Head’s Blog: Healing Art

By LCC Student Sara Graveline '18

Cliff City in Italy, by Sara Graveline ’18

One of my favourite things to do when I have free time is visit museums or art galleries. When I travel, I visit them pretty much everywhere I go, and there’s often a crowd. So why are so many people drawn to art?

I’ve always been impressed by the creativity of gifted artists and the unique perspectives these talented people are able to represent through their work with different mediums – drawing, painting, sculpture and others.

Great artists are actually able to create a wow effect, which forces you to stop, think, and wonder how the artist developed such a different idea or perspective. In addition, artists find special ways to make a statement on social issues or controversial topics.

The fact that art frequently challenges us is very healthy. Think of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, as an example of art that challenges, provokes and engages. It was considered very controversial when it was installed in the early 1980s. Its creator was Maya Lin, a 21-year-old art student at Yale University, and her design was chosen in a national competition that included 1,400 entries. To symbolize the impact of war, she chose to literally cut into the earth. She created a long black granite wall and a journey for the viewer from one end of the wall to the other – an intimate place to see the engraved names of the 58,000 soldiers who lost their lives. Some traditionalists wanted a more “heroic sculpture,” and some initially referred to the wall as an insulting “scar in the earth.” Yet, nearly 40 years later, the abstraction and striking symbolism of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Wall has actually made it one of Washington’s most visited and memorable sites.

Art not only challenges, it also inspires, by evoking a sense of extraordinary beauty. A good example of this would be Monet’s famous Water Lilies or many of the other striking works by the renowned French Impressionist painters.

Here at LCC, I am particularly impressed with the talent of so many emerging artists. Our gifted art teachers consistently bring out the best in our students. I love looking at the art on our walls in the Junior School and up on the third floor of the Assaly Arts Centre. In fact, sometimes I’m left speechless by what our students produce. That has also been the case in recent years when senior art students have held a special vernissage and exhibition in a professional art gallery in downtown Montreal.

I don’t just appreciate art, it also makes me feel better. So I wasn’t surprised to read recently that viewing art is actually good for you. Studies show that slowing down and viewing art is good for both our physical and mental health. It increases two chemicals in our bodies – cortisol and serotonin – hormones that also have a positive effect on us when we exercise. Viewing art can be effective in elevating those hormone levels and diminishing several diseases.

A new pilot project has just begun at the Musée des Beaux Arts here in Montreal, where doctors are prescribing museum visits to help diminish a wide variety of health challenges. These are the first legitimate medical prescriptions of museum visits.

So if and when you’re feeling a little anxious or stressed, sweating it out is not the only way to calm down. Viewing art is also effective personal therapy and helps you to relax and feel more balanced. I hope to see you soon at a local gallery! – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster




Head’s Blog: Kindness Fuels Hope

kindness-1197351_1920Every life journey is different and challenging. We all share common bonds by triumphing over our personal challenges. Despite the rosy picture others may project on social media with snapshots of a perfect life, it is actually important to acknowledge reality with young people. Life is challenging and sometimes very hard.

Given that we all face obstacles and bumps in the road – often beyond our control – we should help each other by simply being kind. A smile, a word of support, a positive action or gesture can go a long way. Kindness fuels hope like a bright light that cannot be snuffed out.

Look at politics to the south of our border. In recent months, we have all witnessed a lot of negativity, bullying and division. This polarizes people and we should not be swept up by it here. A simple antidote is a commitment to our core value of respect. Spreading kindness has the capacity to be more powerful than negativity. Regular and random acts of kindness can notably change things for a person, a group, a community, or even a nation. We just have to want kindness to be a norm that spreads. It certainly has the potential to overwhelm the negative forces in the world. This past week, I had an opportunity to remind our students that kindness is a choice. Committing to respect, we can each help to build us up as a community. – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster

Head’s Blog: Gratitude Following the Round Square International Conference

RSIC2018_Conference_Photo 1.02.15 PMWhen some of our Senior School students were in Junior School, our annual theme was Gratitude is the Best Attitude. As head of LCC, I am currently feeling very grateful for the excellent Round Square International Conference that we hosted on our campus last week – the largest event we’ve ever held at LCC, with 400 delegates representing 55 schools from 20+ countries. It was the week that the world came to LCC.

I’m grateful to our outstanding LCC student leaders. A year ago they chose Bring Your Difference as the conference theme, collaborated and planned for months with two other Canadian host schools, demonstrated a welcoming attitude toward visitors, hosted students in their homes, acted as seminar (Baraza) leaders, performers, and event volunteers. Their warmth, energy and excellence were front and centre.

I am grateful to our dedicated faculty, staff and board members, especially Mr. Mark Salkeld, Ms. Gillian Shadley and Ms. Michele Owen. They all provided outstanding leadership.

I am grateful to LCC kitchen staff for feeding and watering our delegates with grace and for providing lots of food options for all palates and cultural backgrounds.

I am grateful to a maintenance team that supported and cleaned up following multiple special events during the week-long conference.

I am grateful to LCC parents who generously hosted 260 students in their homes, as well as parent volunteers who organized a memorable “Montreal Eats” dinner for the adult delegates.

I am grateful for the unique experiential learning opportunity held here on our campus, as well as in Old Montreal and at camp in the Eastern Townships, with a diverse group of students.

I am grateful for the four high quality keynote speakers who taught, inspired and reminded us about the complexity of difference, and offered important insights and ideas for building more inclusive communities well into the future.

Round Square was founded over 50 years ago to provide a unique framework for students to grow, develop and learn how to lead. Students interact with peers from all continents with different cultures and languages; they are challenged, grow and mature through meaningful experience. I am grateful that our students were hands-on leaders in a truly global forum. In the words of Kurt Hahn, “There is more in you than you think – Il ya a plus en vous.”

Round Square experiences aim to develop special talents in our students. The cumulative impact of hosting such an event will be felt in our school well into the future. Our staff and students are constantly developing important global competencies as teachers and learners. We should all be very grateful for these special opportunities. – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U ’76), Headmaster

View the conference photos






Pre-U Coordinator Addresses the Graduating Class of 2018: Niceness Breeds Niceness

PreU_2018Looking at this array of shiny, happy faces before me all I can think is, what a nice class you have been! Isn’t that great? You’re all nice!

A lot of people think that the word “nice” is a platitude, a word someone uses to describe another person when they can’t think of anything else to say. Or worse yet, nice is pejorative, a passive-aggressive implication that someone is actually insincere and putting on a facade to cover their truly horrible nature.

Psychology Today notes that the personality trait that comes closest to “niceness” is the quality of “agreeableness, which includes the tendency to be kind, sympathetic, straightforward, altruistic, compliant, tender, and modest.”

According to studies done at the University of Illinois and North Dakota State, people who are nice are likely to become nicer when they have positive experiences with other people; because you are likely to be friendlier to someone who smiles, shows sympathy, and goes along with the group. Nice people are also more able to stay upbeat and positive even in challenging circumstances. So basically: niceness breeds niceness.

Based on the research referenced in Psychology Today and the Oxford Living Dictionary that defines niceness as “good-natured or kind,” I feel that the word nice is an accurate representation of the Class of 2018 as a group. And while you are all distinctly human and not immune to the glasses of self-interest that most teenagers wear, you have all helped support my theory of niceness with an abundance of smiling! Even during some of the toughest times, a smile, albeit a small one, most often accompanied the tears. And interestingly, everyone in this class has an incredible smile.

Objectively, the Class of 2018 was unusual in some respects, but most notably in terms of academic achievement. This is a highly motivated and hard working group and the report cards have been outstanding. In an academically strong class such as this, the battle to be on top could be fierce – on assignments and tests or with university applications and admissions. But instead of the “I’ll-stomp-on-anyone-to-get-to-the-top” mentality of many competitive environments, what I saw was a group of people who genuinely and sincerely encouraged and supported each other through the highs and lows of an intense and fast-paced year. I saw new friendships develop and existing friendships deepen as you shared the experiences of Jouvence, playing on teams and winning championships, building robots, debating, spirited Sudoku challenges, endless hours of You Tube watching, epic group studying sessions and elaborate lunches furnished by UberEats. I saw a group of people who respected their peers, understood that life is more than school work, valued having a laugh and took time to have fun with movies and PJs, dress up days, and class adventures outside of school. What I witnessed was the growth of a community.

When I think about how each of you is still at the beginning of your life journey and how each of you is going in a different direction – to a different university, following a different academic program, in a different city, country or continent – I feel encouraged that your innate niceness will spread. Your beautiful smiles and warm hearts will be shared on a much broader scale, your positivity and integrity will continue to bring people together and build communities of caring, compassionate and good people. This is an amazing gift.

Outside the blessed walls of LCC, a sense of community can sometimes be hard to find. People can struggle to make connections with others. As individual focus increasingly falls to the device in our hands, it is easy forget about the person sitting right beside us. Personal interaction and connection can become lost in algorithms, status updates and likes. But the Class of 2018 is different. While your devices are certainly dominant features in your lives and pockets, your actions this year have proven that you understand the value of being connected to others. That having a place and being a participant in a community has meaning. This makes me hopeful for the future: the future where you are leaders, innovators and influencers, the future where your natural niceness makes an impression on someone and that positive interaction motivates another person to be nice to someone else. Niceness breeds niceness.

I believe the future is in good hands with the Class of 2018 who will absolutely have an impact on the world by the simple virtue of being themselves.

My final words to you, the Class of 2018:

Be happy
Be healthy
Stay connected to your family and friends (and LCC)
Be nice
And never stop smiling,

Kimberly Tulloch Wynn, Coordinator of the Pre-University Program and Director of University Advising