A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘high school

I’ve noticed stores are helpfully providing checklists for back-to-school shopping, both for clothes and supplies. I usually make a checklist of the supplies needed and see what’s still useable from the previous school year.

I think we’re set for school supplies, but as my son heads into Grade 9, it’s not a stretch to say we might be starting from scratch with his wardrobe—he’s suddenly outgrowing his shirts, and I doubt last year’s jeans will fit.

In any case, helpful though these checklists may be, they lack an important item, particularly for high school students: supportive friends.

Discovering, developing and learning to apply our skills and talents is part and parcel of the high school experience. But so is the influence of peers. And some young people find themselves cutting classes, experimenting with substances and sex, and putting off pursuing their dreams in an effort to fit in socially.

This is the point where we hope our youth have surrounded themselves with others who aren’t interested in rebelling; who will call their friends on it if they act out; and who might even talk to a teacher, a counsellor, or their own or their friend’s parents if they have concerns about a friend’s choices.

Only it’s not enough to hope. We need to take action:

  • Get to know the people our youth spend time with by encouraging them to invite friends over and by volunteering to help with or chaperone school activities and extracurriculars.
  • Insist that we know where and with whom our youth spend their time.
  • Keep communication open with the school so that we find out quickly if our youth face learning challenges, falling grades, bullying, or changes in behaviour.

I pray that our youth, especially those just beginning high school or changing schools this fall, would choose their friends wisely—and choose to walk away from a group heading down a path they don’t want to follow.

Next week, my husband is taking some time off for a staycation, and so I’m also taking a little time away from this blog. I’ll be posting again on August 25th.

I see the value in Ontario’s Grade 9 math assessment and the Grade 10 literacy test, as well as in the selection of the courses high school students must take. But I’m just not sure about the volunteer hours requirement. Rather than foster a culture of volunteerism, it may mean that the joys of volunteering will be lost on many students.

One positive: work in the parish community may count toward volunteer hours.

Maybe we can involve youth more in the life of our parish even as they earn their hours by fulfilling roles such as these:

  • helping with the children’s liturgy program
  • caring for gardens on the church grounds
  • singing or playing an instrument as part of the music ministry team
  • serving on parish committees
  • assisting the parish secretary by helping to prepare bulletins, announcements and bulletin-board notices
  • preparing slides or operating the projector during services
  • serving as a sacristan, a lector or an altar server

We can also encourage youth to check out volunteer opportunities at our parish job fair and speak with ministry group leaders, deacons, or our parish priest to find out where volunteers could make a difference.

And if we keep high school guidance counsellors up to date on ways students can serve, we can strengthen our church’s ties with schools in the parish.

I pray that, by providing opportunities for youth to volunteer, we would give them a way to become or stay connected to the parish and the Church—and opportunities to continue to grow in their faith.


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1*

While the weather in Ottawa shows few signs of warming up and spring seems far off, my household is bracing not only for the bitter cold but also for change.

Not only is my son getting involved with our parish’s new youth group and preparing for confirmation, but he’s also trying to choose which one of several local high schools to attend in the fall.

It’s a difficult decision since our school visits so far have shown us well-maintained buildings, staff committed to seeing students thrive and succeed, and students who like their school and participate in activities and clubs. We’ve even ironed out the bus transportation issues. And so it’s coming down to opportunities for co-op programs and hands-on courses.

For those of us with children heading to high school or university who may not know what kind of career would suit their interests and abilities, it can be tempting to steer them toward what we think would be a good career and influence them to take courses to reach that goal. But to do so would be to ignore this direction from Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’ve heard this verse spoken of as referring to our children’s spiritual education. Yet I think it also refers to guiding our children in the path God wants them to follow, using the talents and spiritual gifts he has blessed them with.

We may dream that our children will pursue a career in medicine, for example, because we see this sector as providing stable or well-paying jobs; our children may in fact be called to a career in sales, the trades, the arts or the non-profit sector. We may wish that our children could know early and with certainty the career they’d like to pursue, but some may take longer to find their niche.

And so I pray that those of us with children preparing to begin high school or post-secondary education or training would pray for and with them that God would guide them in discovering their vocation and his plan for them (see Jeremiah 29:11).

(Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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