The Durham Catholic District School Board's Celebrating Student Success Newsletter - June 2017
Year of Community
Male student on stage singing into a microphone
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.

Building School Spirit and Community at Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School

Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School had an exciting, yet busy month of May! Every May, our annual Talent show takes place right before the Victoria Day long weekend and this was the first year ever that there was a night show as well. This night show was open to students and their parents as well as any friends and other family that wanted to attend. The performances this year were fantastic with a final goodbye from our Grade 12 band Obsolete, and a breakthrough performance by a Grade 10 student that would make Whitney Houston proud. There was also an art showcase before the talent show and during intermission that show featured works of art by our students.  As well, there was ice cream and popcorn sold during intermission to raise money for our annual BBQ and ball hockey tournament.

The annual BBQ featured hot dogs and drinks as well as an ice cream sundae bar by the lovely Ms. Hughes, and is a treasured event loved by all our DOC students. The BBQ was held on the same day as the annual ball hockey tournament, which after a hard fought day, resulted in the Grade 12 team defending their title and winning the tournament again. The tournament was a success and made for an interesting day of somewhat healthy competition with a small number of injuries. Congrats to the Grade 12 winners!

Our Grade 12 and Grade 11 French class travelled to downtown Toronto for a night of culture. The evening included dinning at Le Papillion on Front Street, followed by Dom Juan by Molière at the Theatre Françias de Toronto. The night was a success and the consensus was the Dom Juan was more entertaining than Bourgeois Gentilhomme. The students would like to thank Mr. Martel for organizing the trip and allowing students to see a French play in action.

Overall, Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School had a wonderful and busy month of May. From the Grade 12's writing their DELF exam to defending their title at the ball hockey tournament, the student participation was at an all time high. We wish all our students good luck in their final exams and the strength to get through the final months of school.

God Bless and Good Luck!

Mental Health and Wellness
2016-2017 Healthy School Award Recipients
Congratulations to 17 of our Durham Catholic District School Board schools who are recipients of the 2016-2017 Healthy School Award. The award-winning schools include:
  • Good Shepherd Catholic School;
  • Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School;
  • St. Mary Catholic Secondary School;
  • St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic School;
  • St. André Bessette Catholic School;
  • Fr. Don MacLellan Catholic Secondary School;
  • Fr. Fénelon Catholic School;
  • Fr. Venini Catholic School;
  • Holy Family Catholic School;
  • Sir Albert Love Catholic School;
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School;
  • St. Bernard Catholic School;
  • St. Bernadette Catholic School;
  • St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School;
  • St. Hedwig Catholic School;
  • St. John the Evangelist Catholic School; and
  • St. Patrick Catholic School. 
At the May 11, 2017 School Health in Partnership (SHIP) event, hosted by the SHIP Committee - a collaboration of the Durham Catholic District School Board, Durham District School Board and Durham Region Health Department - two of our Durham Catholic schools, including one elementary (Good Shepherd Catholic School) and one secondary (St. Mary Catholic Secondary School) showcased their health initiatives by sharing videos of their student-led wellness events that have taken place over their year. Congratulations to all of the winners!
Experiential Learning
The Future is Now! Maker Philosophy comes to St. Joseph Catholic School, Uxbridge
To be successful in the world of today and in the future, individuals need to be creative, innovative problem solvers. Along with a knowledge base, an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to work individually and in teams, they will also have to know and understand how to research and present results. Similar to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), and Project Based Learning, Maker philosophy emphasizes learning by doing.

The students and staff of St. Joseph Catholic School in Uxbridge have embraced this philosophy. Working with UOIT Faculty of Education, the team at St. Joseph Catholic School have introduced and created Makerspaces throughout the school. To celebrate this, the school held a Maker Fair on May 4, 2017, during Catholic Education Week. The day long event was held in the gymnasium and included a team from the UOIT Faculty of Education Maker Lab.

Throughout the school year, as part of their learning, students were given a variety of challenges and were encouraged to explore, inquire and present their findings. This required students to research assigned topics which often included interviewing professionals from industry and the community. The projects are as individual as the students, which is a significant change from the days when all students would do the same thing. The projects ranged from an interactive map developed by primary students, to the exploration of teaching fractions to the visually impaired, to creating a safe environment for someone suffering dementia (this included composing music that would assist in calming the individual), to the development of a cell phone app and manual backyard rink Zamboni.

The Maker showcase provided an opportunity for the students to present, explain and discuss their projects with fellow students, parents and visitors. This approach to learning has not only increased student and staff engagement, but has resulted in the creation of several student clubs and activities.

To get a sense of the different types of Makerspace activities going on throughout the Province you can easily access ideas on Twitter by searching #MakeOn, @UOIT_MakerLab, @JanetteMHughes and @StJosephUx or watch this video

St. Mary Catholic Secondary School welcomes Unity to their School for a Day of Art, Creativity and Inspiration
St. Mary Catholic Secondary School recently welcomed Unity to their school for a day of art, creativity and inspiration. Unity’s goal is to empower “youth to use artistic self-expression to make positive life choices leading to more productive citizens, safer schools and healthier communities.” Professional artists engaged students in a morning assembly as they shared their talents and life stories. The presenters explained how an art form shaped their path and helped them positively contribute to their own communities.

In the afternoon, Unity artists held spoken word, beat box, dance and graffiti workshops in smaller groups for students. In an English and Religion class, hip hop and spoken word artist “Switch B” taught students about measure, bars, beat, verses, rhyme and R.A.P. (Rhythm as Poetry) and then challenged them to create 4 verses of their own. Students had a great time sharing and applauding one another’s attempts at spoken word poetry.

“Participating in the workshop was a different and fun way of learning about literature and arts,” participant, Eden Kozma. “It also offered me some great lessons and reminded me to keep a positive outlook in my classes and life,” added Ellena Doutsis.

In Physical Education classes, students learned to break dance and received a hip hop lesson. They had a lot of fun practicing new moves and participating in dance challenges. Art students worked with Aaron "the rock," an artist who helped them create their own graffiti pieces.

Religion and Music classes received a lesson in beat boxing: the presenter taught the students both the history and practice of the art form, including how to hold the mic, how to form different sounds, and how the genre has evolved over the years. “Students tried to replicate the sounds of a drum kit; there was a lot of freedom in the room as well as laughter” reflects Ms. Yukich.  

Aside from learning about and being entertained by various art forms, St. Mary students were also encouraged to think about their own passions and talents. The Unity artists encouraged students to use their gifts to help them make positive decisions; be active role models in their communities; and “To Love and To Serve.”
Durham Catholic Students places in the Top Three at Battle of the Books
The Battle of the Books is a fabulous partnership between public libraries and schools in Durham Region. It motivates and challenges students who enjoy reading.  Schools with the support of their teacher librarian form a team and compete against some of the fiercest reading warriors in Durham.

Every April, the Battle of the Books teams from each school meet for the Semi-Battle competition. The top three teams from each division go on to the Final Battle to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. The gold medal winners are awarded a trophy for their school and go on to compete in the Regional Championship.

The Battle of the Books is hosted at two levels: the Junior division is for students in Grades 4 to 6 and the Senior division is for students in Grades 7 and 8.

This year, students from St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic School won the gold medal for the Junior Teams and students from St. Marguerite
d’Youville Catholic School won the Bronze medal for the Senior Teams after both competing against Catholic and Public Schools across Durham Region. 

Congratulations to our champion readers.  

Pictured left-top: The gold medal Junior team  from St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic School for Battle of the Books.

Left-bottom: The bronze medal team from St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic School.

Record Number of Grade 12 Students Participate in the DELF French Language Proficiency Exam
This year, sixty-nine Grade 12 Core French students from Monsignor Paul Dwyer and Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic Secondary Schools once again took part in a Ministry of Education supported pilot project highlighting the Diplôme d’études en langue française proficiency exam.  Sixty-eight Grade 12 Extended French students from both Father Leo J. Austin and St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary Schools also participated in the exam, which was offered through Alliance Française Toronto.  On May 8 -11, 2017, our Durham Catholic students joined thousands of other students across the province in challenging either an A1, A2, B1 or B2 level of proficiency.
The DELF is an internationally recognized French language exam, which evaluates students’ language skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Successful students will be awarded  a certificate of proficiency by the French Ministry of National Education.  These highly regarded certificates are valid for life and are recognized in over 160 countries worldwide.  The DELF certificate provides students with numerous advantages as they move into the world of post-secondary education and future employment. 
Congratulations go out to the 136 students who participated in the DELF exam process!  We are very proud of you.  Best of luck to you as you await your final exam results.  A heartfelt thank you also goes out to the teachers and school staff who helped to support the DELF exam process for these students.  

Pictured right: Students from Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School completing the DELF Proficiency Exam.

Male and female students standing for a photo in a school library
5th Annual TedX Event inspires Students
On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, more than 850 students from the Durham Catholic District School Board gathered for the 5th annual TedX event at The Embassy, in Oshawa.  Students from St. Mary’s TedX Club and Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School’s TedX Club presented along with a host of other inspiring guest speakers.

The event featured thought provoking questions, comedy, music and most of all inspiration. A special thank you to event organizer Craig Zimmer and his team for an awesome day that empowers our students to reach their potential and live their dreams.

Pictured left: Director of Education,  Anne O'Brien welcomes students to the 5th Annual TedX event.

Expanding Pathways

Girls in the Trades

On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, more than 100 female secondary school students from the Durham Catholic District School Board and  Durham District School Board, participated in a one day symposium dedicated to non-traditional careers in Trades and Technology. The event was hosted by Centennial College, Ashtonbee Campus.

The students heard from featured speakers Pam Stoneham, Associate Dean of Technology at Durham College and Alan McClelland, Dean of the School of Transportation at Centennial College. Both individuals spoke of their careers in technology, and the benefits associated with women in trades.

Students toured the school's campus and participated in hands-on workshops.

Pictured right top: Female students watching another student try welding. 

Right middle: A female student tries her hand at spray painting simulator.

Right bottom: Faith, a student at Father Don MacLellan Catholic Secondary School practices for her G1 on a giant grader in the heavy machinery department.

Female students welding in a classroom
Female student testing a simulation
Female student sitting in a giant grader heavy equipment machinery.
Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School's SHSM Trip to Ottawa
In May, students from the Non-Profit and Business Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School participated in an exciting and informative trip to Ottawa.  Through the Specialist High Skills Major Program, students focus their Grade 11 and 12 education on a specific economic sector, helping them plan their post-secondary pathway.  There are 25 SHSM programs offered in our high schools covering eight different economic sectors.

In addition to taking courses related to their economic sector and earning sector-specific certifications, SHSM students participate in reach-ahead experiences that take their education outside of the school building.  Mrs. Manuel, Mrs. Burchartz, Mr. Iacono and Mr. Doyle arranged this great experience which took students to places such as the Royal Canadian Mint, Supreme Court of Canada and Parliament. 

We thank the teachers from Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School for arranging this trip and providing students with a memorable and rewarding trip.

Picture left top: Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School students at the eternal flame in front of the Parliament Building.

Left bottom: Notre Dame CSS SHSM students at the Royal Canadian Mint.

Durham Catholic Schools participate at the 28th Annual Skills Ontario Competition
Another year and another competition is now in the history books as Skills Ontario continues to grow and offer rewarding challenges and experiences. This event provides the opportunity for competitors to apply their skills and knowledge and is a must see for both elementary and secondary students, teachers and administrators.

This year the competition site was located at the Toronto Congress Centre as they have outgrown RIM Park in Waterloo. The new venue allows for ease of foot traffic and the addition of many more competitions and presenters. A welcomed addition to this year was the ability of visitors to interact with various technologies. Previously, visitors were only able to collect handouts and ask questions. Watch the video, to better experience the full impact of the days events.

The event occurred from May 1-3 and this year the Durham Catholic District School Board participated in elementary and secondary competitions. Representing our Board were:
  • St. Isaac Jogues Catholic School (Elementary Lego Robotics - Grades 4-6)
  • St. Mary Catholic Secondary School (Secondary Photography and Graphic Design-Studio)
  • Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School (Secondary IT Office Software-Application)
  • Msgr. John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School (Secondary Team Carpentry and Team Home Building).
This is the first year our Board had elementary participation. The students enjoyed this one-day event and had time to explore and interact with the various displays. 

The secondary competitions were intense and took approximately 6-8 hours to complete. The exception to this was Home Building, which is a two-day event. During the competition, our Carpentry and Home Building students were part of a Guinness Record title for most people hammering a nail simultaneously.

Pictured right top: Elementary students from St. Isaac Jogues Catholic School with teacher Hillary Rogers.

Right bottom: Students participate in the robots competition.
Students participate in robots competition.
Female and male adults sitting at a table and standing at a podium at Durham College.
Ontario College Dialogues
On May 11, 2017, Durham College hosted the annual Ontario College Dialogue symposium.  Each year, representatives from all Ontario colleges come together to provide school board staff with the latest program updates, an admissions overview and information on any major changes coming for 2017-2018 school year.  A number of our Guidance Counsellors, Student Success Teachers and staff from the Student Success department attended the day.

One of the biggest changes coming to Ontario is the reform of the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP).  There will be two phases to changes in OSAP.  Phase One will come into effect for the 2017-2018 school year and Phase Two will come into effect for the 2018-2019 school year.  The ‘new’ OSAP promises to be a more streamlined and user-friendly system.  Increased financial support will help families with the growing cost of post-secondary education. 

Visit to learn more and to use the OSAP calculator to see how much financial aid a student may qualify for.   

Student Achievement
Male student standing beside school carving
St. Leo Catholic School Student selected for the Ministry of Education's 2017-2018 Student Advisory Council
Congratulations to Parker Quinn, a Grade 7 French Immersion student at St. Leo Catholic School on his recent selection to the Ministry of Education's 2017-2018 Student Advisory Council. 

As part of the council, Parker will represent Ontario’s cultural, social, economic and geographic diversity. He will also be given an opportunity to contribute ideas and take action on topics of interest in order to strengthen student engagement across the province. With other members of the council, Parker will share his ideas on how to make Ontario’s schools great places to learn, grow and succeed.

Please join us in extending best wishes and congratulations to Parker on his appointment. We are so proud of you Parker!

Pictured left: Grade 7 French Immersion student, Parker Quinn from St. Leo Catholic School.

Three Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School Students recognized at 6th Annual Creative Minds Youth Contest
On May 24, 2017, three Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School students were recognized during the 6th Annual Creative Minds Youth Contest organized by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute GTA in collaboration with the Durham Catholic District School Board, Durham District School Board, Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board and Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.  This year’s theme was “My Canada” to celebrate the 150th anniversary of our great country. The Creative Minds Contest provides students with a unique opportunity to express their ideas through the creation of essays, posters and short videos.

Congratulations to our Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School students:
  • Thad Pasco:  First place for Poster design;
  • Anish Panday:  Third place for his Essay; and
  • Hannah Sewpersaud:  Finalist for her essay.

Pictured right: Archbishop Denis O'Connor Catholic High School Students Anish Panday, Hannah Sewpersaud and Thad Pasco at the Creative Minds Youth Awards Celebration.

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