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Fostering resilience to help prepare for tests and exams

As parents, we want what is best for our children. We want them to be happy and to grow up reaching their full academic and social-emotional potential. It is always difficult as a parent when we see our children experiencing challenges or difficulties that cause them feelings of stress, sadness, or fear. Our natural instinct is to want to rush in and to “save them” from this hardship. However, in reality we can not save our children from all the challenges they will face in life. How can we prepare them for those challenges that are an unavoidable part of life, like not making the sports team they wanted, not doing as well as expected on a test, or the loss of someone dear to them?

This is what resilience is all about — being able to bounce back from the challenges we face and to learn from them. Being resilient can help our children learn coping skills and find solutions to academic and social problems. It is a key factor in positive mental health and overall life success. Our high school students are busy studying for their first semester exams and our Grade 3 and Grade 6 students are preparing for EQAO evaluations. These are opportunities to help them develop healthy coping skills. Keeping an open dialogue with your child will go a long way in helping your child develop resilience. We’ve assembled some tips to help your child manage realistic pressures.

12 ways to help your child prepare for Kindergarten

Heading to kindergarten for the first time can be pretty overwhelming. Many parents of a four year old experience excitement but apprehension about enrolling their child in kindergarten for the first time. With good reason; there are many decisions that have to be made when preparing a child for their first year of school. What about before and after school care? What types of French language programs are offered? Is their child ready to spend that length of time away from home?

For these and many other questions, the Ottawa Catholic School Board is here to help put your mind at east about your child’s upcoming journey. Our Kindergarten Registration Week, January 15 to 19, is designated for you to visit your child’s new school to complete the registration process, while our friendly school staff are on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Registering in January gives parents and their children time to prepare for the journey together. Families often practice things like putting on shoes and coats, school bus and pedestrian safety, and how to recognize their first name in print. Practicing these skills can go a long way in terms of boosting a child’s confidence for their first day of school. So plan ahead together. Bring your little one with you at registration time in January, and give your child the best possible start.

Eight ways to make Advent meaningful

The season of Advent is upon us and as we wait in joyful hope to receive Jesus as if he is coming to us for the first time. Advent is expectant waiting, hopeful anticipation and joyful preparation to commemorate the birth of Jesus, welcoming God into our lives and readying ourselves for Christ’s second coming. We are reminded during this season that there is joy in waiting. This Advent, add some meaning to your waiting by committing to extra time in prayer, being patient with your family, speaking kindly to strangers, going to church and to sharing hope with those who need it most. We’ve outlined some traditions you can share with your family as you prepare your hearts for Jesus’ coming.

A blessed beginning for a new school

On November 22, 2017, the OCSB held a sod-turning ceremony to celebrate the construction of a new Catholic elementary school in Kanata North. Construction has begun in the Marchwood Lakeside Community of Kanata North. The state of the art school will sit on a 6.52 acre site and will have the capacity to accommodate 460 students.

The assembled crowd then watched as students from St. Gabriel Elementary School gripped shovels and participated in the sod turning for their new school. A special blessing was performed by Fr. Virgil Amirthakumar, Parish Priest, St. Isidore. Director of Education Denise Andre gave her closing remarks and thanked all in attendance, including staff, students and parents from St. Gabriel and architects and contractors who were present. After the ceremony, attendees were invited back to St. Gabriel Elementary for a tour and reception.

Four reasons to consider Indigenous self-identification

While I’ve learned a lot over the years, there is still much I’m continuing to learn about treaties, the Indian Act, and the Sixties Scoop, and in turn helping support our educators discover these important pieces of history and the impacts that they still carry today. It brings me great pride to say that we’ve increased the number of the Indigenous Studies courses from 18 classes when I first started five years ago to 29 classes today at every one of our high schools.

Our board works hard to bring change in Indigenous Education for all of our students, so that we walk down the path to Reconciliation together. In the midst of our board’s Indigenous Awareness month, it seems like a good time to reflect on the important topic of self-Identification which can have such a positive impact on our Indigenous students’ education.

An honour we can all share

On Tuesday evening, the Ottawa Catholic School Board was honoured at the annual Ottawa Philanthropy Awards ceremony with the Outstanding Philanthropic Group award for our longstanding partnership with the Shepherds of Good Hope. I am proud of our school board’s continued generosity and service to our community through our special partnership with the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Thomas D’Amico, Associate Director of Education, and Joanne MacEwan, Vice-Chair of our Board, were present at the celebration to accept this award on our behalf. The countless acts of mercy, kindness and generosity our staff and students have contributed to the Shepherds of Good Hope also provide people with the invaluable gifts of respect and dignity.

As a faith-filled OCSB family, we work together every day to share in this caring community we’ve created together. Thank you to every staff member and student whose contributions have touched the lives of our neighbours with love and kindness.

Bright purple reminders to give

Standing before 19 OCSB schools is a new, bright purple reminder of just how simple it is for us to support one another. To deepen our relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa we have installed 15 new bins at OCSB schools throughout the city.

Through our partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa, we hope to help them reach their goal of collecting 300,000lbs of clothing by the end of 2017. What makes these clothing donation bins so special is that they raise funds for mentorship programs for Canadian youth. These mentorship programs improve the mental health, employment opportunities and civic engagement of youth at risk right here in our city.

Needless to say, there was no questioning why we were all smiles as we celebrated the ribbon cutting of the new clothing donation bin before St. Joseph High School.

Lest we forget.

Last April, 205 students and 32 staff from 12 high schools in the Ottawa Catholic School Board travelled to France to pay our respects at the 100th anniversary celebration of the battle of Vimy Ridge. This battle is considered by many to be the most significant Canadian contribution in World War I. It is often referred to as the day that Canada truly became a nation.

This year on Remembrance Day, what will you do with your family to stop and acknowledge the great sacrifice made by so many men and women for our peace and freedom?

October is Autism Awareness & Acceptance Month

Did you know that October is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month in Canada? Did you know that it is estimated that 1 in 68 individuals have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? This month is a great opportunity to learn more about autism, raise awareness, and raise acceptance in our schools, workplace, and community. This month is a great opportunity to learn more about autism, raise awareness, and raise acceptance in our schools, workplace, and community. Please enjoy this short, 5-minute video entitled: Amazing Things Happen, created by Alex Amelines (independent animation director). The video was released in April 2017 to coincide with the tenth annual World Autism Awareness Day (Sunday April 2nd, 2017). The aim is to raise autism awareness among young audiences who do not have autism as well as to encourage understanding and acceptance in future generations. It is primarily aimed at 7-11 year old children.

Embarking on a year of Good News in 2017-2018

I hope you have all taken time to enjoy your family, spend time in the great outdoors, and catch some of the exciting #Canada150 events that took place in our beautiful city throughout this summer. As we prepare to start the 2017-2018 school year, I’m pleased to highlight that we are starting our second year of our Spiritual theme Sent to be the Good News. I look forward to seeing our staff and students continuing to learn and live this theme out on a deeper level, discovering how they can be Good News for their communities, families, peers, and the ever-changing world around them.