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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
This past Friday, Romero Raiders Football players and coaches stormed the field for their first game in 715 days. As one of the team’s Assistant Coaches and also the school’s Athletic Director, I found the day to be full of so many positive emotions. Not only were the players excited to be on the field after COVID has thwarted sports last year, but the sense of community in the school building and at the game was tremendous.
As participation in sport comes back to secondary schools this school year, students are highly motivated to be involved with team activity. Through sport, students learn life skills such as goal setting, time management, cooperation, and sportsmanship. Although some schools have chosen not to participate, Principal Carey has taken a bold step to allow sports at St. Oscar Romero this year.
The decision has paid dividends with students from all sports teams actively coming out to practice every – before and after school. The commitment shown by players is a testament to the spirit that exists here at St. Oscar Romero.
As a new staff member, I am proud to be a part of a staff that truly cares about its students and each other. I truly believe that the upcoming months will offer so much more for all involved with sport.
Below is a video of Principal Carey sharing some reflections before the the big game that took place this past Friday.
Stay tuned for more sport news as the year progresses.
There’s plenty to share: Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Soccer and more!
Looking to the meaning of Thanksgiving and October as the month of Gratitude at the TCDSB, it’s important to pause and reflect on the role gratitude plays in our respective lives. Although, each of us will be spending Thanksgiving in our own way, we’re connected as a school family with much to be thankful for.
Specifically, Thanksgiving provides us all with the opportunity to embrace the importance of gratitude in our everyday lives. As shared in the Harvard Health Publishing article Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier, “gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power” (“Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier.” Harvard Health).
Thus, as we continue to grow as Discerning Believers and shape our own unique relationship with God, gratitude can play a significant role in becoming what God intends all of us to be. From our daily interactions in school to how we engage in our broader communities, intentionally practicing gratitude can nurture a positive relationship with self and others.
Looking ahead, take the time to intentionally pause and reflect on what you are grateful for. Perhaps its the warm sun in the morning, the colour of leaves in the Fall, the support of a teacher and the friendship of a colleague. For students it could even be the high expectations of a school that is committed to community, justice, knowledge and the betterment of one’s self in doing what is right and just.
Personally, this Thanksgiving I have much to be grateful for. This includes the Romero Family. Arriving at a new school during COVID is not an easy thing. This is a reality that many of our own students may recognize, including our Grade Nines.
With all things COVID, school life is not really the same (although we’re starting to feel some normalcy again) and getting to know people behind masks and without much social interaction can be isolating at times. However, every encounter I’ve had thus far has been incredibly positive. Let me stress, EVERY.
From TPH screening at the front doors, to hallway chats with staff, to working with students on school initiatives and even when students are not having their best behavioural moments, I’m grateful for it all. These are all moments in time that connect me to others.
Everyday, I have the true privilege to engage with dedicated staff who inspire and wonderful young people who are sent to Romero by parents and caring adults who want their child to be what God intends them to be. There’s so much to be thankful for in recognizing the true gift that comes in working with young people every day. I’m grateful for the opportunity and know the weight of the responsibility.
What are you grateful for?
In the video below, Chaplaincy student leaders share thanks for their friendships, school and relationship with God.
Nonetheless, as we continue with this school year, please reflect on what you are thankful for today and everyday. You’re welcome to share your thanks here on this website; just let me know.
My hope is that you’re thankful for the Romero Family and what it means to be part of a Catholic school community that is deeply committed to ensuring that each family member can be their very best.
Romero is truly a special place.
A special note of thanks to Chaplaincy and everyone who contributed to the Thanksgiving “Civies Day” Food Drive and the Gratitude Wall this past Friday. It was truly heart warming to see staff and students both giving and showing thanks as a loving community.