School may be out for most students in Durham District School Board (DDSB) schools, but that’s not necessarily the case for their teachers.
Professional development continues through the summer months, culminating with the annual Summer Learning Institute, a series of workshops offered to teachers, mainly at the DDSB Education Centre in Whitby, running through much of August.
Workshops range from part-days to several days in length and run a wide gamut of topics, from instructional strategies to special education to the arts to equity.
More than 450 DDSB staff members, including teachers, administrators and other staff attended the Summer Learning Institute last year.
Port Perry High School (PPHS) students have taken top prizes in both the French and English categories of the Hong Kong Veterans’ Commemorative Association (HKVCA) Cross-Canada Writing Contest.
Jake Foster won the English side while Josianne Garriock took top honours on the French side of the contest, entitled “Portraits of Valour/Portraits de Courage,” at the Junior (Grade 9 and 10) level.
Top prize was $150.
The HKVCA is an organization dedicated to educating Canadians on the role of Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Hong Kong, which took place during the Second World War.
More information on the writing contest can be found at http://www.hkvca.ca/teacherszone/contest12/winners.htm.
By mid-day on Friday, June 15, 2012, Uxbridge Secondary School student Laurence Broome already had two first-place showings at the Challenge Track and Field meet, but heading into the 100 metre dash, his final event of the day, he wasn’t taking anything for granted.
As he should be, said Durham District School Board chair Joe Allin.
Broome was among more than 500 athletes with special needs at the tenth annual Challenge Track and Field meet at Civic Fields in Oshawa. And while he was focused on competing, he also had another goal in mind.
That’s what it’s all about, said Oshawa trustee Larry Jacula who was in attendance at the event.
The meet included a full array of track and field events, including running, high jump, running long jump, ball throw and shot-put. The day kicked off with the reading of the Athletes’ Oath, and a release of doves, which circled the field just as events began.
Donald A. Wilson Secondary School students Erich Weiss and Austin Beelen also sported first-place ribbons for events they had participated in. The two said they had been training for some time during their Adaptive Phys. Ed. classes at school. But beyond the competition, there was something else they were both at the event to do.
Durham District School Board (DDSB) Education Officer for Staff Development Barry Bedford has been honoured by the Durham Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) for “making a difference.”
Bedford recently received PFLAG Durham’s Champions Against Homophobia/Transphobia Award. He was congratulated for this honour Monday, June 18, 2012, at a Board meeting.
The award is granted to individuals, organizations and companies in the public, private or non-profit sector making a difference to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, by a variety of means. They include encouraging employees, volunteers, students or clients to use inclusive language that does not assume sexual orientation or gender identity; advocating zero tolerance for homophobic and transphobic slurs; and creating safe spaces or connections through which people can discuss personal issues pertaining to sexual orientation or gender identity.
In his role with the DDSB, Bedford has championed the goals the award recognizes, by helping to craft documents like the recently-produced “Happens to be . . . “, a guide to introducing LGBT issues to students in age-appropriate ways. He’s aided in implementation of the Provincially-mandated Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, and helped form a group for LGBT DDSB staff to get together and share experiences, seek support and ensure working and learning environments are welcoming places for all. He has worked to ensure diversity is reflected in learning materials for students.
But while Bedford accepted and was named on the award, he shies away from taking all the credit.
Pictured here with Barry Bedford on the left is Vice Chairperson and Pickering Trustee, Chris Braney and Board Chairperson Joe Allin. Barry is holding his son Jayden.
Durham District School Board (DDSB) educational researcher Chris Conley has been granted an award by the Canadian Educational Researchers’ Association (CERA), recognizing him for leadership and achievement in his field.
The award is granted annually to an educational researcher based in the province in which CERA’s annual conference is held. This year’s event, at which the award was presented, was held in late May in Waterloo.
Conley said he was “surprised and very honoured” on learning he had been selected to receive the award, which is granted to recognize leadership and achievement in the field of evidence-based educational research.
An almost two decade veteran of his field, Conley has worked with the DDSB since 2004. His role is varied: as a research analyst, he works with various Board departments, analyzing student results on EQAO and other assessment results, supporting the Board with Ministry of Education projects, development of surveys and data collection and analysis.
He knows how it sounds.
Conley is a member of an array of research networks in Ontario, and currently sits on the executive of the Early Years Education Ontario Network and as chair of the Hierarchical Linear Model Learning and Research community.
His goal, says Conley, is to make research findings accessible and engaging.
Pictured here with Chris Conley in the middle of the photo is Vice Chairperson and Pickering Trustee, Chris Braney (left) and Board Chairperson Joe Allin (on right)..
What started as a quest to find information for a young boy with a photo of his grandfather, about whom he knew only that he was a Veteran of the Battle of Hong Kong, has led to an award commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee for Port Perry High School Teacher Nancy Hamer Strahl.
Hamer Strahl received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recently at a ceremony in Niagara Falls, after being nominated by the Hong Kong Veteran's Commemorative Association (HKVCA).
The medal, which marks the 60th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II taking the Throne, honours significant contributions or achievements by Canadians.
(pictured here with Nancy Hamer Strahl (left) is Derrill Henderson - vice chairman of the National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada and Flora Fung, Department Head of Canadian World Studies at Oshawa Central Collegiate. Flora is also an award winner of the Queen's Diamond Jublie Medal)
Hamer Strahl started doing research, eventually attending HKVCA national conferences and forging relationships with the group. It also helped lead to a trip to Hong Kong with students, and soon, a book of pieces of personal reflection, compiled by students and made up, in large part, of interviews with Veterans, called Passing the Torch: Our Youth Remembers Hong Kong.
In turn, the HKVCA made Hamer Stahl an honorary member, bestowed an array of honours upon her, and eventually, nominated her for the most recent honour.
The organization has never forgotten that “DDSB teachers really took an interest in their story,” said Hamer Strahl.
Helping students make connections between the classroom and everyday life while honouring Veterans has led to an award commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee for Oshawa Central Collegiate Institute History Teacher Flora Fung.
Fung was nominated for the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Hong Kong Veteran’s Commemorative Association (HKVCA) for her work in “ensuring that the story of the Battle of Hong Kong continues to be told,” said an email from HKVCA Regional Director for Ontario, Mike Babin.
The medal, which marks the 60th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II taking the Throne, honours significant contributions or achievements by Canadians.
The award is the result of Fung’s extensive work with the group, beginning with her hearing about nine Oshawa Veterans of the Second World War’s Battle of Hong Kong who had not previously been recognized locally. She worked to have the Veterans “adopted” by her school, ensuring a plaque commemorating their involvement now hangs at Oshawa Central, and is honoured each Remembrance Day.
Hearing more about young men who walked the same streets as them helped bring history alive for her students, Fung said, noting that is key to teaching history.
Fung continues to work with the HKVCA though the Portraits of Valour writing contest, which is open to students across Canada. Through the contest, five Hong Kong Veterans are honoured each year.
Fung received her medal from a member of the HKCVA at a ceremony held recently in Niagara Falls.
(photo): Flora Fung, Department Head of Canadian World Studies at Oshawa Central Collegiate (left) stands with Nancy Hamer Strahl from Port Perry High School, also an award winner of the Queen's Diamond Jublie Medal.
When it comes to the message about healthy choices he delivered to Fallingbrook Public School on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, Blue Jays relief pitcher Luis Perez didn’t just talk the talk – he also danced the dance.
Perez spent about an hour with Grade 6 students at the Whitby school, as part of a Blue Jays community outreach program aimed at promoting healthy eating and an active lifestyle to school-aged children.
The relief pitcher, Blue Jays representatives said, wasn’t confident enough in his English to conduct the event in his second language. But that didn’t present a problem at Fallingbrook, where students greeted him in his native Spanish, and teacher Ian Gill’s bilingual wife, Danoris, was on hand to act as translator.
It wasn’t just talk. After the question-and-answer session, Perez joined students, along with Blue Jays’ mascot Ace and members of the J-Force Fan Activation Team (otherwise known as the people who run the Seventh Inning Stretch during Blue Jays’ home games), as they took to the gym for an action-filled dance work-out.
That was the best part of the visit, agreed Grade 6 students Kamal Baines, 12, and Alexis Angrove, 11.
Despite the language barrier, Perez’ message to students was clear, Angrove said.
Having a Blue Jay visit is an excellent way to get that message across, said Teacher Ian Gill.
The focus was on fun as the Durham District School Board’s ADAPTS (Athletes Doing Accessible Programs Through Sport) program held its ‘Smiles for Miles’ track and field festival at Pine Ridge Secondary School in Pickering recently.
The event gave student-athletes with special needs an opportunity to participate in events at the school’s track.
“It’s a chance to take part in this kind of event at an appropriate level of friendly competition,” said Pat Martorelli, DDSB’s ADAPTS coordinator.
With music pumping in the background and the sun shining brightly overhead, students participated in events including races, an obstacle course and a ball-toss.
“We practiced every day” before the event, said Misty-Jo McLean, a G. L. Roberts student, as she proudly displayed a “Champion” ribbon. “The running part’s the fun part. It’s what I like to do.”
The focus was on participating, noted Senior Associated Teacher Marianne Schwartz.
“It’s competitive enough, but not focused on the importance of winning,” she said. “Everybody plays and that’s very important.”
ADAPTS provides student-athletes with a variety of opportunities for personal growth through sport, and held four events this year: track and field, basketball, floor hockey and t-ball.
Outdoor and Environmental Education staff with the Durham District School Board (DDSB) have been honoured by the Region of Durham for the work they do in fostering effective communication, sharing knowledge and exhibiting leadership in helping others learn about the natural environment.
The Irene Kock Education/Communication award, named for a dedicated Durham-based environmentalist who died in 2001, was presented recently to staff from the program.
Staff from the DDSB’s three Outdoor and Environmental Education Centres – Duffins Creek, Nonquon and Durham Forest – “provide high quality environmental programming and outdoor experiences for over 15,000 Durham students a year,” said Luigia Ayotte, Superintendent of Education, Program Services.
Leaders from each of the centres were presented with plaques to hang at the facilities
What started as a few friends watching a movie about how women tend to be misrepresented in media blossomed into a full-day conference helping to empower other young women to help break down stereotypes.
The Girl Meets World Conference, held Tuesday May 29 at the Durham District School Board Education Centre, was organized by Sinclair Secondary School Grade 11 students Khrystal Sturridge, Ouvedi Rama Naiken, Dayna Lau, Shalini Ramgoolam and Karin Onno.
The event initially stemmed from a discussion amongst some female high school students about an interest in forming a women’s rights club. Then, some of the group viewed the movie “Miss Representation,” which delves into the idea that youth are “being sold the concept that women and girls’ value lies in their youth, beauty and sexuality,” reads the movie’s website. The movie strives to eradicate gender stereotyping to create lasting sociological change.
“A conversation started,” Rama Naiken said. “The movie really made us think.”
The group of young women, with support from their school, set about putting the conference together, inviting their peers from other schools to view the movie and engage in conversation about the issues into which the movie delves. There were also workshops and a panel discussion with a number of adult women.
Panelists included Jennifer Nash of Girls Inc., an organization aimed at encouraging girls to be strong, smart and bold; Shannon Clarke of Denise House, an Oshawa-based emergency shelter for abused women and their children; Gloria Garvie of Roots of Character, a group that works to help girls recognize their own value; and author Kelley Armstrong.
The ideas found in Miss Representation came as no surprise to Armstrong, who said she sees it up close as a female author. She pointed to young adult author Stephenie Meyer, who is often discussed as much for physical attributes as writing talents.
“We don’t see this for male authors,” she said. “We would be shocked to see this for male authors, but it is there, unfortunately, for women.”
The idea of women acting as each other’s own enemies also came up.
To help combat the tendency, women need confidence, Garvie suggested.
One student asked the panelists how they dealt with the negative stereotypes often associated with feminism. Nash suggested it can be a simple matter of wording: if you ask, “Do you believe all people should be treated equally and with respect?” and the answer is yes, then the respondent, whether they identify that way or not, is a feminist, she said.
The day’s events acted as a “call to action,” said Kendra Godin-Svoboda, Program Facilitator – Safe Schools with the Durham District School Board.
She challenged the women on hand to take what they’d learned and put it into action.
Grade 11 O’Neill Collegiate student Emma Sharp said she was taken aback by some of the statistics provided by “Miss Represented.”
Organizers hoped seeing the movie would help young women “be able to question and criticize” the images found in media, said Rama Naiken.
A secondary school career aimed at “empowering people to help other people in return” has landed Dunbarton High School graduating student Sajjad Jaffery a significant scholarship.
The 17-year-old was chosen as one of 20 recipients, out of 3,200 applicants from across Canada, of the TD Scholarship for Community Leadership, worth up to $70,000.
The scholarship includes up to $10,000 per year for tuition, and $7,500 annually to help with living expenses. As well, it provides an offer of paid summer employment, mentorship opportunities and invitations to gatherings, networking opportunities and events.
It’s an enormous opportunity, he said.
“A lot of people get lost in the financial aspect of the scholarship, but it also offers me the opportunity to be mentored, to network,” said Jaffery.
Early in his high school career, Jaffery was inspired to start a community-based organization called the Dunbarton Peace Project, which promotes peace and social justice and has over 100 supporters. The group works to increase awareness and raise funds for impoverished global communities.
He’s been involved in an array of projects, including a penny drive to build classrooms in northern Pakistan, and a fundraiser to renovate a Kindergarten classroom in Ghana.
As well, Jaffery is co-president of his school’s environmental group, where he has aided in starting a number of projects, including an outdoor classroom, a butterfly garden and recycling programs. He’s also currently head delegate of his Model United Nations chapter, and has volunteered at a local hospital.
A lot of what he does “has to do with how I’ve been brought up,” Jaffery said, noting his father was, in years past, involved in activism for free, fair elections in Pakistan. His mother “worked very hard,” raising six children, of whom Jaffery is the eldest.
His grandmother, a doctor, “helps people for free on the streets of Pakistan.”
The Dunbarton student plans to attend the University of Toronto next year, and doesn’t know yet if he’ll follow his grandmother’s footsteps into medicine, specifically endocrinology, or if he’ll get more involved in social entrepreneurship.
Students from Westcreek, William Dunbar, Frenchman's Bay, Claremont and Dunbarton qualified to attend the Destination Imagination Global Finals May 22- 26 in Knoxville, Tennessee. These teams of students worked collaboratively to solve multiple challenges using their creative thinking, teamwork, problem solving and artistic skills! Teacher and parent managers helped the students prepare over the year and teams demonstrated a commitment to constant improvement following each level of competition.
Following the provincial competition, the team from Dunbarton HS rewrote their script and reworked sets to accommodate a stronger approach to meeting the criteria for the challenge, “The World Canvas”. This team created various community outreach projects during the year raising awareness and money for Mental Health Issues and Ontario Shores Center for Mental Health Sciences. Their performance challenge highlighted the successes they achieved in a dramatic presentation. This resulted in an excellent performance and an end result of 6th place overall on this world stage! Even more impressive was the team's second place finish for their Instant Problem Solving Challenge.
Wearing goggles that simulate impairment and attempting to walk a straight line caused immediate giggles, but then sober second thought at the annual Racing Against Drugs Durham (RADD) event, which ran from Monday, April 30 to Friday, May 4 in Whitby.
“I learned that alcohol affects your vision a lot,” said Allison Brunette, a Grade 5 student at Glen Street Public School.
Neither Allison nor her classmate Nathaniel Corbin liked the feeling.
“It felt like your mind was all swirly and you were all dizzy,” said Nathaniel.
The Racing Against Drugs program, developed by the RCMP, is an initiative that encourages students to adopt healthy, drug-free lifestyles. To date, more than 80,000 Durham District School Board students have participated in RADD and received information on the dangers of substance abuse, the benefits of healthy alternatives and the importance of personal safety.
They were messages students received loud and clear by participating in fun, noisy and hands-on “pit stops”, run by an array of agencies including police and other emergency services.
Alcohol and drugs can also “make your judgment weird, and you can do a lot of things you don’t want to do,” Nathaniel said. “You should never do drugs, because they can affect you and the people around you.”For more information, visit http://www.racingagainstdrugsdurham.ca.
The Silver Birch program, for students in Grades 3 to 6, is one of six programs comprising the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading, which promotes both reading and Canadian literature. Province-wide, more than 250,000 elementary and high school students participate in the programs by reading at least five books from the lists of official selections and voting on their favourites.
Students from Durham District School Board and the coterminous Catholic board gathered at Iroquois Park for the awards ceremony, which included visits from authors, lunch, music, draw prizes and more.
For many of the students, having to read so many books to complete the program was no chore.
Both she and her classmate Mikayla Wake say they’d like to write books of their own one day.
Author Jan Andrews, who wrote When Apples Grew Noses and White Horses Flew: Tales of Ti-Jean, a book nominated in the Sliver Birch Express category, was on hand to hear she had won. Most literary awards, she noted, are voted on by adults.
She holds legions of honorary degrees, speaks six languages, has twice travelled into space via space shuttles and headed up Canada’s space agency, but as Canadian astronaut Julie Payette pulled into the driveway of the Whitby school named for her and saw her name on the sign out front, she felt honoured in a way she has not experienced before.
Then, despite her rather exceptional list of accomplishments, she did what any parent would.
“There is something surreal about hearing and seeing your name everywhere,” she said, as she stood on stage beside a podium bearing her name. “I didn’t really expect that.”
Julie Payette Public School, named for the second Canadian woman to travel into space, opened its doors at 300 Garden Street in Whitby on September 6, 2011 and is home to 690 students and 50 staff. The vision for the school includes powerful teaching to support a bilingual culture, encouraging a caring school community, fostering global awareness and challenging students to “Dream. Aspire. Become.”
The school also boasts a number of green features, including large windows for natural light, an outdoor classroom and a state-of-the-art green roof, covered in vegetation to, among other purposes, serve as environmentally-friendly insulation, said Whitby trustee Christine Winters during the school’s opening ceremony. But that’s far from all the school has to be proud of, she noted.
“It is truly an honour to have this Whitby school named after you,” she told Payette.
Kimberley Zeppieri, also a Whitby trustee, concurred.
“Julie Payette is a beautiful school, one we’re exceptionally proud of, but we’re even more proud of the woman it’s named after,” she said.
Having the school bear Payette’s name will encourage its students, said Durham District School Board chair Joe Allin.
“Your accomplishments will indeed inspire children today and in generations to come to dream, aspire and become, as they make their way through their personal educational voyage,” he said.
But, Payette was quick to say the school, despite its name, is already forging its own identity, largely based in the school’s motto.
“It’s not about me; it’s about a dream,” she said. “It’s about telling you that you can think of something, something for the future, even if it might seem a little too much, that if you put the effort into it, anything is possible.”
After all, Payette said as she relayed the story of sitting in her school gym watching coverage of early space trips on a TV, that’s what she did.
After participating in the more formal grand opening ceremony, Payette returned to the school the next morning for an informal event, at which she showed video of one of her trips to space, and took part in a bilingual question-and-answer period with students at the French immersion school. She told students she had high hopes for them.
“This school has made itself already into an entity that you can feel has so much power and so much possibility for the future,” she said. “When I come back one day, I hope I’m going to hear stories that you’ve worked on your passions, and about what you’ve become.”
Submitted story by: Claremont PS
Honoured guests, Trustee Chris Braney, City Councillor Peter Rodrigues, and DDSB
Durham District School Board students got an opportunity on Wednesday,
May 9 to show how they’re “Better Together.”
To date, Cannata’s run has raised more than $57,000.
After spending the morning with a group of elementary school students
during the annual Proud of Pickering celebration on Tuesday, May 8, Grade
12 Pine Ridge Secondary School student Cody Morrison was sure of one thing.
Bright with natural light, filled with energy-efficient features, and detailed with touches to make for a positive and unique learning environment, Julie Payette Public School in Whitby is the latest member of the Durham District School Board family.
The school, which opened in September, 2011, is one of 10 either built or planned for construction by DDSB between 2009 and 2013. It’s all part of a larger plan: between 2008 and 2013, the Durham District School Board is spending about $237 million, creating significant numbers of additional pupil places in the form of new schools or additions to existing ones --- the equivalent of about 480 portables.
“The availability of funding and the desire to decrease the number of portables being used have combined to allow us to create new pupil places for over 10,000 students,” said David Visser, DDSB’s Superintendent of Education – Facilities Services.
Building a new school or expanding or renovating an existing one is a job that requires a great deal of care and planning, and at DDSB, consideration is given to a vast array of matters, from how to keep existing mature trees on the site, right down to where best to place an electrical outlet.
Six new schools opened in 2009 and 2010: Romeo Dallaire PS in Ajax; Vimy Ridge PS in Ajax; Blair Ridge PS in Brooklin; Robert Munsch PS in Brooklin; Whitby Shores PS in Whitby; and, Maxwell Heights Secondary School in Oshawa.
The new spaces help accommodate growth occurring in some areas of the District, especially the area north of Taunton Road. They also help move students out of portables or older facilities into buildings better suited to today’s educational programs. Often, they are built to fall in line with recommendations of Accommodation Review Committees.
An accommodation review is sometimes the result of a process known as the Pupil Accommodation Review, which follow guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education. The Board must annually review its schools to identify schools with projected enrolment declines which could compromise school programs. That initial process can lead to appointment of an Accommodation Review Committee (ARC), made up of community members and other stakeholders. The ARC is an extensive consultation process that leads to recommendations which are eventually voted on by the Board of Trustees.
For example, Julie Payette PS is the result of an ARC process involving six Whitby schools. The ARC recommended that three schools which were in need of significant repair – Florence M. Heard PS, Leslie McFarlane PS, and Palmerston Avenue PS – be closed or consolidated. That resulted in construction of Julie Payette PS and additions to Captain Michael VandenBos and Pringle Creek public schools.
While the ARC process can sometimes mean the difficult decision to close a school, it also has an upside.
A group of Grade 8 students at Dr. Roberta Bondar Public School in Ajax have learned charity can start in the classroom.
The students, in Shahana Arain and Mike Leslie’s classes at the school, completed Action for Equity projects in April, in which they were divided into groups to plan events to support causes and charities meaningful to them.
The students were first asked to think about what they were good at, and what they were interested in achieving. After that, students with like causes came together to form eight groups to plan events supporting various charities and initiatives.
One of the first orders of business for the students was to create organizational charts, detailing everything, including estimated expenses.
For many, there was a personal connection to the cause for which they planned events. For example, in one group, three of the five participants had, at some point, been patients at the Hospital for Sick Children, so raising money, through a student-teacher baseball game, for the hospital’s foundation was an obvious choice. Another group was made up of members who had friends or family members who had dealt with bullying or harassment as a result of their sexual orientation. They chose to send proceeds from their rainbow lemonade stand, run during the baseball game, to My GSA, a branch of Egale Canada aimed at creating safer schools for LGBTQ youth and educators. A member of another group has a cousin who was adopted from an orphanage in The Congo, so holding a carwash to aid that orphanage was chosen.
Beyond planning the event, students were also charged with coming up with a fact sheet, explaining why their cause was important and why people should support it.
For one group, getting the message across was one of the most rewarding parts of the project.
When all was said and done, the students’ projects had raised $2056 in cash, along with hundreds of books and cans of food, and two full boxes of towel donations for the Humane Society.
The project will culminate with students making a photo essay documenting their journey. That will give them a chance to think about “what they learned about themselves,” Arain said.
Many felt the project showed them, in a way they hadn’t fully understood before, how they could make an impact.
An old canoe has found new life as well as a permanent home in a place of honour at Whitby Shores Public School.
Staff at Whitby Shores purchased the Peterborough canoe, made by the company that produced the boats from the 1890s until the early 1960s, and it has turned into a school-wide art project that will eventually be the centrepiece of the main hallway of the school.
“We’re using the canoe as a canvas,” said Karen Latimer, the school’s Teacher/Librarian.
The bottom of the canoe’s hull has an Inukshuk design in glass mosaic, which uses coloured glass, applied by students, and an eco-friendly adhesive.
Inside the canoe, along the vessel’s ribs, is more glass mosaic, done exclusively by this year’s Grade 8 students.
The work of art is expected to be completed before school lets out for summer.
When finished, the canoe will hang from the ceiling in the school’s naturally-lit central hallway, as a permanent emblem to the school’s commitment to both the environment and embracing difference. The Inukshuk, with its symbolism in Aboriginal history, seemed to fit with the theme of the piece, Latimer said.
The idea first started brewing when Principal Mike Whitmarsh, an avid paddler, was looking for a way to decorate the two-storey hallway. Soon, Education Assistant Tamara Kellett had found the canoe on an online buy-and-sell site, and the plan for the art was set in motion.
That everyone in the school had a hand in the piece makes it really special, said Grade 8 student Kacey Rafferty, noting fitting the glass pieces into the Inukshuk is “like a puzzle.”
Classmate Megan Carroll agreed.
When a group of four College Hill Public School students started working on their challenge at the fifth annual Durham Robotics event held Friday, April 27, 2012, they “thought it was going to be easy,” said Grade 8 student Farzana Shaikh.
The team wasn’t long dissuading itself of that notion.
The College Hill group was among more than 150 students, from Grade 4 through 12, to participate in the fifth annual Durham Robotics event.
A group from O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute was working on designing a robot that could track down a ball, and then fling it. The entire process had to be completed via remote control. Building the robot required “strong teamwork skills,” said Grade 10 student Matthew Withers.
It was Jack Miner Public School student Adeeb Khan’s third time to such an event, but this time around, he found it more complicated.
Kedron Public School student Brayden Wraxall counts Don Cherry and Mario Lemieux among his Canadian heroes, but a recent Heritage Fair project brought him a new and unexpected one: ballerina Karen Kain.
The Grade 5 student drew Kain’s name out of a hat, and at first, didn’t recognize the name he had drawn.
“I thought she might be a runner or something,” Wraxall said.
Then, he said, making exactly the face you’d expect him to make on the discovery, “I found out she was a ballet dancer.”
But before long, he decided Kain was “really cool.”
“She won the Companion of the Order of Canada,” he said as he displayed his project as part of the Durham Region Heritage Fair held at the Durham District School Board Education Centre April 24 and 25. “That’s one of Canada’s top awards.”
The event, which is much like a science fair but based on Canadian heritage, saw students vying to represent the DDSB at an upcoming provincial event.
More than 2,000 students from Grades 4 to 8 participated in school-based heritage fairs across the District. From those, about 120 students were selected to represent their school at the Regional event.
From there, two students will be chosen to attend the provincial fair in Toronto in June. Two more will be selected to attend the event as part of the Young Citizen’s program, a complementary component of the Heritage Fair which allows students to present results of their research on Canadian heroes, legends and key events.
Awards are to be presented Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 4 p.m.
Preparing the projects helped bring history alive, said Diana Lawryshyn, a Kedron PS student who researched an Oshawa street – Kitchen Court – for her project. She had seen street signs with the poppy motif, but “I didn’t know what it meant.”
The Grade 8 student built a diorama of the street, and learned enough about the man for whom it was named, Gordon Henry Earl Kitchen, a Second World War Veteran, to write several different pieces about him. She was impressed by what she found out.“He was one of the Canadians who stepped up, and he lived right in Oshawa,” she said.
Students in Teacher Lynn Davies’ Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) class at Pickering’s Glengrove Public School had some very special guests as readers at story-time on Thursday, April 12: Ontario Minister of Education Laurel Broten and Scarborough-Pickering East MPP Tracy MacCharles.
Broten first chose one of her six-year-old twins’ favourite stories – The Very Hungry Caterpillar – then read from a story authored by the children themselves.
The stop at Davies’ classroom was part of a Durham District School Board (DDSB) visit that included trips to both Glengrove and Vaughan Willard Public Schools, offering the Minister a glimpse into daily life at the Pickering schools. Highlights included stops at classrooms offering FDK and assistive technology for students. It also provided opportunity for the Minister and Board officials including Vice Chair and Pickering Trustee Chris Braney, Superintendent of Education/Pickering Schools and Early Years Lisa Millar and Superintendent of Education/Special Education, Doug Crichton, to meet with parents, volunteers and educators from the school community.
Broten praised educators, parents and volunteers for their ability to “create the love of learning, to teach children from their earliest days that learning is fun.
It was also a good opportunity to show the Minister what’s happening in DDSB schools.
The technology “makes life easier, and gives us this great opportunity to learn about technology,” one student told Broten.
Representatives of the Durham District School Board and its schools will join with other community partners to take Steps for Life on Sunday, May 6, 2012.
The five-kilometre walk will raise funds for families of those involved in workplace tragedy, and awareness about the national issue of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.
“Providing a secure, healthy and safe environment for staff and students has long been a priority of the DDSB,” said Kerri Stewart, Associate Occupational Hygienist with the DDSB. “The walk is a unique link to our schools as it offers an opportunity to educate and involve our staff and students in community health and safety initiatives.”
This is the second year the DDSB has been involved in the walk, which also partners with other community organizations: Ontario Power Generation, the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, Safe Communities of Pickering and Ajax (SCOPA), Home Depot, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and Threads of Life.
Threads of Life is a national registered charity dedicated to supporting families affected by workplace tragedy.
It hits close to home for Patti Penny, spokesperson for Durham Region’s second Steps for Life walk. Penny’s son, Luke, a construction worker, was killed when a concrete wall collapsed on him in Whitby.
Walk registration begins at 9 a.m. at the Pickering Nuclear Information Centre, 1675 Montgomery Park Road. The walk, five kilometres along the Waterfront Trail, kicks off at 10 a.m. Walkers will return to the Info Centre for refreshments.
All walkers will receive a free T-shirt.
A number of teams from the DDSB have already signed up to participate. Any others wishing to take part are asked to contact Kerri Stewart at 905-666-5500, ext. 5416.
“Steps for Life is an opportunity for the DDSB to team up with our community safety partners to work towards a common goal: raising awareness about the importance of workplace health and safety and supporting families that have gone through a workplace tragedy,” said John Bowyer, Superintendent of Schools/Safe Schools.For more information, visit www.stepsforlife.ca.
Waverly Public School student Andy Glendinning (far left in photo) will represent the Durham District School Board at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Charlottetown, PEI, in May.
Glendinning’s project, Designing a Better Gripper, was judged best overall at the Regional Science Fair at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) on Saturday, April 14, 2012, earning him the privilege of attending the national event.
The win came after hard work by Waverly intermediate students who were capably guided by teachers Tim Boucher and Andy Hodgson. Students first displayed their science fair projects in their school gym on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.
From the school event, 10 students moved on to the Regional event at UOIT. Students moving on included: Meaghann Dubien (middle in photo), Lucas Glendinning, Andy Glendinning, Jane Nguyen, Angelique Dack, Evan Burgess, Brandon Finley, Alec Veley, Emily Jenkinson and Sarah Ash.
After judging was complete, results were announced, with Andy Glendinning taking the 2012 Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Stepping Stone Award for his project, earning him the honour of moving on to the Canada-Wide competition.
Lucas Glendinning (far right in photo) won the 2012 Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Award, with a $100 cash prize, for his project on Salt Effects on Plant Growth. Meaghann Dubien won the 2012 Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories Award, also with a $100 cash prize, for her project on Cleaning Bacteria.
The event, presented by the DDSB and District 13 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, is aimed at providing participants and leaders with the opportunity to explore issues of homophobia and sexual diversity through workshops, discussions and information sessions.
Keynote speaker Nichola (Nicki) Ward, a trans rights activist, was among those leading workshops at the event. Her workshop allowed students to talk about transgender issues and inclusive language. She also encouraged students to be true to and love themselves.
“If you have a label, love it,” she said. “If you don’t love it, change it.”
Students Jodie Matsushita and Nikki Sale said ensuring everyone is accepted for who they are played a large role in why they attended the GSA Conference.
Ward’s talk also helped illuminate the power of the individual.
“She really talked about how much of a difference one person can make,” Sale said.
Upwards of 70 per cent of students in a Canada-wide survey say they hear phrases like “That’s so gay” at least weekly at school, but in Durham District School Board schools, work is being done to ensure that will soon become a thing of the past.
That’s the driver behind much staff development in the area of equity and inclusive education, including a recent forum called Courageous Conversations, which featured a keynote address from Helen Kennedy, executive director of EGALE Canada, a human rights organization which fights for “Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere.”
EGALE recently surveyed students at schools across Canada, including in DDSB. Unlike many Boards, Durham released its results, which Kennedy referred to as “a very good thing.”
Courageous Conversations was mandatory for at least one school administrator and one equity representative, as well as a third person “as appropriate to school needs,” from each school, says DDSB Education Officer for Staff Development Barry Bedford.
The Board’s Programs department paid for release time necessary to allow each school to be represented. It’s important, Kennedy stressed.
“Simple changes can have a dramatic impact on the safety of our kids,” she said, noting working toward equity isn’t simply a matter of teaching tolerance, an idea she stresses with her own children.
The event also provided an opportunity for educators to be reassured that they would have Board support and encouragement when implementing measures aimed at equity.
Says he hopes sharing will help wipe out the stigma, prompt people to get help
There’s a pretty good chance, TSN host Michael Landsberg told students at Brooklin Village Public School, that some of them will eventually suffer from or care for someone who suffers from depression.
And he hopes they’ll treat it like what it is: an illness.
Landsberg, host of TSN’s popular Off the Record, has long been open about his battles with mental illness and his fight to end the stigma attached with such struggles.
In preparation for his visit, students watched Landsberg’s recent documentary, Darkness and Hope: Depression, Sports and Me. The documentary deals with not only Landsberg’s struggles, but with those of well-known athletes who have also dealt with the illness, like Canadian Summer and Winter Olympian Clara Hughes, retired baseball slugger Darryl Strawberry and ex-Montreal Canadien Stephane Richer.
The discussion helped bring a face to some of what students are learning, aided by the Durham Talking about Mental Illness Coalition (TAMI). The coalition includes a number of stakeholders, including the DDSB and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. TAMI’s goal is to provide teachers with information on mental illness to use in class, and to assist with curriculum-based mental health education. As well, the group helps provide opportunities for students and teachers to meet with people who have dealt with mental illness first-hand.
It was about 15 years ago, just as his television show launched, that Landsberg said he “realized that the person I had been was long gone.”
He sought help, and found relief.
“I still suffer from depression,” he told the students. “I believe depression is not just a bump on the road for me. It is the road.”
Knowing help was available saved him. That’s part of why he chose to share his story: the hope that others in similar circumstance would know that help is available.
Landsberg and ex-Hab Richer had an open on-air discussion about their experiences with depression a few years ago. For some time after, Landsberg got emails from people who were also suffering --- many in silence. Hearing the two men talk about it openly helped some to share their burden, and seek help.
The documentary helps blow a lot of preconceived notions about depression and other forms of mental illness out of the water. Landsberg points to Hughes, a six-time Olympic medalist in cycling and speed-skating and the only athlete in history to win multiple medals at both Summer and Winter Olympics, as a prime example of the fact depression doesn’t equate to weakness.
“Clara Hughes is known as the toughest athlete out there. No one else deals with pain the way she does,” said Landsberg. “Obviously, she’s not weak.”
Students had many well-informed questions for Landsberg, including a query about how people reacted to his candor about his struggle.
“At a certain point, you don’t care what other people think,” he said.
He urged students, if they felt they were struggling with mental health issues, to share the burden with family or friends, and to seek help.
“People who are depressed are just sick, and there’s a solution to their sickness,” Landsberg said. “What do you do when you’re sick? You go to a doctor.”
DDSB Mental Health Symposium - Wednesday, April 11, 2012
If a student experiences anxiety, it can affect his or her academic achievement.
And, it would seem more and more students are experiencing anxiety, say Durham District School Board social workers Theresa Gray-Sorichetti and Andrea Malyon.
That’s why the two ran a pilot program called ‘Cool Kids,’ an Australian-developed program which uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help students deal with anxiety.
Gray-Sorichetti and Malyon had noticed there seemed to be “several schools needing the same kind of help,” Malyon said. “Anxiety seemed to be an issue that was key.”
So, they began a pilot of the Cool Kids program to serve the four Brooklin elementary schools.
The program, which ran from October to February 2012, uses CBT, a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people understand how their thoughts and feelings affect their behaviour, to help students dealing with anxiety disorders.
In Brooklin, the group started with seven children, aged 10 to 12, an age that is “often a time when anxiety becomes an identified issue,” said Malyon. But students were far from alone in participating in the program. It was facilitated by Sorichetti and Malyon, with formal sessions taking place for an hour-and-a-half each week during the school day. Parents also played a key role, taking part in three evening parent sessions.
Parental involvement was aimed at “helping parents to help their children to face their fears,” said Sorichetti.
Beyond that, in each student’s case, they were able to choose a staff member from their home school, to act as a coach.
Coaches agreed to meet with the child each school day to help them practise the skills they were learning.
During the program, students were taught to be specific about their fears, and develop coping mechanisms aimed at dealing with those fears via a variety of means including gradual exposure and skills training. Parents and coaches received instruction on how to support that work.
By the end, all involved were seeing results.
“I learned how to face my fears,” wrote one student participant.
Both Malyon and Sorichetti said they see value in running the program on a wider scale, something the DDSB’s Social Work department plans to do. After all, they said, anxious kids have a tendency to go on to become adults who suffer depression.“If we can help them when they’re young, maybe there’s less chance they’ll suffer serious depression later on, maybe they’ll have strategies to cope,” Sorichetti said.
Sean Campbell had a question for students as he spoke as part of the Durham District School Board’s (DDSB) “Hope in Mental Health” symposium Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
“What are you going to do to benefit your mental wellness?” the 22-year-old New York-based mental health advocate told a packed house of students during one of three addresses he made during the symposium.
It’s a question Campbell has spent a lot of time contemplating. After all, he grew up in a home where his father had bipolar disorder, which went long undiagnosed. And he’s struggled with his own brushes with mental illness, though not to the extent his father has.
Campbell shared his story as part of the symposium, run by the DDSB’s Student Support Leadership Initiative. The event included the keynote address as well as a number of workshops open to students and educators. As well, a number of Durham Region community mental health agencies provided displays and information for participants.
The symposium was aimed at raising awareness of child and youth mental health needs and resources.
It’s believed that one-in-five children and youth in Canada has a mental health problem, and many more students experience distress serious enough to interfere with academic performance and social well-being. But, up to 80 per cent will not receive treatment, due to fear, embarrassment, peer pressure or stigma.
For a very long time, Campbell’s father was among those who did not seek help.
Left untreated, his father’s mental illness led him to leave a lucrative career, and eventually self-medicate with alcohol. That eventually led to him going to prison, after his sixteenth drinking-and-driving related charge.
The experience left Campbell “pretty self-aware,” he told students. It also made clear to him that his father wasn’t the only one who needed to deal with mental health related issues.
By developing coping mechanisms and through use of talk therapy, Campbell says he’s been able to keep ahead of his issues. But, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had moments when he thought he might not be so different from his dad.
“I would think, ‘How much time do I have before I become my father?’” he said.
The situation has illuminated the importance of practicing good mental hygiene.
He encouraged students to “monitor feelings, thoughts, and emotions on a daily basis, and treat mental health with the same regard as you treat any other sort of hygiene.”
Identifying the source of stress and dealing with it is key, Campbell said.
It’s an important message for students, said Grade 10 student Rebecca Johnson, who is in Grade 10. She said she knows people who are grappling with such issues and need to know there’s nothing wrong with seeking treatment.
The keynote speaker at the recent And Still We Rise conference made a point that really stuck with Chrystal Bryan, chairwoman of the Durham Black Educators Network (DBEN).
Prompted by keynote speaker Jacqueline Spence, Durham District School Board students of African or Caribbean descent were easily able to identify some of the first white explorers of North America. But they weren’t nearly so quick to put a name to Mathieu da Costa, the first black person recorded to have been on Canadian soil.
DBEN was established in 2005, and meets regularly with an eye to sharing ideas, building community and discussing issues and events involving or affecting students, teachers and parents in Durham.
To that end, the group has been involved in a number of initiatives for staff, parents and students. One of the first curriculum focused initiatives was the development of the Black Studies curriculum. This interdisciplinary course is now being offered to high school students at several Durham District School Board Schools. In addition, the group has held forums for parents, to help better understand legislation affecting students. It has also held events to help parents better understand their role during standardized testing.
The group also holds workshops for teachers, with some focusing on potential leadership roles in the District, like facilitator, department heads and other administrative roles, such as vice-principal and principal.
DBEN’s biggest annual effort is the And Still We Rise conference. The event, which has run for the past three years, is aimed at motivating
DDSB students to give back to their communities while maximizing their own potential and becoming agents of social change.
For more information on DBEN, contact Cheryl Rock at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nyla John at email@example.com.
Every day in her Grade 3 classroom at Athabasca Street Public School, there’s an opportunity for Teacher Jennifer Montgomery to re-iterate the importance of digital citizenship.
That’s because her class is entirely outfitted with iPod Touch devices. Montgomery was one of the first teachers in the District to take part in a pilot project during the 2010-2011 school year, in which Grade 3 classes at five schools received class sets of the devices to use as a learning tool to support literacy. Again this school year, her class is using iPods.
Having the devices on hand allows the opportunity to remind students of the importance of digital citizenship on a daily basis.
But that her class is the only one in the school with iPods as a classroom tool doesn’t mean her students are the only ones receiving the message on being good digital citizens. Each month, a different class takes on a leadership role in running an assembly into which lessons on digital citizenship are integrated.
In her class, Montgomery has discussed with students the importance of safe browsing, such as the idea that if they get to a website they know they shouldn’t be on, they should immediately report it to an adult in charge, whether it’s a teacher, parent or caregiver. They’ve talked about respecting digital property, and further, the need to create a bibliography. That has a positive repercussion beyond giving credit where it’s due, said student Amy Nickerson.
Beyond their usefulness for lessons in digital citizenship, Amy said she’s found having an iPod available to her has another benefit: it inspires her to complete her work more efficiently.
“Then, when I get done math, I can go on the iPod to a math app,” she said.
Event Also Helps Raise Funds for The Creation of Hope Initiative
A giant, foam peanut butter sandwich that often acts as a prop when author Ted Staunton speaks to students may be responsible for Staunton’s continued success as a writer after his first book was published.
Staunton was one of five popular Canadian Young Adult authors who spoke to more than 600 Grade 7, 8 and 9 students at Eastdale Collegiate’s recently renovated theatre on Wednesday, April 4.
Other authors taking part included Eric Walters, Kathy Kacer, Teresa Toten and Shane Peacock.
Staunton told students that soon after his first book was published, he started getting requests from his publishing company for more of his work. The problem was he didn’t really have any idea what he would write about.
“I thought that if you were a writer, you just opened your brain and there were ideas there,” he told students.
It wasn’t quite that easy. But then, he spoke to a group of students. In the midst of his talk, a student crept up and tried to take a bite of the enormous foam peanut butter sandwich he used as a prop. Hilarity ensued. And what’s more, he found the basis for his next story.
“As soon as I realized that I had almost missed a story, I started paying attention,” Staunton said. “I need stuff from real life to get me going.”
Beyond hearing about how working authors go about the writing process, there were also readings from the authors’ works and music.
The event was also a fundraiser to support The Creation of Hope initiative. Launched by author Walters, the project works to bring hope to children who live in disadvantaged communities in other parts of the world. All proceeds from ticket sales to the Eastdale event were donated to support The Creation of Hope projects in Kenya.
Durham Literacy Day was a great opportunity for students, said Isabelle Hobbs, Library/Media Facilitator with the DDSB.“This gave hundreds of students a chance to hear and talk about reading and writing with their favourite authors,” she said.
There’s a message Daphne Marsella hopes students will take away from the fifth annual Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Conference, set for Friday, April 13, 2012, at the Durham District School Board Education Centre.
“We want them to go back knowing that it can be better now,” said the Durham Alternative Secondary School teacher, referring to the oft-heard ‘It Gets Better’ slogan, which is aimed at creating hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth that it will get better – if they can just get through the teen years. But they shouldn’t have to wait, said Marsella.
“There’s no reason high school can’t be a positive experience for everyone.”
The April 13 event brings together students and teacher-advisors from GSAs across the District. It’s presented by the DDSB and District 13 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, with an eye to providing participants with an opportunity to explore issues of homophobia and sexual diversity. The GSA conference includes a keynote address by Nichola Ward, a trans rights activist who founded www.transrights.ca, an array of workshops on topics ranging from Pride Journals to Healthy Relationships, displays from community agencies and an end-of-day coffee house.
It’s a day Sean Badgley and Emily Crawford, members of the Maxwell Heights Secondary School GSA, are looking forward to. Both just joined their school’s GSA this year.
“I started coming (to the lunch-time group) when I started making friends with people who were LGBTQ,” Sean said. “I thought, why not support them?”
Emily knew she’d join the group as soon as she heard about it, last year, during a Grade 9 information night.
“I just think it’s really important to accept everyone, no matter what,” she said.
GSAs are formed at DDSB secondary school, with the aim of providing safer community spaces and promote rights for all people. The goal is to create safer, more accepting school environments.
So far, that’s exactly what it is at Maxwell Heights.
“It’s possibly one of the greatest groups at the school,” Sean said. “It’s just the fact that it’s the place where everyone can be themselves, where no matter what, you won’t be judged.”
It was Rivalry Week recently for two Durham District School Board Whitby secondary schools, as Anderson Collegiate and Vocational Institute and Henry Street High School faced off for the Mayor’s Cup.
The annual championship, which pits the two schools against each other in five different events, went to Henry Street this year, evening the four-year series at two wins apiece.
Rivalry Week sees the two schools go head-to-head in five different events, with the first to win three taking the coveted title.
This year, Anderson hosted day one, with the visitors being successful as Henry Street’s junior girls’ volleyball team defeated Anderson 25-16 and 25-12.
Anderson quickly tied the series, with the school’s OFSAA champion senior boys’ basketball team defeating Henry Street 60-31.
On day two, in front of a jam-packed crowed at Iroquois Park, Henry Street’s senior boys’ hockey team edged out Anderson 3-2, after coming back from a 2-1 second period deficit.
Day three continued the drama, with Anderson’s junior boys’ basketball team extending the series to five games with a 54-38 win.
For Kaipa Bharucha, Durham Integrated Arts Camp (DIAC) meant more than an opportunity to immerse herself in the arts for 10 days each summer between Grades 7 and 12.
“I realized in Grade 7 and 8 that I was passionate about art, but I was shy,” said Bharucha, a Pickering High School graduate who is now a first-year student at Wilfred Laurier University, where she studies music.
Camp, she said, provided her an opportunity to “open up, break out of my comfort zone, in a really supportive environment.”
She wound up attending all six years she was eligible.
DIAC is a 10-day immersion experience in the arts. Students in Grades 7 through 12 have the opportunity to study in-depth in the artistic discipline of their choice, in the inspiring surroundings of Camp White Pine near Haliburton. Areas of study include instrumental music, music theatre, dance, drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, print-making and wood-working. In addition to honing their own artistic skills, students get an opportunity to see world-class performances during the camp.
It’s estimated almost 10,000 students have attended the camp over its 25 years of existence.
An event set for Friday, March 23 at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate, 1355 Harwood Ave. N. in Ajax, will raise money to go toward scholarships to allow deserving students who are experiencing economic difficulty to attend the camp. The event includes a silent auction, which begins at 7 p.m., and performances, beginning at 8 p.m.
Performers include Neil Crone of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Kevin Frank of Second City, Torq Percussion Quartet, and DIAC staff including Jim Parker, Tim Watson, Andrew Ivens, and Doug Brillenger.
It’s a worthwhile cause, said Cassie Miller, another six-year DIAC attendee who graduated from Uxbridge Secondary School.
For tickets to the upcoming fundraiser, contact Manon Laplante at 905-666-6383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There was a time when the fact Amia Ogieva couldn’t pass the “paper bag test” would have a significant negative impact on her life.
The Grade 12 Pickering High School student was among a large group of And Still We Rise Student Ambassadors, who worked with Durham District School Board staff on the third annual And Still We Rise conference, held Thursday, March 1 at the Education Centre. As part of the session offerings, Student Ambassadors researched and developed two engaging sessions – “More Complex Than Complexion – The Truth About Shadism”, and “Erase The ‘N’ Word”.
The conference, hosted by the Durham Black Educators Network, is aimed at motivating DDSB students to give back to their communities while maximizing their own potential and becoming agents of social change.
The event’s themes this year were Optimism, Ownership and Opportunity. Participants started the day by hearing from Toronto District School Board Central Coordinating Principal for Equity and Inclusive Education, Jacqueline Spence, then participated in workshops. They also had opportunities to check out exhibits from community groups, and wrapped up the day by taking part in an “Opportunity Panel.”
The day provided an opportunity to grow and challenge “the way we see the world around us,” said student ambassador Justis Croasdale, a Grade 12 student at Sinclair Secondary School.“It was an opportunity to learn a little more about myself, my history, an opportunity to grow as a person,” he said.
In fact, students from the Durham District School Board’s Pickering Family of Schools more than did it, almost doubling their original $10,000 fundraising goal for I Am Who I Am, a student-led endeavour inspired by Mitchell Wilson, an 11-year-old boy who took his own life in September, 2011.
Joined by dignitaries from Queen’s Park, Parliament Hill, Pickering City Hall and police and fire services, students presented a cheque for $19,341.48 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association Friday, March 2, 2012.
Mitchell had Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that would likely have eventually caused him to require a wheelchair.
To remember Mitchell, students from the DDSB’s Pickering Family of Schools sold wristbands, for a minimum $1 donation, and t-shirts, for $8, featuring the I Am Who I Am theme. The campaign also included a number of other activities focussed on character education and safe schools.
So successful was the campaign that organizers had to set up a PayPal account to allow for payments from elsewhere.
Money raised will go to six Durham families, as well as one from elsewhere in the GTA, who have a child with Muscular Dystrophy, for items they require such as wheelchairs or breathing apparatus.
It was 1989 when, in a Kindergarten classroom at Lakeside Public School, the very first Scientists in the School workshop took place.
Scientists in the School was founded in 1989 in Ajax by two moms who were also science professionals. It has since grown to become the largest youth science outreach charity in Canada, as measured by student participation, with branches all over Ontario and a recently-opened branch in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Students have derived great benefit from the program, noted Superintendent of Education/Program Services, Luigia Ayotte.
“This program has been helping foster a love of science in DDSB students for more than 20 years,” Ayotte said. “We are pleased to help them celebrate their 5-millionth student milestone.”
DDSB's leadership team shows its support for Pink Shirt Day and bullying prevention.
On February 29, 2012, Durham District School Board (DDSB) students, staff and school community members will be sporting pink shirts to show their support for Pink Shirt Day. Pink Shirt Day aims to bring awareness and dialogue on the issue of bullying and in particular, bullying prevention. Pink Shirt Day is just one of the many events and strategies used at the DDSB to tackle the important issue of bullying prevention.
More information about bullying prevention initiatives can be found on the DDSB’s website, www.durham.edu.on.ca in the Parent Resources/Safe Schools section.
Pink Shirt Day originated in Nova Scotia where a young man was bullied for wearing a pink shirt on his first day of high school. A group of older students chose to support this young man by purchasing and wearing pink shirts the following day. Their act of support to address homophobia sent a clear message to all students in their school: Bullying is not tolerated here.
DDSB Schools will display the posters in areas of high traffic where this visible sign of belief and practice will be seen by the entire school community.
For more information about Pink Shirt Day visit www.pinkshirtday.ca.
Standing before a sea of about 350 girls, Eagle Ridge PS principal Martine Robinson asked her audience to close their eyes, and raise their hands if they had ever been negatively affected by the behaviour of another female.
Almost every hand in the room – including those belonging to adult guests and staff – went up.
The response came as no surprise to Robinson, who said she has seen a rise in recent years of the number of females visiting the school office as a result of inappropriate, often mean, behaviour between girls.
“But this is not just an Ajax epidemic,” she told the Grade 6, 7 and 8 girls from three area schools who gathered at Eagle Ridge PS on February 15. “This is happening all over the world.”
Further provoked by a recent viewing of the film Miss Representation, which documents how media misrepresentation of women has led to under-representation of females in positions of power and influence, and urged on by the lingering question, “What now?”, Robinson and Vice Principal Patricia Yeomans started looking into what they could do to help avert the trend.
That’s when they found the Kindness Campaign. The campaign is an internationally-recognized movement, documentary and school program conceived of by two young women in California. The two, troubled by negative behaviour between young women and the lingering effects thereof, travelled by van across the United States, speaking to young women and documenting their efforts. They visited 60 cities in 28 States, and as one of the women said, “We haven’t met a single girl on this journey who hasn’t been affected by this.”
Robinson and Yeomans decided female students would benefit from viewing the documentary, and invited Grade 7 and 8 girls from nearby Lincoln Alexander and Alexander Graham Bell public schools to join Eagle Ridge PS’s Grade 6, 7 and 8 girls to see it and then discuss their responses with a panel, facilitated by Girls Incorporated of Durham, a group that encourages girls to be strong, smart, and bold through advocacy, education and programs. The panel was made up of a group of women Robinson referred to as “Phenomenal Females.”
The response from the young women in the audience was immediate and emotional. Tissue boxes could be seen being passed around during the film, and after, when the girls were asked to speak up on what they would do to change the tide, a number of specific, powerful and tearful apologies were made.
“I have been a bully to one of my friends,” one girl said. “I wish I could take that moment back, because I never wanted to hurt her.”
Turning toward her peer, the girl continued, “I’m so sorry I called you what I called you. I wish I could take it back. I’m very, very sorry.”
“People bully other people in groups, and I’ve gotten caught up in it and wanted to fit in,” she said, before apologizing for past behaviour and pledging to try not to act that way in future.
Changing the current trend may be as simple as being conscientious and conscious, another girl said.
“You just have to be nice,” she said. “You will always remember the mean things people did to you, but you’ll also remember the kind things.”
Things have changed a fair bit since Steven Bland started teaching more than 30 years ago.
Then, “I could have been fired for my sexual identity,” recalls Bland, who will soon retire as Head of English at Donald A. Wilson Secondary School.
Now, not only is he out to both colleagues and students, he’s part of newly formed group of DDSB Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgendered-Queer (LGBTQ) educators. The group, the brainchild of Staff Development Officer Barry Bedford, recently held its inaugural meeting.
The primary goal, Bedford says, is to “ensure all teaching staff knows that every member of our system is valued regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
But the possibility of other positive outcomes is also likely, say some of the teachers involved.
Daniel McPherson-Styles, a Kindergarten teacher at Dr. Robert Thornton Public School, said he was at first a little wary of such a group. If it was just going to be people getting together to complain about issues, “I’m not into that kind of pity group,” he says. But, that isn’t what the group is about.
“It’s good to get teachers together to collaborate,” he says.
It’s also a good opportunity to provide support to those who don’t feel comfortable letting anyone know about their sexual orientation, Bland says, noting he still sees some discomfort. He hopes the group’s membership expands.
“It would be nice to see many more teachers involved so people don’t feel like they’re alone,” he says.
Beyond that, it provides a venue to find ways to ensure schools are dealing with equity and diversity issues, including issues surrounding family make-up.
“It’s really hit me since I became a parent: do my kids feel like they are represented in their school?” says McPherson-Styles, noting he and his husband have attempted to help with that, volunteering together in their children’s school.
It’s only recently that students became aware of Bland’s sexual identity. He had come out to colleagues long ago, but only with the advent of Gay-Straight Alliances, of which he is the staff coordinator at his school, has he been “openly out with students.” But, it’s important, he says, to let students know that not only are they not alone, but there are people like them from all walks of life.
Bland hopes, over the short term, the group gives teachers an opportunity to “come together with like-minded people to discuss things like homophobia.” But he has a longer term wish for the group as well.
“Ultimately, I’d like to see that the teachers’ group doesn’t exist because there’s no need for it,” he says.
For more information on the group, teachers should contact Bedford at email@example.com.
It’s never too soon to start reinforcing the idea that people shouldn’t just be passive bystanders to injustice, says Craig Kielburger.
The Free the Children founder knows of which he speaks. He was only 12 years old in 1995 when he founded his organization, borne of Mr. Kielburger’s distress when he read a news story about a murdered South Asian child labour activist just Mr. Kielburger’s age. So concerned was he that he went to school and told his class the story of the boy, hoping it would spur some sort of action. He asked his classmates, “Will you join me?” Then, he waited to see if anyone would.
“The greatest change-maker isn’t the first person” who commits to a cause, he said, as he spoke to parents, teachers and students at the Durham District School Board’s Parents as Partners conference November 12 at Sinclair Secondary School. The greatest change-maker, he said, “is the second, who has the first person’s back.
“That’s how we started, with that question – could we take action?”
The importance of helping children harness their potential to become agents of change was Mr. Kielburger’s main message to those gathered for the twentieth annual conference. It’s never too soon to start encouraging children in that direction, he said.
“I don’t believe kids turn 18 and suddenly develop a social conscience,” he said.
That’s why education needs to be comprised not only of the traditional “Three Rs”, but also of the “Three Cs”: compassion, courage and community, he said, noting it’s a matter of aiming to create “shameless idealists.”
Mr. Kielburger spoke of a conference he had been invited to attend, at only 14 years of age, by the Dalai Lama, the high lama of Tibetan Buddhism. He was among a group of 30 people from around the world brought together in Sweden to study what represented the greatest challenge representing modern civilization.
After days of consideration, a media conference was held.
“The Dalai Lama said the greatest challenge facing our time is that we’re raising a generation of passive bystanders,” Mr. Kielburger said.
It’s up to parents and educators to ensure that doesn’t happen, he added, noting he recognizes the great challenge of determining how much children ought be exposed to.
Mr. Kielburger spoke of his university days, when he got so overwhelmed by all the bad news in the world that, for a time, he quit reading newspapers. He told Archbishop Desmond Tutu of his decision. Archbishop Tutu, Mr. Kielburger recalled, shook his head.
“College boy,” Mr. Kielburger recalled the South African activist and Nobel Prize winner saying to him, “What do they teach you kids in school today? The newspaper is God’s to-do list, delivered right to your front door, just for you, every morning.
The Archbishop’s comment made it clear even the worst bad news story can be one way of starting the conversation to help children want to get involved, Mr. Kielburger said.
“For parents who strive to know, how do you start the conversation (on how to make change), there are these opportunities that present themselves every day,” he said.
He also relayed the story of his mother’s inability to just walk by a panhandler. In each case, she not only gave some money, but would ask a question. Years later, he commented to her about it.
“I told my mom how much I’d admired that, how she was nice to these people,” Mr. Kielburger said. She told him that half the reason she behaved as she did was simply out of human kindness. But the other part, she told him, was for the sake of Mr. Kielburger and his brother, “so that we would acknowledge their humanity.”
There’s no question that children and young adults have compassion, Mr. Kielburger said. Parents and educators can help provide the environment necessary for kids to put that compassion into action, he said.
The role for parents and educators is in “helping students nurture that compassion, giving them the courage to act on it, and the community to support it,” he said.
This was the first year the Parents as Partners conference invited parents to bring their children along, said Durham District School Board Superintendent Janet Edwards. “The idea behind that was to engage parents and their children in an experience that would generate dialogue, create understanding and maybe inspire some action.” Young people do want to help, sometimes the just don’t know where to start.
It’s an important message for parents and educators, she noted.
“Ensuring young people have compassion and empathy, and know how to put those traits into action, is a shared responsibility of parents and the education system,” Ms. Edwards said. “Craig’s comments and achievements show just how important that role is.”
The message ties in with many of Durham District School Board’s Character Education initiatives, noted board chairman Larry Jacula.
That was the reason Carleen Blissett decided to bring along son Alex, a 15-year-old Grade 10 student. It’s important to ensure people are engaged in ensuring positive change, Ms. Blissett said.
“Around the world, people are disengaging themselves from what’s going on,” she said, noting one way her son is ensuring that doesn’t happen to him is by taking part in a YMCA leadership program.
“It’s teaching them how to be active and to implement things, and go forth and make a change, be a leader in the community,” she said.
2011-2012 The Year of Digital Citzenship at the Durham District School Board
WHITBY – Students got a chance to bring their knowledge of digital citizenship to life during a hands-on full-day workshop in stop motion film making at Julie Payette Public School in Whitby.
The event, held Wednesday, November 9 at the brand new school, saw Grade 7 students creating both the narrative and the clay characters before having an opportunity to work with The Director’s Cut, a mobile film company that brings in up-and-coming film-makers as well as the latest in digital media hardware, software and equipment to schools, to shoot stop-motion films.
Students were to create storylines that fit in with the fact the 2011-2012 school year is the Year of Digital Citizenship at Durham District School Board. The goal is to help students become responsible digital citizens.
Stories were to portray a proactive approach to bullying avoidance, said Marianne Rogers, one of the Grade 7 teachers whose students took part.
One group’s story showed a group of hockey players in a clutch end-of-game situation, explained student Liam Swann. The coach decides to put the player perceived to be the weakest member of the team on the ice, but through teamwork, players are able to get the puck to him, allowing him to score.
Not only did the event help students reinforce the importance of teamwork through their story, but it also tested their patience, as they worked to create the stop motion film, which involved shooting an array of photos for every tiny move the characters made.
“We’ve worked for two hours for 20 seconds” worth of film, Liam said.
Another group’s film showed how a theft and bullying situation was turned around.
“We’re just trying to show how you can do the right thing,” said Shawn Gocool. The event provided a “good way to influence people to do the right thing, in a fun way,” added Tyler Henry.
November 9, 2011
The Grade 11 student was on her way home from Trail Camp, part of the Medical Venturers arm of Scouts Canada she is involved in at about 11:10 a.m. Saturday, November 5. She was traveling down Manning Road, near Rossland Road in Whitby with her father and two sisters when she saw a man lying on the ground.
“He was lying on the opposite crosswalk and not getting up,” she said.
Michelle immediately grabbed her first aid kit, and ran over to him. At the same time, an off-duty firefighter arrived, along with another man and a woman. A quick check revealed the victim was not breathing and had no pulse. While the woman called 911, Michelle, the firefighter and the other man began performing CPR. The firefighter handled the breathing, while the other man did compressions, and Michelle held the 46-year-old victim’s head, counted compressions and checked his pulse.
She later learned the man had been jogging in the area when he collapsed.
The opportunity to put the training she’s received through Medical Venturers, which is held at Whitby EMS headquarters, was “kind of” what Michelle expected the real life application to be like.
“I was running through (in her head) what I was supposed to do, and hoping the ambulance would arrive fast,” said Michelle. “We go over it many, many times. It’s really good training.”
After three or four rounds of compressions, the man resumed breathing, but Michelle believes he may have crashed again as the ambulance arrived. Michelle has since learned that, by the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital, the man was not only breathing, but talking.
Officers at the scene, according to a Durham Regional Police media release, were impressed by Michelle’s “modesty, poise and courage,” which was again evident during an interview at her high school.
“Training is a good thing,” she said. “Even if you think you might not use it, you might.”
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Uxbridge Students Drive Home Message about Safety on the Roads