Text Messages Home: What it’s Like to be a Young Round Square Delegate

Three LCC Middle School Students are currently attending the Round Square Conference at the Athenian School in Danville, California. The following series of texts from Andrew Vandenbussche ’19, LCC student delegate, were sent to his parents and printed with his permission.  

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An Eco Perspective

IMG_0242 copyA book by American scientist, Rachel Carson, entitled Silent Spring, was published in 1962 and literally changed the world. I always associate that book and its subsequent impact with the birth of the modern environmental movement. It identified significant health hazards for birds and humans resulting from the wide use of pesticides. Essentially, it laid the groundwork for the eventual banning of a harmful chemical called DDT. In the late 1960s, along with the anti-nuclear movement, the ecological movement became a political force for the first time.

In 1971, the private interest group Greenpeace was born in a kitchen in Vancouver, as was the new federal government agency, Environment Canada. That was one year after the USA created the EPA – the Environmental Protection Agency.

Over the past decade here at LCC, we have made a concerted effort as a community to be mindful of our environmental impact and be a more sustainable school. It begins with teaching about environmental responsibility and sustainable practices in various classes while simultaneously implementing sustainable practices in the operation of our facilities. This has ranged from installing high efficiency furnaces in the main school, a geothermal heating system in the new Assaly Arts building, to installing efficient lighting and taps and urinals in washrooms to save water. Our arena is now distinguished for its green technology that sets it apart from most other rinks in Montreal.

Even our turf field was put in two summers ago with sustainability in mind. No, it is not natural grass, but we first completed a detailed environmental impact analysis prior to deciding about its installation. The turf was actually deemed environmentally neutral by a respected environmental consultant. Yes, it’s an artificial product, but it has helped eliminate significant busing of students to the West Island for spring practices, and has massively reduced water and fertilizer requirements necessary with natural grass. In the end, we are operating a high-traffic outdoor facility. We have gained weeks of field time we didn’t have on the shoulder seasons of late fall and early spring, when grass is actually unusable.

I think that improving the state of our environment is an overwhelming question for many students. They get confused by the abstract nature of “environmentalism” and what that actually means. Some tend to wonder: “What can I do at the individual level to have any positive impact?”

It’s a good question. However, as Zia Tong, keynote speaker at the recent LCC Destiny Québec Conference and host of the national Science TV show Daily Planet noted, there is actually lots students can do. She asked student delegates to consider the ethical, moral, social, economic and environmental issues related to our throwaway culture. She urged us all to stop being what she called “suckers” for buying new things all the time – like phones – essentially just because they changed their shape, when our current phone works fine.

Yes, there’s a lot one can do to protect the environment. Where possible, choose locally- sourced food products that eliminate the impact of long distance travel and emissions, walk more, use public transit, limit showers to four minutes, use high efficiency light bulbs, buy eco-friendly products, and the list goes on and on. And, of course, we can try to live by the credo “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Simply commit to personal eco-practices that diminish harmful impact on our environment, one person at a time.

My thanks to Math teacher and “eco-warrior” Ms. Scattolin and the student Green Team for educating us and advocating for green practices in our community. Thanks also to all teachers who address sustainability in a creative way in the classroom. Yes, here at LCC we do some things well on the sustainability front, but by making thoughtful choices, we can always do better.

The older I get, and the more I travel outside of Canada where environmental degradation is often more visible and pressing, the more I feel thankful for the natural beauty and extraordinary, unspoiled resources we have in this blessed country. Let’s all commit to respect, steward and protect our environment. It’s our only planet and it is, indeed, very precious!

Christopher Shannon
Headmaster

Student Exchange: Riding the Waves in the Sunshine State

Gigi_Gelgor3I have been living Boca Raton, Florida, for over a week. During my stay, I have experienced many new things. In some ways, it is similar to Montreal and in other ways it is quite different.

When I landed at the Florida airport, I was kind of nervous but once I saw my host family, I wasn’t as scared. I had already been communicating with them for at least a month and that certainly helped. One of the first things that struck me was the heat. I was way too hot in sweatpants, long sleeves and furry boots!

The first week at a new school can be nerve-racking for anyone. My exchange helped me feel at home and comfortable. I noticed a number of ways that Saint Andrew’s is different from LCC. Practically everywhere you go, you’re outside. All the classes are indoors but when you leave each classroom, you’re outside in the beautiful hot Florida weather.

Saint Andrew’s also has 6 periods, not including lunch, and each class is 55 minutes. The girls wear short-sleeve polo shirts (like the ones worn in kindergarten at LCC) and skorts. The boys wear similar shirts and shorts. No ties! They are allowed to wear any kind of shoes they want. I must confess, after the second day I did the same and wore my running shoes.

On the weekend, I went to Delray Beach and it was incredible! The waves and water were beautiful! The only downside was that I forgot to wear sunscreen and got sunburned! There was also a fair on the main street right next to the beach. We shopped and wandered around looking at all the artists and their artworks and crafts. There is so much more colour here compared to Montreal.

I’ve made lots of new friends and I hope to be in contact with them for a long time. I’m having a great time in Florida!

– Gigi Gelgor ’19, Exchange Student at Saint Andrew’s School

Arts Week Wraps Up

2015_16_Arts_Assembly_038Exactly five years ago, our Senior Band visited Boston, and completed a music workshop at Harvard University with Thomas Everett, Director of Harvard University Bands. Following the musical session, Mr. Everett took the time to write me a personal letter that was very complimentary of our young musicians and teachers. Here’s what he said:

“I recently had the pleasure of providing a clinic for the Sr. Band students of Lower Canada College. I was most impressed with the ensemble’s general execution and precision, but even more so with the young musicians’ attitude, attention and focus. Upon entering an unusual venue for the clinic, students quietly went about their assigned responsibilities or took on new ones as the occasion rose. This, combined with the camaraderie, enjoyment and personal interactions I observed after the rehearsal, showed the experience to be rewarding for the students. I do many of these clinics each spring, but unfortunately cannot say that I see a group of this caliber with these priorities. My compliments to your school program, Scott Cheyne, and the rest of your music staff.”

Understandably, it was a very meaningful letter to receive! The quality of our band’s performance continues to be dependent on the excellent preparation students receive here on Royal Avenue. Our music teachers should be commended for high standards, professionalism and commitment and a deep passion for music education. There has certainly been a lot of evidence of that on our school stage at this week’s two recitals and a lively Arts Week assembly.

Our fine art program is also first rate. Our art students produce beautiful work, and the annual student art show later this spring will surely be a testament to quality, creativity and student engagement. Also later this month, grade 11 and 12 art students will be holding a special weekend show at the Alan Klinkhoff Gallery on Sherbrooke Street in downtown Montreal. Several members of the Klinkhoff family are LCC alumni – and we are very thankful they are clearing the walls to display our students’ artwork at their gallery between Thursday April 21 and Saturday April 23.

In addition to music and art, many of our students are involved in drama, either in the classroom or as a member of the Senior LCC Players or Middle School Players. My thanks to our faculty for their excellent work with young aspiring actors and stage and technical crews in various productions throughout the year.

With the opening of the Assaly Arts Centre a couple of years ago, we are blessed with excellent arts facilities to help complement great teachers who constantly enhance and refine student artistic interests and talents.

Mr. Cheyne often reminds us that learning and playing an instrument lights up all the lobes of the brain – essentially making one smarter. Arts educators in all the arts disciplines have also labeled the skills students acquire in creative activities as “Studio Habits of Mind.” These include such attributes as developing a craft, learning to engage and persist with projects and the benefits of stretching and exploring, usually without a preconceived plan. This usually means embracing uncertainty and playfully responding to mistakes and accidents.

So as we wrap up Arts Week, my thanks to all arts students for the positive impact of their work. They should also remember, the learning and brain benefits may be even deeper than they ever imagined. I hope to see you at the Student Art Show in late May.

Christopher Shannon
Headmaster