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

Last year, our Board embarked upon a three-year plan to support New Evangelization in our school communities. This plan identifies three spiritual themes to be celebrated as follows: 
  • Year of Witness (2015-2016) 
    Above: Year of Community 
  • Year of Community (2016-2017) 
  • Year of Service (2017-2018) 

Through these themes, our goal has been to enrich our understanding and engagement with the concept of New Evangelization. New Evangelization is the response of the Catholic Church to the changes that have occurred in our society over the last few decades. As members of the church, we are all called to bring the love and mercy of God within an environment that is not always receptive, and as Pope Francis has stated to; "Find new ways to spread the word of God to every corner of the world."


During this Year of Community, we invite our elementary and secondary students to share stories about their school community that will be highlight in this monthly newsletter. We want stories that showcase how your school communities is celebrating our faith. This can be through unique learning opportunities, outreach, special assemblies, liturgies, masses, art installations and much more - be creative.


Article submissions should be 200-250 words and include a photo or a short 1 to 2 min long video. Please email submissions by the last Monday of each month to dcdsb.communications@dcdsb.ca.

Attendance Matters- Make Every Day Count!
Now is the time to get into the habit of attending school on time every day!  Kids who attend school regularly tend to be more engaged in their learning, feel more connected to the school and tend to have better academic outcomes than kids who miss a lot of school. 
While it can be tempting to let your child miss the occasional day here or there, keep in mind that absences and arriving late can add up quickly.  For example, if your child is 20 minutes late every day, they will have missed 6 days of instruction by the end of the school year.  If your child misses only two days per month of school, they will have missed one month of instruction by the end of the school year. Students who miss 15 days of school every year will have lost one year of instruction by the end of grade 12!
We know that there are going to be days when your child has to stay home due to illness. If your child is going to be absent, choose one of these options to notify the school:
1)    Safe arrival portal login:  dcdsb.schoolconnects.com
2)    Parent toll free number: 1-844-288-7628
3)    Smartphone Application:  safearrival  
Families can support good attendance at school by:
  • Helping your child be ready for the upcoming school day by getting to bed on time and having belongings organized the night before
  • Encouraging a positive attitude about school
  • Talking with your child about their school day
  • Taking part in school events and activities to show you value school and education
  • Planning vacations and outings around the school year
  • Planning appointments around the school day whenever possible
  • Acting early!  Communicate right away with the school if there is a problem or concern - there are lots of ways we can work together to get attendance back on track 

Experiential Learning

Peer Mentorship Program 

St. Mary Catholic Secondary School's Peer Mentorship Program began this year with a day long relationship building event held at Manresa Retreat Centre on September 10, 2016. 
Above: Manresa Retreat Centre
Grade 11 retreat leaders enrolled in the Leadership and Peer Support course, have undergone training to be mentors to Grade 9 students. 

The day was facilitated by the Grade 12 retreat leader mentors and focused on understanding the powerful and positive impact that participating in a mentorship program can have.  Mentors and mentees developed a foundation for their new relationship based on trust and understanding of the program and each other. The mentor and mentee will meet weekly over the course of the semester.  Some of the mentees have already commented on the benefits of the program by stating "I never knew I had such potential to succeed!" 

STEM in Action

This fall, students at St. John Bosco Catholic School have been  exploring STEM tasks. These learning experiences are  centred  around Science Technology Engineering and Math. These inquiry based activities foster problem solving and collaboration skills. Using the
Two male students from St. John Bosco Catholic School create a perch that demonstrates their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills.
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 Intermediate divisions have been active participants in these learning opportunities. 

In this activity, 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!

St. Matthew the Evangelist Catholic School is joining the Robotics Community
Building upon the cross panel collaboration and the learning events of the last school year, Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School hosted teachers from St. Matthew the
Above: Educators from St. Matthew the Evangelist Catholic School and Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School meet to discuss new Robotics software.
Evangelist Catholic School. The session consisted of an overview of the Lego EV3 and NXT robots followed by hands on activities related to constructing and programming a robot along with a sharing of resources. This is just the beginning. 

The next event will involve the students from Father Leo J. Austin and St. Matthew working and learning this new technology together. Collaboration and co-planning events in support of student learning is essential to providing a continuum of learning from elementary, through secondary, to post secondary careers and education. Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School, like other secondary schools, plan to continue to embrace these learning events. 

Exploring Pathways

Getting a Head Start on Woodworking

This summer, Grade 8 students who started Grade 9 in September had an opportunity to
Above: Three students complete their Technology Credit during our summer learning session.
complete a Head Start course. Our Head Start program allows students to earn Grade 9 credits ahead of the coming school year.
The students in Les Jagoda's Wood Shop class were creating a bridge from the skills they learned throughout the course. "Our hands on class provides students the opportunity put their knowledge to the test, by building bridges," said Les Jagoda, Teacher. "As the students completed their projects they were able to feel a sense of satisfaction and sense of pride as they began to see their hard work come to life."    
Students 'jam' at Soul Food Cooking Camp

This summer, Grade 7 and 8 students gathered at our Soul Food Cooking Camp at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic School. The students picked the strawberries during a field trip to
Above: Male students enjoy making Strawberry Jam during their Soul Food Cooking Camp experience.
Watson's Farm yesterday. For many students it was the first time picking strawberries and seeing how the berries grow. They then turned the berries into strawberry jam.

The camp focused on numeracy skills and teaching students how math is used every day in real-life situations, in a fun and enriching experience. For example, how many kilograms in a pound and the importance of measuring to ensure your recipe turns out.
English as a Second Language

Holidays and Celebrations
What Do They Mean to Culturally Diverse Students?
Celebrations and holiday customs differ amongst culturally diverse students at attending a Durham Catholic school. Holidays such as Thanksgiving may differ in name, date and observances (e.g. turkey, cornucopia, scarecrows). As well, Halloween is tied to festivals that respect the dead, more commonly recognized in countries as All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Below are some examples of how holidays differ for our students:
  • Some countries have harvest festivals such as Thanksgiving, but celebrate them at different times of the year.
  • It is helpful to introduce relevant vocabulary as English Language Learners may not be familiar with common Canadian vegetables or holiday foods.
  • New Canadians may not have the tradition or financial means to dress in costumes or provide treats for Halloween parties.
  • Halloween introduces two days on the Catholic calendar that honour the dead. All Hallows' Day (All Saints Day) and All Souls Day.
  • Be sensitive to families that reject Halloween because it is seen as Pagan, Satanic and/or disrespectful to the dead.

Student Achievement

A.N.D - Grade 12 Art & Design Magazine
In 2014, the Arts department at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School (ND) started a new
Above: Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School's A.N.D. Grade 12 Art and Design Magazine.
tradition with the publication of A.N.D - Grade 12 Art & Design Magazine. The purpose of this full colour, high quality magazine is to showcase and promote the artworks and designs created by Grade 12 students in their respective Art and Design courses during the school year. This publication is also meant to inform the community of their post-secondary and career plans.
In last year's second issue, we also added a new section entitled "Future Visual Artists at ND". This feature allows Notre Dame's feeder schools to choose their best up and coming Grade 7 and 8 visual artists and have them photographed and published in a
2-page spread of the A.N.D magazine. It is a nice way to showcase the artistic talent that is already present at our elementary level.
Once again, we are looking forward to designing and publishing our third issue of A.N.D. We hope that it will be another successful issue showcasing the importance of the arts! 
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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