BMTM's Grade 9 students Dorina Vadasz and Mireya Salas. Photo by Michael Swan

A mix of emotions as students begin first year of high school

By 
  • September 4, 2018

Dorina Vadasz frankly admits, “I’m nervous. I don’t know anybody.” Mireya Salas’s older sister told her that high school is “horrible.” Dante Dominguez figures he will be happy with a B, but claims he will “try for the A.” Marie Attica is looking forward to starting a high school athletic career in soccer.

Such was the mix of emotions and dreams as these newly minted students at Toronto’s Bishop Marrocco-Thomas Merton (BMTM) high school dove into their first day of the school year on Sept. 4. 

It was a scene created many times over for the more than 600,000 students and 34,000 teachers in Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools that opened their doors this week for the new semester. 

For all the rookie high school students at BMTM — corralled into the cafeteria at the start of their first day in Grade 9 —high school is a mystery.

Salas sees herself getting As and Bs, but is worried about English.

“English is harder. I just forget things,” she told The Catholic Register.

Her friend Vadasz is quite happy with the school uniform policy. 

“You wake up, you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to wear,” she said.

But at the front office, staff are warning grim-faced kids who haven’t got a uniform that the uniform policy is serious.

For teachers at Bishop Marrocco-Thomas Merton, as soon as introductions were out of the way they greeted the new academic year with prayer. School chaplaincy team leader Rachel Nazareth led about 30 staff members through the TCDSB pastoral plan prayer, asking, “May we become all you intend us to be — a reflection of Christ in our world.”

The arts-focussed school just west of downtown Toronto begins 2018-2019 with 746 students, down a little from the year before. But there are 156 new students in Grade 9 and principal Erica Wilson assured her staff that more would be coming.

Over the summer Catholic educators received new direction from Ontario’s bishops, urging them to create a learning environment that can truly be called a community.

“Catholic education forms communities of faith that help students experience the love of God,” the bishops wrote in a pastoral letter called “Renewing the Promise.”

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