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.

A Community of Athletic Perseverance at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School

Running a cross country race may seem physically and mentally challenging for many, however it can be even more difficult for those with disabilities. Josh Roberto is a visually impaired track and cross country star. The Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School student was born with a condition that caused him to be entirely blind in the left eye and partially blind in the right due to a black mass in his field of vision. Nevertheless, Josh perseveres and nothing can slow him down.
Male student running in school athletic uniform.
Above: Josh Roberto running

Josh has been running since the fourth grade, but it was not until high school that he took running more seriously and realized that he has serious potential. Ever since then, he has joined the cross country team as well as track and field. During cross country practice, Josh usually runs with his friends who support him and warn him of obstructions on the path. While racing, he at times run alongside a guide. However, on the track, he runs completely on his own. Even when the seasons for these teams are over Josh continues his training throughout the year. On November 13, Josh was chosen by Athletics Canada to participate in the Paralympics Development Camp. The camp is aimed at immersing athletes in an intensive training atmosphere.  It is due to all his hard work and training that he has improved so much.

"Josh initiated his running in Grade 9 and has grown into a stellar athlete who embraces practice every day, always giving his best. He embodies every quality of an elite athlete: dedication, perseverance and hard work", said Coach Landry, a teacher at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High school.

Along with the Dwyer team, Josh participated in this year's OFSAA championship. This race was an amazing achievement for Josh as he beat his previous record by 2 minutes earning himself a new personal best of 13 minutes. Josh finished in second place in his division and came 7th overall in the junior division. Despite his outstanding  achievements Josh is constantly setting new goals. Currently he is hoping to improve his time on the 800 m race, bringing it at or under 2 minutes.  In the future, Josh dreams of participating in the Paralympics and the entire community of Dwyer is rooting for him.

Josh has overcome many obstacles, he is an inspiration to everyone at Dwyer for his determination. Through his achievements one can see that anything is possible with hard work. Josh wishes to tell the readers to "not give up, even if you have limitations. Keep pursuing and don't let anything hold you back".

     Written by: Filomena Randazzo and Michael Lu
     Student Senators at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School

Mental Health and Wellness

The Benefits of Parent and Family Engagement

Enhancing protective factors, building resilience and supporting students' well-being is a Flyer promoting the conference shared responsibility between community, families and schools.
The benefits of parent and family engagement in the area of student well-being are well documented. Students are more likely to be motivated, earn higher grades, develop better self-regulation and social skills, and pursue higher education when parents partner in their children and youth's education. When parents engage with schools by becoming involved with school councils or committees, or through day-to-day support of their child's learning  (e.g., ensuring children have a quite place to do homework; asking about what their children are learning in school) students feel that their parents place value on their school experience, and feel supported in their efforts. Encouraging parent engagement can be one way to promote well-being in our children and youth. (Leading Mentally Healthy Schools, School Mental Health ASSIST, 2013)
As part of our effort to encourage parent and family engagement, the Durham Catholic District School Board is hosting a Sharing of Excellence: Parents as Partners conference, Connecting With Our Children and Teens: Promoting Positive Mental Health  on March 2, 2017. All parents and community members are invited to attend this free event. For details and to register, click here

Experiential Learning

English Language Learners Experience Snow for the First Time
English Language Learners at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School
Male and female students studying English as a Second Language experience snow for the first time
Above: English Language Learners enjoy seeing snow for the first time.
recently took a few minutes out of their busy school day to enjoy the snow. For many of the newcomers, this was their first time experiencing snow. The students had mixed emotions about typical Canadian winters. 

As Noel from El Salvador stated: "There are some nice coats, but I feel like a turtle. If I fall down on my back, I won't get back up". 

At least one of the students even tried skiing for the first time this year. Bi Xi Li, originally from China, concluded that skiing "is more pain than fun". Hopefully, this year's experiences won't discourage them from getting out and enjoying all that Canadian winters have to offer.

Promoting Positive Mental Health at St. Christopher Catholic School

The Grade 7 and 8 students at St. Christopher Catholic School recently attended the Durham TAMI Coalition's 
Three female students and one male student with female teacher standing beside Durham TAMI Coalition banner
Above: St. Christopher Catholic School students eager to promote positive mental health after attending the S.O.S. Summit.
Stomping Out Stigma (S. O. S.) Summit at Ontario Shores.  The Durham TAMI Coalition invited students from all over Durham to participate in a day of learning and activities to know the positive impact that partnerships can have for those who live with mental illness.  

Students are now enthusiastic to help 'Stomp Out Stigma' and want to take a leadership role to share positive strategies with all students.
St. John Bosco Catholic School values the Importance of Community Partnerships

Recently, the staff from the Oshawa Public Library were welcomed into St. John Bosco Catholic School to share STEM centres with all students in Grades 4 to 8.  As part of the
Female student holding round object created by the 3D Printer
Above: Student from St. John Bosco Catholic School holding a button that she made with the Button Maker. 
presentation, students learned about the Makerspace at the McLaughlin Branch of the library, how a 3D printer works, and the technology of makey makey devices. They also had the opportunity to explore hands-on centres, such as button making, makey makeys, Lego Challenges, and iPad apps.

Students were amazed to see how they could create a game controller for Super Mario using Playdoh or how to play a piano with a banana! The Intermediate students also had the opportunity to investigate greens screen technology. Their creativity shone as they created their own pictures. The staff will be returning in the spring to work with our intermediate students. They will be using 3D designing software to create a 3D object. We look forward to continue creating learning experiences for our students with the staff from the Public Library.

Talking about Mental Health at Schools Across the Durham Catholic District School Board 

Since 2010, Bell has donated almost 80 million dollars to mental health initiatives in Canada, well on their way to their goal of $100 million by 2020. In doing so, they have brought Male and female students texting on phones and ipads talking about mental health hundreds of thousands of people to the conversation, resulting in reduced stigma and an improved quality of life for people who are living with a mental illness. This year, our students, staff and parents joined the conversation during Bell Let's Talk Day on January 25, 2017.

Our Durham Catholic schools committed to bringing awareness to the topic of mental health and mental illness. Student-driven campaigns that promote positive mental health and focus on the reduction of stigma are happening in many of our schools. 
Above: Students from  Father FĂ©nelon Catholic School
participated in #BellLetsTalk day raising money and
awareness of mental health.

Expanding Pathways

Students Graduate from Centre for Success Program

On Thursday, January 19, Durham College hosted the Centre for Success Completion Ceremony.  This event recognized the accomplishments of the students who attended the
Above: Centre for Success Graduates 
Centre for Success in first semester.  Included in that group were 23 students from the Durham Catholic District School Board.
The Centre for Success is part of the school board's dual credit program.  Students spend their final semester of high school at Durham College completing the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma under the direction of two teachers from Father Donald MacLellan Catholic Secondary School.  In addition to their high school courses, students also take one college course that becomes a permanent record on their college transcript.

Male student receiving his high school diploma
Above: Student receiving his high school diploma at Centre for Success Completion Ceremony.
The Centre for Success program is student success initiative funded through the School College Work Initiative (SCWI).  Students begin the transition to college while completing their high school diploma allowing them to make a more seamless transition to post-secondary education.  Our students participate in this program alongside students from three other school boards.
We wish to congratulate the students and wish them well as they transition to the next phase in their lives.  We would also like to thank Mrs. Matthews-Altieri, Mr. Hanlon and Mr. Carvalho on guiding these students over the past five months.
In February, 32 of our students will begin the Centre for Success program and we wish them much success in the program.

Student Achievement

Notre Dame Student Attends Academy in the USA on Basketball Scholarship
Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School's Celeste Harrison is off to Ribett Academy in Los Angeles California to complete her Grade 12 year.  She plans to work towards furthering her
Female student holding a pink basketball
Above: Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School student, Celeste Harrison is heading to the USA on a Basketball Scholarship.
goal of playing basketball in University while studying in the field of medical science. 
She cites her biggest accomplishment at Notre Dame as being placed on the honor roll for all four of her years at the school. Celeste admits, "it was hard balancing basketball, homework, and a job, but I was blessed to have found a way to maintain over a 90% average."
Her motto is that she strove to always be the best version of herself.
Celeste is grateful that she had the support from the teachers and staff at Notre Dame as well as for her own motivation to keep focused on her goals.
She notes that the coaches at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School (especially Mrs. Booker) exhibited a dedication to athletics and made the athletes feel truly special.  Celeste's positive experiences with Notre Dame coaches helped motivate her to take her passion for athletics to the next level. She notes, "I will miss the championship L.O.S.S.A games for girls' and guys' basketball. They were always hype!"
Celeste says that Notre Dame has been an amazing place where she had the opportunity to grow in her personality and set the path for the rest of her life. "I really enjoyed the annual religious retreats because they never failed to open my eyes to reality, and how God is present in everyone's lives."
She also credits many kind-hearted teachers and staff and in particular Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Najera for helping her on her journey.  All in all, she remarks that the teachers and staff at Nortre Dame have been amazing and make the school community a great place.  

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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