Head’s Blog: Vulnerability

2018_2019_JS_House_Activity_Tug_of_War_10As we begin a new school year, I think that most students are excited about an array of opportunities, but a lot are also naturally feeling somewhat vulnerable. A major contradiction of our times is the unintended message of the nuts-and-bolts priorities of the “I generation”. I hear a lot about “I this” and “I that”. Let’s face it, across North America there’s an obsession with the individual and with individual public displays of personal competence and strength. Although there’s nothing wrong with strength, courage and developing into a solid individual, none of our students are able to do it alone, I assure you.

I recently asked high school students to consider how to gently shed some of their fear of appearing vulnerable. In all honesty, we are all vulnerable and need input and help from others most of the time. That’s a fundamental reality of the human condition and learning and working productively.

Students need to stop worrying about developing an impenetrable self-image, both in person or online. To do this they need to consider less focus on “I” or “me” and shift the focus more to “we”. Collaboration with others is a reality of life and a set of key skills to develop. It actually requires practice so that young people can become valued contributors who actually listen better and be genuinely trusted by others.

Despite the powerful cultural messages about having the courage to stand alone and stand apart from the crowd, I’m asking our students to come together more in groups. I have asked them to consider how you will develop their ability to work more effectively with others. Fortunately, they are gaining a lot of practice in the classroom.

All the modern workplace gurus and writers remind us that the ability to work with others is now the key attribute of today’s employees and professional teams, whether you are at a school or a start-up, or a professional, such as a doctor or a teacher. I assure you, our teachers all work in teams – more so than ever before. This is evident in our many dynamic Professional Learning Community (PLC) teams! In working together, they are impressive role models to our students every day.

So, I urge our students to let their relationships flourish and I guarantee them that in due course, they will feel good – more positive and well supported. We all do when we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster

Debating Myths Debunked

2018_2019_Provincial_Debating_Championship_001I have been involved with debating since I arrived at LCC in grade 7 and have come to love it. It has led me to exciting opportunities on a provincial, national, and even international level after making it onto Team Canada last year.

While debating is not for everyone, there are definitely tons of people who would love it but who just haven’t given it a chance yet.  Allow me to debunk three myths that might currently prevent you from joining the club.

Myth #1: You should debate for academic reasons. Partly false. Debate will certainly help you academically – with writing argumentative essays and doing oral presentations, for example.   But most of us choose debate because we enjoy it, learn new things, get to travel together and, most importantly, go to The Keg with Mr. George.

Myth #2: You need to be a skilled public speaker in order to be a debater. Wrong. The truth is, you don’t even have to really enjoy public speaking. It is more about the art of arguing than speaking. What you have to say is far more important than how you say it. So don’t hesitate to give it a try even if public speaking is not your strength.

Myth #3: You need to understand all legal principles, the intricacies of international relations and various economic policies. You need to be a moral philosopher and political scientist. False.  Debate motions can be simple questions like whether or not we should try to contact aliens, whether or not we should ban zoos and whether to prioritize saving one child over extending the lives of 5 adults.  It can get more complex, and in order to improve and become more successful, knowledge is needed. However, it is not required in order to enjoy debate.

Here are the most recent results of the LCC debate team:

Based on our performance at the provincial championship, three LCC teams qualified for the nationals. Ella Waxman ’19 and Andrew Vandensbussche ’19, Maren Al Jendi ’19 and Max Schiller ’19, and David Surry ’19 and I headed to Halifax for the competition a couple weeks ago.  Here are a few highlights from the national championship:

  • All LCC teams won at least three rounds in the most competitive tournament of the year.
  • David and I made it to the quarter finals where we lost in a close round to the eventual national champions.
  • I was the top Quebec speaker and 4th overall speaker.

2018_2019_Ella_and_Matthew_003In other exciting news, a couple of months ago, Ella and David were invited to try out for Team Canada after their performance in the provincial championship, which is pretty incredible. Ella made the team, which means that LCC now has two members on Canada’s debate team (including me)!

I hope you now know a little more about debating. Looking forward to seeing some of you around at practices and tournaments. – Matthew Anzarouth ’20

Head’s Blog: Environmental Engagement

Child_Wading_FloodOur student Green Team volunteers and a handful of other students are LCC’s “eco-warriors” who are active in considering new ways to educate, support, and advocate for our environment. Despite their efforts and a strong commitment from school administration, I am still concerned about awareness and ownership of environmental issues across our broader school community.

I write this as thousands of people in our city are out of their homes due to catastrophic flooding. Two years ago, major floods were called “once-in-a-century floods”. Unfortunately, they happened again. It can be very tough for young people to process the many elements of climate change. Many people, young and old, think they can have little real impact. I believe that none of us should sit on the sidelines; we should all consider how we can play a part in protecting our environment.

LCC has taken a lot of steps in recent years, but we cannot rest on our laurels and should do more. These are some environmental initiatives undertaken at the school:

Between 2005 and 2010, we started a student Green Team, introduced recycling in a systematic way and addressed a number of costly campus infrastructure issues, replacing inefficient furnaces, ventilation systems and energy-wasting lighting. We also constructed Montreal’s most energy efficient arena in 2008, using an efficient ice-making system called ECO CHILL. That building is LEED Silver Certified (highly sustainable standards). In 2009, we made the environment one of the seven key pillars of our school’s Strategic Plan.

After 2010, our Board of Governors adopted and published a Sustainability Commitment, and we have continued to improve our facilities with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind. This was reflected in the renovation of our science wing in summer of 2010 and construction of the LEED Gold Certified Assaly Arts Centre in 2013. It has many sustainable attributes, including geothermal heating. During those years, an active staff Sustainability Committee and an LCC Parent Environmental Committee also worked on promoting sustainability practices in day-to-day school life.

We have replaced washroom taps with automatic units and installed low-flow urinals. We purchase only sustainably-sourced paper, introduced composting in our food service operations and LCC was twice named one of Canada’s Top 100 Green Employers. All along the way, teachers at all levels have considered ways to focus on the teaching and learning about the environment in our curriculum.

Beyond our committed eco-warriors, I still think we can do better by giving environmental education and sustainability a higher profile. In all fairness, many students and adults are not sure what they can do to help, either at school or at home.

Despite Canada’s small population and vast open spaces, we do not have an admirable track record on a host of environmental benchmarks. We are signatories to the 2015 Paris Accord on reducing harmful emissions, yet each Canadian produces 22 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year. That is the highest among all G20 countries and nearly three times the G20 average of eight tonnes per person.

I am pleased that the world has been effectively nudged by the work of many young environmental activists. Notably, 16-year-old Swedish Nobel nominee Greta Thunberg has presented a powerful call-to-action to youth globally. Her message and her passion for this cause are impressive. She reminds all adults that in many ways we have failed this young generation, and now it is time to pull together and act on behalf of Mother Earth.

In an effort to raise the bar on environmental issues, LCC recently joined a new Environmental Steering Committee of a few CAIS schools. We are working together to set higher standards and benchmarks and hopefully impact all of our nearly 100 CAIS schools across the county.

I invite all students to sit up, listen and take notice. How do we share ideas for improvement within our school and with other CAIS schools? I asked them to channel their thoughts through our advisory groups, Green Team or Student Council. Most importantly, let’s consider how we translate our ideas into action. This is a whole-school initiative that could have long-term impact.

To paraphrase American writer H. Jackson Brown from his NYT bestseller Life’s Little Instruction Book, 20 years from now our students will be more disappointed by the things that they didn’t do than by the ones they did. – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster

Student Exchange: Experiences at a New School

Clara_Hamilton_002My exchange has been amazing so far and it just keeps getting better and better. As soon as I reunited with my exchange partner at the airport, I instantly felt a part of the family. Since I arrived on a Saturday, Renata (my exchange partner), planned for us to go out on Sunday to get to know the city a bit and meet some of her friends. They were so welcoming and tried their best to include me in every conversation even though they weren’t very comfortable speaking English.


I have to admit, I was really nervous for my first day of school. As Renata lives in walking distance of the school, I get more time to sleep which is great. The moment I walked into school, I could immediately feel everyone’s eyes on me. I panicked a bit, but as soon as I started feeling these emotions, a group of girls ran up to me and hugged me and welcomed me to the school. I later found out that these girls were in Renata’s class and were so excited to meet me. Eventually, I walked into class and everyone was so sweet and welcoming, I immediately felt a part of their class. It felt so natural.

The difference between LCC and Belgrano Day School was evident as soon as I walked in. First, the classes range from about 22-25 students per class. Periods only last 40 minutes, but they have eight in a day. School starts at 8:15 am and finishes at 4:10 pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, senior students have gym, but as the school is located in the middle of the city, they have to take a bus to a separate campus, called a talar, where they play sports. Girls have the option between field hockey and volleyball, and boys have the option between rugby and volleyball.

Another difference is lunch. Students are allowed to leave school to get lunch in the area, as long as they don’t have sports that day. Otherwise, they can bring their own lunch or get food from the cafeteria. I’ve already been to two quinceañeras (celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday), met so many amazing people and experienced so much of the Argentinian culture. I can’t wait to see what happens during the rest of my stay, but I’m already having the time of my life and it couldn’t be going any better. – Clara Hamilton ’21, Exchange Student at Belgrano Day School

Student Exchange: Eye-Opening Experience in South Africa

The past week of my life has been incredible. Exactly one week ago, I landed in sunny Johannesburg, South Africa, for a six-week student exchange and the amount of exploring and learning that I have already experienced is astronomical.

As an only child, I have never experienced what it’s like to have siblings or live in a big family. So, coming to a house which, at times, can have six teenagers is interesting. While living here, I can certainly say that I haven’t been bored once.

Almost every day, you experience “load shedding” while living in South Africa. Load shedding is when all of the power gets cut off and it can be off for two to six hours a day. Many people lack generators and as I woke up on my first morning, my exchange handed me a lamp and I got ready for my first day at St Stithians Girls College in the dark. This was certainly a change and it was cool to experience something so different within the first twelve hours of my exchange.

Another difference is that people walk between the lanes at the traffic lights, selling items, such as hats, sunglasses and phone chargers. Again, this was completely different and quite eye-opening. It is also common to see ten people sitting in the back of a truck in the open while driving around. Many people here get to places by taxi. Even though they do have taxis and Ubers as we do in Montreal, the taxis that most people take are minibuses that can fill up to around 12 people!

One thing that I still can’t get over is the campus at St Stithians which is an incredible 105 hectares. It has a pool, multiple fields, netball and basketball courts, a small dam and even a restaurant located at the top of the campus where you can see the city of Johannesburg! I actually have managed to get lost during a run but eventually found my way back. It’s definitely taking some adjusting but I’m sure that, by the time I leave, I will be able to get around the school without getting lost.

2018_2019_Jessica_Hyland_Student_Exchange_002Last weekend was a long weekend for Human Rights Day, so my exchange family took me to a lot of different places. We went to Maropeng, an area nicknamed “the cradle of humankind” because bones from some of the earliest living humans have been found there. We later drove to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden to have a picnic and walk around. It was absolutely stunning and I saw an incredible waterfall.

2018_2019_Jessica_Hyland_Student_Exchange_001On Friday, my exchange and I went to Gold Reef City amusement park with some of her rowing friends. I was also able to go down into a mine while there! It was again, very eye-opening, as we were only on the second floor, which was 75 metres deep and there were a total of 49 floors! Then on Saturday, I went to an Ed Sheeran concert, which was one of the best concerts I have ever been to and I was able to bond even more with my exchange family. On Sunday, my exchange family had 23 members of their relatives come over to their house for lunch/dinner. This was very different for me, as all of my relatives live in different continents and I barely ever see them. To see 23 people from the same family all in one place was something I had never experienced before.

I have been to so many places and done so many things in such a short amount of time. I’m so excited to see what the rest of my exchange has in store. It already has truly been one of the best experiences of my life. – Jessica Hyland ’21 Exchange Student at St Stithians College