October 2015 - In This Issue of the Durham Catholic School Board's Celebrating Student Success Newsletter:
Promoting Positive Mental Health

Be Well Campaign
As part of our Board's commitment to promoting positive mental health, we made an intentional decision to focus attention on youth transitioning from Grade 8 to 9 by running a poster campaign in fall 2014. We designed our poster to focus on positive mental health, the importance of self-care, and the connection between physical health and mental well-being. Some of the messages on the poster include: relax; don't dwell on the negative; don't bottle things up; make time for me-time; eat healthy; sleep 8 to 10 hours a night; get active; talk to someone you trust. The "fine print" message at the bottom reminds youth that we ALL have mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health, and that we can look after our mental health by following the advice on the poster. The poster also provides information about Kids Help Phone, and some youth-friendly websites.
This poster was so well-received within our secondary school communities that teachers began asking for extra copies of the posters for their classrooms.
In response, we expanded the campaign and distributed posters board-wide during Children's Mental Health Week in May 2015. We adapted the poster for Elementary-level students by adding graphics and changing some of the messages. The posters were hung in every classroom, and in common areas throughout our schools on the first day of Children's Mental Health Week, and again, students were read a developmentally-appropriate message about what the poster meant.

Our commitment to our youth transitioning to secondary school was expanded this year to include presentations to all of our late August "Head Start" classes. During this time, we provided students with tips on coping with stress, help-seeking and caring adults. As a follow-up to this presentation, all Grade 9 students were given a "BE WELL" locker magnet, and asked to hang it in their locker or on their fridge where they would see it everyday.
The posters, magnets and messages from teachers are making a positive difference in our school communities. Students and staff are acknowledging the positive dimension of mental health and the fact that we ALL have mental health. We are hearing students and teachers openly talk mental health, rather than as something they should be ashamed to discuss. Students are making a link between physical health and mental well-being, and are reminded on a regular basis that sleep, exercise, relaxation and healthy eating are all important in maintaining positive mental health. Finally, students have become more aware of the caring adults in their schools, and they understand the process for seeking help in our school board.

Workshop Series to Promote Wellness and Healthy Relationships
In an effort to work with students around mental health and healthy relationships, Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School has
 Above: Students created 
 personalized locker mirrors
 to encourage positive
organized a workshop series facilitated by the Youth Centre. 
Students enrolled in a semester one credit recovery class are automatically invited to the 75 minute presentations in addition to others who the student success team feel would benefit.  Students participate in monthly workshops based on the following topics:
  • Boost Your Self-Esteem
  • Short on Sleep
  • Breaking the Procrastination Habit
  • Healthy Thinking
  • BOND - Be Open Not Defensive 
More than 50 students attended the first workshop on 
September 29.  Following this session on self-esteem, students reported learning about how self-esteem is shaped and strategies they would use, such as positive self-talk and self-concept.

Stomping Out Stigma at All Saints Catholic Secondary School
Above: Creating awareness of mental health at All Saints Catholic Secondary School.
 Entering its eighth year, the Stomping Out  Stigma group at All Saints Catholic Secondary
 School continues to generate awareness of mental health. 

Throughout the school year, this group of students and staff implement activities that culminate into a huge campaign leading up to "Mental Health Awareness Week". Featured as a national model for mental health awareness groups, the campaign was featured at a Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) workshop in Yellowknife and a national conference in Ottawa.
Hold on to your seats...this is going to be our best year yet!

Experiential Learning

Construction Tour Event

Students from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic
Above: Monsignor John Pereyma CSS students participating in a tour of the Dufferin Plant in Whitby.
Secondary School geared up in safety boots, hard hats, safety glasses and vests to participate in a Construction Day event on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. They joined students from the Durham District School Board to tour the 407 extension, learning about the stages of construction and various employment opportunities and skilled trades that are involved in completing this massive project.

The tour continued at the Dufferin Plant in Whitby, followed by a visit to Durham College's Whitby Skilled Trades Centre where students had the opportunity to test their hand-eye coordination on simulators. Representatives from Miller Paving and the Ontario Construction Careers Alliance also participated in this event.  

Interested in learning more about careers in the construction trade? Visit: www.oyap.com/dcd or www.myocca.ca  

Exploring Pathways

Road to the Future: The Apprenticeship Pathway  
Above: Patrick Seeman, Level One OYAP student, Industrial Mechanic Millwright

Did you know by 2025 about 40% of all occupations will be in the skilled trades? Or that the average annual salary for a skilled tradesperson is 25% higher than the average Canadian wage? With over 150 skilled trades to choose from, there is something for everyone. The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) allows Grade 11 and 12 secondary school students to explore trades careers and sets the groundwork to successfully pursue careers in the trades.

Students have the opportunity to register as apprentices and work toward becoming certified journeypersons when their co-op placement is in an apprenticeable trade or through one of the Regional Level One OYAP programs.
The following programs are available in Regional Level One OYAP:

Partnership - Training Delivery Agent
Automotive Service Technician
Durham College
Child Development Practitioner
Durham College
Durham College
Durham College
General Carpenter
Local 27 Carpenter's Union
Durham District School Board
Industrial Mechanic Millwright
Durham College
Durham College
Durham College
To find out more information about these programs, please visit the OYAP website at www.oyap.com/dcd  and view our Pathways to Student Success Booklet .

Student Voice

Student Senators Share their Voice on the new dcdsb.ca

Above and below: Student Senators share ideas on new dcdsb.ca
Our Student Senators provided valuable input into the design of our new Board website in late September. Our Communication department held a focus group with the  Senators to gather their thoughts and ideas on what they want to see on a Board and eventually new school websites.

Great conservation filled the room as students wrote their ideas on sticky notes that were displayed for all to see. Some ideas included:
  • Calendar of Events
  • Apps
  • Photos of students at schools
  • Bus route information
  • Notifications and much more

The Senators' thoughts and ideas will contribute to the building of a new website. The Board's website will be launched in early 2016. Stay tuned for exciting changes!

Student Engagement


Robotics Enhances Students' Learning
From simple devices such as automated doors, to remotely guided vehicles, to robotic
Above: Students participate in a Robotics Competition at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School.
controls of nuclear fuel rods, the use of robotic technology not only impacts daily life, but will be the basis of future careers. To support this, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Council of Ontario Director's of Education (CODE) have provided special one time funding to acquire robotic technology that will be used to enhance the daily classroom activities. The goal is to improve student engagement with a focus on mathematics, coding, and technological education.
Building upon the success of robotics as an extracurricular activity that is run by the Student Services department, this current initiative is directed towards the primary, junior, and intermediate levels. Our goal is to offer robotics in all schools and to create a continuum of learning from elementary to secondary to post-secondary.
The future will be both exciting and challenging. This is one small way that we can assist our students in meeting the needs of tomorrow!

Students participate in Mock Election at St. Bernadette Catholic School
Above: Voting day at St. Bernadette Catholic School.
  With the Federal election day fast approaching, the Grade 5  
  students at St. Bernadette Catholic School recently casted
  their votes in a mock election offered by the student vote
  program.  As part of the students' social studies class, they
  learned about the federal government and researched
  the political parties and local candidates running for election in
  their Ajax riding.
  Through this program, students across the country vote for
  local candidates and their votes are tallied to see which party
  would win the student vote.


Student Achievement

81% of Grade Ten Students at the Durham Catholic District School Board's met Literacy (OSSLT) Standards

The Durham Catholic District School Board is pleased to announce results from the 2014 -2015 Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assessment for Grade 10 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).

The OSSLT is a one-day test that focuses on key skills in reading and writing. It is based on the reading and writing skills expected in the Ontario curriculum across all subject areas up to the end of Grade 9. Successful completion of the OSSLT is a non-credit requirement for graduation.

"What's important about these results is how we pinpoint curriculum and areas of focus to improve student achievement," said Gerry O'Reilly, Superintendent of Education. "Our educators will refine proven strategies and identify students who need support earlier to enhance student achievement."

"We're pleased to see ongoing literacy skills progress," said Jim McCafferty, Chair of the Board of Trustees. "Of the 1700 Grade 10 students in the Durham Catholic District School Board who took the provincial literacy test for the first time, 98% of eligible students fully participated compared to 93% provincially."

Visit dcdsb.ca to continue reading and more the OSSLT results.


Terrific Transitions at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic School

We all know that the first day of school can be pretty daunting for our youngest and most
Above: Our Kindergarten students at play.
vulnerable students in Kindergarten. So, at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic School, we decided to make the transition a three-tier process.
First, we had a Junior Kindergarten one hour orientation and liturgy. Parents and students were welcomed and introduced to the daily classroom routines.  Our Senior Kindergarten students helped our Junior Kindergarten students feel right at home in their classrooms.
On day two, we held a light breakfast with refreshments for our families with children new to our school community - this helped ease the transition for both parents and students.
Finally, we hosted a fun Meet the Teacher night. Over 500 guests joined us for pizza, while talking to their child's teacher about the school year. 

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 student.success@dcdsb.ca.

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