Board logo and seven students holding Celebrating Student Success banner
December 2016 - In This Issue of the Durham Catholic District School Board's Celebrating Student Success Newsletter:

Advent Message

As we prepare for the coming of Christ during this Advent season, let us take time to reflect
Evergreen wreath with 3 purple candles and 1 pink candle
Above: Advent wreath
on all that is good around us and help others in need. Our students and staff are busy helping our local communities by donating toys, gifts and food for Christmas baskets. 

Join us in spreading joy this Christmas season and remember being present is the best gift we can give others.  
Year of Community
This year, we asked members of our Student Senators 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.

Community Begins with Our Students at All Saints Catholic Secondary School

On October 29, 2016, Dominic Morales of All Saints Catholic Secondary School won the
Male student standing with his mother and father by the Catholic Education Foundation of Ontario banner.
Above: Dominic Morales, Grade 12 Student at All Saints Catholic Secondary School with his parents at the Catholic Education Foundation of Ontario Celebration.
Catholic Student of the Year award from the Catholic Education Foundation of Ontario for his ethics, volunteerism and for exemplifying Catholic demeanor. Dominic is an integral part of our All Saints community as he is in numerous clubs at All Saints and provides his leadership talents and skills. He has won numerous awards before this, including being the youngest recipient of the prestigious Contributor of the Year award. 

Dominic is also a leader of the leadership corps at All Saints Catholic Secondary School and has been the elected student council treasurer for two years now. Dominic's response to winning this award was extremely humble. "All the work that I do is out of my own goodwill and I feel blessed and honoured to be chosen for some of the things that I do daily from the Catholic values I have learned." 

His Catholic values have been instilled in him at a young age as he has been an altar server for seven years. "My parents always told me to not waste my talents but use them for the good of the community," said Dominic. Clearly he does this every single day.

When you ask fellow students at All Saints about Dominic Morales, their response is always positive.  Aaron Paul, a Grade 11 student at All Saints, added, "Dominic is the nicest and coolest person you could ever meet!" 

Even with his involvement in numerous clubs and activities, Dominic still manages to maintain a high average and is looking to go to the University of Waterloo for Computer Engineering. He wants to continue to make a change in peoples lives as he already does daily. Dominic is an exemplary example of student success throughout all our Durham Catholic high schools and it begins with his Catholic values.

 Written by: Aaron Paul and Elizabeth O'Quinn 
All Saints Catholic Secondary School
Mental Health and Wellness

Holiday Wellness Tips

December is a time when there is much excitement and rushing around. No matter what our traditions or backgrounds, it is a time to celebrate peace, love and joy. So, why are so many feeling stressed and tired? What can we do to make us feel that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year?
  • Give yourself a break. Do things you like and want to do. Plan unstructured, low cost, fun holiday activities - admire the outdoor decorations, go window shopping or skate at your local rink.
  • Volunteer. Help at a food bank, serve meals to the hungry, or deliver holiday gift baskets.
  • Have fun as a family. Play board or card games together, go tobogganing or work on a large jigsaw puzzle together.
  • Share the workload. Bake together. Decorate your home together. Ask others for help - even cleaning can be fun if family members join in.
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Walk in the park, go skiing, visit the zoo, make snow angels, or organize a neighbourhood road hockey game.
  • Care for others. Reach out to family members and friends who may be feeling lonely. The anguish of a broken relationship, the loss of a family member or friend or the weariness of illness can make some feel very alone in the midst of all the celebrations. A phone call, a small gift or an invitation can mean an awful lot. 
  • Take a deep breath. Give yourself a time-out even for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths, think pleasant relaxing thoughts, and then return to reality.
  • Smile, laugh. A sense of humour can make the most stressful situation more bearable.
  • Flex your fitness routines, but keep them. Don't skip your regular workouts but feel free to modify them. Try skipping at home, swimming at the local pool, or participating in an online exercise program.
  • Watch the sugary treats. Eat healthy most of the time! Enjoy those special treats for what they are, special and a treat! Enjoy without guilt, but exercise good judgment and eat in moderation.
  • Plan a winter break adventure. Plan a weekend away, an overnight at a hotel, or a trip to a cottage for a few days. A change of scene can works wonders.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff: Don't stress about the dust bunnies hiding under the couch or the dirty clothes waiting to be washed.
Enjoy, relax and have fun.  Remember, it's a wonderful time of year!

Experiential Learning

Showcasing Students' Talent at Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School

On Thursday, November 3, 2016, the Arts Department at Archbishop Denis O'Connor
Five male students on stage playing musical instruments
Above: Students showcase their musical talents at Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School's Creative Coffeehouse.
Catholic High School hosted it's annual Creative Coffeehouse where students shared their talents in music, visual art, dance, spoken word poetry and original musical compositions in support of their "Red Wagon Campaign" which supports local families in need during the Christmas season.  The students performed in front of a packed audience and helped to illuminate the creativity in all who attended.

St. Jude Catholic School competes in Robotics Competition
Female and male student receive best new school award from university robotics competition.
Above: Stephanie and Joshua from St. Jude Catholic School receive trophy for Best New School at UOIT's Robotics Competition.
Congratulations to St. Jude Catholic School's Grade 6 students, Stephanie and Joshua for competing in their first Robotics competition at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology o
n Saturday, November 26, 2016.
St. Jude finished 8th out of 56 Sumo-Robots - with only one other elementary school represented. They  narrowly finished out of the top 8 semi-final, but went on to win the trophy for Best New School.
Bravo and special thank you to our coaches  Mrs. Stokes, Miss Cummins and Ms. Collins.

Building a Healthier Planet at DCDSB's Youth Environmental Summit

On Wednesday, November 16, elementary and secondary students from schools across the
Adult male talking to students about trees during a walk in the forest
Above: Larry Noonan shares his knowledge of Tree Identification with students during the Youth Environmental Summit at Camp Samac.
Durham Catholic District School Board gathered at Camp Samac for a Youth Environmental Summit. Students participated in activities with our guest speakers:
  • Luke Stocking from Development & Peace - Climate Change;  
  • Cathy Grant from Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority or CLOCA Protecting our Watershed; and
  • Larry Noonan - Tree Bee - Tree Identification.
The event taught students about the importance of water conservation, trees, climate change and recycling as we build a healthier and stronger planet for years to come. We all play a role in preserving our environment. 

Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School wins UOIT's Engineering Competition

On November 26, three Durham Catholic schools each sent a team to compete in the 11th Annual UOIT Engineering Competition.  This year 56 teams from across Ontario competed in a
Eight male students wearing Sumobots t shirts and holding two robots
Above: Congratulations to Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School's Robotics team for their first place finish at the 11th Annual UOIT Engineering Competition.
sumobot competition. Representing our schools were teams from  Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School,  Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School and  St. Jude Catholic School.

All three teams collaborated before and at the tournament which contributed to their success. Our team from Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School missed the finals by two points which is an extremely small margin after 56 battles.


Congratulations to our team from St. Jude Catholic School - they won top rookie team with an impressive top 8th finish showing promise for our continued success. This year's Championship trophy was awarded to our team from Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School. This team also won the Engineering Award and Referees Award.    


A special thank you to all our students who competed and our coaches - Bravo!

Student Achievement

Durham Catholic Secondary Students honoured at Father Patrick Fogarty Awards

Congratulations to our Durham Catholic District School Board secondary students who were
Durham Catholic secondary students with three Board of Trustee members
Above: Congratulations to our Durham Catholic secondary students who were recipients of the 2016 Father Patrick Fogarty Award.
honoured at the annual Canadian Education Foundation of Ontario banquet. These students have distinguished themselves in their Catholic high schools.The Father Patrick Fogarty Award recipients represented all of our Durham Catholic secondary schools. Bravo to our students:
  • Dominic Morales, All Saints Catholic Secondary School;  
  • Juliette Givelas, Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School;  
  • Emmeline Meens Miller, Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School; 
  • Eva Fernandes, Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School;  
  • Adriana Catulli, Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School; 
  • Kayla Chislett, Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School; and  
  • Emily Wardle, St. Mary Catholic Secondary School. 
Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School Student receives Full Scholarship

Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School student Luke Jaciw-Zurakowsky has received a full
Male student standing beside Catholic Graduates Expectation banner
Above: Congratulations to Luke Jaciw-Zurakowsky, from Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School on his full scholarship to Lasalle University.
scholarship to Lasalle University in Philadelphia for his outstanding athletic and academic accomplishments. 

Luke is an avid runner and credits his success in the sport of cross country running to hard work, determination and belief in his ability.  He thanks his coach at Notre Dame teacher Nic Kolodzie for serving as a constant motivational and supportive force. Luke is excited to beginning the next chapter of his school career in the USA and the Notre Dame community wishes him continued success in September 2017. 

Developing a Positive Attitude towards Mathematics
From the classroom to the playground, at Durham Catholic District School Board we are
Male adult talking with male student about math
Above: Michael Jacob, a Teaching and Learning Consultant at the Durham Catholic School Board demonstrates how to solve a math problem using blocks.
always looking for ways to support our students in their development as mathematicians.  As educators, we have uncovered a great deal about our students and how they learn best.  Through a balance of rich learning experiences and carefully planned practice opportunities, students acquire content knowledge, problem solving skills and a strong mathematics foundation.

To learn more, follow us on Twitter @DCDSBMath

How you can Support at Home?
One question we are often asked by parents and guardians is how to support their children at home.  This article is filled with ideas that you can use to make math a part of your daily conversations at home, in the car or anywhere that matters.

Positive Attitude
We have all heard someone say, "well I was never a math person" or "numbers aren't my thing". These negative statements need to stop - research shows us that we are all capable of high levels of achievement in mathematics and our attitude and mindset has a lot to do with it. 
Growth Mindset
Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics at Stanford University, has done a lot of research on Growth Mindset and its impact on student achievement. Learn more, visit .  Boaler's research suggests that the brain can grow, adapt and change in an incredibly short period of time. 

Make your Home Math Friendly
You can make your home a math friendly place by adopting the mindset that we are all "math people".  Math is a valuable tool that we use to help us make sense of the world around us. You can create a mistake-friendly environment by:
  • encouraging your child to explain their thinking for questions that are both correct and incorrect;
  • asking your child to show their thinking using a diagram;
  • remind your child that mistakes are okay - it's part of the learning process;
  • take breaks if your child is struggling - return with new ideas; and
  • reinforce the importance of perseverance and determination - these traits will benefit your child throughout their life.
Look for Math in Games
Games are a great opportunity to talk to your child about math. The best games are the ones that include an element of chance (rolling some dice) and an element of choice (which ones do I keep?).
Pause during the game and ask questions such as:
  • "What do you think will happen here?" or
  • "Have you considered all of your options?"
Games to consider are:
Farkle Blokus Go Fish
Yahtzee Checkers Cribbage
Pass The Pigs Chess Monopoly

Talk Math with your Kids
There are opportunities to discuss math with your children every day. Show your child how mathematics impacts your everyday life through things such as:
  • Finances;
  • Home renovations;
  • Time management;
  • Travel;
  • Look at home d├ęcor such as floor tiles in your home or community and ask your child about the patterns they see.
  • Use a number puzzle such as: Sudoku, Kenken and Yohaku for entertainment or to start a conversation with your child about their thinking while they are solving the puzzle.
  • Check out these websites to find prompts to engage your children in conversations that apply mathematical thinking:

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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