The Gifts I Bring to Canada

When the students were first presented with the idea of entering a competition that would focus on their gifts, they showed little interest. They didn’t welcome having a camera pointed at them, nor did they think they could finish the sentence “My gift is…”. After brainstorming possible talents, they were able to identify with some examples and create “I”-statements to express their gifts. This exercise of self-analysis and taking personal inventory, which they rejected and considered intimidating at first, gave the students a sense of confidence and empowerment which will influence their ability to take risks in language learning – to voice their ideas and attempt assignments that may seem difficult – and actively participate in a new community. 

This video competition also gave the newcomer students the opportunity to build community within the class and beyond. New to the country, province, city, and school, these students have had few opportunities to interact, and so this project created an environment where they learned more about each other – their interests and their languages – and encouraged each other to take risks. The collaboration with Mr. Perrotta, Vice Principal, in creating the video furthered these students’ sense of recognition. Therefore, in addition to the literal experience of seeing each other’s faces, the students felt seen – by themselves, their school, and the greater TCDSB community.

Anti-Bullying Awareness Week: Presentation Reflection

A key highlight of Anti-Bullying Week has been the presentation for Gr. 9 students. The presentation teaches Gr. 9 students how to stand up to bullying in a way that is interactive and informative. Facilitated by Gr. 12 leaders , the goal has been to encourage everyone to lead by trusting in themselves and the Romero Family.

The presentation focused on the effects that bullying can have and what forms of bullying exists. Along with focusing on the “Bully,” the presentation addressed the “Bystander.” Students watched a short-film which showed a series of different decisions a bystander can make – both positive and negative. After the presentation, Grade 9 students participated in group conversation that activated their prior knowledge and new learning. The students were empowered to share their voices from the onset of the presentation.

Along with other activities including Bingo, students were introduced to supports such as the Anonymous Alerts, a web-based application where students can report incidents of bullying. The presentation also included an open floor, led by Gr. 12 students, where participants reflected on bullying, past experiences etc. Of course, every presentation demands a Kahoot. Needless to say, all of the students had a blast answering questions in such a way, especially with prizes to giveaway.

Importantly, the presentation concluded with Gr. 12 leaders, highlighting the results of the student bullying surveys conducted earlier in the week. The results garnered immediate attention by participants as they reflected real life and real people. From this, Gr. 9 students added their names to a pledge wall – promising to take a stand against bullying. Overall, the presentations provided all participants with an opportunity to be Effective Communicators.

Special thanks are extended to all the teachers who participated in the presentations with their Grade 9 classes. This includes: Ms. Aucoin, Mr. Colle, Mr. Corrigan, Mr. Burns, Mrs. Kingswell, Mrs. Reily, Mr. Prudant and Mr. Anthony.

Importantly, huge thanks to the Gr. 9 students for being active participants. Here at Romero, it’s more than just a high school – it’s a family. Family members are called to treat each other with respect, trust, love and care. Thus, all students are called to be caring family members in school and beyond.

Let’s continue to make Romero proud!

Written By

Andre, Andrhei and Antonio

Anti-Bullying Awareness Week: Tuesday Thoughts

Yesterday, we continued with our Anti-Bullying Awareness Week efforts. As our Gr. 12 classmates prepared activities and facilitated presentations, we took some time to reflect on the significance of this week and our continued learning as a school community. In conversation with Ms. Mormile and Mr. Mendes, we took the time to understand fully.

Tuesday’ Anti-Bullying Awareness Week activities included making Friendship Bracelets.

Why is it Valuable for Gr. 12 Students to be Leading Anti-Bullying Awareness Week?

It is valuable for the Gr. 12 students to be leading Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, because we are both showing young students (primarily Gr. 9s) that bullying is not appropriate or morally guided. Equally, we are showing younger students that they can very much lead. This leadership is critical for the St. Oscar Romero school family to thrive and be a safe place for all.

It’s important that the Gr. 12s lead this week with courage, resilience and determination so that a difference can be made. By bringing this vision for the week to life, we hope all students are inspired by our hard work and community spirit. In particular, we hope that Gr. 9 students have more confidence in themselves and stand up to bullying. The St.Oscar Romero Family is an inclusive and safe space for all students and staff, and we want to ensure that everyone feels dignified, valued and respected.

Why is it Important for Gr. 9 Students to Participate in Anti-Bullying Awareness Week?

It’s very important for the Gr. 9 students to be engaged as the newest members of our school community. This is their first year in high school and as the youngest grade, the students have much to adjust to. Starting high school, we’re sure the Gr. 9 students had particular assumptions created by the media they consume. This, includes what the school may feel like. We as seniors, needed to show the Gr. 9 students that to be in high school is to be a leader. This includes making it known that bullying is not acceptable and will not be tolerated at our school or anywhere else.

By being proactive and preventing negative incidents before they occur, we are encouraging the active responsibility of all students. Throughout our four years we want to grow as Responsible Citizens who give witness to Catholic Social Teaching by promoting peace, justice and the sacredness of human life. With our Gr. 9 peers starting off their high school experience with these open, engaging and meaningful conversations, we hope that they grow in understanding what being a Responsible Citizen is and the the importance of coming together as a Caring Family Members.

As the week continues, warm thanks are extended to the entire Romero Family for their support.

Remember to press Play For Anti-Bullying!

Written By: Antonio, Andhrei and Andre

Anti-Bullying Awareness Week: Getting Started

Yesterday marked the beginning of Anti-Bullying Awareness Week!

Throughout this week, a number of student-led events will be moderated by Grade 12 students. The purpose of this week is for students to learn together and strengthen the bonds of community. Gr. 12 students will be facilitating a number educational workshops and activities for Gr. 9 students. These workshops, presentations and activities will focus on learning about bullying, increasing awareness, managing situations, learning about the role and responsibilities of bystanders, developing empathy, and learning about available resources both in school and beyond.

Over the course of the past two weeks, Gr. 12 students from Mr. Mendes and Ms. Mormile’s religion classes have worked very hard to develop the student led presentations, which will take place this Wednesday and Thursday. These presentations are both informative and a call to action, where students will be encouraged to be responsible citizens who live their lives by giving witness to Catholic social teaching.

Needless to say, the effort being put forward is great. Students have worked vigorously to prepare music, set up technology, develop content and more. Student voice has been engaged with in-school surveys conducted about bullying. Furthermore, students are documenting the week by capturing media content, hosting activities during lunch and more.

With a gaming theme, the goal is to engage the entire Romero Family in new learning and a shared understanding of bullying and it’s impact. It’s been an amazing start to the week and we all look forward to making this the best Anti-Bullying Awareness Week yet.

Remember to, press Play For Anti-Bullying

Written By: Antonio, Andhrei, Andre

Gr. 10 Civic Students Address Real-World Issues

In Civics (CHV2O3), students explore the rights and responsibilities associated with being an active citizen, while also identifying important topics from community involvement to environmental engagement and so much more.

The goal for students is to develop their citizenship all while recognizing the critical role they play both in the context of today and tomorrow. As such, it’s crucial that students develop a personal interest in politics, society and work to be engaged as active citizens.

Recently, students were to engage as responsible citizens and effective communicators by reflecting on a key issue that they deemed significant. Students were to write a letter to the appropriate member/level of government with the goal to address a real-world problem through an active discourse.

Once the letters were completed and reviewed, students choose the appropriate politician (and appropriate level of government) to contact via email. A select few students may even hear back from these politicians regarding their suggestions and current action plans. This is a unique opportunity that allows students to address real issues in an experiential way.

Alyssa Da Silva represents our classroom this semester with a successful letter on mental health resources within schools – an issue she feels passionate about and wants to bring attention to. In addition to bringing awareness, Alyssa shows us just why mental health is so important and directly impacts students’ ability to succeed in school and in society. In fact, Ontario Premiere Doug Ford recently replied to Alyssa with the following:

Congratulations to Alyssa and all the students who participated in the letter writing process.

Every student has the potential to be the change the world needs.

Treaties Recognition Week: Learn, Unlearn and Relearn

Looking back on my high school experience, I certainly feel aged when reflecting on the differences between now and then. Beginning high school in September of 1994 without any concept of “www” is a definitive difference. With this, the notion of being a self-directed learner was not part of the common educational vernacular as information and knowledge was shared and very much owned by teachers and confined to classrooms. Equally, textbooks constructed information and knowledge from a particular point of view all while the classroom was singular in it’s approach. That was then and this is now.

Today, schooling is very much about nurturing young people to be autonomous learners who can learn, unleaarn and relearn in class and importantly beyond. As noted by Utech and Keller in their essay Becoming Relevant Again: Applying Connectivism Learning Theory to Today’s Classrooms, “knowledge therefore is not a set of facts but rather a learner’s ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn information quickly and be able to apply that new knowledge in an ever-changing information landscape.” They continue to share that “learning is the ability to discover something unknown. Unlearning involves critically analyzing and in some cases rejecting information or beliefs once held to be true in the presence of new information. Finally, relearning is the arriving at a new understanding, sometimes replacing perspectives that were once expected or believed from past experiences” (Utech & Keller, 2019).

It wasn’t until I was in post-secondary that I began my journey as a deep learner. I realized that in high school, my ability to discover the unknown wasn’t deeply nurtured. This is not a criticism but rather a reflection of the times. Nonetheless, there were many unknowns that would have made schooling so much more relevant over twenty-years ago.

Specifically, when thinking about Canada, our shared history continues to become fully seen. The learning of our nation’s history today is much different than yesterday. Bombastically, my teenage self had no knowledge of Residential Schools, The Indian Act or Treaties. I’m still rattled by the thought that the last Canadian Indian Residential School closed in 1996. I was going to school as a 15 year-old thinking about what the cafeteria was serving and which movie to rent on VHS, all while today’s traumatic history was happening in my real time. I didn’t know. I didn’t know Canada fully.

This reminds me of why Treaties Recognition Week is so important.

In a world where information is everywhere, the ability to learn, unlearrn and relarn mustn’t be taken for granted. The potential of connecting with authentic voices, understanding story and fully seeing comes when we think critically, reframe and embrace knowledge as ever-evolving.

Thus, we are all called to be life-long learners and Responsible Citizens. As it pertains to Canada’s history of cultural genocide including the role of the Catholic Church, we’re all called to learn, unlearn and relearn while owning our past and moving forward with a commitment to truth and reconciliation. It’s not about guilt but moving forward with a call to learn and serve.

So, as all of Canada continues on the journey of Truth and Reconciliation, take the time this week to create new learning and discover why Treaties Recognition Week matters.

Be committed to learning, unlearning and learning beyond the classroom and textbook. Begin, here with a number of resources curated by the TCDSB: Treaties Recognition Week

Romero Visionaries Presents…

Hi Romero Family,

Over the course of the past two weeks, I’ve continued to capture Romero school memories. Specifically, as I look forward to capturing more sports, I have been able to attend Romero Raiders Football games. As I continue to grow as a photographer, the football games, give me plenty of exciting moments to capture.

Below are a collection of photos from the Romero vs. Carr game, which took place on Wednesday October 28.

Outside of school, I love to discover the city of Toronto.

Different environments allow me to learn about lighting, composition and storytelling. As I visit unique environments, I have to learn how to use my DSLR camera in order to take the best photos possible.

Below, is a series titled the “The Streets of Toronto.”

I’ll have more photos to share in a couple of weeks. Thanks for taking the time to view my photos.

Bye for now,

Phuong

Romero Visionaries Presents…

Firstly, let me just start by stating that I’m by no means a health professional. Rather, I’m a curious teen who like so many teenagers, has been navigating the complexities of COVID. From adults to teens and younger children, people around the world have been adversely affected by COVID-19. These past 17 months have been extremely difficult and as we look to hope and normalcy, the adverse effects cannot be ignored.

From my perspective, when the issue of mental health and wellbeing arises in a conversation, teens are often overlooked. If and when, we are given the chance to speak our minds, we are either misunderstood or not taken as seriously as we should be. With all of this in mind, it’s important to highlight the mental struggles that teenagers are going through, thoroughly address them, and to provide teens with the tools to work through the challenges they are facing. Change is happening. Real systematic change is needed.

Looking beyond COVID, teenagers were already quite vulnerable. In other words, being a teenager was hard to begin with. Adults have shared with me that being a teenager was the most difficult years of their life. Frankly, I can completely understand this. It’s not easy being a teenager.  You are faced with so many new realities that didn’t exist in early childhood or adolescence.

For starters, there are the pressures to conform to the standards and expectations of the world, your friends, and your family. Then, there is the idea of having to discover who you are and who you want to become in a short time span. Not to mention, there’s school, home, and other responsibilities that weigh on your shoulders. On top of this, you have to navigate emotions that are completely new to you. I myself can attest that the list can just go on and on from here.

Add a world-wide pandemic to being a teenager just further complicates things.

For the adults reading this:

Imagine being a teenager in March 2020. The world stopped. We went from a two week extended March Break to now 17 months of COVID impacted schooling. All things online added to an already stressful situation as did seeing real world realities unfold on social media while living in isolation. From COVID deaths to social and racial injustices taking place, the world seemed to be burning.

The cumulative effect of all of those factors have been debilitating in many ways for teenagers. Mental health has deteriorated and we can’t pretend that everything in just fine. For there to be positive change there must be a shift that promotes Mental Wellness everyday of the year.

Fortunately, for us at Romero we are a community with supports and so many adults who deeply care. Also, The Toronto Catholic District School Board takes mental health and well-being very seriously and has a number of supports available as found here: Student Mental Health Resources

Looking ahead, let’s remember to take care of one another in our daily interactions. So, remember to be kind, listen, pause, find balance and importantly ask for help if needed.

Thanks for reading,

Melissa

Car Wash For Terry

On Friday, October 15th students from St Oscar Romero’s GLE course were living a life of service all while developing their leadership, collaboration and communication skills by raising funds for the Terry Fox Foundation.  

With students rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work necessary, over two-hundred dollars was raised. Importantly, the students involved felt immense pride in their service and truly fulfilled in working together towards a common goal.

The entire school community is so proud of the students as they continuously demonstrate their leadership ability.

Importantly, big time thanks goes to school CYW, Mr. Carlo Cassano for his endless inspiration, guidance, support and transformational contributions to the Romero Family school community.

Romero Visionaries Presents…

Hello Romero Family!

My name is Melissa Andrade and I’m a Grade 10 student here at Romero.

Recently, I joined a new school club called Romero Visionaries. Moderated by our Vice Principal, Mr. Perrotta, Romero Visionaries provides students – like myself – with the opportunity to be a part of the content creation for our school’s website, share our passions, connect with special guest speakers and grow through other experiences such as the Romero exclusive, Disney Poster Design challenge for the MCU film Eternals which Mr. Raterman of the Arts Department is co-leading.

Each student who decided to join this club has their own interests and talents that they want to grow and share. For me, my passion is writing.

I’ve always been fond of writing and fell in love with words from my interests in books. As a child, I always had a book in hand and became immersed in all of the various worlds that came to life in each book I read. With these worlds, I was and continue to be deeply intrigued at a writer’s capability to create places that go beyond any figment of my imagination.

For most of my life, I found the very idea of books to be fascinating, but I only saw them as a means of enjoyment or education; not as something that I could actually create myself. This thought changed last year in Grade 9 all because of my English class.

At the time, I was working away on my final assignment for my Academic English course. The ISU for our entire class was to create a Google Slides presentation applying all of what we learnt, to a specific topic and creating our own short story inspired by Greek mythology. When I finally completed this last assignment, I realized how much fun I had during the process of developing the idea of my own short story and seeing it come to life. At that very moment, I came to the revelation that I can actually write and be like all of the other writers who were a major source of inspiration to me.

Now a couple of months later, I’m a “Visionary” who is so thrilled at the chance to share my passion with everyone at school and whomever may visit this website.

My bi-weekly column is titled “Words by Melissa.”

Basically, every other Wednesday throughout this school year, I will be writing an article of interest and/or sharing school news. From hard-hitting news, to Romero stories, to popular culture and more, “Words by Melissa” will provide me the opportunity to share stories that I find interesting, provocative and inspiring.

My first article launches Wednesday October 27.

Until Wednesday,


Melissa Andrade