Posts Tagged ‘Advent’

There are so many things that come at us these days that it can be easy to get caught up in the unimportant things that can distract us.  Implementing the big ideas from Habit 3 Put First Things First – Work First, Then Play can really help us to stay focused and productive. There are four key elements to this habit:

  1. Focus on the highest priorities – We want to focus in on Quadrant 2 where our priorities lie that allow us to focus on items that are important but not urgent. Our highest priorities become our “Big Rocks.”
  2. Eliminate the unimportant – As best as we can, we need to try to stay out of the not important items that are a distraction and can waste our time.
  3. Plan every week – To help focus on the priorities, we need to schedule in the Big Rocks first.  Ask yourself, “What are the one or two most important things I can do this week?”  The next step is to schedule other things around your Big Rocks. For me, I like to do this every day and make a list of the 3 Big Rocks I am choosing to focus on the next day. This video is a good illustration of how we can get make things fit if we schedule our Big Rocks first.
  4. Stay true in the moment of choice – This sounds easy to do, but is actually harder to do we are in the moment being bombarded with things. I know for myself that I can get bogged down in Q3 but having my list of Big Rocks helps me to focus back into Q1.

For the month of December, we have two Big Rocks that we are prioritizing: Wellness and Faith. Both of these are our Wildly Important Goals that are in our Continuous Improvement Plan that you can find on our website under Resources & Publications – Reports and Plans. We decided to focus on our Faith for December as we are in the season of Advent.  Our Wellness Action Team felt that the past year has been difficult and wanted to prioritize fun before the Christmas break.

In looking at fun, we decided it was important for that to apply for our whole school community: students, parents and staff. The whole month is a points blitz for team points.  Students can earn points every day they wear something Christmassy.  The more items they wear, the more points they can earn for their team.  I know I am looking forward to wearing my Christmas sweaters, shirts and my beautiful Saskatchewan Roughrider Christmas hat.  On the 10th, we have our first assembly of the year where we will get to view the talent show winners. Thanks to School Council for organizing the talent show and 5/6 BW Cohort for organizing the assembly.  Wednesday the 15th is our wonderful Christmas Dinner provided by School Council. During that week Blaze will again make an appearance at the school to deliver the class gifts that our School Council has purchased for us.  This year we chose the gift of literacy and all classes will be receiving books for their classrooms. On Thursday we are excited to have Steve Harmer present 7-30 minute magic shows to our cohorts. Steve will include the values of Love, Joy, Peace, and Hope in his Christmas show. Our final fun activity takes place on the 17th where we will once again do a whole school bingo activity.  Students who get a bingo will run down to the office to verify their bingo and to claim a prize. We know that a piece of wellness for parents is seeing their children perform. As it has been a while since we have had a concert at the school, each cohort will be posting some whole class performances for parents on Spaces or Class Dojo. The staff has been working on a performance for our school community so stay tuned to our Facebook page for our gift of joy to you. We also have some special board office guests who were unlucky enough to visit our school and were kind enough to take part in our performance.

Advent is just a natural priority for us as it is the start of the new liturgical year in the Church. We will start off the season with mass at the school organized by 5/6 HV on Thursday at 9:00. All parents are welcome to join in our Zoom Link by clicking here or by going to the google calendar on our website. The rest of our Advent celebrations will be on Mondays: 6th at 9:00 and 13th at 1:30. Our big Advent project is Coffee for a Cause.  We are selling Cuppers coffee, our STC Advent Blend, for our adopted sister school in Tanzania: Mkono Wa Mara Primary.  For every $20 bag of coffee(ground or whole) purchased, we receive $5. Coffee for a Cause orders are due by noon on Friday the 10th and you can purchase coffee on School Cash Online. Orders will be picked up at the school from 12:00 on the 16th to 12:45 on the 17th. We have committed the next three years to raise funds to help them with their needs for water storage tanks, kitchen improvement and kitchen equipment.

To learn more about the school and its needs, please watch this short video. Thank you to everyone for helping support our sister school and spreading some hope, love, joy and peace.

During this season of Advent, apply the big ideas of Habit 3. It can be easy to get lost in the commercialization of the season, the decorating and buying of presents when our priority is to focus on preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus. That is the Big Rock that we need to schedule all our other activities around.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Read Full Post »

Mary is an important person in the Advent season. She was open to and mindful of God’s presence.  Through our book study of Walking with Mary by Edward Sri, we have come to better understand her open heart. When the angel Gabriel greets Mary to tell her that she is going to be the mother of Jesus, he says, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). No one in the history of the Bible has ever been addressed like this before. “Hail” is more than a simple hello. It means rejoice! Gabriel does not call her Mary; instead he says “full of Grace”. This is Mary’s new title or name which reveals the mission that God is entrusting to her. Finally, Gabriel assure her “the Lord is with you”. These words have been used throughout the Bible as God’s greeting to people he calls and it lets them know He will be there to guide, strengthen and protect them.

Our challenge for our students and our school community this month is to mimic this by rejoicing and greeting people they come across in the halls. We want them to Hail one another and rejoice by looking at the person.  Mary was given a new name as Full of Grace and we want our students to smile and say the person’s name if they know it.  Finally, the Lord is with You is a reminder that God is always there with us so we smile and say hello to the person.  We acknowledge the presence of God by responding with a smile and a greeting to the person. We are challenging our students to try to be the first person to say hello. Parents, we welcome you to join in our challenge when you are in the building. Good luck in Acting Like Mary by opening our hearts to God’s will and presence within each of us.

The Advent Sock Drive kicked off on Crazy Sock day on November 28. Socks that are collected will go to support Harbour House, Salvation Army, Homeless Shelter and Woods Homes. Last year we brought in 1,977 pairs of socks and hopefully we can surpass that effort this year. The final day to bring in socks is December 12 which is when we have our Advent mass at the Church followed by our Christmas Event.  This year we are having a Snowball dance at the school.  The dance with feature hot chocolate and cookies, a family photo booth, a quiet coloring area, and numeracy and literacy dice and card games that you can learn and play with your family over the holidays. I will be sharing our family Christmas favorite card game, 7 Up, that my children started playing when they were around 5 and that we still play every year at Christmas.

The cake walk is back by popular demand, but will only run from 6pm – 7pm.  To stick to the hour time limit, we will be giving away multiple cakes for each round. The cost of entry is 1$ which will go to cover the expenses for the evening and any leftover funds will be donated to the sock drive. Thank you to a parent for a generous donation of hot chocolate for the evening! We are gratefully accepting donations of cakes for the evening. I look forward to seeing you at our Christmas dance on the 12th.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Read Full Post »

It’s hard to believe that we have reached December, Advent and a new liturgical year. I was amazed when I walked into the Dollar Store in late October to get those last minute parts of my Halloween costume to see the Christmas section already up and dwarfing the Halloween section. Advent is supposed to be a time of quiet, joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We can get lost in all the hustle, bustle, and commercialization of the Christmas season, and are so busy preparing our homes and ourselves that we forget to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus Christ. For all of the Christmas cheer and joyful celebrations, this time of the year can also be one of the loneliest. What if you do not have any family or friends around? What if you cannot afford even the tiniest gift? What if you do not have a home? We can prepare our hearts by following Jesus’ commandment to Love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34). We can show our love to others through Sharing our Bounty.

This Advent season at OLA we are going to be witnesses to our faith through serving others by sharing our time, treasure and talents in a variety of ways. Staff is supporting Catholic Central’s Santa’s Anonymous program by donating toys for the families. Each week our students will be sharing their time and talent at our Advent celebrations. Please come join in our celebrations which take place the first day of the week at 9:00 am. We are also asking students to Share their Bounty this advent season by following the example of Ella Tyron and giving comfort to others. When Ella was hospitalized in 2016 she turned to one of her favorite activities: coloring.  She discovered that the hospital could not maintain a supply of crayons and coloring books due to cross-contamination concerns.  With the help of her mom, Ella started the Help Color Me a Rainbow project and has solicited donations and has donated thousands of crayons and hundreds of coloring books to hospitals. We are asking students to give comfort to others by creating Christmas cards for their family, neighbors and the elderly. Some of our cards will be going to Streets Alive Mission, our school neighbors and the elderly in homes.

Another way to witness and Share your Bounty is through our Sock Drive campaign that will run from November 28 – December 14.  We are collecting socks that will go to support the following local charities:  Harbour House, Salvation Army, Homeless Shelter and Woods Homes. I was amazed at the generosity of the school community for our Drive Away Hunger campaign and believe there are going to be similar results as on the kick off day, the students had already brought in over 200 hundred pairs of socks. At our Christmas Family Fun Night on the 13th from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. we will be having a Cake Walk.  People will have a chance to play a musical chairs type game and each round, someone will win a cake. An entry for a round will cost 25 cents and all the money collected will go towards our Sock campaign.  In order to make this game possible we would appreciate any cake donations that you could make for this event. You can send your cake to school on the 13th or bring it with you for the evening event. If you’ve never experienced a Cake Walk, make sure to pop into the gym as it is one of my favorite, fun events.  If I don’t see you at one of our activities this month, I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

Read Full Post »

As adults we are always taking care of others and can ignore taking care of ourselves.  In reality, we are better equipped to help others when we have taken the time to help ourselves.  We can take our health for granted until we do not have it anymore.  This is found out as I suffered from vestibular neuritis for the past couple of weeks and was dependent on others to drive me around.  It is a viral infection of the inner ear which inflames the nerve and affects balance and concentration. Being sick forced me to slow down, take care of myself, and allow others to take care of me. It is a little ironic though as my professional development for the past month focused on wellness.

emotional wellness site

One of our school’s Health and Wellness goals is to reduce the incidence of student anxiety. We are trying to promote learning by ensuring that students are emotionally regulated and that their brains are ready to learn.  One of our student nursing teams worked with Tracy Rocca our FSLC to develop resources for both home and school.  They presented their website to the parent council and to staff. Please take a look at it under the Resources and Publication/Counselling/Student Wellness Website section of our website. The site has many resources for parents on Understanding Emotions, Self Awareness and Social Awareness. In a similar vein, a school team attended training for the Mind Up program on November 8th. This is a research based program that teaches activities around topics such as gratitude and mindfulness.  The four pillars of the program are neuroscience, positive psychology, mindful awareness and social-emotional learning.  Students are taught about how their brain works and what is happening that allows them to learn and what can stop them from learning.  It goes along well with our zones of regulation that we have already been implementing as it gives us a practice to help students calm their brains from coming in after running around at recess time so they are ready to learn. A few teachers are incorporating some of the program’s practices into their classrooms and we tried out the core breathing exercise with staff.

mind up

Another goal for the school is to continue to promote and build student leadership for comprehensive school health. We started a new option class this year: Health and Wellness Leadership. The students in this option class created a website with activities covering the following four areas of wellness:  mental, nutritional, physical and spiritual. When you click on FLVT Health and Wellness under the Resources and Publications tab, you are taken directly to the site. Students also organized different wellness activities throughout the first quarter. The wellness team is also continuing with Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right program that promotes healthy eating.  Students can bring in a healthy yellow food in December and complete the form in the canteen for a chance to win a prize. The next project for the team is the development of school garden boxes in the new year and possibly a school wide wellness day.

student website

As astaff, we had a wellness retreat day last Friday so that we are better equipped to handle the challenges of the coming month.  We started the day focusing on Spiritual Wellness with Taizé prayer led by Peggy from L’Arche LethbridgeTaizé is short, chanting prayers that were sung and repeated many times with scripture readings, psalms, intercessions and a ten-minute silence in the middle of the service.  It was a beautiful service that was calming in its simplicity.  Next staff participated in a variety of wellness activities ranging from going for a workout to creating crafts to playing card games to listening to music and, above all, building community by visiting with one another.  We closed the day off with the fellowship of a beautiful meal.  It was a relaxing day as we prepare for the business of the coming Advent season.

At the Inter-Jurisdictional Health Champion Wellness Day on November 29, I learned about Intellectual Wellness.  Social connections are one way to support good brain health and wellness so I invite you to join us for our various activities this month. Music is another great way to support brain health so you could come out to one of our musical events. Our elementary choir will be singing at December 6 at City Hall from 12:00 – 12:30, and the grade 2 and 3 classes will be singing at the Evening of Christmas as St. Basil’s Church on December 19 at 7:00 pm.  Our Christmas Family Fun Night will be at the school this year on the 14th from 5:30 – 7:30. It is a wonderful event filled with many activities to promote brain health, such as, coloring, story telling, cake walk, cookie decorating and an obstacle course. Help boost your Spiritual Wellness by joining us for a Monday Advent Celebration. Finally, we invite you to come into the school on the last day of December as the staff serves hot chocolate and candy canes to parents and students. It has become one of my favorite traditions here at the school.  If I don’t see you at one of our events this month, I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

More Information on Wellness Education:

Alberta Education Wellness Education

Alberta Education Wellness Framework 


Read Full Post »

Happy New Year! Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year for us.  It is a time of quiet, joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We can lose our roots and get lost in all the hustle, bustle, and commercialization of the Christmas season, and are so busy preparing our homes and ourselves that we forget to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Jesus. For all of the Christmas cheer and joyful celebrations, this time of the year can also be one of the loneliest. What if you do not have any family around? What if you do not have any friends in your life? What if you cannot afford even the tiniest gift? What if you do not have a home? If we are serious about rooting the Christmas season is Christ, we must be willing to be Christ for those who need Him most.


This Advent season we are going to be Christ for those who need him most by supporting a local cause: Streets Alive Mission.  Streets Alive is dedicated to bringing hope to those who have none by building relationships with the disenfranchised, through a variety of volunteer driven programs.  So often with social justice projects, we bring items but do not really think or learn more about the people we help.  This year, with our Rooted in Christ theme, we are going to ground ourselves by learning about the work of Streets Alive Mission by having them come in and educate us about the work they do. The staff is going to be going to the Streets Alive Mission on Friday as part of our retreat day so that we can see first hand the work that is done.  Each week at our Advent Celebrations, we are asking students to bring in different items that the Mission requires to do their work: dark colored socks, waterproof gloves, and toques or hats; and men’s underwear and jeans. More details on the project and items can be found in the newsletter.  For more information on Streets Alive Mission please visit their website.

If you can’t make our celebrations, please try to make it for the last day of school where staff serves hot chocolate and candy canes to students and parents as they enter the school in the morning.  It has become one of my favorite traditions here at the school and is a wonderful way to start the last school day of the year. If I don’t see you at one our celebrations this month, I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

Resource:  Jesus Daily by Aaron Tabor, MD



Read Full Post »

December Newsletter

It’s hard to believe that we have reached December, Advent, and a new liturgical year.  December is a short month that is packed full of activities.  We can get caught up in the craziness and commercialism that is Christmas. It always amazes me to walk into stores on November 1 and see the Christmas section going up as the Halloween section is being taken down. Advent is supposed to be a time of quiet, joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. As I am writing this, I am looking forward to starting my preparations by attending the Women’s Advent Retreat at St. Martha’s Church this weekend. This is my third year attending and am looking forward to the fellowship of women from Lethbridge and surrounding areas, the fabulous food, and time to experience and reflect on the theme: Spending TIME with Jesus. If you have not attended the retreat before, I invite you to think about attending next year.


As for the school preparations, we are going to be celebrating the theme of Walking Together through Advent.  Each weekly celebration will focus on Hope, Peace, or Love. We are working on a social justice program to raise awareness about cancer and to support cancer research through donations. Students are able to donate at the weekly advent celebration.  Our grade 9 students are doing morning prayer during Advent and will be creating prayers that reflect our theme. When you are in the gathering space look for the bulletin board display that will be put together that will illustrate how we are Walking Together through Advent.  We are going to be adding to this bulletin board throughout the year.


We have a couple of special events going on in December that I hope to see you at so please mark them down in your calendars.  Our school celebration this year is Christmas at the Fort.  It is on December 11 and runs from 5:30 – 7:30. This event is for the entire school and includes activities, such as, cookie decorating, making snowflakes, going on hay rides, learning about First Nations culture, caroling by the fire, and enjoying a cup of hot cocoa. The next school event takes place on Sunday December 14 at 4:00.  We are working with the Hurricanes to have a School Rocks Night. There are 14 other schools in Lethbridge participating and we are hoping to sell as many tickets as possible so we can fill a section full of red and black Hawkwear. This event is not only build community but also acts as a fundraiser for us as we receive money from the Hurricanes for every ticket sold. Money raised from this will go to meet our fundraiser target for school activities and clubs. Finally, we invite you to come into the school on the last day as the staff serves hot chocolate and candy canes to parents and students. It has become one of my favorite traditions here at the school.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: