STUDENT LIFE - 2020-2021
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June 17, 2021
June 17, 2021
June 17, 2021
April 27, 2021
March 24, 2021
February 26, 2021
February 26, 2021
NHS student Helen Resmer - Winner of Mayor Watson’s Christmas Card Competition
January 15, 2021
January 15, 2021
December 16, 2020
My Goals As Co-President This Year - Noureen Moghadam
November 18, 2020
October 15, 2020
Knightwatch Editors Writing for The Kitchissippi Times
June 17, 2021
Throughout the year, Knightwatch Co-Editors Anna Carsley-Jones, Dina Efrem, and Miriam Felman have been writing articles for local publication, The Kitchissippi Times. Check them out with these links!
Reflecting On DSU
June 17, 2021
By: Anna C-J
Over the past year, the Diverse Student Union has been incredibly strong. Hosting multiple meetings, filled with lessons, discussions, and safe spaces for racialized students. DSU created educational opportunities to white students trying to be allies, and provided freedom for racialized students to share their true feelings, as well as making (arguably) the most powerful Black History Month Assembly at NHS. All of these events were 100% online, making their success even more impressive - within such an unknown territory.
DSU members are so deeply appreciative of the entire exec team, and here are some thoughts that encapsulate this:
“The opportunity to hear diverse voices and share experiences in a safe and open space was so great, especially in a virtual year where we couldn't see each other in-person. I looked forward to the meeting every week, excited to start conversations, discuss current events, and learn how I could improve as an ally. I highly recommend every Nepean student, of every race and ethnicity, to join this club. You'll learn so much, make friends, and take leadership initiative.”
“I really appreciated having the opportunity to participate in DSU this past year, since it allowed me to learn about the struggles that racialized communities face all over the world, and how deep these struggles run in our society. Whether it be education, health care, employment opportunities or the criminal justice system, racism has shaped the foundation of our country in ways that are so deeply rooted and disturbing.”
“As a mixed person of colour, it was nice to find a group of people like me, who related to feeling not white enough, but not not-white enough either. DSU was a refreshing break from the white dominant school population who live in their own bubble of privilege. People in the DSU discussions recognized their privilege and listened to the voices of those in marginalized communities. DSU definitely made me hopeful that change is being realised.”
“It gives a sense of validity to my experience and I can breathe better knowing I didn't all make it up or it wasn't all just in my head. Growing up in a white community and not being white definitely took away the power I had in my own voice. I literally lost the ability to speak up for myself, but DSU is giving me more and more confidence day by day. It's just nice having a sense of community for once.”
“The learning was uncomfortable at times but this ensured the opportunity to learn and question your own biases and decisions.”
“The virtual lessons in DSU this year have given me a toolbox full of terms and definitions that I can use now, and in the future, to analyze racism and race-related situations. DSU has helped me build onto my understanding and actions of allyship/accompliceship, as a white student, and as a white person in general.”
“DSU has given students a deeper knowledge of how to make ‘ally’ an action, not just a word, and I am so grateful for everything that I have learned from the brave and wise DSU leaders, since 2017, and specifically this year!”
Teacher Voices On this Wild Year
June 17, 2021
By: Anna C-J
I asked NHS teachers, through a Google form, to share their thoughts about this past school year. Teachers from various departments/subjects responded, including English, science, Tech and Physical Education, giving me Great idea of teacher perspectives.
One of the most obvious things is that this has been so hard for teachers, just as it has for us. Virtual lessons, confusing technology, limited personal interaction with coworkers and students has been disappointing.
Teacher responses make it clear that they miss having us in class. Ms. Gouveia wrote, “being fully online this quad has been strange since I am teaching to 25 icons every day” and Ms. Samuels responded, in all caps, “MISSING MY STUDENTS!”.
It is also obvious that teachers, having dealt with many of the same feelings that us students have, empathize with how unfortunate it has been to be a student the past 1.5 years. Mrs. Topping expressed how they were “worried about the challenges students have had to endure” , with all of the adaptations that have had to be made. Other points were made about how the topic of student well-being was centered a lot more this year than it usually is. “Over the past year, students' needs either mental, and/or academic have been at the forefront. Never in all my years as an educator have I seen students be so vulnerable. My goal was always to support them with empathy and try to make them smile.” (Ms. MacKechnie). As we have all been struggling, several teachers have made a strong effort to hear us, lend us support and give us a break - as they should.
Some of the things that school staff were discouraged by were quiet hallways and decreased extracurriculars. It is hard to keep high energy when they are sitting alone in rooms either at their homes or in the school - trying to teach to a screen. I know that students can relate to this feeling as well. And although many clubs still found a way to meet this year, and some clouds even became stronger than before, not all clubs (such as sports teams) continued and without those little pockets of joy and laughter for students and teachers each week, our liveliness is diminished.
While the overarching feeling towards virtual learning is negative, some positives from teachers were that this new way of teaching made them rethink their lessons and let them give new, unique assignments, and that if they had a spare within a quadmester, they had a lot more time to prep and mark for their one class. A big highlight, as I previously mentioned, is the strengthening of clubs - and even the invention of new clubs. For example, Ms. McKechnie started the habit of having a Google Meet every morning from 8:45 to 9:05 (while we were all 100% online) for Tea Time - in which students and staff socialized. The NHS reads book club was started out this year with meetings on the last Wednesday of every month and most months had quite successful turnouts! Plus pre-existing clubs, namely DSU and GSA, had higher numbers on this year's virtual meets than in last year's in-person meets!
Well they're certainly brighter sides to online learning, NHS teachers expressed how eager they are to get back to class and be able to see students face-to-face again. This year has been so frustrating, sad and tiring, and we all deserve a good summer break. I will leave you with this lovely comment from Mr. Wallace: “Watching my students persevere and adapt through all the changes this year was remarkable. They approached their struggles with honesty. They advocated for themselves. They showed up to class and got work done...it's undeniable how this last year will set them up for success for the rest of their schooling careers.”
Tim Okamura's Rosie no. 1 Re-creation by NHS Art Club
April 27, 2021
By Dina Efrem
Black History Month festivities at Nepean High School this year were truly commendable and left a significant imprint on the entirety of the school. Students in all grades and teachers of all subjects came together to highlight and empower Black culture, excellence, joy, strength, and history, all month long. The Art Club led by Ms. Amenta is one of the groups at Nepean contributing to the diversification of the school community through collaboration.
The Art Club wanted to participate and contribute to Black History Month and the school-wide celebrations. One of their members, Lilian Cheng, suggested that they do a collaborative painting. They conducted a search for potential pieces and artists they could reproduce. Their chosen artist and art piece was Tim Okamura's Rosie no. 1. This piece exhibits the strength and power of Black people, primarily of Black women. Tim Okamura, a Canadian-Japanse artist, is known for his portrayal of African Americans and Canadians in urban settings. He incessantly inquires into identity, urban environments, and metaphorical and cultural iconography.
Gah-Jing Won, Natasha Lawson, Xue Feng Shi, Sophie Blechinger, Lilian Cheng, Elsie Hawkes, Yasmine Shariat-Yazdi and Audrey Villeneuve, all in different grades, are the eight artists that put much thought, time, and passion into creating this intricate piece. The artists each chose their own media to accentuate that the re-creation was done in collaboration. The artists commenced this project on February 2nd with the original intention of honouring Black people during Black History Month however, the project was not finished until March 29th. Although the original course of plans was altered, the artists along with Ms. Amenta felt as if the outcome was appropriate for the Rosie image. The collaborative piece was started during Black History Month and ended at the end of Women's History Month, which holds an emphatic message within itself.
The dynamic use of mediums allowed for a radiant and effective replica piece. One of the artists chose paint as her media and used this as an opportunity to improve her painting skills. Lilian chose to do watercolour and appreciated the colours and tints she was able to mix with the paint. Yasmine Yazdi chose to do her part in coloured pencils due to the ability of using diverse values and textures. The artists valued how working in collaboration puts on display the different ways people approach art, through multiple art styles and interpretations instead of just one. They understood that with a singular artist usually only one perspective of the muse is demonstrated. Nonetheless, with multiple participants, they were able to see different mediums and techniques. By limiting how much each artist can contribute, the overall painting naturally tends to transcend an individual’s boundaries is how Lilian phrased it.
The Rosie no. 1 recreation has been up on display near the custodian’s office since March 29th and remains there until the end of the school year. When the time comes for it to come down, the contributors will essentially decide what is to happen. Though their hopes are to keep it on display within the school indefinitely. The members of the Art club continue to foster meaning through the production of art and exemplify that activism can be found within the power of artistic creativity.
6 Things You Should Know About Being a Letter Lover
March 24, 2021
I have been receiving and sending letters for five years. It is a very important part of my life and I always look forward to sitting down at my desk, writing, and bringing a little joy into other peoples’ day when they open their mailbox.
1. WRITING LETTERS IS MORE FUN THAN TEXTING
I started writing letters in the summer of 2016 when I went to an overnight camp for the first time. Since there was no technology allowed, the only way to keep in touch was to write by hand. At first, I thought writing letters was boring and a waste of time. I thought, “Why not just text someone, it’s so much simpler?” I soon learned that writing letters was a lot easier than I believed. When you write, the words flow onto the paper just as fast as typing them on a screen. Texting can feel quite monotone at times and writing by hand is a very refreshing change. It is quite calming for me because I have creative freedom and don’t have to worry about spelling or grammar. In other words, it’s not like homework at all!
2. SOCIAL MEDIA IS STILL YOUR BEST FRIEND
If you are looking for a pen pal, social media is the best tool out there. There are a lot of different accounts where people post their decorated letters and you can ask to be their pen pal. I am planning on opening an account where I can meet people who have the same interests as me and post letters that I am proud of. There are also many accounts dedicated to connecting pen pals with one another. You send in a quick description of yourself and sooner or later you will get a message from someone wanting to be your pen pal. If you are worried about internet safety and the reliability of strangers, you can always video call ahead of time to make sure the person you want to pen pal with is telling the truth about their identity. I love how easy it is to find new friends and people who love writing letters just as much as I do!
3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SEE SOMEONE IN PERSON TO FORM A SPECIAL BOND
Though it may seem impossible, it is the truth. No matter if you have met your pen pal in person or not, you can still connect with them and grow a strong friendship. I had not spoken to an old friend for three years when I reached out to ask her to be my pen pal. We reintroduced ourselves in our letters and grew to learn more about each other. Now, I feel very comfortable writing to her and I feel like she’s here with me when I’m reading her letters. Though I had met her previously, I hadn't talked for years and pen palling was an incredibly important step in our reconnecting.
View the full article with images at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1odAra6cpUqzyWtgZ_ClSaDmOWclVSup7zAvFyI6gDLQ/edit?usp=sharing
DSU BLACK HISTORY MONTH ASSEMBLY VIDEO
February 26, 2021
Diverse Student Union
This year’s virtual Black History Month presented to you by Nepean’s Diverse Student Union. DSU has been working tirelessly this past month to bring together this amazing video. Click the link below to watch the full video!
MEET OUR BLACK STUDENT SENATOR
February 26, 2021
By Noiya Katell
My name is Noiya, and I am the student senator here at Nepean high school. My experience so far has been great. Everyone who is part of the student council has been very nice and we all get along extremely well. As a black student, I am honored to represent students' voices and opinions and I will do my best to listen to you.
NHS STUDENT HELEN RESMER- WINNER OF MAYOR WATSON'S CHRISTMAS CARD COMPETITION
January 15, 2021
By Dina Efrem
For years now, Mayor Jim Watson has hosted an annual Christmas Card Competition. This competition is open to youth in Ottawa and each year hundreds of young, aspiring artists from all ends of the city submit their original creations. After the lengthy process of going through the masses of potential Christmas cards entered, Mayor Watson chooses 4 of those submissions to be used as the designs for his Christmas cards for that year. Conventionally, the Mayor would visit the student’s school and present them with a framed copy of their chosen artwork and along with a Certificate of Recognition. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the presenting of awards was held on a virtual Zoom call.
One of our very own Nepean High School students was one of those talented winners! Helen Resmer, a grade 9 student submitted a beautiful piece as a part of the Mayor Watson Christmas Card Competition and her artwork was successfully chosen, along with three other students in Ottawa for the official 2020/2021 Christmas card.
Art has always been an avocation for Helen. She does art for herself, simply for the fun of it and the light-hearted experience. Since she was very young, she thoroughly enjoyed being creative and making her own pieces. She believes that her artistic ways came to her naturally and when she is deep into her passion, she can effortlessly spend hours on one sole project. Helen likes to experiment with different styles and has a distinctive eye for detail which contributes to her inventive imagination.
What drove Helen to create a piece was a Google Classroom notification posted by her teacher, Ms. Amenta. The main reason why she went through with it was frankly because she was in the mood for it and the element of entertainment she receives from it. She had a rather easy first quadmester, was in a pandemic and stuck at home, so she found no reason not to continue. Nerves did not get to Helen. She has submitted her artwork to several competitions and with each failure and success, all that matters to her in the end is being able to create art. Like any other day she created a piece of art, but this time simply took it to another step and submitted it.
Her inspiration behind this card was the common things that children associate with Christmas: Santa, Rudolph, presents, and lights. Santa and Rudolph's faces are centred on the card, the main focal point and where she desired the attention to be drawn to. She worked on the card over the span of three days and a total of roughly 5 hours of planning and execution. She did not stop until she felt fully satisfied enough with her work to put the coloured pencils down.
The typically expected grand reaction was not so typical for Helen as she described her reaction to be “very anticlimactic to say the least.” She stared at the email saying that her art was selected, smiled a little, although she does consider herself to be the kind of person where it's very hard to discern emotion on her face. By the time she had received the news, the whole competition had already vanished from her mind. She hadn’t heard anything about the contest and wasn't really expecting any news to come. Appreciably, when the good news arrived it was of surprise to her. Her excitement lasted a short while, and then she continued doing what she loved, art.
SANTA 4 SENIORS ARTWORK BY NHS ART CLUB MEMBERS
January 15, 2021
By Dina Efrem
The holidays are a time of celebration and merriment for many. The hustle and commotion of the holiday season often renders us insensible to the arduous times that many in our communities face. The consumer and materialistic mentality of many has constructed society’s minds and has eliminated the necessity of self-reflection during the holiday season.
This past month, Nepean’s Art club run by Ms. Amenta, took on an exemplary community service project with The Good Companions. Santa 4 Seniors is an initiative led by The Good Companions, a non-profit senior’s centre. The objective of this project was to provide gift baskets to seniors in the community who live alone and will be spending the holiday season on their own. Nearly 300 seniors were on the list to receive a basket.
As we know, quadmesters are short and vanish swiftly. Because of this, Ms. Amenta concluded that the Art Club should partake in this venture rather than the Art classes. After concluding whether they could dedicate their time and work into creating these intricate, detailed pieces, a subgroup formed. The Art Club members made 80 pieces of artwork to contribute to the 300 baskets, many of which were framed with frames donated by locals in the community.
Natasha Lawson, one of the student contributors, has always had a fond love and passion for Art. For her, when making a piece she is granted the opportunity to utilize an endless amount of creativity with no limits or expectations. Each piece of artwork is unique and holds a different meaning, which is why it is so special to her. Natasha believes that it is important to give back to your community more than ever this year because although we are collectively going through the same thing, you don’t know to what extent it is affecting those around you. She chose to make an art piece for one of the baskets because she thought it would be a great way to give back to her community in a way that she loves.
Lilian Cheng is another one of Ms. Amenta’s students who contributed to this initiative. Art has always been a way for her to concentrate on herself and relax. Her enjoyment for Art further increased this year and observing the skills of her classmates has motivated her to learn new techniques. She decided to create a piece for Santa 4 Seniors because she has never had the opportunity to share her work with those outside of her family. As an artist, it was an enjoyable way to put herself out there, as well as give someone a little gift to enjoy during the holidays. She trusts that this project will forge a deeper connection between high school students and the elders in our community. Seeing photos of the gift baskets with their artwork in them as a final product could persuade many students to contribute next year. For her, seeing the fruit of your work is always satisfying.
Awareness, self-reflection, and assessment of our privileges is what the holidays should bring us. Community is the foundation of our society and when a whole community is supported, society can function and flourish collectively. Giving back is priceless, what you may believe is a trivial act of service can be the good deed one needs to get through the holidays.
Audrey Villeneuve Natasha Lawson
Khanh Nguyen Sophie Blechinger
Lilian Cheng Tiffany Uzamere
Q & A WITH UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
*Below is the first page of the article, click link to read all*
Ever wondered what university during a pandemic is like? We interviewed three university students about applying, choosing a school, academics, social life, etc.
Student #1 is a first year student at Trent University, doing the Teacher Education Stream with a math major
Student #2 is a second year student at Queens University, doing a sociology major with an English minor and a law certificate.
Student #3 is a first year student at the University of Toronto, doing engineering science.
Q: How did you choose your school and/or undergrad program? What factors went into your decisions?
1. The biggest factor that helped me choose Trent was physically being there and taking a tour. COVID-19 has made that difficult this year, but some schools still offer tours, and I would highly recommend taking tours at every school you are interested in. It gives you a fantastic feel for the campus and allows you to see if you could see yourself studying there for the next 4+ years.
2. I chose Queen’s based on the program, location and campus resources. I knew I wanted to major in sociology but I also wanted the chance to explore law and further develop my English skills. Queen’s offers certificate programs that add onto degrees and allow for students to see what kind of higher education they might want to pursue - for me this was law! I knew that the small town location would help me succeed after visiting the Queen’s campus and immediately feeling very welcomed and comfortable. School spirit means a lot to me and Queen’s has an insane amount of student pride. Finally, Queen prioritizes academic support programs alongside mental and physical health support programs. I wanted to go to a school that would both push and support me.
3. My program was recommended to me by a family friend in the field I thought I wanted to go into at the time. I went to the university presentations and it looked like a good program for me. It was my first choice.
MY GOALS AS CO-PRESIDENT THIS YEAR
November 18, 2020
By Noureen Moghadam, Grade 12
Hi Nepean! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Noureen Moghadam, I’m a grade 12 student here and I’m looking forward to being your co-president this year. We can have an incredible year together!
I know you rolled your eyes at that last sentence, based on how turbulent this year’s been so far, but it’s true: this school year will be awesome! Nepean has always had terrific school spirit, and I’m confident that despite the pandemic, we will have so many fun-filled experiences, such as virtual Coffeehouse, extra competitive spirit days (let the cohort battles begin!), school wide fundraisers for charities chosen by you, and hopefully we can rent out park spaces for events after winter! Also, always feel free to tell me your opinions, concerns, ideas - anything. I’m not speaking for you, I’m speaking with you. More than ever, we need to support each other and stick together as we navigate through this year.
On that note, there is so much more change I’d like to achieve this year other than school events and spirit days. As co-president, I’m privileged with a position which has given me a greater platform to speak on issues that I think should be addressed and properly changed. This year I joined the Diverse Student Union (DSU) here at Nepean, and it has been impactful to hear and discuss the continuous bigotry that has affected NHS students, predominantly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students. Plus, in the wake of the recent allegations of systemic racism, homophobia, and misconduct made by students and alumni, there is no question that this year I will consistently strive to amplify the voices of our student body. This is simply unacceptable.
Systemic discrimination and bigotry is something I and many others have experienced over our time at Nepean, and there needs to be an absolute correction in the way our system is working, as well as accountability for those who silenced students. The administration at Nepean should be a source of help, openness, support, and equality. Students deserve to be respected and cared for. School should be a place of learning where we feel welcomed and heard. I hope to meet with a former Nepean co-president, who was also a mentor at the DSU meetings, and we will discuss ways to create a respectful line of communication between the administration and students. Plus, I will work with teachers to help amplify our voices and hold those responsible accountable.
Thank you all very much, and see you around school! Stay safe!
YOUNG WRITERS OF NEPEAN HIGH SCHOOL
October 15, 2020
By Miriam Felman, Grade 12
Three grade 10 Nepean students, Hussein Khatib, Maddy Zarull, and Natasha Mazerolle, and 2020 graduate Anna Berglas, have been selected for publication in the Young Writers of Canada Poetry and Creative Writing Contests from the Poetry Institute of Canada & Young Writers. They heard about the contests last school year from an NHS teacher, some of them through the Creative Writing Club, and as Hussein put it, “I thought I had nothing to lose.”
The story Natasha submitted follows a character searching for a book in a building that was once a library, in a world where books have become extinct. When asked what the story means to her, she said, “I think it means coming to terms with the fact that you may strive for something and what you get isn't completely what you wanted, and I think that's okay because maybe that can send you down a path that leads to something better”.
Hussein’s story is called “The Ninth Hour”, and it’s about a character named Alex who keeps seeing the number 9. “He later wakes up from a 9 month coma to find out that he had killed his parents in a car crash”, Hussein explained. The young writer became interested in creative writing when he was in grade 6, and his teacher encouraged his class to expand their imaginations in the stories they wrote. “The fact that nothing was stopping me from writing a good story except for my creativity was great. Once I had an idea for something like a story, I couldn't stop adding to the idea of the story”.
Anna, who is a first year English and Cultural Studies student at McGill University, has been writing since she was a small child. A story she wrote about the world breaking apart and her gluing it back together was published in the Ottawa Citizen when she was five. In middle school, she became interested in poetry when she joined a writing club and was “entranced by the directness of the style”. Anna finds her inspiration in the lives of herself and others. “All of my work has roots in truth.”
Natasha’s inspiration comes from mythology and folklore. She enjoys writing stories with elements of magic, “whether it's spells and potions or a feeling of wonder and curiosity”.
The following is what the award winning writers said when asked if they had any advice for other young writers.
Natasha: I'd suggest if you're going to write in first person to always remember your character won't be able to see everything you see as the author. If they're surprised, they wouldn't be able to see their own eyes widen, if another character does something behind them or where they can't see them, the narrator might hear a noise depending on what the other character is doing, but besides that it might be unnecessary to put in. Try to put yourself in your character's viewpoint and always remember to consider what they can and can't see.
Anna: You will undoubtedly write lousy work, work that's embarrassing to look back on. Don't be ashamed - not only are you still writing, it's a necessary part of the process!
Hussein: Never be afraid to use your imagination and creativity in stories. If you don't picture anything while reading your story, you should probably rewrite it because then it's just words on a page.
One of the contest-winning pieces will be featured in the November issue of Knightwatch.
To all of the writers out there, no matter your perceived skill level, take a chance and enter a contest! It’s great practice, and you never know- you might just get rewarded.