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Student Leaders Making A Difference

Cardinal Newman Peer Mentors try to motivate, inspire, guide, nurture, lead and move others to action. They address transition, not just during the months leading up to the first day of high school, but throughout all of high school. Their team approach ensures that all new students and their parents feel welcomed into the Newman community.

CN Peer Mentors begin to meet with the Grade Nines long before the beginning of their high school careers. As part of the Student Services orientation for Grade Eight students, their 'Fears, Cheers and Unclears' presentation in January answers a lot of the nitty-gritty questions about high school. 'Top 9 Tips for Grade 9 Success', an evening presentation for the parents and Grade Eight feeder school students, presents the Grade Eights with a student-created manual and an entertaining video about life at CN created by the Peer Mentors. During the summer before entering high school, the incoming Grade Nines receive the colourful and teen-friendly Mentors Summer Newsletter, which promotes enthusiasm for starting high school, and also addresses common concerns that students may have. And just before the start of the school year, these students are invited to a morning assembly, videos, games and a barbecue hosted by the CN Student Council, the theme of which is 'Welcome Grade 9‘s—You are now one of us!'

During the course of the Grade Nine year, CN Peer Mentors sponsor 'Meet, Greet and Eat', a hot lunch with team-building activities, for new students coming from other countries. They also visit Grade Nine classes to give presentations on emotional intelligence, different learning styles and how to improve memory, and the Exam Prep 101 workshop, which includes a mentor-created video which tries to answer many of the questions the Grade Nine students may have about exams.

Since May 2009 the CN Peer Mentors, after undergoing intensive training, have begun to deliver classroom presentations on mental wellness to Grade Nine Religion classes. 'iMatter: Taking Care of Teen Mental Health' aims to increase awareness of mental wellness and the symptoms of mental illness, dispel myths and decrease stigma associated with mental illness, help to identify school and community resources in this area, and promote inclusivity among students and staff by increasing empathy and compassion.

The work of the CN Peer Mentors and the iMatter program have been highlighted at the annual 'When Faith Meets Pedagogy' Conference, along with that of the Canadian Association of the Catholic Association of Religion and Family Life Educators of Ontario (CARFLEO). It has been supported by the Dare to Dream Grant and the Hamilton Community Foundation Grant, and recognized by with the Catholic Education Foundation of Ontario‘s Michael Carty Award in 2010 and the YMCA Peace Medal Award in 2011.

Student Leaders Making A Difference