Round Square: To Err on the Side of Compassion

HomelessI walked in someone’s shoes the other day. What I mean to say is that for one night, I voluntarily slept outside. For one night, I was like the homeless who more and more frequently sleep on the doorsteps of stores and churches, right here in my prosperous city. But, in truth, not really. Unlike the men and women who cannot find or who refuse to seek shelter, I was in the warmest sleeping bag my neurotic and overly protective mother could find; I slept in a quinzee which served as a perfectly adequate shelter, surrounded by friends, protected by teachers. Unlike the men and women who sleep outdoors, I haven’t been ignored, eyed malevolently or stared at contemptuously. My night spent outdoors has earned me a lot of (frankly not quite deserved) sympathy. Still, a little glitch in the zipper of my ultra warm sleeping bag meant that I shivered during the night. It was not totally pleasant, and perhaps explains why today, a few days after my winter experience, I stopped before the man seated on a threadbare blanket in the snow. He held a cardboard, with the heartbreaking words, ”hungry and cold”. I just couldn’t do otherwise. I couldn’t bear to ignore him. I gave him all the change in my wallet.

I have read enough on the issue of the homelessness to know all the arguments against giving loose change to the cold and hungry men and women in the street. I have been warned that my poor dollar would be used to buy hard drugs; that most of those who appear to be homeless are not homeless at all; that they contribute to the decline of neighborhoods, that it is best to leave their fate in the capable hands of organizations. This may be true. It is undoubtedly true, at any rate that dropping a few quarters in a cup will not solve, not even temporarily, the issue of homelessness. Except that I have no hard evidence at all the man shivering right before my eyes is a drug addict. I have no real evidence that all men and women on the streets have drug problems. I have no evidence at all the man staring at me, a little incredulously, really has a home to go to. I do not know that organizations have tried to help him. I do know that he is outside in unbearable -30 C weather, and that he is cold. I do know that not a single person, not a single one, has stopped to acknowledge him. Sherbrooke is a busy street, and there have been many pedestrians. Their steps, though, did not even falter as they passed him by. They rushed past him, without a glance, as though he did not exist at all.

I wonder when we have all become so jaded that we do not shudder when confronted with human misery. This is a man sitting before me. He deserves to be, if not helped, at least acknowledged. He deserves to be looked in the eyes. He deserves an “excuse me”, a “hello”, a nod or a smile. I wonder at the level of misery and despair, which moves a man to seek refuge in the frozen streets. My loose change might not have done much good, but it at least served to remind me, and him, that he is a human being, and he matters. If there is the least little doubt, I will choose to err on the side of compassion.

Service to others is a great Round Square ideal, and it takes a dozen different forms. It does not always have to result in accountable service hours. It does, however, every single time, start with humility and humanity. – David Elbaz ’15, Round Square Head


cmu15 0129 A51R9087Last week, Quebec Education Minister Yves Bolduc was forced to comment on a comprehensive report from the University of Laval that was very critical of a decade of significant educational reform here in Quebec. Quebec is not alone in attempting changes in educational approaches; these have been implemented across most of the western world in recent years. All nations have attempted to shift away from old-world priorities: memorization, drill & kill (interest), and a “one-size fits all” mentality. Today we stress more relevant 21st century skills—the nurturing of creativity, collaboration, problem solving, IT integration and resilience—so students can better navigate a rapidly changing world.

Unfortunately, after 10 years the evidence on Quebec student performance has not been impressive. In fact, in mathematics and mother-tongue French, scores have slipped, while Quebec continues to wrestle with one of the highest high school dropout rates in North America—still entrenched at a rather shocking 25%—and even higher in some regions.

Although there are clearly some serious issues in Quebec, we need not see ourselves in the same light at LCC. Here we enrich and aim higher than base standards, and that approach has actually served us very well over the past decade. Our academic results are very solid, and I continue to be impressed by both faculty innovation and student achievement.

So let me present my LCC Top Ten Joyde List.  What’s Joyde?  Well, it’s my own word. Joyde is the intersection of “joy” and “pride”. Despite the negative media portrayal of student performance, I believe there is still plenty of room for joy in learning—and pride still matters a great deal at LCC. I wander our halls a lot and see activities and initiatives from K-12  that reflect genuine Joyde.

As a testimony to the much-loved Top Ten List that is so popular in our culture, in no particular order, here are 10 examples that  is alive and well at LCC:

1.   Kindergarten

This programme is a serious “cuteathon”. Our class sizes are very small—and by November the flexible and malleable minds of our youngest students allow them to already understand and express themselves in French in a surprisingly competent way.


2.  Faculty Growth

For many years behind the scenes our teachers have worked hard at developing and enhancing specific aspects of their teaching.  This takes time, effort, thoughtful reflection and collaboration. Most recently this has been further enhanced by the introduction of the IB Diploma and IB training seminars, as well as all-faculty PLC mornings for teacher collaboration. Many impressive achievements have emerged from focused teacher reflection and collaboration.


3.  EF  – Executive Functioning & Positive Mindset

Several years ago as a result of some Faculty Growth initiatives, a group of Middle School teachers worked to develop a program in EF skill development that we could reinforce throughout Middle School and beyond. It begins with an understanding of “metacognition” —how to learn best—and development of a positive mindset so students can be resilient and overcome obstacles in learning. Now, twice a year an EF Report Card goes home to Middle School students/parents. This is very helpful in making learning more meaningful.


4.  Committed & Service-oriented Staff

Non-teaching staff are key to student success at LCC.  We try hard to hire for attitude in addition to skills.  From our front reception to our nurses, part-time coaches, to maintenance and security staff, these are positive and committed people who make a positive difference in students’ lives every day. Whether clearing the snow, welcoming students when late, helping to coordinate pizza lunches, mopping up bloody noses, and repairing our facilities, these roles are critical for success in our learning community.


5.  STEM Engagement & IT Integration

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math.  It’s an area where North Americans fear we are falling behind compared to challengers in Asia and parts of Europe. LCC Teachers respond with cool science labs, robotics, real-world math initiatives, Grade 9 CSI day, IB science & math. Our teachers are energetic and creative. From the Junior School Science Exploratorium to the Senior Schools classes, labs, and workrooms, our talented science, math & IT teachers do not tolerate anything less than excellence in STEM.


6.  Internationalism & Global Perspectives

As a Round Square & IB school, we are firmly committed to opening students’ eyes to the world and helping them embrace “the other”, people culturally different from themselves. Whether it’s specific courses, international exchanges, international students, service projects, Duke of Edinburgh leadership activities, or the connectivity of our digitally-connected classrooms, LCC students have more meaningful opportunities to learn about the world than any school in this city.


7.  Co-Curricular integration:  Athletics, Arts, Leadership, Service (Non Nobis Solum)

Athletics, plays, bands, leadership and service opportunities are too numerous to mention. But these activities bind students together, help them gain skills, grow and emerge as young adults. These are often the most engaging and memorable experiences of our students’ high school years.


8.   Bilinguisme

Ici au Québec c’est esséntial de parler francais. Le Français n’est pas seulement une deuxième langue, mais c’est aussi la connaissance d’une culture. Ça peut assister nos étudiants d’etre plus ouvert à la connaissance de plusieurs cultures.


9.  LEAD  –  Learning Enrichment And Development

Our unique LEAD Team and LEAD programmes are designed to help all students be empowered as learners, and develop the skills and confidence to allow their true potential to emerge. We have learned more about learning and the brain in the past decade than in all prior history. Today we are applying the research and LEAD teachers are proactively changing lives.


10.   Volunteerism  (Parents, Alumni, Community)

Much of what we do well at LCC is well supported by parent and alumni volunteers who help with special events, staff our Board and Board committees. They also offer generous philanthropic support that has helped to build our outstanding campus and finance bursaries and scholarships that provide for so many unique opportunities.


So I am genuinely sorry Mr. Bolduc has problems on his hands with the broad state of education in Quebec.  But here at LCC we take nothing for granted and “joyde”—both joy and pride combined —are alive and well.  All things considered, we should be very proud. —Chris Shannon, Headmaster



Student Exchange Australia: M&M Differences

Olaf CakeIn the last two weeks, my schedule has been jam-packed with activity in Melbourne. I have explored a lot of the city. I have also realized Australia is a very different country from Canada, and I really enjoy telling my exchange family about the differences. Melbourne is a sporting capital, and I am very lucky my exchange family, the Gikovskis, is eager to show me around town. And bonus! They know where to get the best desserts!

On Saturday, January 24, we went to the Australian Open: one of the four Grand Slams. I had never watched a tennis match before that day; I didn’t even know the rules! I did not understand why people would pay money to sit outside and get baked in the sun to watch people hit a ball back and forth. Nevertheless the Gikovskis were very enthusiastic about bringing me and watching the sport. The first match, which was a men’s legends double, was quite funny to watch. The players joked around and the whole stadium would burst into laughter. After that, it was a women’s singles game, which was an absolute nail-biter! I loved being at the Australian Open, It was such a fun environment. Everyone’s excited, full of energy and very into the sport. It’s just not the same as watching it on TV. It’s also not an environment I would find in Montreal, I don’t think even a Habs game could compare to this.

Another sport Australians hype up is cricket, which is kind of like baseball. I was happy to go to Erica and her brother, Daniel’s game last Friday. I didn’t know much about cricket, except for what I had picked up during a game I played with the Gikovskis on Australia Day. I thought the game was relatively easy. During Erica and Daniel’s game, kids were completely smashing the ball right off the field. It only occurred to me then that the Gikovskis were going easy on me. Anyway, in cricket, the ball is bowled, not pitched. The ball, which is quite heavy, bounces once before the player hits it. It is impossible to strike out. As a matter of fact, as long as the player hits the ball, it’s really hard to get out. Also, the same player bats until they get out, so I felt like the game lasted forever especially since Erica and Daniel only play for a fraction of the time and I didn’t know any of the other kids. The game ended up finishing three hours later (three hours I’ll never get back!) Nevertheless, I still enjoyed watching and Erica’s team win! Australians really love the sport. On Australia Day, I saw many families playing cricket by the beach and in the parks. I think it’s pretty awesome the entire family gets excited about the sport.

Since I have arrived, I have eaten many, many delicious food. The day I was picked up from the airport, we went directly to a bakery called Brunetti’s. There was so much variety it was mouthwatering. Everything looked beautiful. They were very creatively decorated desserts. I wish I could have tried everything.

On January 25, Erica invited many of her friends over so I could meet them before school started. I had told the Gikovskis about my obsession with Frozen, so they came up with the idea of making an Olaf chocolate ripple cake! It turns out, making chocolate ripple cake doesn’t actually require any baking. We bought chocolate ripple biscuits from the super market, and covered them in whipped cream. Then, we shaped the cake into Olaf and decorated it! I’m pretty sure it’s an Australian thing, because in America, we actually bake!

On January 26, which is Australia Day, we went for a picnic and I ate lots and lots of Lamingtons, a signature Australian dessert that consists of sponge cake, layers of chocolate sauce and a coat of shredded coconut. It is delicious!

I have also noticed quite a few fast food restaurants here. Burger King is known as “Hungry Jack’s”. Australian’s also nickname McDonald’s “Mackers”, which I find very strange. Despite living with an entire family of Australians, I have not picked up on the Aussie slang or terms. However, the Gikovskis are starting to use American terminology!

I have had so much fun in the past week experiencing new things! I think there are quite a few Montreal & Melbourne differences! Next up, LCC or Ivanhoe Grammar School? Which one is better? Find out, next time! – Lucia Huang ’17, Exchange Student at Ivanhoe Grammar School, Australia


Grateful to be a Round Square Student

I am often asked, with just a hint of suspicion, “What is Round Square?” Quite simply, it is the sum of six ideals, internationalism, democracy, environment, adventure, leadership and service, which, added one to another, equal a philosophy of learning. Those six goals, each important in and by themselves, are bound together to form an integral whole that we call Round Square.

It is a great source of pride to me that these six ideals are so intricately woven in the LCC fabric, so much a part of the LCC student’s daily vocabulary that the six ideals are not so much applied as lived. Community service, the daily exposure to environmental or international issues, or participation in leadership activities are the common lot of all LCC students – much like homework, part and parcel of student life.

This no doubt explains why I am so often asked, “What is Round Square?” Round Square activities are not notable for the LCC student, exposed right from the start to the Round Square philosophy of learning. Round Square activities are quite simply and naturally part of life.

The most spectacular of Round Square activities are perhaps the international exchanges which give LCC students the chance to live for a couple of extraordinary months, the ordinary life of the Peruvian, South African, Australian, Indian or French student. These exchanges often begin with a burst of, until then unsuspected, patriotic pride. There are friendly patriotic tug of wars, where differences are highlighted. By the end of these exchanges, differences between cultures are dismissed as trivial, and there is the profound realization that for all the geographic differences, which, to all appearances, cause abysses between cultures and nations, we are all one humanity. This is a Round Square lesson.

Twice a year, there are Round Square or CAIS conferences for Middle School and Senior School students. LCC students travel, sometimes to far and exotic places, other times to more familiar destinations, to exchange, with other Round Square students, ideas about international or environmental issues. Open dialogue and finding ways of integrating leadership into everyday life is another Round Square lesson.

And then, there are all the other activities, no less important and very much a huge part of Round Square life. These include, but are not limited to, all the community service activities and the environment-oriented activities. The environment committee’s tireless efforts to educate on environmental issues proved effective: all six LCC students sent to Jordan had the urge to turn off the water sprinklers irrigating, all day and all night, the beautiful school campus. That we are all locally responsible for the global good of the earth is a third Round Square lesson.

The Coat Drive to benefit the Share The Warmth organization is a great example of the way LCC students live Round Square ideals. The drive, undertaken enthusiastically, if quietly, was a great success.

A Round Square student is a Round Square person for life. I am a Round Square student, and I, for one, couldn’t be more grateful. – David Elbaz ’15, Round Square Head


Abby’s Idayari: the Adventures of a Canadian-Zulu Girl in South Africa – Week One

School at St. Stithians (My New Friends)

School at St. Stithians (My New Friends)

Let’s begin with the obvious question: what is an Idayari? It is the Zulu translation for“diary”. My name is Abby Shine and I am a grade 9 student currently on exchange at St. Stithians Girls’ College in Johannesburg.  Over the course of the next six weeks, I will share my diary entries detailing my adventures while living in South Africa.

Off to Joburg!

Saturday morning, January 10, 2015: I am at the salon getting my nails painted at precisely 11:00 am. I am happy with my decision to have gone with the pale pink Essie color. I close my eyes and lean back on the massage chair; I am entirely relaxed as my plane only leaves at midnight and therefore have all day to pack. That is, until my mom comes running into the salon with eyes as big Kanye West’s ego. My connecting flight in Amsterdam has been cancelled and I have been re-routed to Atlanta. I need to be at the airport in one hour! I run out of the salon, pack my bags and say my goodbyes. From that point on, I then embark on a painstaking 21 hours of travel to South Africa. After all the stress (I am terrified of flying) and stomach-turning airport food, I am exhausted. Yet, I would do it all over again. This experience is well worth it!

Meeting the Ayayas

In Johannesburg, my host family, the Ayayas, greeted me with open arms. I was thrilled to meet Rodina with whom I have been corresponding for months. The next day, I was woken up with the Joburg’s signature sunrise and called into the kitchen. There, I was as surprised as Tom will be the day he catches Jerry as fifteen strangers emerged from their selective hiding spots and all wished me a happy birthday. I was glad that this was set up since I got to meet some of Rodina’s friends ahead of school.

On Tuesday, I visited Sandton City with Camilla, another exchange, where we shopped in the most spectacular stores. It was a little hard to shop at first, given the money currency. For example, a good price for a pair of pants is 200 rands, which seems a lot but is only around 20 dollars. Several rands later, we went to the Nelson Mandela Square where we stood, along many others, with the iconic statue.

School at St. Stithians

My first day at school! Although I should have been nervous, I wasn’t; I had met close to thirty of Rodina’s friends before school due to our outings and was therefore already considered a “Saints Girl.” (Even though these girls are seven feet taller than I am, I blended right in with them since our uniforms are extremely similar.)

I spent the week trying different classes such as music, history and my new favorite language: Zulu! I also became accustomed to their college. Class start at 7:30 and the students have two breaks where they are allowed to roam around their impressive campus. Alert to LCC! They are allowed to have their phones out in class!

Zulu word of the week

Ukwenza: Adventure!

Weekend Ukwenza

I visited the Cradle of Humankind where I learned about the evolution of the world and took an underground boat ride that featured the four elements of the world. The spectacular architecture of the building is nothing compared to what is inside! After that, I found myself 60 feet under the ground, crawling and climbing nearly 220 steps in a cave called Sterkfontein. With each step I took, I learned more and more about this world heritage site, known for its limestone and discovery of “Little Foot.”

What a week! Next up, sports and food! – Abby Shine ’17