Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Conference Day

At this time of year, it is easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and we can all be guilty of thinking only about ourselves and what we are struggling with.  One of the best ways to take me away from these thoughts occurred last Thursday, when J.N. Burnett Secondary shut down regular classes and instead had students participate in a series of conferences/workshops focused on Social Responsibility.  Each student went to their homeroom class and was given a schedule for the day that included guest speakers like:

John Banovich-a renowned speaker who works with MADD Canada, Mr. Banovich (an actor and director in the TV and Film industry) made the following video about his experiences.  He is a survivor from a horrific car accident involving a drinking driver.  He spoke honestly and passionately about safe driving and making good choices.  We have had him speak at our school several times before, and his message certainly resonated with our Grade 12 students.
Holocaust survivor Alex Buckman gave a stirring speech to our Grade 11's about how to overcome the obstacles in your life and how important it is to care for others.  One of the other presenters introduced himself before the two men had to go their separate ways, and he later said that despite what had been a frustrating morning (dealing with traffic, car problems etc.), meeting with a man like Mr. Buckman always puts things into perspective and reminds us that our challenges are not so overwhelming.  Our students felt much the same way. 

Brandon Steel from the Vancouver Police Department and Joe Caliendo, a former Hell-Angel gang member, made a presentation about Gangs and Drugs.  The hard-hitting presentation impacted all those who observed it.  The Officers with whom I spoke prior to the presentation are trying to reach kids early enough so they are not enticed into a world of  gangs, drugs, deceit and other illegal activities.  Their talk was very well-received.

Jesse Miller-Mr. Miller is a a former Police officer who is now a widely-acclaimed public speaker looking at the dangers of social media and digital footprints.  He gave two presentations, speaking with every student in the school.  His engaging, thought-provoking and informative sessions had students walking away promising to tighten the securities and become more careful about the photos they put on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social media platforms.

Students also had a series of Social Responsibility lessons led by homeroom teacher on topics like: Safe Driving, Racism, Diversity, Suicide Awareness, Bullying, Stress ManagementEthnicity, Building Resilience (a session led by members of the Psychology 12 class for Grade 8 students) and for the Grade 12's a lesson reviewing and updating their Grad Transitions documents.

The highlight of the day (for me, personally) was the 13th Annual Seniors Brunch, where the Leadership class, led by Ms. Leslie Cain, invited over 120 guests from neighboring care homes and Community Centres.
Waiting for out guests to arrive

Here they come!

Enjoying some entertainment from Glee!
Writing about the experience is a member of the Leadership 11/12 class, Czara Bernabe.
The Senior’s Brunch is that time of the year that J.N. Burnett opens their doors to welcome and appreciate our seniors. Ever since I entered high school, I would always see this yearly event and wonder what is it for? Is it just to appreciate seniors? Is it an event that leadership class prepares every year? Yes, it is all of those things, but being able to participate made me realize how much more there is to it. “Doing the actual event is only 10 percent of the work, 90 percent is planning and organizing the event, and it is the hardest part”-Ms. Cain (our Leadership teacher). This statement is true, because every little detail and every single decoration was thought of and created by the leadership class. Every step brought the students closer together. Yes, we had our disagreements and minor problems, but when the time called for it; we all rose up.  The Senior's Brunch is an event that everyone enjoys and has a wonderful time. For the students, the teachers and especially for our seniors, it’s an event that you come out of smiling and having created positive memories and relationships that will last a lifetime.

Pearl Xu, one of the editors of Burnett's on-line newspaper, JN BAM, also wrote about the day here.

All in all, another fantastic day, and one that made me very proud to work at this great school.  Thanks and kudos to all of our students for their efforts in making the day so rewarding and to our phenomenal staff (especially the Conference Day planning committee members-Mrs. Musani, Mr. McDonnell, Mr. Anderson, Mrs Ten-Pow, Mr. Lee, and Ms. Takada) who do all the little things that make the experiences for the students so valuable.  Also deserving mention are Ms. Cain, Mr. Ghaug, Ms. Freeman and the band plus the students from Glee for their efforts with the brunch.  Thanks to everyone for such a memorable day!

No comments:

Post a Comment