Monthly Archives: May 2014

School Hacking #8 – Keeping Motivated to Finish Strong

Ah, finally…the blanket of winter seems to have lifted. No longer shall we be plagued by freak snowstorms and insane temperature fluctuations – all’s praying, at the very least. Still, a few issues are cropping up, due to the sunny reminder that our summer break is drawing near; lo, that we may all soon be able to kick up our feet to…work? Houseclean? Hopefully, we’ll all be seeing some nice down time in our future.

Now, the problems I’m talking about aren’t just the dress-code violations. No, the issue I’m bringing up is that of academics.

While it can be difficult to group our students into any kind of category, I find that, generally, people tend to have one of two problems during this final homestretch of the scholastic year. Personally, I tend to call these two groups the Summertime Dreamers and School-work Stressors.

I can understand and can be classified as both – to certain degrees – but I still tend to lean towards the second; stress and worry are practically genetic traits I managed to inherit. Still I will try to give the best advice I can to both.

To my Dreamers:

Our two-month break isn’t here yet! You are far from being free from tests and grades and the like. While I understand the strength of the temptation of blue skies and warm weather, calling your name and offering you various distractions that seem far more pleasing than hanging around a classroom, you’ve got to keep your focus on the academics for just a little longer. Right now you’ve got to finish strong, and muscle through this last little sprint with the same kind of dedication you gave at the beginning of the year. Your period of respite will come – but may not, if you slack too early! This quarter is just as important as the others.

To my Stressors:

It can be easy to become overwhelmed, I know. To see this as your final time to do well, to prove to yourself and others than you can do just as well – if not better – this final quarter. But, you must refrain from letting this consume you. Resting your mind and body is still as important and necessary as it ever was. Yes, you must earn that break on the horizon, but not at any cost. Be good to yourself and take those moments of relaxation as needed. While it’s not good to overindulge in anything (including homework) give yourself some rest in the sun. It would be an awful thing to have done so well the year, only to crash and burn now because you pushed yourself too hard. Don’t be daunted by thinking that this is the end – for the end of this school year isn’t the end-all-be-all of 2014.

So, overall? I think there is a great deal of us that need to take a little step back, breathe, and re-evaluate what we’re doing with our time. For some, it may be a simple matter of attending class a little more; others might need to pull themselves out of the frantic homework tail-spin in the attempt to finish at the top of their game. And yet others…may just need to take a nice breather and remind themselves not to get so caught up in the little things, to do what we can, as best as we can, and to be content in the knowledge that this IS the final push, but it’s really no different than the rest of the school year.

Wishing you the best,

– 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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CCH People to Know – Mrs. Joanne Polec

If there is anything that my three years at CCH have shown me, it’s that you’re going to meet some truly amazing people in your life. Often times, these people aren’t going to present themselves in any spectacular manner. They’ll quietly insert into your life, and you’ll find yourself wondering just how you managed without them. I know this obviously doesn’t hold true for everyone, but Mrs. Polec really and honestly is one of those people for me. I met her as a counselor in my grade ten year, and I had the great pleasure of having her as my English teacher this year; she continues to be such a strong role model for me. To put it bluntly, in my eyes, if you think Mrs. Polec is anything short of amazing, then I’m not sure that you’ve actually met her.

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Joanne Polec grew up here in Lethbridge, moving through the Catholic school system, and graduated from our very own CCH. She is the oldest of three, with a younger sister and brother. Being an English Language Learner (someone who does not learn English as their first language), she said she often excelled the most in the Math and Science departments. When I asked her why, she said she often felt very unconfident in her ability to write and speak in English, even though she had learned it as a younger child, in grades 2 and 3. Some of her favourite memories of high school, however, are of her English classes, back when Mrs. Koran was a teacher in room 126, with her dry humour, and guidance. She told me that she remembers going from the last team in the volleyball league, to the first, all with the careful help and skillful coaching of a certain Mr. Wilson, and, surprising no one, she remembers her days as part of the Student Council, planning things like school dances, and pep rallies.When you learn these details about her, it really does just make her that much more relatable, picturing her as a student in this very school, just like us.

She went to the University of Lethbridge, for a Bachelor of Arts and Education, for English Language Arts. Initially, she told me, she had been taking courses that were more suited for someone who was planning on becoming a doctor. She had the marks for it, and God knows she had the motivation, so why not? When I asked her what changed her mind into becoming a teacher, she told me about her English 1900 Professor, an Egyptian English Language Learner, just like herself, Professor Cassis. He had pulled her aside after a class, and asked her if she had ever considered a career path more English based. He, like herself, understood and appreciated the language more than those of us who miss the small nuances of it, because we’ve been speaking it our whole lives. We didn’t have to learn it in the way that they did, and in a way, that puts us at a disadvantage of our understanding of it. Regardless, her Professor saw in her a fit with English that really opened her life for her. Everything after that just really fell into place, she said.

Her favourite part of her job, she told me, is the the students. She loves the high school atmosphere, the guidance that she can provide to the students, the learning that is constantly happening, for everyone (not just the kids), and she even loves the bittersweetness of grad at the end of every year. I guess there is something to be said for sending off 200 or so kids into the real world.

Just recently, Mrs. Polec went back to the U of L to get her Masters. She was most persuaded to pursue this thanks to the other Administration at the school, she told me, but was most hesitant to go back due to the fact that she wasn’t completely interested in following the strands of leadership, or counselling. When they offered a strand in literacy, however, it just made sense. As of now, she’s completed two years, and has loved it.

I asked her if she would do anything differently, but I guess everything turned out just the way it was supposed to be. Even though she would excel highly in other jobs that interest her, like Interior Design, or Event Coordinating, she would stick with teaching. “Well,” she adds on, an afterthought, “I might have gotten my Master’s before I had my children.” Please, Mrs. Polec, as if being a Mother, Associate Principal, Teacher, Coach, and Student is really that difficult.

Her day only consists of getting up to run at 5:00, getting ready, then getting her kids up at 6:00 and having them ready for 7:30. Then she gets to spend her time running around the school, fielding everything in the office, or controlling her own chaos, as she says, (if she’s lucky enough to be teaching) until 4:00, but make that 6:00 if it’s volleyball season. After that she gets to cart to her kids around to their various sports, feed them at some point, be home by 7:00, and then finish everything else until about 11:00. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine doing that five days a week.

And how does she keep her life so together, dealing with all this and more, everyday? Lists. She says she keeps calendars and to-do-lists, and everything in between and she does not procrastinate. Mrs. Polec means business.

I wrapped our conversation up asking who her inspirations in life were. They were all teachers, like herself: Professor Cassis, who guided her onto her life’s path, Mrs. Koran, who has been a mentor unlike anyone, as she was a student, and a teacher, and Mr. Mombourquette, who asked her if she’d ever considered leadership.

We parted on some words of wisdom from her, and I know that I will take these to heart, and I hope that others do, too. “It doesn’t get any easier,” she said, “Life gets more complicated. But take it one day at a time.” She said to make lots of lists, all kinds of lists, even if it’s a bucket list, and do them. Get things planned and done, and that means the fun things, too. Don’t always put things aside.

Mrs. Polec has been one of my favourite people of CCH, with her kind hearted smile and her steady and very real advice. I believe that she makes a wonderful role model and a true inspiration to every student there, and especially to all the girls, who don’t always get to see such a strong female leader. She has made my high school experience all the better, and I know that she will continue to do so for so many other people down the road.

Mrs. Polec, this one’s for you.

– Baylee

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Baylee Chilton is a Grade Twelve student at CCH. She enjoys copious amounts of television, novels, and terrible old, indie music. Her favourite thing about CCH is the library at Campus East.

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What I Learned At Badminton Provincials

As I walk into the University of Lethbridge gymnasium, the first thing I notice is how quiet it is. Aside from the constant, gentle squeak of badminton rackets and the occasional announcement of the latest match, it is almost silent. I’m volunteering at the 2014 ASAA Badminton Provincials, and I’m more than a bit late.

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As I rush into a small room on the side of the gym, I see several people in blue t-shirts gathered around, looking at papers and computer screens, hurriedly completing some task or another. Every so often, as they are called, pairs of badminton players walk in and wait around. After they’re done doing that, they are told which court they’re playing on and are given a small card. Around the same time, I’m told to get to work. I join a dark-haired man sitting on a chair at the end of the gym, staring intently at someone’s Facebook status. I introduce myself, still entirely confused as to my duties. He explains that I’m to give each court three minutes of warm-up time before each game, at which point I’m supposed to tell them to get started. I nod, pretending to understand, and he walks away.

As I sit there for an approximate eleven hours, I have time to think a lot of thoughts. Soon after debating with myself as to what ASAA stands for, I decide to figure out how to play badminton.

It looks a lot like ping pong, except on a considerably larger scale.

Around that time, I fall asleep for a few seconds.

I quickly drink some water and walk around the gym to wake myself up. As I return to my post, I start to notice something I hadn’t before. Despite my expectations of a loud, aggressive sport, this is anything but. More often than not, teammates not only high-five each other after successfully hitting the shuttlecock to the other side, but also when they are not successful. And even, at the end of the match, the opposing team! (Also, I witnessed some weird high-five variants where they hit their rackets together. That can’t be good for the rackets, can it?) It seems, upon second thought, that this tournament is about something different than what I first thought. I decided to continue watching.

As two girls intensely battle it out in front of me for what was later estimated as over forty-five minutes, I realize that few, if any of the competitors there are focused on winning. Surely, that takes up a certain amount of their thoughts; winning is fun, yet most seem to be focused on something more important.

They are all completely in the moment.

I decide that that must be important to any sort of competition. They’re not worried about what they’re going to wear tomorrow, or how they’re going to do on that test, or if they’re going to get to stand on that podium and get a medal. And doesn’t that sound like a bit more fun than the alternative?

As the matches wrap up, and winners are announced, I help to take down everything that was set up for the game. I recognize some of the winners, having watched them play for the past eleven hours. I decided which ones I like and which ones I don’t. Certainly, everyone who participated appreciated the experience, and maybe even took something away from it. Perhaps some learned the value of hard work, discovered that they really, really like badminton, or maybe just met someone interesting in the bleachers. I know I learned a few things.

I still didn’t figure out how to play badminton though. Maybe next time.

– Jack

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Jack Harvey is a Grade Ten student at CCH. He enjoys triathlons, making films, and evidently writing blog posts. His favourite thing about CCH is himself.

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A Grade Eleven’s Perspective on Grad

Graduation, for some people, means freedom from school and the dread of being in a classroom all day. But from me (a Grade Eleven student) that’s not all I worry about. I sometimes fear the freedom of being let out to do anything I want, pursuing whatever I desire, with no Math homework or English essays to complete.

I’ve heard about banquets and ceremonies that take hours out of your day and some people complain about them having to sit for so long. Yet, when I think about it, it’s your Grade Twelve graduation and you’re never going to be able to do it again. The Grand March is one of the many things that comes to mind for a Grade Eleven student. It’s all about the dress for the girls. What on earth am I going to wear? What colour will it be? What do I want it to look like? These are all good concerns but what I focus on when I hear the word “graduation”, are my school grades.

This is what you get out of high school and what moves you into postsecondary school. Right now, doing well in school concerns me more than Grad week. I can worry about dresses in the summer or next year, but right now, I feel the most important thing I can do to prepare for next year is to focus on the academic aspect of graduation.

I am very lucky to have a wonderful cousin who is only one year older than me. I can ask her anything I want and she will answer the best she can. Yet even with some knowledge about what is going to happen to me next year, I can’t help but think of the worst sometimes, and that is a pretty awful thing to do to yourself. If anyone out there is worried over graduation next year (or two years if you’re in Grade ten), I wouldn’t worry about the details. Graduation is an exciting time in your life; it is a huge step. But believe in myself, that you’ll be able to handle it, and if you’re having any doubts, we have wonderful counsellors who will help you in any way they can.

Congratulations to this year’s graduating students. Keep your heads about you.

And if Grad is still a year or two away for you, I wish you all the best in the rest of your high school days.

– 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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WANTED: Five Writers for the CCH Blog

We have an exciting opportunity for writers!

To be a blogger for cougarswithquills.com is to be a part of a one-of-a-kind opportunity. You will work with a small, collaborative team and you will learn:

  • how to strengthen your writing skills
  • how to “write for the internet”/blogging skills
  • how to cloud compute effectively.

The job requirements are as follows:

  1. You are/will be a CCH student (we need three current Grade tens, and two current Grade nines)
  2. You have a love for writing and an engaging writing “voice”/style
  3. You can self-edit
  4. You have creative ideas
  5. You possess the ability to meet deadlines (proven time management skills and dependability)
  6. You have a Google (Gmail) account (or know how to create one)
  7. You have a personal smart phone (considered an asset)

If you would like a chance to be a part of this talented crew:

  • Write a brief bio summarizing your “requirements” (see above)
  • Submit a 500-word response to the following question:

What ideas can you contribute to a book titled, How to Survive a Boring Class? What are some creative ways to avoid boredom in school?

Submit your application to cchbloggers@gmail.com

Deadline: Friday, May 16, 2014 

 

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