Tag Archive: high school

Good morning folks! Its been a while since I posted but I am sneaking a quick one in this morning before we all get up and get ready for church. Its been almost two days since we have arrived in Halifax for our vacation and it is nice to be ‘home’ for a visit. People always ask what is different about the Maritimes versus Ontario and sometimes I am at a loss because there are so many similarities; however, the first day that we were here two things emerged loud and clear. Here they are.

When traveling through New Brunswick, Benjamin all of a sudden got very quiet and sad in the back seat. We thought that perhaps he was carsick because he looked like he might barf at any moment. So, we pulled off in Sackville, New Brunswick to get him a milkshake from McD’s to help his stomach. I wanted to make these stops as quick as possible so that we did not loose time and so when waiting to make a left turn into McD’s I was annoyed that the oncoming traffic stopped right in front of me. I said to Mandy, “What are these people doing? Just GO so I get into McD’s!”. Then it dawned on me…even though this long line of oncoming traffic clearly had the right of way, they were stopping to let me turn left. That is something I haven’t experienced in a while:)

Neither have I had to stop at crosswalks to allow people to cross in a while; I feel bad for the poor guy on the Armdale Rotary yesterday whom I came to a screeching halt for.

Aside from traffic, I have one additional story. The first night we were here I had to run down to the new Canadian Tire in Tantallon to pick up some child proof doorknob covers so that Ben did not escape from his room in the night and turn Nana and Papa’s house upside down. While I was waiting in line at the cash the two young cashiers were chatting about their upcoming graduation from SJA High School and their fall plans to attend…….Dalhousie Universtiy of course:) And the story gets better…one was commenting that although her average was 92% she still only got a few thousand in scholarships. The other replied saying that a 92% average gets you nothing at Dal because (and I quote), “…all the geniuses go to Dal.” She was implying that all the geniuses at Dal take all the scholarship money away from otherwise great students. I was suddenly quite proud of the Dal grad ring on my right hand and thought about paying with my right hand (as opposed to my left, because I am left handed) just to show off my ring and association with Dalhousie!

I write all of this especially to those from back home in Essex who are graduating from High School this year and will be moving on to other aspirations in life. First, my apologies that none of you (to my knowledge) are going to Dalhousie…that is truly a shame. But then again Ontario has many quality institutions that rank close to  Dalhouise in the annual McLeans ranking.

On a serious note, as you leave Essex High and go off to university, college or the workplace, remember always where you came from. Remember always where you grew up, your family, and your friends. Never get to the place where you think more highly of your accomplishments in life than you ought to and never think that they make you better than those you left behind at home. Everyone has great potential to do great things with their life. It is true that some do not live up to their potential but instead of looking down on them just be thankful that you had the encouragement and support to achieve yours.You will come to cherish ‘home’ as it will be the place you can go no matter how crazy things get and you will find comfort in the familiar faces and the familiar places.

Oh, and if you really want to do something great with your life, go to Dal!

It seems that Facebook has been the topic of some interesting media coverage lately. It is not surprising that Facebook is in the media for some reason; there are over 500 million users worldwide! Certainly this must be an administrative nightmare at the best of times.

Let me tell you about three recent news reports. The first report that caught my eye this morning was on CBC.ca and was entitled “Facebook Depression raised by MDs for teens” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/03/28/facebook-social-media-teens-children.html). The premise of this article is that medical doctors are now starting to see a phenomenon in teenagers that is similar to depression but is caused by devastating experiences with social networking. This is how something like this might work: a teenager signs up for a Facebook account and can then sees the pictures and postings of their friends or others they might know from school who do not have strict privacy settings on their profiles. Perhaps this teenager reaches out and requests friendship with several of his/her classmates and is rejected or simply ignored. Maybe there is a group event that is initiated but this person is not included on the invite list. Or, perhaps after posting pictures of himself/herself or family events others respond with hurtful or degrading comments.

This is essentially the online equivalent of getting picked last in gym class…times a million because everyone in the school will see it in their newsfeed over and over and over again. More than just one event in time, offenses that take place on Facebook are present indefinitely and the hurt can be relived each time it is viewed or talked about.

Is this for real, you might ask? Well, let me tell you about the two other reports that have been in the news recently.

The second and third reports are both from the Chronicle Herald (Nova Scotia’s provincial newspaper published in Halifax, NS). One article was published on Friday March 25th and was entitled “Is Lower Sackville teen’s suicide a result of cyberbullying?” (http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9020294.html). The other was published on Saturday March 26th and was entitled “Online bullying, suicide link probed” (http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9020297.html). All of this after a 14 year old girl from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia killed herself this past week. At some point after her suicide there was a memorial page started on Facebook and numerous comments attributed her death to cyberbullying. Now, family members and her principal are questioning these reports stating that other factors likely contributed to this death…which makes me wonder… if just days after the death we can be so certain about what contributed to it, why then did we not reach out two weeks ago to prevent it? Anyhow, I digress. The fact is that there is a perception that cyberbullying certainly contributed to this unfortunate ending of life and the RCMP in Nova Scotia are following up this lead.

Here are my thoughts on all of this: it is for good reason that Facebook has a policy that you must be 13 years old to have an account and that even those individuals who are older than 13 should still consult with their parents as they experience Facebook. I know for a fact that many teenagers somewhat embellish pictures, ages, and other features about themselves on Facebook…I know this because I know these people in real life and I also follow many (many, many…) teenagers on Facebook and see the glaring discrepancies.

Social media in itself is not to blame for the depression or suicide described above. Facebook, or the less popular (and less monitored by adults) social network found at formspring.me, are tools that can be used for much good. Mandy and I connect with family that live a great distance away using social networking tools.

Here are some beginning thoughts to keep safe while using the benefits of social media:

1. Be true to who you are! Post pictures, posts, and birthdays that are accurate! Misrepresenting yourself online can never lead  to good things. You are unique and special in your own way and you don’t have to pretend to be something that you are not.

2. Treat bullying seriously. Bullying is never ok, and just because it isn’t face to face (but on Facebook instead) it still hurts and obviously has devastating consequences. Don’t do it, don’t believe it, and don’t stay silent about it!

3. Involve parents and other people in your online activities. Don’t ever let your online habits become so secretive that you are not talking with parents and others that you trust about what is taking place online. Parents, talk to your kids about their online habits just the same as you would about the friends they see in real life and the places they go in real life. As someone said, Facebook is the new ‘corner store’ where teens go to hang out.

Lets strive to make sure these past news reports never become future headlines once again.

The issue of pro-life versus pro-choice has been raised in a Catholic High School in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Let me tell you first what happened:

After a pro-life rally at the school one student placed a red piece of tape on her uniform with the word “life” on it as a silent stand for the pro-life position. The school allowed this to happen. Shortly following this event a different students decided to place a green piece of tape on her uniform with the word “choice” on it as a stand for the pro-choice position. The school requested that the student remove the tape and when she (and several others) would not they send them home on a two-day suspension. Social networking sites are now railing against the Catholic school board and religion in general for being too one-sided and exclusive. Many are calling this grade 10 student a hero and are using this as evidence of the hypocrisy present within religion (i.e. that the pro-life position was supported but the pro-choice position was not).

Here are my thoughts: if there was not public support for a Catholic school board then there would not be a Catholic school board that is publically funded. That being said, the fact that there is public support for this separate school system means that many families within Ontario want to have their children educated within institutions that are governed by specific religious (Catholic) morals and ideals. While we can debate whether or not suspensions were the best way to handle this pro-choice campaign, I think that we ought not to be surprised that the Catholic school did react to a viewpoint that they do not support. If they had not reacted they would be delegitimizing their very existence. Who would support a separate school system that was not really distinct in any particular way.

Catholic schools are inherently pro-life and so campaigns against this ideal (i.e. pro-choice) are not welcome there. Lets get real practical about this: when during election times have you seen a Liberal candidate hanging a sign for the local PC or NDP candidate in his constituency office window? Never! Neither would the Liberal candidate tolerate a staff member in his/her office displaying PC or NDP literature or promotional materials. Consider this: when have you seen the Montréal Canadians hockey team come onto the ice wearing Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys? In each case the institution is simply being true to what it is; this is a matter of identity and not a matter of closed mindedness or hypocrisy.

Expressing your viewpoint is different than creating a campaign for something. I can assure you that students at Emergency Ministries do not all share the same viewpoint on many issues (including the pro-life and pro-choice viewpoints). Students are welcome no matter what viewpoint they hold. Moreover, I have had conversations with students about a variety of issues where their thoughts differ from what I would consider orthodox Christianity. They are still welcome at Emergency Ministries and I am more than happy to have them there. However, we will never allow campaigns for pro-choice or for any other position that we cannot support or endorse. This is not hypocrisy; rather, this is our unique identity. We have looked at the world, examined our faith, and have decided that this is who we are.

What do you think?

You can check out the news report on this at http://www.tbnewswatch.com/news/136109/Students-sent-home?sms_ss=gmail&at_xt=4d7acaf774bd652e%2C0