Monthly Archives: March 2014

School Hacking #7 – The Importance of Downtime

Just a little while ago, I was finishing up my hours for Faith in Action while volunteering at St. Therese Villa, which offers assisted living for the elderly. I absolutely loved the time I spent there, organizing activities and getting thoroughly schooled in any and all sorts of board and card games. Once or twice the conversations took a turn towards the more meaningful. The one that stuck with me the most was over a game of crib, with a lovely woman named Marie. A brief, quick-notes version of the conversation might be something like this:

“Oh, now what’s that band that my grandson just loves?…Nickelback. Yes, Nickelback. Now, do you know of their song, ‘If Today Was Your Last Day?’ Yes? Well, I think that some of us need to realize that we sometimes need to live our life as if today wasn’t our last. No, Kima, that’s not fiteen, that’s sixteen. You put that peg back two notches!”

In addition to this little anecdote, over a coffee break, I was discussing my current high school life with some of the staff I worked with on a fairly everyday basis. In response to some of the tales of late night studying and frantic project finishing (sometimes you don’t have to be lazy to be swamped last minute) I was laughingly told that their high school days were barely remembered and somewhat of a blur.

Now, in the moment, a lot of things can seem overwhelming and all consuming, and some of us can be driven to panic-filled evenings and stressful weekends. But then, once over and done with, sometimes we can wonder what all the fuss was for in the first place. I think that if we could just understand that while, yes, everything we do deserves our best effort, we shouldn’t let ourselves imagine each test, project and paper as the next imminent apocalypse.

So many of us have responsibilities outside of school life; there are sports to play, movies to see, books to read, friends to act stupid with and laugh with. It can, at times, be too much. While it is important to keep up with our studies, to get enough exercise and socialize, sometimes, we need to take down days for ourselves.

For some reason, in a society that is all go, go, go, with things to see and do, we can forget the importance of slowing down for a day, for a couple hours, or even five minutes. When was the last time you simply sat still, wrapped yourself up in music, in a book, in nature? I, myself, not a month ago, went on a weekend trip with my parents to Waterton, where I went on a five hour hike through the snowy forest. There truly is something powerful and honestly healing about being in the quiet and serenity of the fauna and flora, to disconnect from the hectic, electronic world that has constant demands over our lives.

There are responsibilities we can’t ignore, but we also cannot afford to completely shut off awareness of our own bodies and souls. The result of an ignored psyche can be far more catastrophic than deciding not to study for that test, this one time.

While I am not saying to ignore everything in order to simple do what makes you happy all the time, you have to know your limits, and be willing to occasionally put yourself first and give yourself that downtime. While you wouldn’t eat a whole cake every day, sometimes, it is downright good for your soul to let yourself indulge in a piece of that chocolate mousse, layered fondant and caramel drizzled masterpiece.

Especially coming up to exams, you must take the time to let yourself recharge, in order to do as well as you would like to. Taking that half-hour break to play some Assassin’s Creed, watch the latest episode of that show, kick around a soccer ball (once the weather finally lets up!) before once more hitting the books can actually do you far more good than pushing yourself to finish reading that final textbook page.

So, my final advice? Listen to what your body, soul and mind really need from you. Know when you can power on through, but also acknowledge that not taking that break may wind you up to the point of a meltdown – trust me. Me and Math have been there many times before, and sometimes, putting down that calculator and walking away for the night, waiting for a fresh start in the morning, is far more preferable to chucking it at the wall after another ten minutes of mind-bending calculus.

Force yourself to relax, let things simply happen to you, and take pleasure in them. Being in constant movement isn’t always the best thing; sometimes, you need to give yourself permission to simply be a couch potato before tackling that next marathon.

And with that, adieu. I hope you have an awesome week.

(And start going to bed earlier! You know who you all are!)

– Kima

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Kima Hazelwood is a Grade Twelve student at CCH. She enjoys writing and reading fantasy, baking, and belly-dancing. Her favourite things about CCH are all the wonderful staff members and linguistics classes.

 

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Fun Facts About CCH #1

CCH has been around for a long time, and with any establishment that has a rich history (like our school), there are bound to be tall tales seasoned with infamous characters and delicious secrets.

For this first instalment of “Fun Facts About CCH”, three of our bloggers went sleuthing for surprising tidbits of info – the kind of info that most students don’t know about their school – and we are sharing them with you!

Baylee: Everyone loves a good ghost story. That’s why for my fun fact of CCH I went digging into the undead territory. Legend has it that in unexplained and possibly entirely fictional explosion in the Chem lab, the ghost of a Mr. Kireef lived on to haunt Campus East. Only, the rest of him went to live on, too. So I guess it’s up to you if you want to buy into the haunting of our school.

Kyra: If you know Mrs. Koran, you probably know that she’s a jill of many trades. But, did you know that she’s also the first female principal of CCH? Previously, all of our former principals have been male.

Adam: It is said that deep beneath the hallowed halls of CCH, there exists a legendary basement, filled to the brim with mysterious machinery and unexplained noises. Though many an adventurous student throughout the ages has attempted to gain entrance, none have succeeded. Rumours of an sen more baffling domain exist, in the form of a tunnel that joins the underground level of two schools. What price could the entrance to this enigmatic dungeon be, besides one’s very soul? Well, you could just join Drama class.

What other fun facts are lurking beneath the surface of CCH? Stay tuned for another “Fun Facts About CCH” post in June.

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CCH People to Know – Kim and Jocelyn

In a day and age when teens feel even more restricted by the little amount of free time they have, and are told “these may be the best years of their lives”, it is great to see students giving back to their school community and taking the opportunity to fulfill leadership roles. Two such individuals at our school are the co-presidents, Kim and Jocelyn and it was my pleasure recently to sit down with them and gain some insights about these two leaders.

Recently, events in the Philippines left many individuals struggling to survive and wondering where to turn to for help. Although a long way from our Lethbridge school campus, Kim and Jocelyn decided to host a bake sale to raise funds and awareness for the plight of the people of the Philippines. This event, our leaders both felt, “brought our school council together and recognized the needs of families connected to the CCHS community”. Similar events as well also left Kim and Jocelyn feeling like the group grew closer and provided opportunities for team building. At one such event, when the council was working at the soup kitchen, it became obvious that the event was mutually rewarding as the students took away a great deal from the experience, as well as giving back to the community.

Taking over the role as student leaders this year has also offered Kim and Jocelyn the opportunity to put their personal stamp on the CCHS Students’ Council. For them, it was important to balance and distribute leadership amongst the group and in their view, create more of a “traditional students’ council”. Thankfully, these two are able to draw upon the strengths of previous councils and yet fine tune the group to suit the needs of this year’s students and school community. It did become apparent during the interview that, although these two are quite busy, they take the time to hear from CCHS students over a caffeinated beverage from one of our local businesses.

Acting as co-presidents this year also has an added bonus for this team, as both feel a need to be hands-on and oversee a variety of activities and yet keep up with their academically packed schedules. For them, that means “if I can’t be at an event, hopefully the other president can and we can share what needs to be accomplished”. Both, interestingly, felt that this type of leadership many not work for all future councils as they see themselves as very lucky that their styles of leadership don’t match, but are complimentary. It also probably doesn’t hurt that these two have been involved in leadership roles together since Grade Nine, thus giving them a clear understanding of where they stand and where they are headed.

Kim and Jocelyn have been happy to see how this year’s council has gelled together and bonded. Certainly it came quite naturally for them but as the group spent more time together it was nice to see how others found their place as well and formed a tight knit group. In fact, the two remember during the bake sale how any concern over any awkwardness or tension quickly vanished and they knew they had a solid team to work with.

Many often talk about the old adage that “laughter is the best medicine” but for this pair keeping a sense of humour and making the Students’ Council experience a positive one is front and centre. Kim and Jocelyn truly do model that leadership that can both properly manage events and yet provide a sense of belonging and identity for students at CCHS. This year we are pleased that they have stepped up to take on these leadership roles and know that they have really helped enhance the CCHS experience for us all.

– Adam

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Adam 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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March Madness – CCH Edition

Every year at the start of Quarter Three, the CCH staff gets a gentle reminder from Mrs. Koran that we are heading into the toughest segment of the school year. Besides the bipolar weather and time change (the bad kind of time change), it’s also the toughest quarter because we are so busy, and summer break is still a long way off. While basketball certainly has a large hand in the insane busyness of CCH during March, it is only a portion of what is making us drained. The NBA has got NOTHING on us. Henceforth, the term “March Madness” is only appropriately used to describe CCH.

We have basketball playoffs, curling playoffs (earning a provincial banner, too!) and Grade Nine orientation. We have the CCH musical, the High School Blood Drive Challenge and registration for next year. (I’m willing to bet I’ve missed something in that list.) All of these activities reach their apex at the same time, even though they have been building for months. It seems that everywhere you look, staff and students alike are exhausted.

So what’s a school to do when we’re all taxed?

We remind ourselves of the little things that keep us going every day.

I asked some CCH staff members to share what cool/new things they’re doing to help keep spirits up.

Mrs Polec: One of my “coping mechanisms” is that I TRY (key word) to set aside time near the end of the day and think to myself, “What went well today and who was responsible?” Whether that person was helpful/kind to me personally, or did something to make that particular day in March more bearable, is typically how I decide on “who was responsible”. Then, I go seek him/her out and let him/her know that I was particularly grateful for whatever they did for that day.

Mr. Folkerson: I let Mylanda Miller teach one section of my (Math) lesson yesterday. It was a nice change of pace and she’s a natural. 🙂 I’m also going home at Flex time, when I can, to chill out.

Mrs. Yawney: My K and E kids are doing the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. We have completed five challenges to date and will be working on our sixth at Flex (getting students to sign a pledge to lower their energy consumption). It is a very fun, well organized activity and we have a chance to win some great prizes!

Mr. Reichert: I’ve started doing some Robotics programming again with my morning class on Campus West.

Ms. Goble: In New Media, we make a Spirit Moment every quarter and in English 10-2, my students are earning two extra CTS credits by doing media projects which coincide with the English curriculum. Both of these projects are the “carrot” to get through some of our regular work.

Mrs. Kirkvold: I provide my Social Studies students with opportunities to learn the value of empathy. We use a strategy of “Free Fall Writing” to share our feelings in a personal way. After viewing a video or reading a segment, without talking, we immediately write our feelings onto a piece of paper. Sometimes these are an exit slip, but most times they become crumpled balls used in target practice.

Mrs. Hartman: A new assignment I’ve had my English 10-1 students is a personal inquiry project that is a “social experiment”. The students make one small alteration in behaviour (for positive change) and log about their experiences. I’ve had students smile at strangers for an entire week, help their parents around the house without being asked, bond with their younger siblings, or give up social media. It provided some beautiful reflection time for them, and they became cognizant of the very real, positive change they can make in their own, and others’, lives.

Mr. Wilson: Every Monday for the past few weeks I’ve had my Physics students send a positive text message to someone in their circle, whether it’s a family member or a friend. I’m calling it “Make Someone’s Monday”.

I know you’re weary CCH, but this is the “good” kind of weariness. Look at all of the wonderful things you are accomplishing! You are ALL amazing.

You deserve some deep breaths. Take care of yourself, stand tall, and be kind and patient with one another.

Remember: what we do at CCH is very, very good.

-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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Welcoming CCH’s Future Students

Grade Nine Orientation. The very name strikes the fear into the hearts of students and teachers alike. It’s that wonderful time of year where grand masses of Grade Nines stream into our great halls and crowd into our gyms, in order to find out exactly what their futures are going to look like.

Being a volunteer at the Orientation this year, the first thing I realized was this: they’re more afraid of you than you are of them. And every Grade Nine handles that fear a little bit differently. (I also realized I’m not as funny as I think I am, but that’s not important right now.)

The important thing was to keep your cool. It’s alright if you start off with nine students, and then suddenly there are twelve. It’s OK if you don’t quite understand how the relay works. Roll with it.

Oh no! We don’t have a map!

cougar on

Because if you show panic, they will panic. I guarantee that.

Now, once my partner and I had finally settled into a nice routine, I started to take in the sights, and I realized something.

Our school is truly an amazing place. It’s always nerve-wracking when outsiders come into your school – your home away from home – and start judging it. It’s like showing a friend your favourite TV show. You really want them to like it, but you’re scared anything you say is going to skew their viewpoint, so you let the show do the talking.

And let me tell you, the school spoke for itself.

We truly do have something for everyone. The musical cast put on a spectacular preview, our sports teams have so many achievements, and we’re going to provide a Science and Inquiry class for Grade Tens next year (which actually made me quite jealous)!

The best part was the fact that when the Grade Nines were seated at the end of the day, after being quiet for so long, they became loud. You could tell they loved it, and their excitement was radiating off them in waves.

They had no idea of the preparation and planning that went in. But we did, and I can tell you now that it was all worth it at the end of the day.

(Also, we got pizza, so that was pretty awesome too.)

If you’re thinking of volunteering at Grade Nine Orientation next year, I say do it.

Because Grade Nine Orientation isn’t only for the Grade Nines…it’s for you to enjoy your school as well.

– Kyra

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Kyra Nicolacoupolos is a Grade Eleven student at CCH. She enjoys reading, writing, and watching British television shows. Her favourite thing about CCH is all of the co-curricular clubs.

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