Celebrating Student Success
Expanding Pathways for Every Student's Future
March 2018
Year of Service
This year, we asked our Student Senators to share what service means to their secondary schools as we celebrate the Year of Service. Each month, we will feature a new article written by students that highlight how our school communities are called to serve.

Year of Service at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School
Throughout the year, the students and staff of Msgr. Paul Dwyer Catholic High school have been exploring the theme of service and fulfilling our call to serve. Through activities and events, the Dwyer community has developed a better understanding of what service is and how we can all serve our community.

Dwyer’s Year of Service started with a very successful first semester of activities. First, our school community came together with the Thanksgiving food drive. Students and staff alike brought in canned goods, non-perishable food items, and other essential items such as toothbrushes to donate to the Refuge in Oshawa. We collected enough goods to pack a car full…twice!

Also, in the beginning of the year our school “filled the bottle” and raised funds for hurricane relief. Lead by our chaplaincy team, the students were challenged to fill a giant water jug to help those affected by the terrible hurricane season. The school raised $1800, sending it off to serve those in need.

As December rolled around, the Dwyer community pulled together again to help put the joy in the most joyous time of the year for those less fortunate families in our community. Student council hosted their annual Spirit of Giving campaign in which each homeroom was assigned to a family in need and brought in gift cards, presents, and food to help them. All together Dwyer was able to help about 40 families. Also, through the Spirit of Giving campaign, our school donated $600 worth of pajamas to the Denise House, an organization that helps women and children fleeing from abuse.

More recently our school has served our community by hosting many successful non-uniform days. On these days our students pay to dress out of uniform. The funds we obtain from these days go towards supporting many charities in our community and most recently has helped to pay for a field trip for our students with special needs to Wind Reach farms.

Now that we are well into second semester, Dwyer is looking forward to continuing with the theme of service by continuing to be the heart beat of the community. We hope to hold many more events based on this theme, and are striving to include everybody in the process. We plan to do this by following the many initiatives of our Eco team, Student Council, Chaplaincy team and more to strengthen the Dwyer community and fulfill our call to serve.
Principal presents cheque to representative from the Red Cross
Female student wearing a snowman sweater standing beside a decorated Christmas tree.
Mental Health and Wellness
Sad face drawn in the snow
Combatting the “Winter Blues”
The shorter days and colder temperatures of winter often bring about a decline in mood for many people. Typically, this is described as the “winter blues” which, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is “a feeling of less positivity in the winter months, which dissipates when the winter season is over.” Most research suggests that the winter blues are related to the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter which can disrupt the body’s internal clock, and impact brain chemicals that affect mood.
 
The most effective way to combat the winter blues includes increasing exposure to sunlight. This might include prioritizing outdoor time, especially during periods of bright sunlight, sitting next to a window or if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so, taking a vacation to a sunny destination. Some professionals recommend a specific type of artificial lighting, also called a “light box.” Exercise is also known to elevate mood and can be very effective in combating the winter blues.
 
An extreme form of the winter blues is known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD), a type of depression with a seasonal pattern, usually occurring during the winter months. To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression, coinciding with specific seasons for at least 2 years and the symptoms must significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to function in daily life. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), about 2 to 3% of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime. Since SAD is a mental health disorder, it is important for those who are affected to seek support from their family doctor who may suggest a referral to a mental health professional.
 
The good news is, as the days get longer and we switch back from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time on March 11, 2018, many will feel the “winter blues” dissipate and more positive moods will prevail. 
 
By: Diane Mullane,
Mental Health Leader
Experiential Learning
Students listening to a health and safety presentation
Student participate in a game of bingo
Health and Safety Training for Level 1 OYAP Students
On Thursday, February 15, OYAP Level 1 students in the Automotive Service Technician, Electrician, Industrial Mechanic Millwright, Plumber, Carpentry and Welder programs participated in a Health & Safety Session. Students from the Durham Catholic District School Board, DDSB, Trillium Lakelands, KPRDSB and PVNCCDSB participated in this informative event at the Pope Francis Centre.

Rick Parsons, who has over 40 years experience as a Safety Compliance Manager and Adam Melnick, who has served on various provincial committees with a wide array of government agencies, employer groups and labour organizations focused on apprenticeship, as well as health and safety provided both insightful and engaging presentations to the students.

In closing, the students participated in a game of bingo where they answered questions based on the Health & Safety presentations. The students were excited to receive OYAP swag as prizes. Overall, it was a successful and informative day!
2018 Youth Environmental Summit
I was very excited to be co-hosting my first Youth Environmental Summit. The January, winter, snowy weather questioned the arrival of the buses which carried our students to Camp Samac. In the mean time, my Environmental Committee partner Bernadette Hummel and I hurriedly set up the pollinator presentation and assembled take away bags for all the schools.

Protecting pollinators, “Save The Bees” was the theme of the Summit and our message was simple, pollinators play an important part in our environment and to our health.

Mary Gawen from TRCA presented and demonstrated, to the students, how to create a pollinator friendly garden by choosing native Ontario plants that attract our native pollinators, such as bees, birds, butterflies, insects and other organisms. By adding a variety of plants that bloom from Spring to the Fall, these plants will ensure that the pollinators have food and adequate shelter throughout the growing season. She explained that flowers can be planted in clusters which makes it easier for pollinators to find the flowers which improves the efficiency of pollination. She also advised the group to avoid the use of pesticides and attractive plants that have been treated with systemic pesticides. Systemic pesticides are absorbed by the plant when applied to the seeds, soil or leaves then the chemicals circulate through the plants tissues. These treated plants can be fatal to pollinators and have been a direct result in the current decline in bee population.

In addition, A local bee keeper Joann Poirier from “Kiss My Bees Honey” spoke of her “Custodial” duties of caring for the bees that her and her companion have tended to over the last 8 years. Joann deals with the maintenance of healthy hives, parasites, swarm control, plant identification and the list goes on. She showed the students the difference between Bees and Wasps. Bees tend to be solitary and not sting. Wasps come out when there is food and sting when disturbed. She encourages schools to plant pollinator friendly gardens to attract solitary bees in order to help with declining population.

To help with this, each school received a Bee Hotel to hang in their pollinator garden or a designated area to attract these pollinators. The Bee Hotel included detailed instructions on what to put inside them. This can simply be any type of dead stems that are hollow or a pithy stem that can be used as nesting tubes.

Joann explained that bees eat two things, pollen (which provides proteins and fats) and nectar (the main source of energy for bees). Native plants are the best to meet the nutritional needs of bees and she mentioned that bees are attracted to blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers. These vibrant colors not only attract the bees but create a beautiful garden atmosphere.

Larry Noonan, chair of the Altona Forest Stewardship Committee was another presenter that took the students on a snowy, beautiful, winter hike through the trails of Camp Samac and spoke about nature, habitats, tree species and continued speaking to our theme of “Save the Bees”. After returning back, Students enjoyed a warm hot chocolate in compostable cups and discussed with their Eco team, their plans on what they would like to see happen at their school.
All in all, this year’s Summit was a success from start to finish. The students were engaged and excited about continuing their hard work to help our environment.
Thank you to the Eco Teachers, guest speakers and environmentally driven students for making the 2018 Youth Environmental Summit such a wonderful experience. Thank you to all!

By: Grant Vermeulen
Waste Recycling Specialist
Protective bee suit
PowerPoint slide showing nesting tubes for bees
Theme of Youth Summit - Protecting Pollinators
Female Math teacher and Math Coach plays a card game with three students
Students from Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School share ideas from their Math Council
Female and male student play a Math game
Students using stand up tables and white boards to solve Math problems
Durham Catholic's Math Councils Meet and Share Ideas
Since 2015, educators from the Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) have been involved in NORCAN, an international project supported by Ontario’s Ministry of Education and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. The goal of this project is to improve the transitional math experience for students. Together with educators from Alberta and Norway, DCDSB educators have collaborated with colleagues to increase student engagement in math, while also promoting equity and excellence. A student voice initiative, whereby students and teachers create Math and Learning Councils has been a key learning in this project. 

On February 28, 2018 students and educators from the Durham Catholic District School Board gathered at the Pope Francis Centre for the first DCDSB Math Council session. Throughout the day, students from Monsignor John Pereyma, Father Leo J. Austin, Archbishop Denis O'Connor and St. Mary Catholic Secondary Schools engaged in fun Math activities and virtual sharing with NORCAN partners. 

Math Council student representatives from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School and Father Leo J Austin Catholic Secondary School shared their experiences about Math Councils that have been created in these two schools. The group explored the future of Math Councils at other Durham Catholic secondary schools and its role in changing the perception of Math in our learning community.
International Students from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School Experience Ice Skating for the First Time
On an exceptionally warm, and sunny February afternoon, St. Mary Catholic Secondary School took its six International students to the Natrel skating rink at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

St. Mary students Jinsong, Yibin, Yishan (from China), Marieke (from Germany), and Cezanne and Viniscius (from Brazil) were fearless as they stepped onto the ice for the very first time!

Judging from the smiles and twirls, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.






International students getting ready to go skating in Toronto
Female and male students skating outside on ice
Prime Minister standing with a group of people and students in a school in India
Prime Minister talking to adult woman at a school in India
Father Fénelon Catholic School first Canadian School to join Global Gandhi Peace Program
Father Fénelon Catholic School is excited to announce our involvement in the Global Gandhi Peace Program. Father Fénelon Catholic School is the first school in Canada to join this program. This program has modules of learning around the theme of non-violence, peace, compassion and empathy. It will involve discussion and dialogue with St. Kabir school in Ahmabaded, India which will also complete these same learning modules.

This initiative was announced during the Prime Ministers recent visit to India. At this announcement Prime Minister Trudeau took some time to watch a video which our Social Justice Club created as we launched this program. It even included a school-wide singing of our national anthem! We look forward to this opportunity for cross-cultural and cross-faith dialogue.

Expanding Pathways
Customer Service Excellence at Best Western Plus Durham Hotel 
For the past couple of weeks, Cooperative Education student, Kimberlyn from Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School has been busy discovering all that Best Western has to offer guests and staff. She wears her uniform with pride, and enthusiastically utilizes her transferable essential skills and classroom learning at the community placement. This experiential learning opportunity is sure to benefit Kimberlyn today and in the future, as she plans to continue her studies in Hotel Management at Centennial College in September 2018.

Kimberlyn is enjoying learning about the hotel industry and has gained a lot of new insight by completing the Best Western University Programs and Training modules online. Kimberlyn and the Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School's Co-op Department are extremely grateful to work in partnership with such knowledgeable, professional and caring team members. A special thank you to General Manager Michael Ganesh and the Best Western Plus Durham Hotel staff for providing this engaging and memorable experiential learning opportunity.   
 
By: Janel Langstaff-Mullett
Cooperative Education Teacher 
Cooperative Education student at her placement at a local hotel
Upcoming Events
Durham Spring Into Literacy Conference
7th Annual Conference for Professionals and Parents Supporting Early Literacy Development of Children from Birth to Six Years

Saturday, April 21, 2018 | Whitby

Register now!
Registration deadline ends on Monday April 9, 2018. Click here to register.

This conference sold out early last year! Register now to avoid disappointment
Intended audience
Early childhood educators, teachers, librarians, speech-language clinicians, child care providers, students, and parents
Certificate of Attendance will be provided to attendees registered as Professionals.
Book with words Spring into Literacy
Board's website display on a desktop computer, iPad and Cell Phone
Is your School Advancing Communications?
Our Durham Catholic schools are committed to the Board's strategic goal of Advancing Communications by delivering timely, effective and open communication with the most appropriate tools and technology available. A selection committee is accepting nominations from parents and guardians who believe their school has done an outstanding job in communicating with families over the 2017-2018 school year. One elementary and one secondary school will be selected to receive the award at the May 28, 2018 Board Meeting.

How to nominate a school
Submit a short paragraph (maximum 150 words) describing how your school demonstrates excellence in the area of home-school communications. Your submission should demonstrate your appreciation for one or more of the following:
  • Newsletters provide relevant information in a format that is easy to read and stay up to date with current news and events.
  • School website is updated regularly with informative and meaningful content.
  • Social media posts include relevant and interesting information for followers.
  • Synervoice is used appropriately and effectively to notify parents of important notices.
  • Board information is distributed in a timely manner.
  • Photos or web links to show samples of outstanding home-school communications can be attached with the submission.

Submissions can be sent by email indicating Rev. John Markle Award in the subject line to
communications@dcdsb.ca  or delivered in a sealed envelope addressed to:
Communications - Rev. John Markle Award
Durham Catholic District School Board
650 Rossland Rd. West, Oshawa, ON
L1J 7C4

Selection Committee
The winning schools will be selected by a committee consisting of one Trustee representative and two Student Trustees.

Deadline
Deadline for submissions is 5:00 p.m.on March 23, 2018.
Durham Catholic District School Board
650 Rossland Road West,
Oshawa, ON
Phone: 905-576-6150 | Visit us at dcdsb.ca