Category Archives: SchoolHacking

What I Did This Summer

Summer seemed positively endless. Innumerable days stretching on like an ocean in either direction, each filled with the usual freedom and wonder one experiences when summer-ing properly. The thought of it actually ending had not crossed my mind once the entire time. Instead, I spent my days watching independent films, reading Alan Watts, drinking lots of tea, and various other sorts of typical teenager-trouble. I promise.

I remember exactly where I was when it happened. I was sitting at home at two in the afternoon, watching a particularly lovely Indian romance titled Maussam, in which a very sweet couple is torn apart and reunited while Indian history unfolding in the background behind them. It’s a bit like Forrest Gump except with more kissing and subtitles.

At the same time I was also conversing with my good friend Victoria, an activity which I have found myself doing with an absurd frequency. This results in her reaching down to rapidly type on her phone during some of the most appropriate occasions. Texting at mealtimes? That’s just plain rude.

Now, I should mention that I do not own a cell phone, so when I use the word “texting”, what I mean to say is that we use email to communicate, which works in rather the same fashion; her on her phone and myself on my iPod. The reason why this is relevant, you see, is that over the summer I have grown accustomed to associating the familiar ‘ding’ of the Gmail app with the many entertaining and informative texts I have received. On this occasion, however, I reached for my iPod to see, to my surprise, an email from dear, lovable Mrs. Hartman informing me that my summer was all but over, and it was time to write a blog post detailing, in the past tense, all that I had accomplished.

I pretended that I had not read it for the next thirty hours.

I’m not going to claim that I have finally come to grips with the fact that it’s time to return to school. Statistically, neither have you. So as I see it, we have two options, you and I. We can sit here, moaning about how much school sucks and how we don’t want to go. But what does that do? It makes us feel a bit better is what.

However, I propose something different, and arguably a bit more productive. It’s our school, isn’t it? We form the community that defines what CCH is. And each of our individual experiences of it make up the collective experience of CCH. So it’s up to each of us, then, to make CCH a good place.

This year let’s set a goal for ourselves. Rather than to simply hope to have a good year, let’s make this a good year. For ourselves, for our peers, for our faculty, and for our students. Let’s get up at that unreasonably early hour each day and aim to make it a great one. Let’s say “hi” to our friends in the hallway, and maybe that other fellow too-the one with that deep frown on his face. Let’s help that teacher with the boxes who’s struggling to open the door, and let’s help out that kid before class who didn’t understand the homework.

Because if we don’t make it a great year, who will?

– Jack


Jack Harvey is a Grade Eleven student at CCH. He enjoys producing amateur films and occasionally spending time with actual, real-life friends. HIs favourite thing about CCH is meeting new people.


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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


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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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


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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School Hacking #6 – Shining Gyms and Libraries of CCH

Physical fitness is key to healthy living and the benefits are tremendous! Physical fitness improves your mental well being, your physical health, your emotions and will lead to a longer life. Catholic Central High School sees all these benefits of physical activity, and therefore, one of the four pillars of CCH is “Athletics”. You might not see yourself as the next NHL all star, but even going for a half-hour walk, four times a week presents amazing health benefits. Physical fitness is something everyone can engage in; it takes no special skills or talents and everyone has their own limits to how many reps, weights, distances, or times they can do an activity. Fortunately for CCH students, our school possesses excellent facilities on both campuses.

Campus East and West have high quality fitness centres that contain a multitude of equipment to help you meet your fitness goals. Both fitness centres have everything from ellipticals to exercise bikes to weight machines, and everything in between. One of my favourite machines is the rowing machine on Campus West. Not only is it great exercise and you can vary the intensity, but it also has games built into it’s computer. You can race other row boats or do a fish game. Simply put, they provide a lot of motivation for you to try harder (sort of like Flappy Bird). Even better, the fitness centres are open every day at Flex and on Fridays after school. Why not try out the various pieces of equipment to help you work out? Your well being will be sure to thank you!

Like with anything else in life, you don’t want too much of any one thing and, instead, should try to be well-rounded. With all the added energy gained from being physically fit, why not spend some time learning a new skill, studying for your classes, or reading a good book? The library is a great place to do any of these things. The library on Campus East has comfortable couches, large work tables and other spaces that offer students an excellent place to study away from distractions. It also offers many computers for research and other necessary school work. Finally, being a library, it’s also full of books and magazines for whenever you want to just sit down and get immersed in a good book. Although Campus West does not have a traditional library, the eLearning Centre offers students another great space, as well as more than enough computers. The large work tables are great for studying and give you ample space to spread out all of your books and notes.

At CCH, physical fitness is taken seriously as it is one of our four pillars. Of course, the library and eLearning Centre are there to support students in another pillar: “Academics”. A lot of hard work has been dedicated to making sure that these facilities are shining gems of our school, and these facilities are here for YOU, so be sure to give them a try some time; there’s nothing to lose, and only benefits to gain.

– Jules


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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School Hacking #5 – Using Tech To Get Ahead

We all know technology has evolved in new and interesting ways (Instagram, Snapchat, oh boy!) and it has changed the way we learn. With all this fancy schmancy new stuff, it can be pretty crazy to know what works and what doesn’t. So, without further ado, here are some tech tips that can help you get ahead.

1. Google Drive is your friend.

For all the people who may have had some beef with Google and all things related in the past, STOP. Just, stop. You are actually hurting yourself by not using this awesome free (the magic word) resource. I find myself constantly emailing myself back and forth with every updated version of a project I’m working on. Eventually, your inbox gets full and your computer gets angry at you for using so much space. Google Drive can hold almost any file, as the storage space on it is massive. And it comes with handy features like Gmail and Google Play (what is this even?), so it is a great way to access a variety of tools.

2. Kanblan Flow is out of beta (and why you should care)

Do you ever have those awkward group work projects where nobody is really willing to collaborate or communicate? Well, let me introduce you to the Kanban Flow Board. One of my friends showed it to me during a particularly lengthy group project, and it turned out to be very helpful. It’s free to make an account and use it, which is always something nice. It works a little like Google Drive, where everyone in your group can access it and make changes in real time. Once you set up the name of the project, just add your group members, set their jobs, and you’re ready to go. If you want to know where to find it, click on this link:

3. Type out your notes

This one is pretty simple, but if you want to create easy to read notes, the best course of action is usually to type them out and print them off (if you want). Even if you have beautiful writing (or unintelligible scribbles, like me) you can add things like charts, diagrams or even colour code it with ease.

4. Take a picture of your homework

Another simple tip is very fast and effective. This one is more along the lines of stopping yourself from forgetting something important. It could be the assignment rubric, or even a page of math problems. If you can look at it, you can see what you need.

Do you have any other suggestions? Or, great apps that help you stay organized, focused, or keeps your studying streamlined? Please share in the comments below!

– Adam


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


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