Apr 27

​Over the course of the year we have had a steady increase in vandalism both inside and outside the school. Washrooms tend to be the main target, students ripping paper dispensers and soap dispensers off the walls repeatedly. They are using sharpies to draw graffiti all over the stalls, things are being flushed down the toilets causing them to plug and requiring a plumber to come and fix. On one occasion we had water leaking on the main flor due to a plugged toilet on the second story. We need your help parents to chat with your child to help stop the vandalism at the school. We have not had any luck catching the people responsible, and nor do we need to, but we need it to stop. The costs of fixing items is something the school has to pay and they are adding up. 

We have​ gone into classrooms, we have had teachers talk to their classes, we have investigated, looked at video and yet we are still seeing an increase in this behavior. If you can help in any way by either talking to your child or asking them to report anything they witness, we would greatly appreciate your help. 

Feb 21
10 things to know about how social media affects teens' brains

(Re-Posted from https://www.npr.org/2023/02/16/1157180971/10-things-to-know-about-how-social-media-affects-teens-brains​

The statistics are sobering. Nearly 1 in 3 teen girls report having seriously considered suicide in the past year. One in 5 teens identifying as LGBTQ+ say they attempted suicide in that time. Between 2009 and 2019, depression rates doubled for all teens. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is: Why now?

"Our brains, our bodies, and our society have been evolving together to shape human development for millennia. ... Within the last 20 years, the advent of portable technology and social media platforms [has been] changing what took 60,000 years to evolve," Mitch Prinstein, the chief science officer at the American Psychological Association (APA), told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. "We are just beginning to understand how this may impact youth development."

Prinstein's 22-page testimony, along with dozens of useful footnotes, offers some much-needed clarity about the role social media may play in contributing to this teen mental health crisis. For you busy parents, caregivers and educators out there, we've distilled it down to 10 useful takeaways:

1. Social interaction is key to every child's growth and development.

Humans are social creatures, and we learn through social interaction. In fact, said Prinstein, "numerous studies have revealed that children's interactions with peers have enduring effects on their occupational status, salary, relationship success, emotional development, mental health, and even on physical health and mortality over 40 years later. These effects are stronger than the effects of children's IQ, socioeconomic status and educational attainment."

This helps explain why social media platforms have grown so big in a relatively short period of time. But is the kind of social interaction they offer healthy?

2. Social media platforms often traffic in the wrong kind of social interaction.

What's the right kind, you ask? According to Prinstein, it's interactions and relationship-building "characterized by support, emotional intimacy, disclosure, positive regard, reliable alliance (e.g., 'having each other's backs') and trust."

The problem is, social media platforms often (though not always) emphasize metrics over the humans behind the "likes" and "followers," which can lead teens to simply post things about themselves, true or not, that they hope will draw the most attention. And these cycles, Prinstein warned, "create the exact opposite qualities needed for successful and adaptive relationships (i.e., [they are] disingenuous, anonymous, depersonalized). In other words, social media offers the 'empty calories of social interaction,' that appear to help satiate our biological and psychological needs, but do not contain any of the healthy ingredients necessary to reap benefits."

In fact, research has found that social media can actually make some teens feel lonelier

3. It's not all bad.

The APA's chief science officer also made clear that social media and the study of it are both too young to arrive at many conclusions with absolute certainty. In fact, when used properly, social media can feed teens' need for social connection in healthy ways.

"Research suggests that young people form and maintain friendships online. These relationships often afford opportunities to interact with a more diverse peer group than offline, and the relationships are close and meaningful and provide important support to youth in times of stress."

What's more, Prinstein pointed out, for many marginalized teens, "digital platforms provide an important space for self-discovery and expression" and can help them forge meaningful relationships that may buffer and protect them from the effects of stress.

4. Adolescence is a "developmentally vulnerable period" when teens crave social rewards, but don't have the ability to restrain themselves.

That's because, as children enter puberty, the areas of the brain "associated with our craving for 'social rewards,' such as visibility, attention and positive feedback from peers" tend to develop well before the bits of the brain "involved in our ability to inhibit our behavior, and resist temptations," Prinstein said. Social media platforms that reward teens with "likes" and new "followers" can trigger and feed that craving.

5. "Likes" can make bad behavior look good.

Hollywood has long grappled with groups of parents who worry that violent or overly sexualized movies can have a negative effect on teen behavior. Well, similar fears about teens witnessing bad behavior on social media might be well-founded. But it's complicated. Check this out:

"Research examining adolescents' brains while on a simulated social media site, for example, revealed that when exposed to illegal, dangerous imagery, activation of the prefrontal cortex was observed suggesting healthy inhibition towards maladaptive behaviors," Prinstein told lawmakers.

So, that's good. The prefrontal cortex helps us make smart (and safe) decisions. Hooray for the prefrontal cortex! Here's the problem.

When teens viewed these same illegal and/or dangerous behaviors on social media alongside icons suggesting the negative content had been "liked" by others, the part of the brain that keeps us safe stopped working as well, Prinstein said, "suggesting that the 'likes' may reduce youths' inhibition (i.e., perhaps increasing their proclivity) toward dangerous and illegal behavior."

In other words, bad behavior feels bad — until other people start liking it.

6. Social media can also make "psychologically disordered behavior" look good.

Prinstein spoke specifically about websites or online accounts that promote disordered-eating behaviors and nonsuicidal self-injury, like self-cutting.

"Research indicates that this content has proliferated on social media sites, not only depicting these behaviors, but teaching young people how to engage in [them], how to conceal these behaviors from adults, actively encouraging users to engage in these behaviors, and socially sanctioning those who express a desire for less risky behavior."

7. Extreme social media use can look a lot like addiction.

"Regions of the brain activated by social-media-use overlap considerably with the regions involved in addictions to illegal and dangerous substances," Prinstein told lawmakers.

He cited a litany of research that says excessive social media use in teens often manifests some of the same symptoms of more traditional addictions, in part because teen brains just don't have the kind of self-control toolbox that adults do.

8. The threat of online bullying is real.

Prinstein warned lawmakers that "victimization, harassment, and discrimination against racial, ethnic, gender and sexual minorities is frequent online and often targeted at young people. LGBTQ+ youth experience a heightened level of bullying, threats and self-harm on social media."

And online bullying can take a terrible physical toll, Prinstein said: "Brain scans of adults and youths reveal that online harassment activates the same regions of the brain that respond to physical pain and trigger a cascade of reactions that replicate physical assault and create physical and mental health damage."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "youth who report any involvement with bullying behavior are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior than youth who do not report any involvement with bullying behavior."

9. It's hard not to compare yourself to what you see in social media.

Even adults feel it. We go onto social media sites and compare ourselves to everyone else out there, from the sunsets in our vacation pics to our waistlines – but especially our waistlines and how we look, or feel we should look, based on who's getting "likes" and who's not. For teens, the impacts of such comparisons can be amplified.

"Psychological science demonstrates that exposure to this online content is associated with lower self-image and distorted body perceptions among young people. This exposure creates strong risk factors for eating disorders, unhealthy weight-management behaviors, and depression," Prinstein testified.

10. Sleep is more important than those "likes."

Research suggests more than half of adolescents are on screens right before bedtime, and that can keep them from getting the sleep they need. Not only is poor sleep linked to all sorts of downsides, including poor mental health symptoms, poor performance in school and trouble regulating stress, Prinstein said, but "inconsistent sleep schedules are associated with changes in structural brain development in adolescent years. In other words, youths' preoccupation with technology and social media may deleteriously affect the size of their brains."

Edited by: Nicole Cohen
Visual design and development by: 
LA Johnson

Feb 15
Teachers' Convention and The Family Day Long Weekend

I often hear the question, "What do teachers do at convention?" The Teachers' Convention is an opportunity for educators to take part in workshops on many topics, to hear powerful keynote speakers, to engage with colleagues and to generally find a time to reflect on their practice. Each teacher takes part in the way that best fits their needs. More expereinced teachers are looking for ways to freshen up their practice, to stay on the cutting edge, to find new and meaningful ways to bring the curriculum to life. New teahcers are looking to learn form the experienced people presenting, to help them stay on top of a demanding job, to learn ways to inpsire.

Once the learning is done, the long weekend begins, for studnets it starts now. We hope that all of our DMC families have a restful weekend, that they find ways to connect and rejunenate for the next part of the year. I wish everyone a safe and relaxing Family Day.

Jan 13
Welcome Back

With the start of a new year brings new hope, resolutions and goal setting. Goal setting is an important way to track your progress toward something you hope to achieve. Goal setting involves designing a plan to help keep people motivated and guide them toward something they really want. Goals are intentional, they are strategic plans to help get you where you want to be. Goals are for everyone, no matter where you are in life, your age or your ability, set a goal, ask for help, track your progress and make that change you always wanted to make.

Here are five steps to help with developing a plan:

1. Find something that motivates you, your goal needs to be something you really want.

2. Set Smart Goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely

3. Put them into writing.

4. Make an action plan.

5. Stick to it, hold yourself accountable. Slips will happen, but bounce​ back and keep going. 

Set some goals this new year!​

Dec 21
Happy Holidays

​It's hard to believe that we are at the Winter Break, but here we are. Than​ks to all of our families for your continued support of DMC, we greatly apprecaite everything you do for your children. From all of the staff at DMC we want to wish you all a restful and warm holiday. We will see everyone on January 9.

Remember to keep those empty bottles from your holiday celebrations and use Skip the Depot to support DMC when it is time to clear out the sticky mess. See our newsletter for more details. 

Nov 07
Exert - Cell Phones and School

I thought this short exert from an article on the "Screenagers" website was particularly interesting:


The Screenagers team searched for data on school cell phone policies five years ago and realized there wasn't any. So in 2017, Screenagers conducted a national survey, which resulted in 1,200 middle school parents providing responses. The responses were shared in a CNN op-ed.

According to the parents, 55% of middle schools allowed kids to carry their cell phones all day despite the fact that more than 80% of parents did not want their kids using their cell phones at school. And in research since, the team has discovered that having phones away during school has a positive impact on students' learning, mental health and social lives. Thus, the Screenagers team created the Away For The Day webpage to advocate for phone-free campuses.


Studies have found that when phones are away, test scores increase. They've also concluded that when phones are present, students who are already struggling in school will struggle even more, meaning that when phones are out, the gap between high and low-achieving students becomes even wider.


Teens who spend more time on social media are also more likely to report symptoms of depression. When students engage in in-person time with friends, peers and mentors, their mood increases.

Middle and high schools have always been sites of drama and conflict, but the presence of social media amplifies the tensions between students even more.

“I can say without a doubt that the vast majority of student conflicts we deal with on a day-to-day basis originate from social media. Students are constantly trying to check their phones for the latest social media posts, any of which cause stress and anxiety during the school day.” — William Dorritie, superintendent
“Since [Away for the Day], we’ve continued to have our share of cell phone drama, but it is very much reduced and often not during the confines of the school day." — Ryan Wilson, principal

When a student is receiving rude messages on Snapchat or made aware of a group chat they were left out of, it can become very hard to focus on anything else, especially school.

Students who have social anxiety might use their device as a crutch throughout the day, relying on it to avoid uncomfortable interactions with peers. Without having to face the discomfort, these students never have a chance to grow or conquer their social anxiety.

This is one conversation we have with our students, hopefully people are having similar conversations at home.​

Oct 26
Classroom Conversations

Yesterday Mr. George and Mr. Hartl visited every grade  in the school to talk about three key messages.

1.       Being on time

We have seen an increase with students being late for class at all points of the day, especially at the start of the day and after lunch. When a student arrives late it is not only disruptive to the learning of others, it is also disruptive to their own learning. Our expectations are that students are in their desks at the start of the day, by 8:30. Our 8:30 bell is an indicator that they are now late and will be marked as late. This is also the case for every period that follows, we need them in their rooms so we can maximize their learning opportunities. We have explained that if we have chronic lates moving forward that we will be keeping specific students in during lunch to make up that time.

2.       Cell phones and Air-pods

When the decision was made to not allow phones in classrooms, it was because research indicates that learning increases. When the phone is present students are more worried about answering texts and social media then they are about learning. It becomes a distraction that impacts everyone in the room. We reminded them today that their phones should be in the lockers throughout the day, this includes headphones of all types. We explained that if teachers see them they will be asked once to put the item away. If it comes out again or it is repeated frequently then the phone needs to be handed in to the teacher until the end of the day. Teachers have been finding an increase in students being argumentative and disrespectful when this conversation happens. If a student is struggling to follow this guideline and is being disrespectful they could be sent home. If there is a need for a parent to communicate with their child we ask they call the school and not the child in class. We are more than happy to have them come down to the office to engage in a conversation with you.

3.       Respect

A reminder was given to all students about how we treat each other not only at DMC but in the world in general. We have had several substitutes lately not wanting to return to the school because of the level of disrespect from some of our students. We also have a general feel from some of our students that they can come and go as they please, leaving the class or the school whenever they want. It was explained to all of them that we are responsible for them while they are in the building and that teachers need to know when they need to leave the classroom. We are asking that everyone at DMC treat each other with respect, that we follow the “Golden Rule".

​We concluded the talks by thanking all of the students that are working incredibly hard, consistently come to class on time and ready to learn. We suggested that this day marks a fresh start for all of those that have struggled with the above expectations, that now was the time to set new goals to help make a concerted effort to ensure a quality learning experience for themselves and those around them.

None of these are new expectations at DMC, in fact most of these would be the expectations that all schools would have, including the elementary schools our students have come from. Although we try to address these situations as they occur, it would be greatly appreciated if parents could support us by having ongoing conversations with their children about these topics.

Please see our page on Code of Conduct for more information on our school expectations. 

Thank you,

The Staff of DMC

Oct 06
One Month In

We are one month into the new school year and so far everything has been great. Thanks to all of our families for a smooth transition back into the new year. The meet the teacher evening was a huge success, with the welcome back BBQ bringing out a large number of families. We were extremely happy to have so many of you back in the school, and in many cases we were even more excited to have parents in the building that have never been able to set foot inside the school due to COVID restrictions. Our next parent involved event will be Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences on November 24 and 25. Stay tuned for more information in our weekly updates. We have also been very happy to have spectators back for sporting events, The gym has been backed with both home and away crowds cheering on the teams. Volleyball is in full swing as is our soccer club. There are also a number of clubs popping up over the lunch hour for students to take part in. So far 2022-23 has been fantastic and we look forward to even more great events. 

Jun 28
Summer Time

​And so ends another school year at Dr. Martha Cohen. The conclusion had us saying good-bye to our grade 9's who are off to high school. The June 27th farewell was a spectacular event marked by our first live farewell audience in a couple of years. The gym was packed, and hot, but the excitement was contagious as our 9's walked the stage and then danced the night away.

Today, June 28th we had our first sports day in a couple of years, all hands were on deck as the classes went through multiple stations enjoying the nice weather. It was a great event hosted by our amazing PE team.

I want to wish all of our returning families a safe and restful summer, we look forward to working with you in the new school year. To those that are leaving us we wish you well in your new schools and/or communities. Thank you for being part of the DMC family.

Remember, for those returning, grade 7-9 families can pre-order supplies on our website, check out the story in our newsletter. You are also welcome to purchase the supplies on your own. For grade 6, we will​ once again be purchasing most of your supplies.

​Have an amazing summer and thanks for your ongoing support. 

May 02
May Is Upon Us

We are into the final two months of the school year, the weather is finally turning around and we are all excited to be able to get outdoors. Social media continues to be our number one concern for children and we asking parents to be diligent in monitoring what is happening at home. Most of the contact kids have is in the evening, and when it turns unkind parent and kids ask the school to solve the problem. We need your help in making sure your children are supervised and that you know who they are talking to and what they are saying. The phone is owned by parents, and ultimately it is the parent that is responsible for anything inappropriate that takes place on the phone. Those devices are awesome sources of power and incredible entertainment, but they can turn the school world upside down in a single text, Snap Chat or Instagram post. If we all just take a moment to ensure we know what our kids are doing, the cyber​ world becomes a much safer place. ​

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Monday, May 29 is a system-wide non-instructional day so there are no classes for CBE students. It is also the provincial election day – don’t forget to vote! Have a safe long weekend. #WeAreCBE https://t.co/nihcInFUcL

RT @globalfestyyc: Last week, GlobalFest was a proud participant in the Bob Edwards Diversity and Peace Conference. With the theme of “Acceptance is our Superpower”, GlobalFest was able to host Virgin Radio Host Andrew Uyeno in a classroom discussion about what it means to be biracial. https://t.co/WLOrHlIvSg

Forest Lawn High School hosted the first-ever high school Esports Tournament - 8 schools competed in the popular game League of Legends, showcasing the excitement of competitive gaming and also highlighting the educational value and benefits it brings to students. #WeAreCBE https://t.co/bwFrVtuELs

RT @EdMattersYYC: Busy? Procrastinating? Over-thinking? Remember, if you're a @yyCBEdu or @CCSD_edu student graduating this spring and applying for EducationMatters Student Awards, the application deadline is less than a week away! Start and/or finish your application ASAP: https://t.co/Cq2ei6gHLh https://t.co/aoMID2Hp1H

Congratulations! Thank you Brown Bagging It for all you do to help CBE students. #WeAreCBE #bb4ck https://t.co/N31R2ywXql