The Story Behind The Red Shoes
On Thursday, October 8, students and staff throughout the WCI community gathered wearing their red shoes to commemorate the loss of a teacher, colleague, mother, and inspiring woman, Mrs. Henni Klaassen.
Mrs. Klaassen was a dedicated teacher at WCI for 16 years, who touched the lives of many. Unfortunately, after a long battle with cancer, she passed away in the summer of 2015. Mrs. Klaassen may not be here physically, but she will always be a part of WCI. She is remembered by students and colleagues as a fun, enthusiastic, vibrant woman, who had a passion for teaching. Former student Katie L. stated, “I admire how upbeat and positive she was even though she was dealing with so much. She was always smiling.” Katie is not the only student who shares these feelings, as many who have been taught by her say the same.
But why red shoes? Colleague and friend, Ms. Jackson-Grupp came up with the idea. When interviewed about the red shoes, she said, “I guess it may seem random, but she had come back from a field trip one day, and I remember seeing her standing outside of room 124 and she was clicking her heels together, and I looked down and she was wearing the most beautiful red shoes I have ever seen.” Jackson-Grupp went on to speak about how this was in essence, one of her last memories of her friend Mrs. Klaassen and how she was like Dorothy from Oz.
Mrs. Klaassen will always be remembered as an amazing woman with nothing but positivity to spread.
7 Ways to Deal With Your School Stress
It is that time of the year again. The first couple weeks of school have breezed on by, and now the real work has begun. With academics, extracurriculars and the daily rush that life can be, many students find themselves attempting to deal with an overwhelming amount stress.
Stress is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as, “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress can affect anyone, in varying levels. According to a survey done by the Globe and Mail, 89% of students experience stress as a result of their school life. As a student there is immense pressure to succeed and coping with that can often be overwhelming, but it does not have to be. Here are seven easy ways to deal with your school stress.
1. Physical Activity
There are countless studies that come to the conclusion that exercise and other physical activity significantly reduces stress, but why? While exercising, your body produces “natural painkillers,” otherwise known as endorphins, which drastically reduce stress and anxiety.
2. Spending time with friends
You can only study for so long, and eventually you have to take a break. Grabbing a coffee with a friend or simply hanging out at their house will distract you from your work for a short period of time and after a couple of hours you will be able to return to your work with a clear mind.
3. Make Lists
Staying organized is a simple way to reduce stress. For example, making “to do” lists is an easy way to ensure that you are staying on top of your work. This will prevent you from forgetting important dates and will give you a sense of accomplishment each time you complete something.
4. Listen to music
Believe it or not, listening to music is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Listening to music can calm and relax the body, especially soft, classical music. Classical music also works to lower blood pressure and decrease the hormones which produce stress.
5. Take a nap
The best way to totally clear your mind is to take a nap. When you are asleep, your brain is virtually shut off. Even a 30 minute nap can get you in the right mindset, and allow you to get back to work with the right attitude. Studies from the Endocrine Society show that taking a power nap during the day can actually reverse the negative effects of a poor night’s sleep, as well as help relieve stress and anxiety.
A warm bath is one of the best remedies for a long day, and also for coping with stress. Bathing is a great way to relax and clear your mind, which is a great distraction from whatever is stressing you out. Add epsom salts and other nice smelling products into your bath to help soothe and relax your mind and your muscles.
7. Take a break
With so much to do and so little time, many are against the thought of taking a break. However, taking a short pause from your work may be just what you need. Whether it be reading, drinking tea or simply eating a healthy snack, any sort of distraction will prevent you from stressing out. Sometimes a short break can do just the trick. It can help calm you down and re focus your energy which will allow you to get work done, and in turn reduce stress.
Although your school stress may seem endless and constantly overwhelming, there are ways to avoid it. Using any of these seven mechanisms to deal with your stress will leave you feeling relaxed and in control of your life. So next time you start feeling like you are drowning in stress, try going for a jog, or reading your favourite book, anything which distracts your mind and gives you a break from your busy life!
From VIP to VIPE: Investigating the Tradition
Coming into high school as a grade 9 student can be a very intimidating experience. Being new, and not to mention, being the youngest, is definitely not easy. At Waterloo Collegiate Institute, welcoming these students with open arms has always been a priority: grade 9 students should not feel out of place coming into a new school, and at WCI, there is a program in place which helps make this transition just a little bit easier.
The Viking Integration Program (or VIP for short) is a unique course which was introduced to the WCI community roughly nine years ago. The goal of the program is for senior students to teach the ninth grade students about becoming a Viking, and to give them tips on entering high school. Mr. Pavey, one of the teachers originally responsible for bringing the program to WCI said, “The overall purpose is to mentor grade 9s and to ease the transition for grade 9s coming into high school.”
When WCI transferred from a non semestered to a semestered timetable for the 2015-2016 school year, the fate of VIP was uncertain. Following such a drastic change, many were not sure how the program could possibly continue. With no period specifically dedicated to the program, it was going to be difficult to incorporate it into the new school timetable.
A committee of WCI staff members, administrators and students decided to modify VIP to fit the scheduling changes, creating a new program called Vikings In Pursuit of Excellence (VIPE). The goals of this program are twofold: to integrate grade 9 students into the WCI community through a modified VIP program and to provide tutorial time for the remaining grade 10, 11 and 12 students.
The most significant change made to VIP is the time allocated towards it. Instead of having one class each week, like VIP in the past, VIPE Days, and subsequently VIP periods, are scheduled to happen eight times over the course of the year. These days cut ten minutes from each period and combine them towards a 40 minute period. Grade 9 students attend VIP sessions while students who are not in grade 9 are provided with a work period and are able to work on outstanding school projects or ask teachers for additional assistance. Although a large portion of the VIP content had to be cut from the program in order to accommodate the shortened periods, for the most part, its goal remains the same.
For some, VIP is viewed as an important contributing factor to WCI’s high participation in extra-curriculars. Mr. Nickel, the Student Activities Director at WCI, stated, “Our Grade 9 participation rates in extracurricular events are the highest in the county (and possibly the province). It’s hard to know whether that’s all because of VIP, but I believe that it’s definitely a very important contributing factor.” He believes that the grade 9s feel compelled to participate around the school due to the fact that the program encourages involvement, whether it be in clubs, sports teams, or artistic performances.
Mrs. Shortreed, the principal of WCI, shares a similar opinion to Mr. Nickel. She sees the program as one which is not only useful, but necessary for the integration of grade 9s. When asked about the program, she clarified, “As Principal I respond to the needs and culture of the school, and VIP has consistently been identified to me in surveys, committees, and day to day discussions as a program that is/was important to the school and a program that staff, students and parents prioritized as one we needed to keep with the adjustment to semesters.”
Student VIP leader, Jacob T, also believes that the program is in fact very useful for the young students. When asked about the changes made to VIP, he said, ”We had to cut a lot of material out, but it hasn’t been bad. We find our attendance rates to be basically perfect and students seem to be really enjoying the program.”
In previous years, attendance records were inconsistent, especially later in the year. Previously, VIP was scheduled during the first period of every Day 2. With the new program’s integration into the school schedule, between first and second periods, it is more difficult for students to not attend.
Opinions about VIP’s success and importance vary among staff and students. Mr. Bishop, a teacher at WCI, and a VIP supervisor, believes that the program does not deserve all of its praise. He said, “Our school attributes many of our successes to things that may not warrant it.” He believes that the school’s success cannot simply be attributed to one program, and that there are many others which serve an equally important role that go under-appreciated at times. He went on to explain how although VIP can be useful, other programs, such as the strings program, are as well.
Reese S, a grade 9 student, and an active member in the WCI community, stated, “I really enjoy VIP. It’s a good place to collaborate with your peers in a fun and safe work environment.”
Former VIP student, and current VIP mentor Nicole J said, “We play a lot of games where students interact and get to know each other, but I feel like the people that have already been friends stay just as close. It is fairly similar to when I was in grade 9, but I’m still not sure what the point of the program is.”
For many students who took part in VIP in the past, the program was viewed as a way to have fun. In various interviews, some former VIP students said that the program was enjoyable at first, but became repetitive and boring after a few weeks. Kenzie B, a grade 10 student who experienced VIP last year said, “It was good at the start because it was kind of cool to have older kids say hi to you in the halls as a grade 9, but once you got ‘integrated’ into the school it was kind of pointless and a lot of kids just started skipping.”
The course did allow some students to feel as though they were a part of the WCI community, but many were unaware that this was its main purpose. Grade 12 student, Brandon K, said, “To be honest, it was just a way to go play games, and meet a couple new people. I didn’t really feel any difference in coming to school, or being integrated.”
There are many different opinions and views surrounding VIP at WCI. There are those who believe VIP to be a beneficial program and one that integrates grade 9 students well throughout the school. There are also those who believe the program to be focussed on grade 9s playing games and spending time with their friends. As WCI continues to adjust to a new timetable, VIP is a program that may go through various changes that include scheduling and a consideration of how the main goal of grade 9 integration into the school community continues to be communicated and achieved.
5 Ways to Prepare for College/University
As a high school student approaching the finish line, the thought of college/university is one which brings out many different emotions. You may be thrilled to leave your boring hometown behind, or you may fear change and the idea of moving on. Whatever your emotion may be, you must know how to be prepared for the transition. Here are five steps you can take to prepare yourself for your post secondary education.
- Sort Out a Financial Plan
College/university is NOT cheap. There are many expenses which may seem extremely overwhelming coming into first year. Textbooks, tuition and housing are just the primary expenses, but you must still consider other expenses, such as food, school supplies and more. Outlining a rough financial plan may just save you. It is important to spend as little as possible while at school, and having this financial plan may help you to keep your spending to a minimum. For tips on money, and how it should be saved/spent responsibly, check out the following link .
- Forget About High School
Consider high school as a finished chapter of your life, and allow yourself to move on. Forgetting about high school will allow you to meet new people and experience new things. According to The Huffington Post, clearing your mind of the past allows you to better enjoy the future. College/university is not going to be like high school, and once you realize this, the transition will become much easier.
- Accept and Embrace Change
The reality is, college/university is going to be a big change. Humans tend to be afraid of change, and as reported by Life Hacker this is completely normal. Post secondary education will push you out of your comfort zone in several different aspects, but that is a good thing. You may have relied on your parents throughout high school, but in college/university, you must learn to be independent. Although you may not enjoy the busy life as a college/university student at first, being open, and having a positive attitude towards the situation will allow you to clearly see that it is not so bad.
- Be Organized
Just like any other year, you must be sure to have all of the necessary supplies for school. Only this year, apart from school supplies, you must also pack supplies for living. If you plan on living at home this is not a concern, but if you plan to live in residence, you have a lot of packing to do. Pack what you need, not everything you own. According to Maclean’s, students are notorious for packing things which they never even use while away at school. So make sure to pack the essentials, not everything you own.
- Stop Stressing
Looking ahead, college/university can seem very overwhelming, but stressing about it certainly will not help. As reported by Mayo Clinic, stress can be very damaging to the body, and is linked to many illnesses. Of course there is much to do before beginning your first year, but worrying about it will only make it worse. If you are looking for ways to cope with your stress try using these 7 steps.
At the end of the day, college/university is going to be an emotional journey. There will be good times, and there will be bad times, but that is merely a part of growing up. So next time you are freaking out about preparing for first year, remember these easy steps and try your best to relax.
Taking a Closer Look at the Tracks
Lately, driving in the Kitchener-Waterloo feels like a constant traffic jam. With construction covering the region, many feel as though detours are now a part of their daily routine. The greatest cause of these obstructions is the construction of the new Light Rail Transit system (LRT), which has been a lengthy project.
The LRT system is a recent form of public transportation that strives to make traveling short distances faster and easier. There are three LRT systems in cities across Canada to date, and others are either being planned, or are under construction.
Even before construction began for the LRT system in Kitchener-Waterloo, there was much controversy. According to an article by CBC from 2013, the decision was thoroughly debated and then debated again, leaving many who disagree and agree with the final outcome. Some believe the LRT system will have tremendous value, while others believe it to be a waste of money.
With differing opinions on the matter, we have decided to show two sides of the LRT controversy from our perspective. Below are a few questions we asked each other about this ongoing issue.
Do you believe that the LRT system will pose difficulties with normal traffic in KW? Why or why not?
Mark – Right now, navigation around Waterloo is terrible. LRT construction has caused road closures throughout the region, which causes major delays on one’s everyday commute. Current construction has also made a large impact on local businesses. Once the construction of the tracks are complete and the trains are in service I think there will be an adjustment. It will take a while to get used to the new system; however, once the transition is complete, I believe the everyday traffic and the LRT can work in unison.
Mel – The construction is definitely an issue for many people in the region, especially due to the prolonged timelines in certain parts of the city. The construction has taken much longer than anticipated, but building the tracks is a lengthy process. In the future, once the construction is over, I think the LRT system will be able to run smoothly alongside traffic. In fact, there are already three systems in Canada that demonstrate how the two modes of transportation can co-exist without difficulty.
Will the LRT system really be more convenient than the Grand River Transit (GRT) system that is currently in place?
Mark – The trouble with the LRT stops is that they will be in a very straight line. Fewer stops along the way may make the train ride shorter; however, this still may not compensate for the time spent getting to the station. Going virtually straight down King Street for the most part, it may be a pain to use if you do not live within a reasonable distance of the downtown core. You can see a map of the track plans on the ION Site.
Mel – Absolutely. The LRT system will have fewer stops and move more quickly than the GRT system, which will make it much more effective and convenient. Since the system will have its own tracks it will not have as many issues with traffic and will be able to operate smoothly.
Do you believe that the transit system will pay off once it is finished?
Mark – I believe it will be a good thing, just not for a long time. Although the population of Waterloo is growing, I don’t think it is growing fast enough for the LRT to be useful for a while. I believe it will not be used by the amount of people it is hoping to for a long time. However, when the time is right I definitely think it could be used to its full potential.
Mel – I do believe that the transit system will pay off once it is finished. The region’s population is continually growing and according to The Region of Waterloo, there will be 200,000 new residents in the community over the next 20 years. Of course, the new system will require adjustments, but with the expected increase in population, the LRT will most definitely be worth it
Whether you believe the change will be beneficial or not, there is no arguing that it will be a big change. Change can be hard sometimes, but the truth is, the LRT system will only ever be as successful as residents make it. You can put the transportation in place for these residents, but that does not guarantee it will be utilized. We can speculate about how useful the system will be, but until it is in service, it will all remain a question.
A Look Back at Entertainment From 2015
As 2016 begins, it only seems right to take a look back at a very successful year for the entertainment industry. The exceptional films and music ensure that the stars of 2015 certainly will not be forgotten.
With both feet in the new year we’d like to highlight some of the bests from 2015:
African American Culture
Selma (released in Canada in January, 2015) and Straight Outta Compton were both released last year, the same year that people in states such as Missouri and Maryland were participating in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which began as response to the seeming devaluation of African-American lives through police violence. Both of these movies were able to portray the struggle and the rise of African-American figures in a society that shows a bias against them. Continuing on the topic of African-American culture, Kendrick Lamar’s album, To Pimp a Butterfly, brought to light many issues of slavery in the past and how the disturbing trend of discrimination is returning. Rolling Stone magazine and Billboard also ranked the album the best of the year, not only for the quality of the music, but for the message it spread.
The Return of Classics
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and Mad Max: Fury Road, are all movies that are based in large franchises or are remakes of movies that were very popular in their prime. With the first Star Wars movie being released in 1977 and no sequel in that franchise released since 2005, the film is a rebirth that appealed greatly to people of all ages. Along with Star Wars, the Jurassic Park series, which had not released a new movie since 2001, attracted a very diverse age group. Mad Max: Fury Road was also another movie that had not seen the big screen since 1985. Each of these movies made every age group want to take a trip to the theaters over the course of 2015.
2015 was also an immensely successful year for the animated movie industry, with Minions, Home, and Inside Out all hitting the big screen. The Minions movie, a branch off of Despicable Me was extremely popular this year, hitting $1 billion at the world wide box office. Some of the entertainment world’s biggest stars teamed up with director Tim Johnson to work on what would become one of the most successful animated films of the year, as Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna starred in Home. Pairing popular artists with a great plot is always a recipe for success, and this time was no different. Finally, Inside Out captured the hearts of many with its important messages about emotional development and its touching story line. The film was rated at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed $90 million at the box office. Overall, the animated movie industry had a great year, with many big name movies gracing screens all over the world.
A Drive Down Memory Lane
The Fast and Furious franchise has captured the eye of car lovers and action lovers alike for many years now. However, the franchise took a big hit as tragedy struck when Paul Walker died in a horrific car accident in 2013. The cast and crew used this as motivation and continued filming the latest film, Furious 7, without one of its biggest stars. Furious 7 earned more box office success than any other film in the franchise; in fact, it earned more in less than two weeks than any other movie in the series ever made. In addition, the tragedy inspired artists Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth to produce a song that would go on to become a Billboard number one.
In terms of music, this year was the year that Canadian artists were really able to burst onto the scene. Justin Bieber and Drake are two huge Canadian artists who both had not released albums since 2012 and 2013 respectively. However, the long wait was well worth it, as the two artists released record breaking albums this year: Bieber’s Purpose and Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
Many other Canadians also surprised the world, as The Weeknd’s popularity grew massively with his song “Earned It,” which was the feature song in 50 Shades of Grey, one of the best selling movies of the year, and Shawn Mendes released his first album Handwritten, which debuted at first on the Billboard 200.
Return of a Diva
After four years off the radar, Adele finally came back onto the scene, making quite the re-entrance. Adele’s big return caught everyone’s attention, from teenage girls to middle aged men. With her last album being released in 2011, it was a lengthy wait up until her album 25 hit the charts. According to Billboard, 25 is one of 11 albums to sell over five million copies since 2005: talk about a comeback!
Taylor Swift has always been the cute little country girl, but this year she changed things up. 2015 brought tremendous change to Taylor’s music, which resulted in immense success to her career. The Washington Post reported that her latest album 1989 sold 1.3 million copies within the first week, becoming the first platinum album of the year. Who knew turning a country star into a pop star would bring this much success?
Well there you have it, yet another incredible year for entertainment has passed us by. From the rebirth of pop stars, to the release of influential films, 2015 was filled with a variety of amazing moments.
Only time will tell what 2016 has in store for us, but the real question is: will it be able to top the success of 2015
WCI Poll: Climate Change
With greenhouse emissions continuing to rise and ice sheets continuing to disappear, it is no wonder the world is facing such extreme levels of climate change.
The ongoing global crisis has reached an all time high and is resulting in serious consequences. Many do not realize the severity of climate change and that these consequences will affect everyone personally.
This past fall, climate change received more publicity, with a conference in early December that was attended by leaders of 195 countries. The conference, which took place in Paris, France, included all members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to The Guardian, the individuals who attended the conference discussed strategies for reducing global warming as a whole and set individual and collective goals to address climate change.
Because negotiations in the past have often resulted in a lack of agreement or consensus, this year’s conference took a different approach. As reported by Quartz, the conference took the unique strategy of “Indaba,” a southern African negotiation tactic: “Instead of repeating stated positions, each party [was] encouraged to speak personally and state their ‘red lines,’ which [were] thresholds that they [did not] want to cross.” The newly introduced tactic served its purpose, and all 195 countries were able to come to an agreement by the end of the conference.
Canada’s newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has many plans regarding climate change. The Huffington Post reported that the Canadian government has made a pledge to reduce emissions to 30% lower than the 2005 level by 2030. Also, Trudeau himself has made a promise to set aside $2.65 billion over the next five years to help protect the planet.
With ambitious goals in place, the hope is that individuals all around the world will make a conscious effort to limit global warming. It is hopeful that in future years the earth may be able to return to a healthy and safe state, making it livable for everyone.
For this installment of “Viking Polls,” we asked students questions relating to climate change statistics:
Removing the No-Hat Policy
Rules are rules no matter what the situation may be, and we are all taught from a young age to follow those rules without complaint or objection. But what happens when we don’t agree with the rules? Or when the rules have poor justification behind them? These are the questions I began asking myself a few years ago about the “no hat” policy at WCI.
Of course there are several arguments as to why hats should not be allowed in school, but in my opinion, the reasoning behind them is not particularly convincing. I am often told by teachers and other staff members that the main reason hats are banned is for student safety. This explanation seems a bit questionable to me given the fact that two thirds of public schools in the Kitchener-Waterloo region allow their students to wear hats. The safety of students is obviously a major concern, but if the majority of high schools currently allow hats, they must not be a very serious threat.
In the past, hats have also been used to promote gangs and conceal contraband. These two issues are definitely not something to joke about, but in this day and age, students can find any number of different ways to hide illicit material or advertise violence if they feel so inclined. To put the situation into context, the Record recently reported that the Kitchener-Waterloo region has been considered one of the safest areas in all of Canada. This revelation suggests that although hats may be a concern in certain regions with high crime rates, Kitchener-Waterloo is simply not one of those regions.
Hats are also considered a “distraction” when it comes to participation in the classroom, but how is a hat different from any other article of clothing? I suppose administration could be worried about students fooling around with their hats in class and not paying attention to what’s being taught, but at the same time, if schools are really that concerned about distraction, why are cellphones not banned? A study from 2010 by the Pew Research Center reported that 58% of students send or receive text messages during class. While this is an American study, it is not hard to see similar evidence in our classrooms. Since 2010, the popularity of cellphones has only increased, so imagine what that number looks like nowadays.
Another point which is commonly proposed in the argument against hats is etiquette. Traditionally, it has been considered polite to remove hats upon entering any building. However, as time has passed, this school of thought has become less and less common. I believe that as long as hats are removed for the national anthem and any other formal occasion, they should be allowed in academic facilities.
I suppose the point I am stressing is: why not allow hats? What do we really have to lose?
At the end of the day, the “no hat” rule will undoubtedly vary from school to school. My general belief is that hats should be allowed, but with certain restrictions. I am certainly not saying that WCI should allow students to wear hats 100% of the time, but why not around the halls and at lunch? Even if hats continue to be banned from classrooms, allowing them during other school hours is always an idea.
Senior Boys Basketball 2015