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

 

 

 

 

 

A Sustainable Greenhouse Growing System… Right in our Backyard!

2017_2018_Greenhouse_001Last year, the Green Team built a greenhouse in the hockey parking lot next to the bike racks. The greenhouse, and its revival, has been our CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) project for the year. So far, we have achieved heaps, such as: installing insulation, irrigation and shelves to hold the plants. The greenhouse is almost ready to be used, despite the many, many setbacks we have had. The winter was very harsh this year, so we had to wait until the snow was gone to start putting plants in the greenhouse. Now that the sun has finally come out, it should be up and running soon. Our goal is to use the greenhouse to grow produce that can be used directly by the LCC kitchen and in our community (for example, food banks). We hope to spread awareness about the benefits of a sustainable system and promote community engagement. We aim to do this via our very own greenhouse and, eventually, through a community farm.

We are looking for ideas, no matter how crazy, to get this greenhouse up and running! One idea was to have a bike hooked up to the greenhouse, so that when you cycle, it produces electricity and heats up the greenhouse in the process. We would also love for students to participate in our future community garden project. Feel free to contact us or drop by a Green Team meeting!  – Annie Klar ’18 and MariaLuisa Vigano ’18

Student Exchange: Journey to Cape Town

2017_2018_Student_Exchange_Kirsten_Hardiman_005Life has been incredibly busy since I wrote my last blog.  My host family took me on an adventure around South Africa during our three-week school break. The first leg of our journey started with a flight to Cape Town where I had the chance to go to many beaches, view the city from the mountain, visit an ostrich farm and travel to Cape Point.

Cape Town is famous for its beaches and for the great white sharks that live in those waters. We spent a lot of time exploring the various beaches. Cape Town is equally famous for its mountains. Table Mountain is the tallest of them all and a very popular tourist site. I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the top of the mountain and see the entire city far out into the ocean.

Next on our agenda was the ostrich farm where I got to eat ostrich meat for the first time. Feeding the ostriches was a strange experience as the ostrich pecks at your hand when he is trying to eat the food.

Our final stop was Cape Point, which is the most south-western point of the entire African continent. I got to climb a lighthouse and look out onto the ocean. The Cape Point experience was not all fun and games though, as we were confronted by wild baboons who were running around the site. At one point, we made a dash for our car and once safe, laughed our heads off.

After Cape Town, my host family took me to Kruger National Park where I was able to see animals native to Africa.  Although I didn’t enjoy the 4 am wake-up, it was an unforgettable experience.  We spent the whole day in the park and I got to see elephants, giraffes, water buffalo, hippos, lions and almost too many impalas up close and personal.  It was especially cool to see the rhinos, given their status as an endangered species.

After the park, we went back to the lodge and played board games, followed by a master chef challenge where all the kids were paired up and had to cook dinner.

This experience has simply been incredible and even though we are back in school tomorrow, I can’t wait for the next three weeks with my family and friends. – Kirsten Hardiman ’20 Exchange Student at St Stithians College

House Building Experience in Colombia

DukeofEd_Colombia_2018This March break, I, along with 31 of my peers, went on the Duke of Ed gold trip to Colombia where we built a house and went on a five-day hike to the lost city.

During the first two days after landing in Bogotá, we aided in the construction of a house in a borough of Bogotá called Soacha. We arrived at the building site early the first morning after a long bus ride from our hostel in Bogotá. After receiving instructions for the day, we began unloading the building materials from the truck and carrying them up a slope to the structure of the house we would be making. We worked quickly on the task and went on our lunch break. Before the workday and during the lunch break, my friends and I had time to get to know some of the people we were working with as well as the people we were helping by building this house. One of the young neighbourhood children, Philippe, came over to the work site to get a look at what we were up to. He got along very well with my classmates and me, and we all ended up dancing, laughing, and talking to him for the majority of our day. Sofia, Tomas, and Camila helped the rest of us by translating Philippe’s Spanish and our English so we could all communicate. Talking to Philippe allowed us to catch a glimpse of what it was like to live in a neighbourhood like Soacha, which has one of the highest concentrations of displaced people in the country due to the civil war between the government of Colombia and the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group. His childhood was, in fact, extremely similar to each of ours! He enjoyed playing sports, hanging out with his friends, and watching superhero movies. We were all very sad to leave by the end of the day, knowing that we would not be able to see Philippe again because he had his first soccer lesson the next day. We eventually said our goodbyes to our new friend and prepared for the long bus ride back to the city.

The following day, we arrived even earlier at the construction site and finally commenced building the house. Several people, including some university students from Bogotá not much older than us, helped our group with the construction project. Most of us did not know what to expect from the experience as we had never gone on a community service trip similar to this one, so we relied heavily on the help of these volunteers. They spoke to us primarily in Spanish, which ended up improving all of our vocabularies in the foreign language. One of the younger volunteers helped my friends and I speak to the two children who were living with the recipient of the house we were building. The two kids, José and Maya, were thrilled to introduce me to their other friends in their neighbourhood and loved taking pictures with the camera I had brought. At first, they were slightly nervous to talk to us, but after a while of speaking with the aid of the other volunteers, they both opened up! It was important to get to know the people that we were helping in order to find meaning and purpose in the project and have a connection to the community.

Both my group and the other group that was building a different house did not end up finishing due to weather constraints. As much as it was disappointing to not have given the completed house to its new owner, it felt good to know that we had made a difference in the lives of others. The community service project that took us just two days (almost) to complete resulted in a place for someone to call home. This experience was both inspiring and humbling, and I believe that those who participated in the Colombia trip this year would recommend it to anyone considering completing the Duke of Ed gold, or to those simply looking for the trip of a lifetime. – Stephanie Nofz ’18