School and All Saints
Above: The Durham Catholic District School Board's Student Mental Health Handbook
Catholic Secondary School have collaborated on a document that will assist other schools who are trying to set up student wellness initiatives.

The booklet outlines what a student action group is (and what it isn't), gives information on funding sources, and provides photos and ideas of various wellness initiatives. Several other Secondary schools also contributed ideas and suggestions for this booklet.

Archbishop Denis O'Connor and All Saints Secondary School are happy to be able to share this booklet with other schools who are interested in establishing or building their student wellness initiatives.

Notre Dame Catholic Secondary Students Learn to Breathe
Learn to Breathe is a mindfulness-based curriculum for adolescents that is intended to strengthen emotional regulation and attention, expand the repertoire of coping skills and stress management skills, and to help integrate mindfulness into daily life. A group of Notre Dame students have come together under the direction of the school's Social Worker and the School Mental Health Worker from Frontenac Youth Services to be the first to participate in this group program that runs for 6 weeks.

This program provides students the opportunity to discuss and participate in activities which practice mindfulness skills in a group setting. More information about this mindfulness curriculum is available at

Experiential Learning

Students from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School Visits the Royal Winter Fair
In November, the Hospitality and Tourism Specialist High Skills Major students and
Above: Msgr. John Pereyma CSS Students visit the Royal Winter Fair
English as a Second Language class from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary school visited the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. Students watched equestrian show jumping shows, visited large and small animal exhibits, tasted produce grown across Canada and marvelled at the oversized vegetables and butter sculptures.

Both groups enjoyed visiting this popular tourist attraction that has been highlighting agriculture and food in Toronto since 1922.

Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School welcomes Grade 8 Students on Take Our Kids to Work Day
As the Grade 9 students at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School ventured out on their
Above: Student representatives from Brother Andre, Mother Teresa, St Catherine of Sienna, St Josephine Bakhita and St Patrick battle the Notre Dame Leadership Class in a game of bubble soccer. 
first opportunity to experience the
  workplace during Take Our Kids to
  Work Day, Grade 8 students were
  welcomed in for a day of high school.
  Students from Brother Andre, Mother
  Teresa, St. Josephine Bakhita, St.
  Catherine of Sienna, and St Patrick
  Catholic Schools were given the
 opportunity to tour the school and spend
  time with teachers in each of the Grade
  9 elective areas for a taste of what to
  expect next year.

  After having lunch in the cafeteria with
  other Notre Dame students, the Grade
  8s participated in a pep rally hosted by
  the Notre Dame Leadership Class. Grade 8 teachers and students alike
enjoyed the chance to see all of the amazing opportunities Notre Dame has to offer.

Robotic Technology Fosters the Spirit of Collaboration
On Tuesday November 24, Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School hosted a robotics event. Teachers and students from the elementary and secondary panels attended this daylong event.

The day was planned, arranged and organized by teacher/mentor Stephen MacKinnon and his robotics team. The competition was based around the sumo robot, where the goal was to move your opponent outside of the ring. There were no barriers as elementary teams competed on an equal footing with the secondary teams.
The spirit of collaboration, inquiry, and learning was very evident as the students freely shared information and advice, the goal being to help improve  performance regardless of school affiliation. All in all an exciting and engaging day.
Above: Elementary and secondary students collaborate on robotics.

Exploring Pathways

Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School Students Look to the Future at Annual Pathways Panel and Fair
Above: Representatives from a variety of post-secondary institutions and organizations prepare for students during Notre Dame's annual Pathways Panel and Fair.
On October 14, Notre Dame Catholic School hosted its annual Pathways Panel and Fair. Students heard from a panel of 11 colleges and universities from the GTA followed by the opportunity to visit representatives from those institutions, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces, VPI Inc, and Skills Ontario. For many of the Grade 11 and 12 students in attendance, it was their first chance to meet with representatives from some non-traditional pathways and get all of their post-secondary questions answered in one place. Following the panel and fair, teachers noted that students had an increased curiosity in careers related to their subject area and potential pathways.

The Pathway to Adventure at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School
Above: Hospitality and Tourism Specialist High Skills Major Students from Mgsr. John Pereyma visit Fleming College's Career Day.
Students from the Hospitality and Tourism Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Program from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School visited Fleming College recently for their Career Day program.
Students toured the state of the art facility, heard guest speakers from Celebrity Cruise lines and Contiki Tours, had a Lunch and Learn with industry experts and visited a career expo with reps from restaurants and hotels. Students found the career advice valuable and enjoyed the networking opportunities.

Archbishop Anthony Meagher Catholic Continuing Education Centre hosts a Post-Secondary Pathways Day
Archbishop Anthony Meagher Catholic Continuing Education Centre together with Father Donald MacLellan Catholic Secondary School hosted a Post-Secondary Pathways Day. The open house was held on November 18, 2015 and highlighted the many options students have to explore after high school including post-secondary education and employment opportunities. Many of Ontario's leading colleges and universities had representatives in attendance for our Oshawa and Ajax sessions. Representatives provided information and answered questions regarding programs, admissions, and financing options. The day was a tremendous success!

Above: Post-Secondary Pathways Day A Huge Success for Continuing and Alternative Education Students.

Student Achievement

Father Leo J. Austin Cooperative Education student is selected as Master of Ceremony for the YMCA Peace Medallion Ceremony
Above: Congratulations to Khosh for being recognized as an outstanding student.
November is celebrated as 'Peace Month' by the Greater Toronto Area YMCA chapters. To honour recipients in local communities who have worked to organize memorable peace initiatives in their communities, a YMCA Peace Medallion Ceremony was held on Monday, November 16, 2015. The Mayor of Markham was in attendance, as well as the award recipients and representatives from the YMCA chapters in the GTA.  
Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School cooperative education student, Khosh Mirzad, was invited by the YMCA to co-MC the ceremony. Khosh has been working with the Whitby YMCA office since September for his semester one cooperative education placement. Congratulations to Khosh for being recognized as an outstanding student, capable of carrying out such an important task.

The Golden Age of Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School

The sports teams at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School have made their school community extremely proud this season! Dwyer teams have won multiple gold medals,
Above: Msgr. Paul Dwyer's Saints Football team win OFSSA.
including LOSSA and DYSSA Championships.

In a nail-biting game at the Oshawa Civic Fields, the Senior Boys Football Team won in overtime against Courtice's Holy Trinity CSS.  It was a well-played game and a beautiful victory.  On November 30, the team won the OFSAA Championship at the Football Bowl Series located at Tim Horton's Field in Hamilton, home of the Tiger Cats!
After finishing first place in LOSSA, the Senior Girls Basketball Team won DYSSA gold in a stunning victory on home territory!  Students filled the stands in the Dwyer Gymnasium and eagerly cheered on their school team. When their team won, the gym was electrified with applause and school spirit.  It was a very exciting day that the Dwyer school community will not easily forget.  The team has advanced to the OFSAA Championship in Kingsville, southwestern Ontario.
The Senior Boys Cross Country Team ran their way to victory and won first place at the LOSSA Championship in Ajax.  Following LOSSA, they bravely competed at the OFSAA Championship in the midst of a rain storm at Blue Mountain and placed in a very respectable 4th position.  A Dwyer student with a visual impairment raced in the Para Division of the OFSAA Cross Country Competition and won a silver medal!
Monsignor Paul Dwyer's Tennis team also celebrated an outstanding victory.  The Senior Mixed Doubles Team won first place at the LOSSA Championship.  The Dwyer Community will be cheering their team on as they advanced to the OFSAA Championship at the end of the 2016 academic year.

All Saints Students Honoured at Whitby Youth Awards

On Thursday, November 12, 2015 the Town of Whitby honored nineteen exceptional young leaders.  Two individuals recognized that night were All Saints Catholic Secondary School students.  
Above Diego Varela (centre) pictured with Councillor Yamada (left) and Mayor Mitchell (right).

Diego Varela, pictured with Mayor Don Mitchell and Councillor Steve Yamada, was  recognized for his work with the All Saints Specialist High Skills Major Performing Arts program.  Diego has been the student technical director for three years as well the choreographer for the musical.  Diego is also a member of Student Council, where he serves as Head Grade Representative.  Diego's dedication to music, dance and the school continues into our school dances where he volunteers his talents as a DJ.

From the nineteen honoured one was selected to receive the Meridian Credit Union Good
Above: L to R: Councillor Yamada, Mayor Mitchell, Curtis Janes and Branch Manager Mike Watt.
Neighbour Award.  This year's recipient was Curtis Janes, pictured with Branch Manager Mike Watt, Mayor Don Mitchell and Councillor Steve Yamada.  Curtis Janes leads with positivity and motivation.  He is the Student Council President, an organizer of the Grade Ten Leadership Retreat, the Arts Culture Volunteerism Banquet and the 24 Hour Famine.  He is a member of the Kelly Cup Mock Trial Team as well as a player of five school sports teams.

Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School Grade 9 Students S.O.A.R.
Above: Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School's Grade 9 students prepare to S.O.A.R. at the Box Office - pictured here is Zhania Fay, Taija Williams, Zayanne Massiah, Arvela Lunasco, Jalen Williams, Jonathan Williams, Nehimiah Nelson, Tarique Jeremiah, Duquan Grant, Michael Ibrihim, Romaine Watkis, Stephen Blakely, and Andrew Gouthro

On November 2, a group of Grade 9 students from Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School attended a screening of SOAR: Students that are Optimistic, and Ready at the Ajax Cineplex. This one-of-a-kind Canadian film provided students with valuable insight into tackling the challenges they face and taking advantage of the many opportunities that accompany their transition to high school.

The documentary, presented by Youth Leadership Camps Canada (YLCC), emphasized personal stories from prominent Canadians, as well as first-hand experiences from current Canadian high school students. Students enjoyed the opportunity to view the film and participate in a question and answer with one of the film's stars, Blake Fly.

All Notre Dame participants agreed that the film provided an important message and left them inspired.
Transitions to High School
Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School has been advocating and supporting the transition
Above: The Lunch Bunch at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School
into high school for many students. This year they offered two fun opportunities to help students create meaningful relationships and discover the positives of getting involved at their secondary school.
One transition support is the 'Lunch Bunch', an opportunity for students to connect with other students at lunch while enjoying pizza and drinks. Students that are new to Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School or struggling to find social connections can meet once a week in guidance and get to know each other outside of the cafeteria. The goal is to create relationships that will continue to build throughout the years.


Helpful Links and Resources

For more information about Pathways Opportunities in Secondary School and beyond, click here to read our Pathways to Student Success booklet.  


To find out more about transitions from elementary to secondary school, click here to read our Grade 8 to Grade 9 Transitions Guide.


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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