The Béliveau Factor

Jean_Beliveau_02“Outstanding”. “A gentleman”. “A class act”. These are just some of the tsunami of accolades that have poured forth in recent days to describe the late Jean Béliveau.

As we prepare for the holiday season, with its focus on the importance of giving, family and friends, there is probably nobody more representative of these cherished things than Jean Béliveau – a truly great Montrealer. His life was not simply well lived. He was a truly magnificent citizen from whom we have much to learn.

Jean Béliveau came from a large a blue-collar working class family. He often spoke about the many important lessons he learned from his parents during his early formative years – lessons about respect, the value of hard work, and sustaining long term commitment to projects that matter, all timeless qualities.

Béliveau came from a different era, There were no organized hockey leagues until Juniors.  His brilliance emerged on outdoor rinks in a Quebec small town. After being called up to les Canadiens in 1953, his career with the Habs was to be nothing short of spectacular.  He was a very special player – possessing a large 6’ 3” frame – strong, yet swift, agile and graceful like a much smaller player. Over twenty years as a player with the Canadiens, Béliveau went on to set the record for most points with the club that still stands today. He also captained the team for 10 years and won 10 Stanley cups.  He had his named engraved on that holy grail of hockey seven more times as part of the Habs’ management team. It’s unlikely anyone will ever do that again.

Béliveau played his whole career for one team and then followed up as a paid employee and volunteer with that same team for another 40 years after his retirement. He’s part of the historic bedrock that contributes to the Montreal franchise’s strong sense of history and tradition, even in this age of media hype, athletic celebrity, and mega contracts.

However, it’s perhaps what Béliveau did off the ice during and after his playing days that defined him best. In short, he was a man of deep character. He was always the last one to leave when autograph-seekers wanted a moment of his time. He gave countless hours to hospital visits, charity causes and what are often referred to as “rubber chicken dinners” – small-scale community fundraisers held all across Quebec and Canada. Simply through his presence, millions of dollars were raised for good causes.  He rarely said no.

I met him when I was in grade 7. He came to my school’s annual spring track & field day to give out the awards.  I remember it well. He was upbeat, inspirational, and engaged.

I have two other notable memories of Jean Béliveau. The first relates to one of the Canada Cup Series that was played some years ago before the days that professional hockey players joined the Olympic movement.  There were several games played between top hockey nations, many here in Montreal. During one match an American player “creamed” one of the Canadian star players with a dirty check. He was penalized, but the Canadian player was injured and unable to play the following game. The Canadian fan base was outraged. So when the US national anthem was played in Montreal at the next game, the sell-out crowd drowned out the “Star Spangled Banner” with an avalanche of noisy and angry boos. Prior to the final Canada-USA game, the “Hockey Canada” people had a brilliant idea. Rather than turning to a senior politician or the president of Hockey Canada, they turned to the most dignified and respected Canadian they could find, Jean Béliveau. Before the US national anthem began, they played a video from Jean Béliveau with a short lecture on respect.  As the music began, the boos started to emerge from up in the rafters. With a live camera fixed on Béliveau and his image on the enormous scoreboard, he confidently raised his finger, tilted his head and the noise magically vanished. True respect.

My other notable memory was when former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien offered Jean Béliveau the position of Governor General, the highest appointed position in our nation. No greater honour could have been bestowed upon him.  However, within 24 hours Béliveau rejected the opportunity, wholly in the name of his family. His son-in-law had died tragically a few years earlier and his daughter was a single mother to two young girls. Béliveau had committed to being present like a second father for those young girls. Even an offer for one of the most honoured positions in the land could not pull him away from Montreal and his family.

Thank you Monsieur Béliveau – for the values you espoused, for the example you set, for the leadership we can all learn from.  – Chris Shannon, Headmaster









Depend on the Ancients

PhilosophersA couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an excellent teacher workshop presentation by Mr. Vlahogiannis, one of our senior academic department heads. For many years Mr. Vlahogiannis has led the social science department and throughout his 20+ years at LCC, he has taught philosophy.

His presentation to teachers was a window into philosophy, the subject he calls the “subversive discipline”. Why subversive? Essentially because philosophy is a discipline that promotes rational thought and constant questioning. The questioning focuses on norms in our society, our pervasive ideology, and the nature of beauty, virtue, goodness, and ethics. Through disciplined questioning we can determine a better understanding of so much around us.

Many modern philosophers claim that today’s youth are more consumers than citizens; that they’ve been trained to want to consume, so it is hard for them to understand the more important complexities of citizenship and its responsibilities. These philosophers assert that young people are mixed up about how, why, and where they can contribute to the “public good” in meaningful ways.

As young people watch hundreds (actually thousands) of digital and TV commercials that promote or portray a so-called “good-life”, philosophers are concerned that it is becoming increasingly difficult to define the “good life” beyond the powerful allure of consumerism—owning stuff, more and more stuff. There are strong pressures from corporate interests for youth to define themselves with “things” rather than character and their possible contributions to a healthy society.

So to make some inroads on these important questions, I simply suggest our senior students register for Mr. Vlahogiannis’ classes. There they will be given the opportunity to ask many questions, explore the history and foundations of philosophy, discuss concrete issues, and participate in case studies.

That said, some of the first and most famous philosophers were the ancient Greeks. They were very interested in the nature of existence and they were the first to be able to distinguish the capacity of human beings for rational thought, decision-making and reason.

That legacy has had a massive impact over the past 2000 years or so.  I recently ran across a book by two philosophers entitled Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders by Michael Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas. They have reviewed the writings of the classical philosophers and selected ten ideas that positively impact the effectiveness of leaders and remain relevant today. The authors remind us that genuine leadership is very demanding and requires courage, principles and practice. That’s something I believe all our students need to learn as we offer them different opportunities to lead and refine their skills.

Genuine leadership is difficult because in addition to simply getting things done, it actually requires leaders do the inner-work on a continual basis. And that is a lot to commit to; it’s lifelong.

So, from classical Greek philosophy, here are 10 timeless classic rules for leadership:

  • Rule 1: “Know Thyself.” – Thales
  • Rule 2: “Office Shows the Person.” – Pittacus
  • Rule 3: “Nurture Community at the Workplace.” – Plato
  • Rule 4: “Do Not Waste Energy on Things You Cannot Change.” – Aristophanes
  • Rule 5: “Always Embrace the Truth.” – Antisthenes
  • Rule 6: “Let Competition Reveal Talent.” – Hesiod
  • Rule 7: “Live Life by a Higher Code.” – Aristotle
  • Rule 8: “Always Evaluate Information with a Critical Eye.” – The Skeptics
  • Rule 9: “Never Underestimate the Power of Personal Integrity.” – Sophocles
  • Rule 10: “Character Is Destiny.” – Heraclitus

— Christopher Shannon, Headmaster



Community Service-Mackay Center: Learning From Each Other

2014_15_Gr10_Comm_Serv_Mackay_Centre_015On Monday, November 17, I along with six other students and Ms. Leiter, had the privilege of going to Camp Massawippi with several students and teachers from the Mackay Centre for three days. Most, if not all the students who go on the trip from year to year, have cerebral palsy and are in wheel chairs. However, this year along with these students, we were accompanied by deaf teens as well.

After two visits to the Mackay Centre prior to the trip (to get to know the students a little bit better), the seven of us from LCC were anxious to get up to the camp. Since I had already gone on the trip last year, it didn’t take long for me to become comfortable at the camp with the kids. Despite the very snowy weather, we took the kids on long walks and adventures during the day. We also did arts and crafts, played board games, and even got into a pretty intense competition of air hockey. Although you could see on everyone’s faces that we were having a blast doing all of these activities, all of the Mackay students and LCC students would probably say that their favorite times were when we all just sat around, talked, and laughed a lot.

Because there was a group of deaf students who came on the trip this year, several Royal Vale High school students and teachers came up to the camp with us as well. Royal Vale has an integration program for teens that are deaf, which allows them to be in certain regular streamed classes. Because of this, the students that came knew how to communicate with the students who are deaf through sign language.

I can’t even put a number on the amount of highs experienced on this trip, however I can say that one specific moment was definitely learning sign language. We learned simple things like how to sign the alphabet and how to say yes, no, please and thank you. On top of that we learned how to sign words like ”swag”, and even a new sign that had just been created for “Ebola.” – Zoe Young ‘15


Community Service-Mackay Center: Creating Unforgettable Memories

2014_15_Gr10_Comm_Serv_Mackay_Centre_012Being given the opportunity to participate in a once in a lifetime eye-opening experience has really changed the way I perceive the world.  Before this experience, I had never worked with children who suffer from cerebral palsy let alone any major disability. The fact that I was able to witness and learn what these children could do on their own really made me rethink my ability to do things I didn’t think I able to do. In reality I am capable of achieving anything on my own unlike the majority of these children.

Despite the challenges that they face, they were always smiling and happy. It was incredible to see that even though these kids struggle daily with so many different things, they still manage to be constantly happy. It really made me reflect and realize how fortunate I really am for the life I have been given. I now realize that the small things in life shouldn’t be taken for granted like being able to walk, dress and feed myself. It is truly unbelievable how much these kids are able to do on their own even though to an average person it may not seem that impressive.

These students have the ability to communicate and express how they are feeling in ways that help them function and survive. As well, the staff at the Mackay Centre were incredible and treated the children as if they were their own, which is certainly an amazing quality. The students are so fortunate to have a team of people who are always looking out for their best interest, making sure that they are on the right path to success.

Overall, this experience was amazing and I am so glad that I got to hang out with these amazing children for three days at camp where we all created unforgettable memories. – Alexandra Meltzer ‘16


Procès simulé: Palais de justice de Montréal

IMG_2554Lundi 1 décembre 2014, la classe de droit de 10 année est allée au Palais de justice de Montréal afin de faire un procès criminel simulé. Nous avons eu la chance d’être accueillis par le Juge André Perreault et son adjointe, madame Masson.

Nous remercions aussi Me. Marin Cojocaru (au centre de la photo) qui a travaillé avec les élèves lors de la préparation du procès en leur offrant de précieux conseils.


Aujourd’hui était très intéressant. J’ai vraiment aimé l’expérience, particulièrement quand on m’a donné l’occasion de parler et d’être mis en doute, c’était tout à fait stressant, mais cela m’a enseigné beaucoup et je suis heureux de l’avoir fait. J’ai aussi aimé la visite à la Cour d’appel, car l’édifice était spectaculairement beau. J’aimerais certainement travailler là-bas dans le futur. – Ryan Hawa ’16

Pendant la classe de droit nous avons pratiqué un procès simulé. J’ai beaucoup aimé mon expérience aujourd’hui à la Cour d’appel et aussi au Palais de justice. J’ai appris qu’après et pendant le témoignage, le juge a le droit de poser quelques questions. C’était une très bonne expérience et je pense que ma partie préférée était la visite de la Cour d’appel. – Rebecca Ross ’16

J’ai aimé plusieurs éléments de cette expérience comme le procès simulé et la visite de la Cour d’appel. J’ai appris que le juge a le droit de demander des questions à l’avocat et au témoin. Le procès de LuKa Magnotta se déroulait en face de la salle où nous étions. Je remercie toutes les personnes qui on aidé à réaliser cette journée possible et mon professeur M. Maurice. C’était une expérience dont je me souviendrai.- Joshua Mindel ’16

Au cours de ce procès, j’ai appris plusieurs choses. J’ai appris à écouter l’information qui m’est offerte. J’ai aussi beaucoup appris sur le déroulement d’un procès et sur la Cour d’appel grâce à notre visite. Le fait que le procès de Luka Magnotta était juste en face de notre salle m’a fait prendre conscience de la réalité dans laquelle nous étions. – Matthew Tabet ’16

La classe de droit de M. Maurice a passé la journée au Palais de Justice et à la Cour d’appel. Cette journée unique était magnifique comme expérience pour nous. Nous nous sommes préparés pendant le mois de novembre pour le procès simulé au Palais de Justice. Ma partie préférée était les remarques faites par le juge Perreault à la fin de notre procès. Aussi, le procès de Luka Magnotta se déroulait juste en face de notre procès! Quelle bonne journée! – Christina Papageorgakopoulos ’16