Friday, August 28, 2009

St. Mary Catholic Secondary School

This week’s Spectator Pulse Project was facilitated by Denise Yamashita.

Full School Name: St. Mary Catholic Secondary School

School Information:
Principal: Emidio Piccioni
Vice-Principals: Michael Silvestro
Paul Clinton
Grades Offered: Grades 9-12

200 Whitney Avenue
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 2G7

Main Contact: Denise Yamashita
School Phone: (905) 528-0214
Renaissance Puzzle Painting: Angel, AVI 3M students

Renaissance Puzzle Painting: Madonna, AVI 3M students

Terra Nostra by Nicholas Soares, Grade 9

Byzantine Self-Portrait bu Keiran Magee, Grade 10

Hero by Helen Brown, Grade 12

The Storm
Jessica Kras, Grade 12

Before the sun rose, though it appeared as though the darkening clouds would not allow it to rise at all that day, the bass of thunder drifted through the open window. My sleep-deprived eyes opened ever so gently to the feeling of light drops of moisture on my face; the after thoughts of the storm that slipped through my window screen. They brushed my cheeks with care, and softly clung to my eyelashes. God was having a party, as my mother liked to say. He was flashing lights on and off, and He was bowling. Oh yes, God was bowling. The steady rolling of a fourteen pound ball as it hurtles down the lane towards ten unsuspecting pins was unmistakable.

I (italics) had (italics) to roll out of bed, even though no one else was awake, and I needed sleep more than most. I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and approached the open window, gaping. It was beautiful. The wind howled, the rain pounded, lighting crashed, and the thunder rumbled in such a way that I felt it through my entire body. The sound vibrated through me as I stood in awe. No, it was not my first storm, but the most memorable.

I was taught as a child to never go outside in weather so fierce. Of course, it was common sense. But on a morning like this, common sense refused to exist. Nothing existed except for me, God, and the rain. Creeping downstairs and trying carefully to unlock the door without making that dreaded click, I was still watching the pitchforks of lightening barrel down to the Earth, and then across the sky. I knew, after science class, that the lighting was caused by static electricity, built from the friction of raindrops rubbing together. That day, however, all thoughts of science and logic stopped for a few breathless seconds as I stepped out the back door.

No one understands how much I love the rain. And no one will ever understand how storms make my heart race, and how the sheer beauty of their power makes me catch my breath. I would have jumped straight into the downpour, danced until my legs hurt, and sung at the top of my lungs like some kind of lunatic, had it not been for my parents’ window right above. Thrusting me back to reality so easily, was that foreboding light that turned on in their room. I realized quickly that here I was, standing in the middle of a thunderstorm, getting soaked, while I have school in an hour. The dream was broken. But as I rushed around my room, trying to get ready, I had to stop. Taking a moment, I stood, and for the first time in a long time, I prayed. I thanked God for giving me that moment. That moment where the world disappeared and all I knew was myself, Him, and the rain.

Learning Abled
Jordan Kitchen, Grade 12

Last year in grade eleven, I earned an average 0.03% shy of an honours average. This year, I carry a course load made up completely of university level courses at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School. Next September, I plan to attend university. I am also learning disabled.

When I graduated from my elementary school, my teachers recommended me for all applied level courses that would lead me to college, and I listened to those teachers. Never in their wildest dreams would they have ever thought it possible for me to move from the college bound stream to what I desired, university courses. Nor would they have believed that I could do better in university courses, on average, than my peers. Who made that happen? I did.

I would also like to make it known to any students who suffer from a learning disability that technology is your greatest friend. I was recently introduced to a computer program that converts voice to text. The reality is that this article would not have been possible without that technology. I allow my disability to let me do things differently. Besides using computer technology, I also have tests dictated, and notes copied.

As I head off to university, I will let nothing hold me back, as I know I am my greatest strength as well as my greatest weakness. It is in that spirit that I will be determined to succeed in everything I do. I stopped believing a long time ago that I was disabled and started believing that I was different. Learning disabled should really be called learning differently. As I look around, I notice that everyone is different in some way and being different is a gift.

If there is one simple message that I tell every learning-disabled child it would be that you are your own champion. No matter what anybody else says, you can make the future bend to your will like I did. I did not let my disability hold me back, or get me down. I did exactly the opposite; I embraced my difference and used it to my advantage. Remember wherever there is a weakness, there is also strength. For example, I might not be the greatest writer but my verbal communication skills are excellent. You just have to figure out what that strength is and exploit it.

If I was really Mayor for a Day…
Lauren Hawthorne, Grade 11

Last year my civics teacher encouraged me to apply for the city’s Mayor for a Day Program. And to my surprise and delight, I was informed that I was selected to participate in the program.

I am interested in world issues and am involved in my school’s Development and Peace Club. This opportunity will give me a chance to see change in my own community, first hand. As mayor for a day, I get to tour the Hamilton Art Gallery, Hamilton Museums and meet people involved in city government. Much to the disappointment of my friends and teachers, I do not get to sign papers, make laws or reduce taxes.

But, if I were really mayor for a day there are definitely some changes I would like to make.

Firstly, I would like to increase the profile of the arts community in the City of Hamilton. Imagine the possibilities if arts in the city were given the same sales and marketing power afforded the Hamilton Tiger Cats. With facilities like Theatre Aquarius and Hamilton Place our city has the opportunity to flourish through the arts.

Secondly, I believe the youth of Hamilton need to become empowered in improving the city. Whether it be paintbrush in hand to rid our city of graffiti or helping at a homeless shelter, it is important to instil the idea that youth can make a difference! Change doesn’t always come on a grand scale; it starts in our own community.

Lastly, if I had limitless funds, I would build a subway system that not only serves the City of Hamilton but links to all the outlying areas. People could enjoy the downtown area without the hassle of expensive parking or stressful driving. The downtown shops and restaurants would have an increase in business and the city could become the popular hub it once was.
With determination and creativity, the possibilities for the City of Hamilton are simply endless.

He Said/She Said: The True Meaning of Valentine’s Day
Brad Czerny, Grade 12 and Rebecca Flynn, Grade 12

He Said:
I hate Valentine’s Day. February 14th used to be a day dedicated to love and relationships, but in recent years it has been transformed into a money grabbing opportunity by big corporations. The day has lost its original meaning, and I now associate it with an empty bank account. Through Hollywood and advertisements, girls have come to expect chocolates, roses, and expensive gifts - which doesn’t agree with my bank account. I don’t understand how the relationship aspect of the occasion is now based on the gifts given, and their outrageous price tags. Is that a way of determining the strength of a relationship? I don’t think so. Personally, I believe that the occasion should not be ‘celebrated’ any longer, until people realize its truly about love, not money.

She Said:
I absolutely love Valentine’s Day. The flowers, the cards, the candlelight dinners, it’s just all so romantic! I mean, what girl doesn’t want to get swept off her feet by her Prince Charming? It’s an entire day dedicated to you and your loved one, and I don’t think I’m being unreasonable when I tell my boyfriend that I expect our Valentine’s Day to be special. I care about our relationship and love and everything, but without some sort of “grand gesture” Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be complete. I think that every girl deserves to be treated like a princess on February 14th. Sometimes I feel like my boyfriend doesn’t take our relationship seriously. He tells me that Valentine’s Day is this big scam made by these “Major Corporations,” but all I see is someone who doesn’t value our relationship!

An Experience to Remember
Caroline Romanowski, Grade 11

Throughout the month of November, my classmates and I took part in what I would call one of the greatest experiences I have so far encountered during high school. In the TPA 3C1 Health Care Career course, we were given the opportunity to participate in a placement at St. Joseph’s Villa. Our primary responsibility was to assist the staff and residents with their everyday demands to the best of our ability.

Prior to being placed onto home units, our class was given the opportunity to participate in daily seminars. We learned about a variety of careers such as nursing, social work, recreational therapy, food services and many others. I couldn’t believe how many occupations are involved in keeping the Villa running smoothly.

On the first day of the placement, we were each assigned home units, which took the place of our classroom for the following four weeks. We were introduced to the nursing staff, who gratefully welcomed our helping hands and supported us as mentors while we were on placement.

At the Villa, we were able to apply many of the skills that were taught at school prior to the placement. I have to say that I enjoyed most, if not all of my experiences at the Villa. It helped me learn about not only others, but myself as well. While on placement, I was able to practice compassion and patience as well as teamwork and efficiency.

While at the Villa, my favourite time of the day was when we were able to sit down and talk with the residents. I enjoyed listening to their life stories and I was amazed by how something as little and easy as listening or smiling could brighten a person’s day.

I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about a career in health care. It provided me with hands on experience and the essential knowledge of what the field of health care was about.

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