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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.
Standing Together in the Fight Against Bullying at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School
Bullying, in all forms, is a serious problem and it is important that as a Catholic community, we work together to create a safe and accepting space for all. On National Pink Shirt Day,
February 22, Father Leo J Austin Catholic Secondary School's newly established Love Club set out to make a change within our school community. The Love club, created in October 2016, is a club aimed at eliminating the stigma surrounding LGBTQ+ community members and making sure that everyone feels safe, accepted and most importantly, loved.
They started off the lunch hour playing a video that's main message rejects prejudice and embraces inclusivity. The video entitled "Love Has No Labels" featured multiple couples of different ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and religious affiliations coming together in love and friendship. The goal of playing this video coincided with the goal of our anti-bullying themed week which is that, despite our many differences, each individual is worthy of love and compassion.
The Love club created a colourful banner and encouraged all members of the Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary school community to sign it as a pledge to love everyone regardless of our differences. By the end of the day, the banner was full of signatures from supportive staff and students.
Throughout the week, Austin's Grade 12 leadership class took to the announcements to
provide students with encouraging, positive messages at the beginning of each day, along with a special prayer. On National Pink Shirt day, the theme was walking together with friends, and so they said:
Lord, as You lead us on our journey, You teach us how to love other people.
This love extends to the people we call our friends.
We thank You for their presence in our lives, and the people who they have helped us to become.
We thank You for how much they care for us, and support us.
As we walk together in Your light, Lord, we pray for our friends.
In addition to this, each leadership student signed a pledge on the back of an Stand Up To Bullying t-shirt that they wore throughout the week.
Their shirts were a symbol of their commitment to support all students and put a stop to bullying. The week was a great success for the Austin community thanks to the efforts of the Love club and the Grade 12 leadership class and we plan to continue our bullying prevention efforts beyond the week, as we feel it is should be considered an important issue all year round.
Written by: Sarah van Waterschoot and Sam Romain
from Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School.
Mental Health and Wellness
The Mental Health Benefits of Prayer
God is a source of comfort, strength and love for us. Through prayer, we enter into a deeper
relationship with God and gain a sense of attachment to Him. Many studies have shown that individuals who pray to a loving and protective God with whom they have a meaningful relationship are less likely to experience anxiety and stress. Prayer offers emotional comfort and reduces stress by:
- Offering a sense of comfort and hope
- Creating a positive frame of mind
- Contributing to a "stress-buffering effect"
- Increasing feelings of unity and trust
Engaging in daily prayer with our children gives them the opportunity to deepen their relationship with God and their community. It also offers a sense of emotional comfort that everyone can benefit from.
Stand Up to Bullying Week
From February 20 - 24, students and staff across the Durham Catholic District School Board celebrated Stand Up to Bullying Week with the Catholic Education Week theme of "Walking Forward Together". The theme helps students remember that we must work together as members of a school community to create a safe and inclusive environment for all.
Our ongoing bullying prevention slogan "Kindness is my Superpower" emphasizes that all staff and students are welcomed members of our school community and that any act of kindness, no matter the size can make all the difference in creating a positive school climate.
This past fall, we held a contest for all students in our Board to submit multi-media artifacts that highlight how everyone can demonstrate "Kindness is my Superpower". Congratulations to the following students who were chosen as finalists in the contest:
Congratulations to Skylar Buxton, a Grade 4 student at St. John Bosco Catholic School and Alicia Kastanis, a Grade 12 student at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School. Their artwork was on display during Stand Up to Bullying Week and seen below here.
Other winners included video submissions from students at the following schools. Take a few minutes to watch the
videos available here
- Ms. Cavaliere's Grade 8 Class at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School;
- Mr. Kerr's Grade 12 Mathematics Class at Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School; and
- Mr. Pisani's Grade 12 Media Arts Class at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School.
Above: Left is painting created by Alicia
Kastanis, a Grade 12 student at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School and right is painting by Skylar Buxton, a Grade 4 student at St. John Bosco Catholic School.
Bringing the "Spirit of Harriet Tubman" Alive at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School
In early February, students in Grades 3 to 8 were treated to an outstanding performance of the internationally acclaimed play, "Spirit of Harriet Tubman" at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School. Renowned playwright, actress, dancer and teacher, Leslie McCurdy used Harriet Tubman's own words to describe her life as a slave, a conductor on the Underground Railroad and her life commitments to justice. The performance highlighted the importance of justice, anti-racism and a commitment to all people as we celebrated Black History Month.
Above: Students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School watch Leslie McCurdy bring the "Spirit of Harriet Tubman" alive in celebration of Black History Month.
The Future is Now at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School
We have all heard that 21st century employees need to be creative, innovative and have inquiry and problem solving skills. How do our students get these must have job skills? One
of the best ways of learning is by doing, and that's what the students are doing at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School.
Under the guidance of Janet Broder, Student Success Teacher, students formed an after school club to utilize Monsignor John Pereyma's robotics and 3D printer technology. The students spend their time exploring robotics and coding, designing with computer based software such as TinkerCad, while discussing and collaborating to solve challenges. Initially, while learning to use the
technology, students are encouraged to design and build items that have a direct meaning to them - for example: a PS4 game controller holder, pencil grips and fidget rings. Once they gain confidence, the goal is to move on to more complicated problems and issues. Not only are the students improving their social skills, they are improving their literacy and numeracy talents as well.
Students' reaction to the club and technology has a range from, "Wow and awesome" to "We have a 3D printer ... I want to design my own stuff." This is only the beginning, Janet Broder and Principal Chris Cuddy are encouraging all teaching staff at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School to incorporate the technology and techniques into the delivery of curriculum.
Exploring Math in the Local Community at St. John Bosco Catholic School
Students in Ms. Trovato's Grade 2 class at St. John Bosco Catholic School used their
Mathematics skills and understanding for an exploration of Math in the community. With specific criteria in mind, the students went on a geometry photography expedition with their family. They had to find as many geometrical shapes and concepts as possible and put them into a geometry picture book.
In the process of finding shapes, the students increased their knowledge of how geometry is everywhere and geometric shapes can play a big role in the support and stability of many structures. The students were really eager to share their books and enjoyed finding the shapes in their home and community. Helping students see the value of Mathematics in everyday life!
Writing Inspiring Quotes for Black History Month at St. Paul Catholic School
The Grade 4/5 students from St. Paul Catholic School wrote inspiring quotes while working
on "I Have a Dream," as part of Black History Month in February. They have written quotes that students and staff at the school were extremely impressed with:
Discrimination: "I have a dream that one day people can be accepted for who they are, their race, interests, countries, religion and anything else so that people can feel happy about being themselves and having the ability to do more and visit more places."
Faith: "I have a dream that the churches will over flow with Christians who follow God's word and the Golden Rule so that we will all go to a better place when we die."
Walking Together at St. Luke's to Promote a Positive School Community
Students and staff at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic School showed their
support by wearing pink on National Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, but they also ended the week by celebrating "Stand Up to Bullying Week" with a
Students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 were placed in mixed groupings on 40 different teams. The Grade 7 students acted as the team leaders and the Grade 8 students lead the various activities throughout the school. Students showed their team spirit by wearing team colours, making posters and cheering for their team members.
Teams rotated through different stations such as: STEM activities, team bingo and other activities that promoted new experiences, friendships and a positive school community.
Above: Some of the activities that students participated in at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic School's Friendship Festival.
Grade 12 Students are Gaining Level One Apprenticeship Training at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School
For the next eight weeks, male and female students in the Level One
General Carpenter program at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School will get a head start in their apprenticeship and participate in level one training, delivered by instructors from Local 27, the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades. Although most of the instruction will occur at the school in the technology classroom and workshop, students will also spend a few days training at Local 27's facilities in Woodbridge. After completing their Level One training, students will work with employers in and around the Durham Region through cooperative education.
The Regional Accelerated Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Programs allows Grade 12 students the opportunity to gain their Level One apprenticeship training, work with a qualified tradesperson on the job, and earn final credits toward their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. There are nine regional accelerated programs. To find out more about OYAP, contact your school's cooperative education department, and visit
A New Pathway for Catholic Education at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom
An exciting new pathway for Catholic education has now opened up for Catholic graduates
in Ontario! On January 28, 2017, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) announced that Our Lady Seat of Wisdom (OLSW) in Barrie's Bay, Ontario, will now be able to offer the degree of Bachelor of Catholic Studies. This is an exciting announcement as it opens up an uniquely Catholic pathway for students in Ontario.
Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is a private Catholic institution that was founded in 1999. At the time of inception, OLSW's goal was to offer an authentically Catholic liberal arts education in the Madawaska Valley. OLSW focused its one, two and three year certificate program on the key disciplines of Theology, Philosophy, History and Literature. Currently, OLSW has 110 full-time students studying at its campus in Barrie's Bay. Students enjoy a rich student life that complements a strong and rigorous academic program.
In 2013, Cardinal Thomas Collins gave the Commencement address at OLSW. In his address, the Cardinal focused on the profound joy that every Christian should have; not a frivolous joy, but one that comes from a deep-seated faith. He pointed out that many OLSW students have received and cherish a deep-seated faith as a result of their time at OLSW.
for more information on the new Bachelor of Catholic Studies degree. OLSW offers tours, day visits and the popular Come and Visit Weekend where students have the chance to spend a weekend at the school learning about the academic program and student life. The next Come and Visit Weekend is scheduled for March 17 to 19, 2017.
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Student is a Legislative Page at Queen's Park
Congratulations to Jack Ryan, a Grade 8 student at St. Thomas Aquinas
Catholic School on being selected to serve as a Legislative Page at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto. During his term of duty, Jack served as a messenger on the floor of the Legislative Chamber, met key parliamentary figures, had lunch with Oshawa's MPP, Jennifer French, and learned about Ontario's parliamentary system of government.
Jack earned his spot in the program by submitting an application that included an essay outlining his achievements, involvements and suitability for the program. He had to study and learn the faces, names and locations of the 107 MPPs before arriving at Queen's Park for his first first day. Legislative Pages are selected from across the province and come together at Queen's Park; Jack has developed many friendships with fellow students who share similar interest as they participated in this unique educational program together.
The Legislative Page Program is open to students in Grades 7 and 8 who have an interest in current affairs, have an academic average of 80% or higher and get along well with their peers and adults. Applications for the Legislative Page Program are accepted for two deadlines each year: November 15 and June 15. Grade 7 students are eligible for both of these deadlines. Grade 8 students may apply for the November 15 deadline only.
For additional information regarding the Legislative Page's involvement in this program, please contact the Legislative Page Program at 416-325-7457 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Saint Catholic Secondary School Student's Act of Kindness
Jordan Lackner, an All Saints Catholic Secondary School student recently held an event for the special needs Cheer Team that she helps coach. The Cheer Team received a $150 donation from the
RBC's Make 150 Count Campaign thanks to Jordan's application. Jordan's act of kindness is an inspiration to her school community.
Jordan is an active member of the Whitby community and volunteers on the Whitby Youth Council, Whitby Federal Youth Council and is a member of All Saints' Chaplaincy Team. Due to her leadership, kindness and passion to help others, Jordan has received the Hope and Leadership Award at the Whitby Celebrating Youth Awards, a Citizenship Award for outstanding character and kindness and just recently the All Saints' Student of the Month award.
Jordan is one example of how our Durham Catholic District School Board students are inspiring others and contributing to their local communities.
St. Mary Catholic Secondary School's Student Retreat Leaders and Student Summit Team Facilitate 'Beyond the Hurt' Workshops to Local Catholic Elementary Schools
The Grade 11 Retreat Leadership Class at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School have made it their mandate to end bullying in schools. Recognizing the enormity of this task the
GPP3O2 students thought it would be in their best interest to first be formally trained in the art of preventing bullying and building relationships based on the Catholic values of empathy and respect. With the assistance of Red Cross facilitators, the student leaders engaged in a two-day training session that provided them with the tools and skills needed to understand:
- bullying, harassment and discrimination;
- how youth can use their personal power to resolve and prevent these problems; and
- how to find and use resources to respond to bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying.
The St. Mary Retreat Leaders then facilitated workshops on the Red Cross' "Beyond the Hurt" program to Grade 7 students at the following local elementary schools:
- Father Fénelon Catholic School;
- St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School;
- St. Isaac Jogues Catholic School; and
- St. Wilfrid Catholic School.
The St. Mary Student Summit Team also was involved in the presentation, which included a prayer, ice-breakers, St. Mary videos, lessons on the key resources and supports available to St. Mary students, an opening the locker lock challenge, discussions and games. Their goal was to welcome and acquaint Grade 7 students with St. Mary Catholic Secondary School.
BRAVO to members of the St. Mary Catholic Secondary School's Retreat Leadership class and Student Summit Team Members:
- Fernando Castillo
- Marley Dean
- Christopher DeCastro
- Ellise De Sousa
- Amanda De Souza
- Gail Del Castillo
- Youssef Iskander
- Julia Lamanna
- Larissa Lewis
- Connie Moncada
- Erin Paschos
- Luca Perciaseppe
- Joseph Ruscica
- Jessica Stephens
- Dominic Stewart
- Peter Witalis
Thank you for your commitment to creating safe and caring schools and your dedication to ending bullying and outstanding leadership skills.