November 2016 - In This Issue of the Durham Catholic School Board's Celebrating Student Success Newsletter:
Year of Community

Second Annual Student Summit - Day of Community
On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 70 student leaders from all of our Durham Catholic Secondary Schools gathered at the Pope Francis Conference Centre for a Day of Community.  This was the second annual Student Summit under the Board's three-year New Evangelization plan. Students gathered to reflect on the transition from our Year of Witness (2015-2016) to our Year of Community (2016-2017), and focused on the specific actions they could take to engage with their associate elementary schools in developing a sense of Christian community this year.  

Through the leadership of our students, many creative and faith-filled activities are being planned to enrich our Catholic schools. During the Day of Community students had the chance to gather in fellowship and prayer, and participate in team building activities.  They were treated to a video performance of a song written for our Year of Community by Father Marijan, of Holy Family Parish in Whitby, and performance by Father. Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School's choir.  They were also treated to an advance screening of the Year of Community - Keep the Faith video featuring students from across the district explaining what it means to be part of a community of faith in our Catholic schools.

The feedback from the students that attended included:
  • "The spirit throughout the day was so positive!";
  • "I found the adoration part of the day very powerful.";
  • "I enjoyed integrating with other schools.";
  • "I was happy to receive a comfort cross to take home with me." and
  • "The team building activities were great."
Our Student Summit leaders will gather once again in late spring to share artifacts of the activities they are now planning and leading at each of our secondary schools. We'd like to thank the Student Summit Steering Committee for planning an amazing day, and especially thank our students, chaplains, teachers and administrators for supporting these important faith formation activities in the schools.

Mental Health and Wellness
The Power of Kindness
November 14-18, 2016, has been designated as Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week to help promote safe schools and a positive learning environment. The larger bullying
Above: St. Patrick Catholic School student models her award winning slogan and design "Kindness is my Superpower."
prevention field has seen a shift away from targeting bullies, and bullying behaviour, toward improving the overall school climate of the schools so that students and staff feel socially, emotionally and physically safe.
Being kind and helping others makes us feel happy, decreases depression by increasing our feelings of optimism, and improves overall health. Kindness also promotes social connectedness and can have a positive effect on overall school climate. Kindness is contagious - it can motivate others to be kind, thereby creating a ripple effect throughout a community. By engaging in acts of kindness, we can improve our own well-being, and that of others. Here are some ideas for practicing "random acts of kindness" in the home:
  • Write a note of appreciation (or send an e-mail) to a family member;
  • Give a hug - just because;
  • Do a chore without someone asking you to;
  • Say "I love you". 
Never underestimate the impact of a single act of kindness!

Experiential Learning

History Comes Alive 
Over 300 students attended the first Tank Day for Secondary Schools at the Ontario Regiment Museum in North Oshawa recently. Students from Monsignor John Pereyma, Archbishop Denis O'Connor, Notre Dame and Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic Secondary Schools visited the Tank Garage to see the tanks up close. 

Above: Grade 10 students talk to volunteers from the Ontario Regiment Museum about war and tour the tanks on display.
Students were also able to see hundreds of artifacts from World War I and World War II on display in the Museum houses.  Many volunteers and veterans were on hand to share their knowledge with students. 

Grade 10 student Jonas Kehoe from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School described the day as "fun, educational and interactive - I loved going into the tanks." 

"It was a great way to learn about our history and what our soldiers did for our country," said Ola Bobko, from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School. The grand finale was the tank show where several tanks were fired up and driven around a field to give students an idea of the immense power of these machines.

Grade 5 Students tour Queen's Park
Above: Grade 5 students from St. Christopher Catholic School visit the House of Commons at Queen's Park.

As part the Grade 5 curriculum, students learn about the role of the different levels of government, but learning is better when you have an opportunity to live it!  So students from St. Christopher Catholic School recently visited Queen's Park for the day and toured the Ontario Legislature and did a scavenger hunt around Queen's Park.

Our students met Premier Kathleen Wynne and their MPP Jennifer French.  They answered questions and posed for photos. 

One day, one of these students could be sitting in the House of Commons!

Students explore STEM Tasks at St. John Bosco Catholic School
This fall, the students at St. John Bosco Catholic  have been exploring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) tasks. These inquiry based activities foster problem solving and collaboration skills.  Using the problem-solving model, students ask questions, make plans, adapt their plan when confronted with obstacles, share successes, and reflect on areas for growth. Students from Primary, Junior, and Inter mediate divisions have been active participants in these learning opportunities.  

Grade 3 students were given the challenge of creating a perch for Harry. Harry was having difficulty seeing all areas in the classroom. The students created the tallest and safest perch for him.  Students recorded their plan and reflections in their STEM notebook.  After they discussed their plan, they got to work. Their creations were amazing! Some students created nets out of straw to act as a base for their structure and one group had an elevator so that Harry could get up to his perch. Their creativity was inspiring!

Female and male student how their creation for Harry_s problem. Two male students arms  around shoulders
Above: Grade 3 students from St. John Bosco Catholic School demonstrate  their STEM creations.

Exploring Pathways

Take your Kids to Work Day

On Wednesday, November 2, 2016 Grade 9 students across Ontario stepped into their
Above: Grade 9 students discover career options as part of Take your Kids to Work Day.
future for a day and went to work with a parent. At the Durham Catholic District School Board, we welcomed four students who completed a career scavenger hunt and interviewed staff members from the following areas:
  • Student Services - Assistive Technology;
  • Finance;
  • Information Technology;
  • Student Success; and
  • Teaching and Learning.
Take your Kids to Work day offers students an opportunity to explore career options and learn about the skills required in the world of work. 
Robotics in the Classroom
Grade 1 students at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic School are learning about coding and
Above: Grade 1 students at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic School are learning coding and robotics.
robotics. Using EV3 robots built by students from junior grades, the Grade 1 class have been sequencing codes in order to complete simple task. As the year progresses, students will build upon their learning and eventually building and coding their own robots using the Lego WeDo kits.

There are many benefits to teaching coding and robotics. Beyond the numerous curriculum connections that can be made, students are engaging in problem solving task requiring them to improve communication and collaboration skills, as well as, applying creativity, innovation, and analytical thinking. 

Student Achievement

Callum's Creations on display at the Whitby Station Gallery
What started as a hobby two years ago, could be a future career path for a talented, young artist named Callum Donovan-Grujicich.  Callum is a Grade 7 student at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School and loves art.
His exhibit entitled "The People in My Head" is a whimsical collection of 15 dolls created from a variety of materials. "The heads and bodies are created from paper and clay," said Callum. "My favourite part of a doll's design is the head because that's where I can create thoughts and emotions."
Callum's favourite doll is called the Rooster and features a red face with a bottle cap on top of its head which represents a feather. Check out Callum's Creations on display at the Whitby Station Gallery until November 27, 2016. Bravo!

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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