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


Student Exchange: A World of Differences – and Similarities – in South Africa

Max_Kaspy_004My time is almost over in South Africa and I will definitely miss attending school at St Stithians College in Johannesburg. You’d be surprised how much this school differs from LCC. First things first, the school campus is at least ten times the size of LCC’s. I have to be honest and say that it is a bit overwhelming to be here as a new student. Without my exchange student’s help, I would never find my way to our next class.

Not only is this school impressively big, but it is also one of the best cricket and tennis schools in Africa. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be attending this fascinating school. In addition, the school is completely outdoors, meaning that when you step out of any class, it leads you outside. Therefore, having rain isn’t ideal.

Lastly, at St Stithians, electronic devices aren’t often used in classes. In the vast majority of classes, everybody takes handwritten notes and all work is also written by hand. At LCC, we have our work online most of the time.

Despite their differences, there are some parts of Saints and LCC that are similar. Everybody has their own desk and there are generally six periods in a day (which is one more than us). There is an option of bringing your own lunch or eating at school. Everything else is pretty much the same.

The first three weeks I was in South Africa were the school holidays. During my holidays, my exchange family brought me to a nature reserve called Ingwelala. That was, without a doubt, an unforgettable experience. We slept in huts with thatched roofs in the middle of the bush. The bush is the home to lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes, hyenas, bucks, snakes, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, baboons, warthogs and many more. This means that we were living in their home and had to accept that there was a chance that any sort of animal might come near us. For a Canadian who has only ever seen wild bunnies, this was an exhilarating experience.

The big five of South Africa were considered to be the five most dangerous animals to hunt (today, with wildlife preservation efforts, the expression refers to observing these animals). They are the lion, the elephant, the rhino, the leopard and the buffalo. It is considered fortuitous to see any of them. During my stay, I had the chance to see lions, elephants, buffaloes and a rhino. This is four of the big five!

A story I must tell is when a spotted hyena came to our porch when we were eating dinner. That’s right, this 120-pound, five-foot (in length) deadly animal came within three feet of me when I was eating a delicious steak. Note that hyenas have the tenth strongest bite in the world. This means that they can bite through a brick wall. When we saw the hyena come on our porch, nobody moved or said a word. On the outside, I seemed as immobile as a statue, but on the inside, I was completely freaking out. The worst part is that the hyena went behind me, therefore out of my line of vision. At that point, I had no clue where it was or what it was doing. Luckily, it left peacefully and nothing bad happened. Looking back at this, I appreciate the fact that I was able to be part of an exciting, wildlife experience.

All in all, South Africa has been very enriching in the sense that there are very different lifestyles around the world. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I will definitely cherish these last few days in this exotic country. – Max Kaspy ’20 Exchange Student at St Stithians College