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Posts Tagged ‘virtues’

June Farewells

June is always a busy month as we are marking the end of another school year and planning for the coming one. On the 7th we celebrate mass together at St. Martha’s Church: thanking God for a successful year and saying farewell to those who will not be with us next year. We have staff members who will be leaving us at the end of the school year and would like to acknowledge them.  After getting married this summer, our grade three teacher, Miss Tessier, will be off with her husband on an exciting venture in France.  We wish her the best of luck in her travels and look forward to seeing her when she comes back to Lethbridge. Ms. Scout, our First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Support Worker, is off to the University of Lethbridge to study nursing. We wish her the best of luck in her studies and look forward to when she again is a part of our community in a parent role. We are currently in the process of hiring replacements for Miss Tessier and Ms. Scout. We also have staff members who are on a temporary contract that finish at the end of June. Miss Balaksi filled in our junior high drama and elementary French role, Mrs. Kambeitz filled Mrs. Alvarez’s maternity leave in grade five, and Mrs. Daniels and Mrs. O have filled educational assistant leaves in both elementary and junior high classes.  All of them have become a part of our Van Tighem community and I’d like to thank them for sharing their gifts and talents with us.   Our Early Learning and Kindergarten PUF assistants are also on term contracts and we may or may not see them with us again: Ms. Copan, Mrs. Nigro, Mrs. Roccatti, Mrs. Clarke, and Mrs. Harper. I’d like to wish a fond farewell to our departing staff members and thank them for their contributions to our Van Tighem community.

Every year at this time, we also celebrate our grade nine class as they are moving on to CCH in the fall. On Thursday June 8th we say farewell during our Farewell Celebration.  We start with mass at 6:30 then move back to the school gym for light refreshments and a couple video presentations made by the students which will celebrate their theme: “We’ve Come a Long Way From Where We Began”. We wish them the best of luck and hope that they carry the Van Tighem Virtues with them as they continue on their next path.HAWKS cropped

To our families that are leaving us at the end of the year and to those who we are welcoming in the fall, we wish God’s blessings on you. We pray that our school community has a blessed summer vacation, and we look forward to seeing you in September.

mother teresa love

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Spiritual: Fruits of Charity

May is the month of Mary, a woman of not only grace and love, but also of patience and charity. Our virtue focus for May and June, Spiritual, is tied to Charity and asks us to follow the example Jesus taught us in the way we think, speak, and act.  What better example to look to than His mother, Mary? Her life was full of difficulties and uncertainty, but she bore them with patience and faith in God’s will.  She had to face her betrothed when she was found to be pregnant then, after Jesus was born, she fled to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. The fear of every mother is losing a child and Mary must have been anxious when Jesus went missing for three days and was then found in the Temple.  What must she have had to endure as she stood by the cross while Jesus was crucified?

The three fruits of Charity are joy, peace and mercy. Patience isn’t easy to practice as it involves the pursuit of peace. In practicing patience, we must resolve conflicts peacefully, without resorting to violence.  When you have a disagreement with a classmate try to resolve it peacefully by talking to one another. We can practice mercy by forgiving others. Holding grudges is not the way Jesus taught us to live so try your best to forgive others in the school community. Going to confession is another great way to ask God to forgive us for our trespasses. Probably the most difficult aspect is the fruit of joy: waiting without becoming upset or annoyed and continuing on in the face of difficulty.  There always seems to be one person in class who annoys you or gets under your skin, but try to follow Jesus’ command of “loving one another as I have loved you”.

Charity is about friendship and communion. This month, let us try to imitate and honor Mary who was the embodiment of patience and charity. Pope Francis tells us that “charity, patience and tenderness are very beautiful gifts.  If you have them, you want to share them with others”. Share your gifts by bearing your crosses without becoming upset or annoyed, forgive those who wrong you and solve your conflicts peacefully.

charity pope francis

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A Lenten Wave of Kindness

To be beacons of light, love, and happiness during Lent we focus on the three pillars of Almsgiving, Fasting, and Prayer. Our Lenten project this year will focus on almsgiving for Streets Alive Mission. We will be focusing on bringing in different food items throughout the course of Lent, such as, canned fruit, vegetables, or soup. The second pillar, fasting is a topic we discuss in class and practice in our canteen on Fridays. Kayla does not sell items containing meat on Fridays. Friday items range from egg or tuna salad to cheese pizza, and as always, smoothies are available.

We started our prayer journey by going to Mass at St. Martha’s Church on Ash Wednesday. We will gather weekly as a community to pray and reflect on our theme “Rooted in Christ”. Please come join us in prayer each week. Every morning, to start our day, we pray together as a community. We also pray together every morning as a staff and this year we are using the resource Jesus Daily: 365 Interactive Devotions by Aaron Tabor.

Our Van Tighem Virtue focus for Lent is Kindness. The focus is to treat people with dignity and to respect all rights and property. We have made a Lenten calendar which contains acts of kindness that staff, students, and families can do each day. Jesus did not perform random acts of kindness but treated everyone with dignity and respect. As a result, we are trying to focus on intentional acts of kindness as opposed to random as we want to teach students that kindness is integral to how we should treat one another by following Jesus’ example. Research is showing that kindness has a positive effect on not only the giver, but also on the receiver. The Dalai Lama says that “when we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” We are hoping to start a wave of kindness through our Lenten calendar. Our wave will branch outside of our school community when staff will be performing acts of kindness around the city on our professional development day on Friday March 24. Join us in spreading happiness and love around our community.

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February is known as the month of love and friendship. Jesus gave us the model to follow when he said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). This piece of Scripture is the grounding root of our new code of conduct that we are developing throughout this year. This month we are continuing to focus on our Wise Virtue.  Wise is tied to the Catholic human virtue of Justice and we described it as the following: I speak up for myself and others even when it may not be popular.  As a school community we all have rights and responsibilities to God, ourselves, the community, and other members of the community. To be just we must respect the rights of others and act in a manner that promotes positive relationships in our community.  The School Act says that students shall contribute positively to the school and community and behave in a manner that is welcoming, caring, and respectful. As students grow they experience difficulties following Jesus’ commandment to love one another. To help teach about positive relationships and deal with conflicts that occur, each class holds a weekly classroom meeting. Working through conflicts teaches necessary skills and allows students to make things right and restore relationships. We are continually striving to improve which is evident from our Tell Them From Me Secondary Survey results where 80% of students in grades 7-9 feel safe at school while the Canadian norm for these grades is 64%. I look forward to sharing with you next month the Wise behaviour expectations students have come up with.

love-one-another

The end of February marks the start of Lent. Thank you to Parent Council for organizing our Shrove Tuesday pancake meal on the 28th and to all the parents who have volunteered to help make this day a success.  We will start the Lenten season by celebrating Ash Wednesday on March 1st at St. Martha’s Church.   Each week we will come together as a community to pray and celebrate during the Lenten season. Please feel free to attend and celebrate with us. As Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving the canteen will not be serving meat on Friday.

Parents of students in grades 4 and 7 may already have received information on completing the Alberta Education Accountability Pillar Survey. Students in grades 4 and 7 and all teachers will also be completing their surveys online at school.  All surveys are anonymous and ask questions about experiences with the school.  In addition to English and French, the parent survey is available in Chinese, Punjabi, Arabic, Blackfoot, Cree, Korean, Spanish and Tagalog.  Your participation in the survey provides important information on the quality of education your child is receiving, so we encourage you to complete your survey promptly.  If you want to find out more information and get more involved in your child’s education, come out to our Parent Council Meeting on February 8th at 7:00. The meetings generally last an hour and I look forward to seeing you there.

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Did you know that the popular Christmas song, the Twelve Days of Christmas was written in England in the 1700s? It has been suggested that the song was used a method for Catholics to learn the teachings of the faith when, during this time in England, Catholics were persecuted for their faith. The three French hens are a way to remember the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. During November and December, we have been focusing on our Van Tighem Virtue of Accepting: I accept that everyone is unique and made in the image and likeness of God. It is also tied to the Catholic virtue of Fortitude which helps to strengthen our resolve and to overcome difficulties.

Students believe that being accepting means that we should celebrate that God made us different.  We can demonstrate it by including others, welcoming new students, concentrating on what makes someone unique and special, appreciating everyone’s contributions, accepting people for who they are, welcoming everyone to our school, and allowing everyone to join in. We should embrace, welcome, and encourage other people’s differences. After all, we are all a box of crayons!

all-areas-accepting

 

Students also came up with some excellent examples that follow as to how they can be accepting in the classroom. Accept others into your groups.  Be kind and inclusive when working in a group. Make conversation with others. Be open to different work environments and help to create them. Celebrate other classmates’ learning abilities and styles. Sit with everyone. Accept and listen to other people’s answers, ideas, and opinions. Help people out if they are having trouble.  Invite others to be your partner. Pick different partners or groups when you have the chance.

classroom-accepting

 

In the hallway, a strong theme of patience and caring for younger students came across. Be patient walking the crowded hallways.  Wait for students who are walking slower than you. Make conversations with different people.   Walk with someone who may be alone. Invite others to join you. Visit quietly with others. Be considerate of the shared hallway spaces. Wait patiently for the student in the locker above or below yours to finish or ask politely to use your locker. Be aware that all students are going different ways, places, and speeds.

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In the gym, inclusion and encouragement were important to different classes of all ages.  Students demonstrate acceptance by including others, inviting others to join, and accepting anyone who wants to play.  Students also thought that they need to recognize everyone’s talents, accept players of all skill levels, invite everyone to participate, encourage team members as well as opposing team members, and make encouraging and positive comments as a spectator.

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While playing outside, students should be open to play a game someone else’s way or by someone else’s rules. Realize that there are many different ways to play games. Try to get everyone involved in a game. Ask people to join your game. Try new games that others want to play. Compromise on game choice. Invite others to join you when going off campus. Giving compliments to people is a way to help them to feel more accepted into a group.

 

As we are constantly striving to improve the quality of education at FLVT School, our Van Tighem Virtues are a goal in our Continuous Improvement Plan. We are continually working towards teaching the attitudes and behaviour students need to be successful in life.  The work we have done on Honest and Accepting is available on our constantly evolving website page.  Please find it on our website under Our School/Van Tighem Virtues. The Van Tighem Virtues are a guide for the adults and students as to how we treat each other:  fairly and with respect. Once completed, they will serve as school rules so that students will know how to act and what we expect of them academically, socially, and spiritually. By the end of the year, the rules of the school will be clearly articulated so all staff and students will have a better understanding of the ways we can demonstrate our Virtues.

Our focus for January and February will shift to Wise:  I speak up for myself and others even when it may not be popular (Tied to Justice).  Wise Up is our video and we have chosen the following lyrics as a focus: “Wise Up. I’m gonna listen and do.  Wise Up. Every day I will chose to.”   Students will be challenged in January and February to think about what they are going to choose to listen and do to demonstrate being Wise. How are they going to speak up for themselves and others, even when it may not be popular?  I look forward to seeing what the students come up with.

Catechism Virtue Link

 

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In the Alberta Education Business Plan the Minister of Education articulated goals for the province. Our Holy Spirit board then set strategic priorities that aligned with the Business Plan. For our FLVT Improvement Plan, we chose the following three priorities to focus on that aligns with the Board’s direction:
1. Staff and students will grow in their faith and experience the richness of Catholic Education.
2. All students will develop literacy and numeracy skills that will prepare them for a changing future.
3. First Nations, Metis and Inuit students will achieve equitable educational outcomes.

Within those priorities, we created goals to move the school forward. This month I would like to highlight the work we have done with our first Van Tighem Virtue. After our kickoff in September students and teachers focused on the Honest Virtue. It is tied to the Catholic virtue of Prudence. Prudence allows us to reason and apply that thinking in order to determine the honest or proper action in each situation and to choose the correct means of achieving it. It is prudence that guides the judgment of conscience and allows us to choose to do good. Each class was asked what being honest meant and what behaviours would demonstrate it. They worked on this as part of their weekly classroom meetings and then all responses were put together into a Wordle. If you are not familiar with Wordle, the size of the word is proportionate to the number of times it is mentioned. The following is how our students articulate the Van Tighem Virtue of Honest.

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Being honest means telling the truth at all times. This is applied to ALL AREAS of the school. Approach all situation with honesty, even if mistakes have been made. Admit it when you do something wrong. Be responsible for your own actions.

 

classroom-honest

In the CLASSROOM, students decided that being honest means doing your own work. Keep your eyes on your own test. Own up to mistakes concerning your work. Be responsible for your learning and your behaviour. If you ask to leave, go where you say you are going. Do what you are supposed to be doing. Ask if you don’t understand something. Pay attention. Follow the classroom rules and procedures.

 

hallway-honest

While in the HALLWAY, students decided that it is important to say sorry or apologize if you bump into someone. When working in the hallway, stay on task. Walk quietly so you don’t disturb other classes. Take turns and be respectful coming in and out at recess. Go outside right away and on time when it is recess. If someone drops something, pick it up and return it to them. Help keep the hall clean by using garbage cans and return found items. If you damage something, tell someone.

 

gym-honest

One thing that many classes agreed upon was that being honest means to follow the rules of the game while in the GYM. When you are tagged or hit, own it. Be a good sport. Play fair. Use equipment properly and if something breaks, report it to a supervisor. Be respectful in the change room.

 

outside-honest

Respecting the rules of the playground demonstrates honesty while students are OUTSIDE. Take turns on the playground equipment. Follow the rules of the game. Play fairly. Listen to the supervisors. Come in on time when the bell rings. Use the crosswalk when leaving campus. Respect the environment and use garbage cans. Even if you accidentally trip or hurt someone, own it. When problems arise outside with other students, tell the truth to solve the problem.

Our students came up with excellent examples that articulate the Honest virtue. Having the Wordles and statements posted around the school will help our community to remember how we demonstrate the virtue and will remind us of the correct behaviour to choose as we try to follow the example set for us by Jesus. If you want to learn more about the content of the FLVT Improvement Plan it is on the agenda for the November Parent Council meeting on the 9th at 7:00 pm in the library. I look forward to seeing you.

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We officially kicked off our Van Tighem Virtues with our student retreat and guest speaker Alvin Law on September 21. It was an amazing day where students made pledges to put their best foot forward, talked about our Virtues, and participated in two sessions with Alvin. Thank you to all the families who stayed after the BBQ and listened to Alvin’s inspirational message. This day was the culmination of a year of planning by our committee in working towards revising our code of conduct.  We also received student input through the Tell Them From Me Survey, parent input at parent council meetings, and central office input from Joann Bartley our Director of Religious Education.

Our Faith Theme for this school year is “Rooted in Christ” with a focus on Scripture.  As our Van Tighem Virtues will guide our code of conduct, we have rooted it in Jesus’ words to us: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” John 13:34.  With Joann’s help, we also tied each Van Tighem Virtue to the cardinal and theological virtues of the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that a virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows the person to not only perform good acts, but to give the best of himself (1803). To help remember our Virtues we have used our HAWKS name as an acronym. The following is a list of virtues, a description, and the linked Catholic virtue:

Honest – I am sincere, truthful and trustworthy.  (Tied to Prudence)

Accepting – I accept that everyone is unique and made in the image and likeness of God (Tied to Fortitude)

Wise – I speak up for myself and others even when it may not be popular (Tied to Justice)

Kind – I treat people with dignity and respect all rights and property.   (Tied to Justice)

Spiritual – I follow the example Jesus taught us in the way I think, speak, and act.  (Tied to Charity)

These virtues will permeate the culture of the school and we will be working towards developing a deeper understanding of them and how they will guide our conduct. Throughout the year at class meetings and assemblies, students will be discussing each Virtue. They will be also be articulating behaviour expectations for all areas of the school and a variety of areas that came up as areas of concerns in our surveys:  classroom, hallway, outside, and gym.  By the end of the year we will have completed common expectations for each virtue.  We are also working on developing student conduct guidelines, consequences, and procedures. To find out more about our progress with our virtues, I invite you to come to parent council meetings as we look to parents to advise us on their perspective.

To read more about the Virtues in the Catechism click the following link: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a7.htm

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