Welcome the New

Hello, and welcome to CCH. I am Mrs. Teri Hartman, and for this first blog post I will put on my English teacher hat in order to relay a small lesson on the power of diction. Don’t worry; it will be quick and painless and has everything to do with my main idea.

Naturally, you may be asking yourself, “Welcome the ‘New’ what, exactly?”  You may think that the title of this blog post is a grammatical error. Au contraire! I purposefully used “New” as an abstract noun, rather than as an adjective to describe something specific. If I used “new” as an adjective, then all of a sudden I’ve narrowed the what of the New you should be open to. However, my wish for you is to welcome THE New, all the New you can muster, in fact. By this, “New” becomes an abstract noun: an entity of its own to meet in this 2017-2018 school year.

Some of this New may be super exciting and fun. Maybe joining a new club will open up angles of your identity you’ve never seen before.  Or maybe meeting New people will help you create some of the closest relationships of your life.

However, some of the New may not be so comfortable. I argue, actually, that a lot of New (AKA: CHANGE) is scary. We like the familiar because we can go on auto-pilot and not really have to think too hard or risk too much. The problem with having no New is then we don’t become New, either. Think that’s not so bad? Ask yourself in twenty years if you’d like to hear your teenage advice on balancing your future career and family, or watching your future child suffer from a broken heart. If it wasn’t for my own struggle and broken heart (which I could only earn from New) I wouldn’t know how to navigate through these very real problems.

For our grade tens, they’ve already met a shade of New yesterday on the first day at CCH. And from what I’ve heard, they’ve all survived! For some of our seasoned high school students, they will still meet New when they get their first not-so-great grade, or experience their first real betrayal this year. For them, New will be a whole other discomfort to get to know.

These all sound terrifying and exactly what we don’t want to encounter. Your instinct may be to avoid and hide from New. Nonetheless, despite our best efforts, New finds us anyway. You see, the trick to not letting New chase you into the corner, is to ask it what it’s there to teach you. 

Before I take my English teacher hat off, I’ll share with you some wise words about New from the great Sufi poet, Rumi:

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 

It may be hard to remember to “meet [New] at the door laughing” when New seems tougher than you, but New is temporary and always changing, and will leave you with a lesson if you let it.

Keep those hearts open, folks.

  • Mrs. Hartman

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Mrs. Hartman is the Lead English teacher and Blog Administrator at CCH. When she’s not marking papers, you will find her writing, reading, scrapbooking, cuddling with her dog, reading, writing, singing, and writing. Her favourite things about CCH are all of the amazing people she works with every day.

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Filed under Advice Column, SchoolHacking

If I Were Shakespeare, This Would be a Couplet

Good morning, Oki, Bonjour and Konnichiwa Catholic Central Community.

Thanks to Mrs. Hartman and “Cougars With Quills” for inviting me to submit a blog post on the occasion of my graduation from Catholic Central.  Shakespeare liked to end his Acts with a beautifully succinct couplet – two lines that effectively summarized the preceding events.  Would that I had Shakespeare’s talent.  This one is going to be a little longer.

I have been a teacher for longer than most of my students have been alive.  That truly is the definition of life-long learning.   After that length of time, one should have managed to internalize a few lessons. 

The first lesson, to use the words of the writer Robertson Davies, is simply this:  It does no good to be afraid.  In other words,  Be Brave.  Anxiety is not the same thing as fear; anxiety is nature’s way of telling us that we need to be prepared because something unique or new or unexpected is happening.  Anxiety will remind you to make some preparations, to ask for advice and to proceed with a degree of caution.  Fear is different.  Fear paralyzes our will and prevents us from action.  So I say again – Be Brave.  Don’t be afraid to fail, to make mistakes, to look foolish.  Try new things.  Stand up for what you believe.  Speak out when you see injustice.  Take on challenges and try something new even if you don’t know the outcome.  At CCH, you are part of a community who will support you,  and I hope we’ve taught you a little about the importance and power of prayer.  The Universe was designed to work.  Don’t be afraid to discover all its infinite possibilities for you.

The second lesson: Details matter.  When we talked to you about “striving for excellence” or being held to a higher standard, we were talking to you about the importance of paying attention to details – or recognizing that “good enough” is not enough.  (If you were at the closing Mass, you can insert the Van Halen and M and Ms story here.)  So – when I made your lives difficult over things like hats, and cell phones, and dress code, and being late – it’s because I want you to be more than just “good enough”.  It is a competitive world out there and the fine details matter – like saying “Please” and “Thank-you”, cleaning up your table in the cafeteria, being on time, being respectful during prayer or moments of silence.  When you pay attention to those details, you show your best self. 

The last lesson:  Everyone you meet in your life has something to teach you.   That means that every person you meet has a gift for you and, in return, you are teaching others, whether you realize it or not.  Ideally, it’s a positive lesson – someone models for you an action or says something wise and memorable.  Sometimes, it’s a negative lesson- one that leaves us thinking, “I’ll NEVER be like that”.  Either way, everyone you meet can teach you something,  and, by the way, I mean – meet face-to-face- not through (anti-) social media.  If you recognize that everyone has a gift for you, then you will automatically treat each person you encounter with respect and compassion.  You will see that every person is truly a potential teacher and student, and you will be more likely to grow from your experience.  One of the most cherished memories I will take of my years here at CCH are the many  gifts and teachings I have received from the students I encountered every day. 

Like the graduates, in September I’m going to be in a new place, surrounded by a  different culture, hopefully learning a new language and taking the first steps on the next part of my life.  Thanks to the CCH community, I can do that without fear, with a focus on excellence and with a lot of gifts that I know will help me on my journey.  I hope you can all say the same, when it comes time for you to move on from CCH.

May the Lord bless you and keep you all, safe in the palm of His hand.  You have made 37 years seem like a couplet.  Thanks.  It was fun.

  • Carol Koran

carol grad

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Filed under CCH People, CCH People to Know, Celebrations, Faith Life

Farewell to CCH – 2017

Dear CCH,

I am well aware that in less than  20 days, I will be leaving these halls as a student… forever. Although I know this to be true (as clearly I am writing about it), the fact still hasn’t quite kicked in yet. It seems like just yesterday I was shuttling between campuses and struggling to find my classes on the first day of each quarter… and now that I finally no longer have to take the shuttle and have become quite familiar with these halls, they kick me out!

In all seriousness, my time spent at CCH will be cherished forever. I have learnt many important things here. For one, a math teacher’s calculator is as precious to them as a child. Secondly, the biology teachers keep some nasty eye balls in formaldehyde in the back of their classrooms. (*gags*) And lastly, that teachers can be nearly just as ridiculous as their students… you are who you teach, or so they say.

So I guess this is goodbye CCH. It really hasn’t sunk it yet that I’m actually getting out of here. I guess I won’t believe it until I am truly free and taken captive by another educational institution. Sayonara, old friend.

  • Chloe

 

So this is it. This was high school. There will be no more obnoxiously loud cheering for the Cougars, no more hanging out in the cafeteria exchanging memes or arguing over politics, no more rides between the west and the east campus or pit stop at Timmy’s to replenish our energy with sugar. No more mandatory 8:00 AM classes or morning prayers. No more “buddy” from Mr. Jetten or kind words from Mrs. Leroux. No more admiring Mrs. Polec’s forever flawless fashion sense or hearing Mrs. Koran’s quarterly announcement with the famous “Hello, Oki, Bonjour and Konnichiwa…”.

Yes they were all right; this is bittersweet.

Perhaps the one thing I will miss the most is simply the class of 2017. Every single one of you. My best friends, my friends, my fellow classmates and the ones I crossed in the hallway every single day. I will miss seeing your faces and hearing your stories…what makes every single one of you so special and different. I wish you all the best and I cannot wait to hear what amazing things you achieve.

As I am writing this farewell, all the memories and achievements from these past three years flow into my mind. I remember entering CCH for the first time and sitting down in Mr. LeBleu’s Science 10 class knowing close to no one and with very precarious English. I was fourteen years old, without a learner’s license, and no self confidence.

Today, I came back from a national speech competition and wore my grad dress for the second time to attend the French Immersion graduation ceremony. This is just to show that CCH is a school that will bring out the best and support every single one of their students. CCH taught me the art of badminton, how to correctly swing a bat, gave me the opportunity to meet Buzz Aldrin and Martin Luther King the third, participate in a finance competition and a national science fair,  go to Banff twice to join in a Leadership focused trip, sustain my French while teaching me how to write a critical essay in the language of Shakespeare, and travel to Japan. (Yes, do not worry, I did also study!) CCH forever and always pushed my limits and challenged me to think bigger, better and in a creative fashion while always having other individuals in mind. Thank you CCH.

And so, farewell. I will be back, I am sure of it, but not as a student. You have become my second home.

And like any good friend or family member, it is hard to say goodbye. However, by leaving, I know students will come after me, writing their farewell on Cougars with Quills, remembering all the great memories they have made in those two campuses. They, too, will find themselves and who they wish to become. All of this because of the staff and teachers that are so attentive.

Thank you, and au revoir.

  • Charlène

Editor’s note: It has been an absolute joy to work with these two fine young ladies. They dedicated three energetic and fun-filled years to the Cougars With Quills team. You will be missed. – Mrs. Hartman

 

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Filed under CCH People, Celebrations, Grade Twelve

What it Takes to be a CCH Blogger

Even though quarter 4 just started, I’m taking this opportunity to actively recruit new bloggers for the 2017-2018 school year.

But before I get into the particulars about what I’m looking for, I thought I’d have some of our current bloggers inspire you! Here’s what they have to say about being a blogger for Cougars With Quills:

Victoria: To be a blogger, you need motivation to write. If you don’t, you’ll be left sitting at a blank computer screen, unable to form a sentence that you like. But if you actually have the motivation and intent to write, then it is no longer a task, it’s enjoyable. The words effortlessly flow onto the page. Then afterwards, you appreciate it much more.

Charlène: Many would think that blogging is for those who will change their entire schedule to be able to be in an English Honours class and are always seen with their nose in a book. Perhaps to some, the stereotype may be accurate, but a basic knowledge of English vocabulary (thks mrs hartman four korrecting me) and a love for rants will suffice. By joining Cougars With Quills you will learn how to eat four to five slices of pizza without anyone noticing how much of a pig you truly are, and laugh unexpectedly at hilarious jokes. Honestly, if you are hesitating, just give it a try. In my last two years on the team, I discovered the art of writing freely without the pressure of grades and had the chance to create connections with teachers. Between interviewing previous CCH valedictorians, writing Mr. Wikenheiser’s life story, and ranting on how fantastic my exchange in Japan was, my experience being a blogger was anything but dull.

Chloe: As a member of the CCH blog for the past three years I can assure you that joining Cougars With Quills is by far the best decision you will ever make. It will completely change your life, as you will subsequently become incredibly good looking, popular, and rolling in mad cash. Okay, well, maybe not… but what I CAN assure you is that you will receive copious amounts of free food, endless laughs, and of course the ability to freely express your thoughts on the World Wide Web. Pretty cool right? And did I mention that “Two Guys Pizza” is a frequent staple at all blog meetings?

So what have I learned from being a part of the blog over the last three years? Well to start, be yourself. Yes, as cheesy as it is, have confidence in how you express yourself; don’t be afraid to say exactly what’s on your mind. (Well, maybe not exactly.) Second, never underestimate the power of procrastination. It can be both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it results in a lack of creative juices, other times, you surprise yourself with just how well you can write in the crammed span of 30 minutes. Either way, don’t stress too much; Mrs. Hartman has always been super accommodating and understanding in regards to our busy teenage lives. That being said, send your posts in on time. Lastly, I’ve learned to look at writing as more than just a chore, or something to earn me marks. That’s right! I genuinely enjoy writing these posts. It’s given me the opportunity to voice what I’m thinking without really having to connect to any “assignment topic”, and there’s something very real and enjoyable about that. Anyways, my advice for those of you thinking about joining the blog is short and simple: DO IT.

The Cougars With Quills team is actually quite small (no more than nine bloggers in total), but these nine students need to be dedicated, self-motivated, and responsible members. Because a lot of our work is done in the cloud (we only have about four face-to-face meetings in the school year), a basic knowledge of Google Docs and Drive, a cell phone number, and a reliable attitude are all the tools you need.

If you’re interested in joining the team for next year, please come see me at Campus West, or email me at hartmant@holyspirit.ab.ca.

  • Mrs. Hartman

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Vimy Ridge 2017

You’ve heard about it all year, but you may not know exactly what the Vimy Ridge Trip is all about. After having an interview with the wonderful Mrs. Kirkvold, I am prepared to share all the information with you.

A group of 43 travelers (37 of which are students) are taking a trip to France for many activities, primarily, as the name suggests, to focus on following the footsteps of many soldiers in Vimy Ridge. 

There are numerous items on their itinerary that the group will get the privilege to do over the course of the nine days. Incidentally, they left yesterday, on the 3rd of April. They flew directly to London and from there, they will go for two days seeing various locations: The Strand, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, and Covent Garden, just to name a few.

After that, they will travel to Dover and catch a ferry to cross the English Channel. They will then spend time in the Normandy area visiting Juno Beach and the Beny-Sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery. In addition, the students have chosen soldiers to pair with and do research; many of them from the Lethbridge/Alberta region.  

Following that, they will head to the Vimy region and the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, The Artios Expo in Arras and the Vimy 100th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony on April 9th. Lastly, they go to take in the sights of Paris to visit the Place de la Concorde, Champs-Élysées, Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. Overall, it looks like quite the adventure.

The purpose of the trip itself, as Mrs. Kirkvold put it, was “to carry the legacy of remembrance, and understand, to a greater depth, the sacrifice of these young people. As well, we want to provide our students with an opportunity that will be so much more than what they would receive in the classroom setting. Again, they will walk in ‘their’ footsteps”. 

As a veteran trip-goer, Mrs. Kirkvold and the other adult supervisors are most excited to see the students go through an emotional journey that will inspire them to be able to tell their own story, as well of one of a soldier.  

Be sure to ask our fellow students about their exciting expedition when they come back on the 11th of April.

  • Victoria

dsc_0890

Victoria Digout-Ford is a grade 11 student at CCH. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, babysitting, acting, and binge-watching whatever is on Netflix. Her favourite thing about CCH is getting the chance to hang out with her friends and sing in the school choir.

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