Tag Archives: teens

Farewell Address to 2017 Graduating Class: Know Your Worth #cisva

Today I want to talk to you about something most of you don’t know or at least forget too often: your worth.  You are far more valuable than you give yourself credit for.

How do you know how much something is worth?  Is it the asking price?  Is it a random guess?  No.  When it comes down to it, something is worth what will be paid for it.  A bottle of water? $1  A fidget spinner? About $10.  The Ferrari Marcello will own by the time he is 21? $200000.

Well, if the worth of something is determined by what some one is willing to pay for it, what are you worth?  $1, $10, $200000?  What would someone pay for you?  We could ask your parents.  I’m certain everyone of them would say they would do anything for you.  They would give their lives to save yours.  How does that make you feel to hear that?

What if I told you that you are worth even more than that?  Look upon the cross behind me.  God, the creator of the mountains, oceans, planets and the entire universe, loves you; enough that he himself came down to earth to die the most agonizing death upon the cross to save your life.  You are worth that much.  The life of Jesus Christ was paid for you.  Do you remember when you were little and you would say to your parents, “I love you this much” with your arms stretched out?  When you look upon the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross remember that he was thinking of you.  He was and continues to say “I love you this much.”

Let’s bring that back into the context of your everyday lives.  If you are worth this much, why do we so often struggle with self-esteem and confidence?  We forget our worth.  We look at celebrities and think they are worth more than us because they are more beautiful, more talented, smarter, more loved.  We look at our classmates and think they are more popular, more cool, more athletic.  Every time I see one of you in tears I think to myself “If only you knew your worth.  If only you knew how much you are truly loved.”

You are so loved.  God loves you.  Your parents love you.  I and the staff of CCS loves you.  Your friends… they are nice but don’t rely on them for determining your worth; they are often as confused and messed up as you are.  How do we continue to remember how much we are worth?  By spending time with those who love us.  Go to Mass, pray, and read Scripture to remind yourself of God’s love.  Have dinner with your family, help around the house, and snuggle on the couch while watching a movie to be reminded of your family love.  Finally, when High School has got you down, come back to CCS.  You will always be welcomed and loved here.

May God bless you all as you make the next step in your journey.

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A Principal’s Musings on Student Online Behaviour

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Over the past few weeks I have been involved in a couple of incidents involving my students’ online behaviour.  The incidents themselves were serious enough, but it was through the investigation that I learned more about student online behaviour in general that has really got me worried.

The first thing that struck me was the sheer pervasiveness of technology.  I asked my Grade Seven class of 32 students if they had a handheld, online device that would allow them access to things like Facebook, Instrgram, Imessage or Twitter.  30 of 32 students said they did!    We are not dealing with a few or even half.  Virtually all students have access to the internet at their disposal almost anytime.

“Hold on!” I can hear some parents saying, “I limit my kids to this much time per day.”  That may be true for some, but certainly not for many.  Many of my students postings were updated or commented on late at night, and some even past midnight.  Some kids, despite their parents best efforts, are able to sneak online.  Others I fear, have not been given clear boundaries or their parents aren’t around to enforce the rules.  Whatever the case there are many kids online, late at night, with little or no parental supervision.

So what do kids do online?  What they think they do online is communicate with their friends.  They use Instagram to post pictures of stuff they are interested in or of themselves.  The latest social media app is SnapChat.  It is an instant messaging app that allows you to send a message to your friends that disappears in about 10 seconds.  Facebook is not as popular among my students, but there are few with their own Facebook pages.

There is a pretty significant difference between what boys do online compared to what girls do online.  From the Instagram pages I have seen, boys seem less interested in posting pictures of themselves and their friends.  Most boys posted fewer pictures, and those they posted were usually generic pictures of sports figures or cartoon characters.  Girls posted a lot more pictures, and most of those pictures were personal in nature, either of themselves or of their friends.

The difference is interesting.  I think it says a lot about the developmental and social stages these kids are at.  While “friends” are important to all kids at this age, my observations have been that girls are more likely to seek approval from peers and affirm themselves through confirmation of “friendship.”  What better way to prove you have friends than to post pictures or comments online to show it?  As a parent my biggest concern for my girls and their social behaviour, both online and in person, is the dependence on affirmation from their peers.  Parents need to remain the foundation for kids, whether they are six or sixteen.  While it is natural for kids to gradually gravitate towards peers as they grow older, parent cannot allow their daughters to rely on their peers for emotional and moral guidance.  Unsupervised online activity only exacerbates this problem.  I see it all the time here at the school.

My biggest concern for boys is the danger of exposure to pornography.  I haven’t had an appropriate opportunity to ask the boys in the class about their exposure, but the stats are out there for anyone interested.  I kind of expect that, given the nature of the internet, my boys will at some point be exposed to sexual content on the internet.  Uninvited pop-up ads, fake website that lead to pornography, and even spam emails can contain brief snippets of pornographic material.  What surprised and disturbed me the most was a stat that said 70% of teenage boys have spent at least 30 consecutive minutes viewing pornography online.  Given the fact that virtually every boy in the class has access to a mobile internet device, it is imperative that we as parents take immediate and drastic actions to protect our sons.

There are plenty more scary and disturbing aspects of online behaviour that I could rant about.  I’d like to explore the effect of online activity on brain development in a future blog.  In particular, I have read some interesting stuff about how our ability to read thoroughly has diminished since the advent of online searches.  So, if you were actually able to make it through this entire blog, congratulations and thanks for reading!

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