Monthly Archives: October 2013

School Hacking #2 – Tips and Tricks for Exam Week Preparation

Hello fellow students! We have almost made it through quarter one. You might be reviewing in class by now or finishing up the last few concepts. Those of you who are new to CCH might be sitting in class, thinking “WHERE DID THE TIME GO!?!?!” But worry not – the following are a few tips for exam week preparation.

1) Study cards – I know you may think study cards seem lame, but they are actually very helpful. Instead of shuffling through pages upon pages of notes, all of the concepts are right there printed nicely on cards. It can be a great way to study as well since you’re actually going to have to go back through things to write them down on the cards.

2) SLEEP! – Don’t forget to get some rest! You don’t want to show up to an exam tired and brain dead. Even though you may be tempted to squeeze in as much knowledge as possible the night before a test, it’s never a good idea to stay up late before you take any exam.

3) Bring a water bottle – Not only is it important to hydrate for health reasons, it also keeps your brain working. A hydrated body makes a happy mind. It will help you remember things, and generally, you will feel much better if your body is properly hydrated.

4) Use Flex Time – This is not your “lunch hour”. Even though you eat lunch during this time, that isn’t what it was created for. Usually, teachers will be in their classrooms or you may have to book a flex appointment, but the staff is always very good at helping students during this time. If you are unsure of something, ASK! Don’t leave it until the last minute and panic over it during the last few days before your exam. E-mail your teacher if necessary; they are there to help you.

5) Study party – Now I’m not sure about the rest of you but, personally, when I invite a friend over to study we don’t get anything done. (Unless it’s Kyra – she keeps me in line.) Inviting friends over to study rarely ever works. Instead, find a few people from your class and hang out with them in the classroom at Flex. These people will usually be willing to study with you. Don’t forget to lean on your parents; don’t hesitate to ask them to quiz you.

6) Take a break! – Goodness! Have I really been studying for two hours? Your teachers are not going to tell you to sit down and study until you fall asleep. Every 30-45 minutes, get up, walk around the house, find a snack or a drink, and/or take a washroom break. If you study nonstop, all day, you aren’t going to remember much. It will probably turn into a big bowl of mush inside your head. Taking breaks refreshes your mind and things will be more likely to stick.

Following these tips should help your tests go smoothly. Good luck to all of you on your upcoming final exams!

– Nicole

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Nicole Anton is a Grade Eleven student at CCH. She enjoys writing novels, English class, and cooking. Her favourite thing about CCH is that there are always great activities going on.

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CCH People to Know – Mr. Anthony Vercillo

The athletics department at Catholic Central High School has a proud history of success. Co-curricular sports is a way for students to not only develop their athletic skills but they help them develop many other positive attributes. In order to foster these life skills, it requires the dedicated work of staff members and volunteers who spend many hours of their personal time with students outside the classroom. One such teacher is Mr. Anthony Vercillo.

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Many of you may have seen Mr. Vercillo walking around the hallways of both campuses, but how well do you know him? Others might have had the pleasure of being in one of his classes or have been coached by him. Prior to this interview, I knew little of who Mr. Vercillo really is and his significance to both the CCH coaching staff and teaching staff. During this interview, I learned a lot about his valuable contribution to our school.

Vercillo, who graduated from CCH in 2000, has two brothers who also played sports at our school. Although one played football, as he did, the other brother played basketball during his time here. Vercillo started his coaching career at an early age when a former coach recruited him to be involved at the junior high level. He recalls, “I played the game [myself] and it has opened a lot of doors for me, both as a player and a teacher. The next thing I knew, I was the head coach of a high school football team”. Currently, our Cougar football team is holding a 5-1 record. This places the Cougars, according to Vercillo, third in the province with a talented group of veteran leaders on the team.

When students complete their time on his team, Mr. Vercillo hopes that, if nothing else, the players take away the ability to learn, and to be appreciative and hard working. He believes that “if they work hard, [they will] know it will get them far, and it will eventually help them to be a successful, young adult”. One example Vercillo cited was how team members need to focus on the next play, but to keep it simple and small. To this end, athletes learn to execute plays and techniques perfectly, rather than getting caught up in the big picture.

Along with his successful coaching and teaching career, Vercillo also looks to the future. Mr. Vercillo revealed in our interview that he has a three-year old daughter. Maybe one day she will have the opportunity to walk the hallways of CCH and be proud of the photos she will see of her dad, both as a former player and coach. Even more importantly, maybe she will see the great number of lives that her dad has positively influenced during his time at our school.

– Adam

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Adam Kobza is a Grade Eleven student at CCH. He enjoys vigorous reading, staying up too late, and long naps. His favourite thing about CCH is all the amazing staff and students.

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What Your Teachers Are Doing

Last week, students had a super triple deluxe long weekend. Along with Thanksgiving, there were two professional development days: one that was division-wide and the other was school-based.

I imagine a lot of you were all snuggled in bed, dreaming of summer vacation or winning the lottery or Justin Bieber, or whatever you crazy kids love nowadays. All the while, your teachers were up, bright and early, working hard to make CCH the great place that it is. In order for your teachers to be role models for learning, they need to do some learning themselves. And this is what PD days are all about, kids.

I’m sure I’m not the only teacher who would admit this, but I love to learn. I love stretching my mind to take in new things, to try different pieces of the puzzle that is the art of teaching, and to think about how I fit into it all. The conversations that occur during these professional days are always encouraging and helpful, and they are always centred around you.

Yep, you. We borrow ideas and expertise from other teachers about what they’ve done for their students and we think about how we could make our classrooms better for you.

In a lot of ways, we are like another set of parents. We worry when you’re struggling, we encourage you to try, and we beam with pride when you succeed. And, most importantly, we gather together as a community to support each other when this thing we do gets difficult. You know why this thing we do gets difficult? Here’s a universal truth for you: the minute you begin to love someone, things get difficult.

You read that analogy right. Your teachers love you.

For any family to thrive, experts say that the parents (your teachers) need to spend time together “away from the kids”. It’s not because we don’t want to spend time with you; it’s because that time is needed to strengthen our sense of purpose, to restore our solidarity, and to discuss with each other how we can best provide a home for you.

And so, we worked hard. We facilitated and/or attended sessions, listened to new ideas, had meetings, worked on growth plans…

…and managed to squeeze in a little bit of fun.

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Because if we can’t have fun together as a family, then we aren’t a very strong family.

If you didn’t know this already kids, let me be the first to tell you: your teachers at CCH are really cool people. They are loads of fun and clearly, as the photographic evidence reveals, they are also talented beyond your wildest expectations. Who knew Mr. Collier was so good at picking up and carrying a toothbrush with just the bill of his cap? These are essential life skills, people. 

So, while you were enjoying your extra two days off, your teachers were modelling the fundamentals of learning: they listened, they discussed, they collaborated, and they played.

– 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, running with her dog, reading, writing, cooking, singing, and writing. Her favourite things about CCH are all of the amazing people she works with every day.

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Campus East + Campus West = One Unique School

CCH is one of the most unique schools in Canada and one of the main reasons is because it has two campuses. Although these two campuses are the same school, they each have their own unique identities making each a little different, but together, they make CCH the great school it is. So get ready! You are about to see what CCH’s two campuses have to offer, and be given a good taste of what to expect from each of them.

The West campus is home to CCH’s hockey and golf academies as well as our very own state of the art pre-engineering lab. One of Mrs. Koran’s goals for CCH’s future is establishing a distinct identity for Campus West; there is proposed idea that Campus West may become a centre for science and inquiry. Because the West campus is much smaller compared to the East campus, it is much quieter and less crowded, which is conducive to studying. If you’re taking a science class and you find that you work better on your assignments when you’re outside of the classroom, the West campus is great for this. You may also get a chance to work in the e-learning centre. The e-learning centre is sort of like a library, but without books. It has many computers and tables offering large spaces for working on assignments and projects.

The East campus offers all of the same core academic options available on the West side but has more of a performing arts focus. It is home to the Eggplant, CCH’s very own performing arts centre where auditions for this year’s production, The Sound of Music, have just wrapped up. Also located on the East campus is the music room where the Steel Panthers and Music Academy work. The East side is also where the numerous second language classes take place and is also home to a full library. Campus East has at least double the amount of students at any time so you’re more than likely to see people you know.

Both campuses are great for fitness and recreation as they each have a standard-sized gymnasium and fully equipped fitness centres that are open for students at Flex time. This is a great and inexpensive way to keep fit with friends. Both campuses also have large cafeterias with tons of seating as well as a canteen where students can buy a hot meal. Each campus has its own chapel, offering a smaller space for celebrations, or for personal prayer. Both campuses offer every student the same core academic options, allowing one to have most of their time in CCH at either campus of their choice.

Now you can see the differences between Campus West, the more science and technology based campus, while Campus East has more of a performing arts focus. Nonetheless, regardless of which campus we attend, we are all a part of the CCH family and together we all share the cougar spirit!

– Jules

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Jules Pankoski is a Grade Twelve student at CCH. He enjoys flying, music, and travelling. His favourite thing about CCH is the two campuses.

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Confessions of a New Student

I think it’s fairly safe to assume that at some point, each of us has had a first day at a new school. It was only five weeks ago when I walked down these halls for the first time as a student here. You may have done that yourself anywhere from years ago to yesterday, but I expect the experience is pretty much the same.

The night before was actually fairly normal. I’m not sure I still believed I had to go back to school the next day; everything still felt so…summer-like. I arrived forty minutes earlier than I needed to, met my teacher, said “hi” to a few classmates, walked around, got lost, and eventually made it back to class just as the bell rang. The next day I arrived at class just as the bell rang again, but that time I had only been in the building for about two minutes.

Like any new place, it started off feeling huge. In fact, it took me the first full week to fully understand the layout of Campus East. I remember the moment the final piece clicked into place. “Oh, so that hallway connects to that hallway right there!” Admittedly I still hadn’t figured out where all the water fountains and washrooms are. I still haven’t.

From the start I was worried about the quarter system, I will admit. Three hour-long classes? Those three words, in that order, should be terrifying. Of course, I discovered on that first day that it actually isn’t so bad. In fact, I’m rather enjoying it. I suppose it depends on what those classes are to a certain extent, but it seems to me that only having to manage two classes at one time, for such a period of time, works out well in the end.

That first day of lunch I had a chicken sandwich, and it was a good sandwich, but I doubt anyone cares about it. The next day, however, I tried out the cafeteria.  I ended up enjoying some chicken fingers (with plum sauce, of course) rather than experiencing the usual stereotype that cafeteria food is disgusting gruel. Of course, the problem is the line. I’ve quickly learned to reduce my class-to-locker-to-cafeteria time, and soon I’m going to try removing the locker from the equation.

I met a few new people over the first few days, two of whom I never saw again and no one else seemed to remember. A few of the ones that didn’t mysteriously disappear, however, I have befriended. I still spend time with friends I made from schools previous, but am glad I took the opportunity to meet some new people. I’ve joined Santa’s Anonymous and Athletic Leadership, neither of which I have come to regret.

So far, I’m rather enjoying my time at CCH. I feel like this is the point at which I’m supposed to tell you the moral of this story, or the lesson I’ve learned, and that is as follows:

You can only have a good experience if you go out and have experiences. Some things you try might not be worth it, but others will. You might meet a few people you dislike, as well as some you do. Eventually you’re going to walk out of this school for a final time, as a different person.

And me? I hope to be the better for it.

– Jack

What are your impressions of the first few weeks at CCH? Have any interesting stories? Be sure to share below.

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Jack Harvey is a Grade Ten student at CCH. He enjoys triathlons, making films, and evidently writing blog posts. He’s a new guy, so still has some exploring of CCH to do.

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