Featured Topic

Is Your Child in an Unhealthy Relationship?

As a parent, it can be very stressful when your teenage daughter/son dives into a new relationship. You may not like or trust their choice but what is even more important is recognizing if they are in an unhealthy relationship. We have seen teens that are involved in unhealthy relationships and they have taken a tremendous toll on their emotional health, their academic success, and relationships with friends and family. These unhealthy relationships are not limited to girls. Teenage boys can also be involved in very manipulative and abusive relationships. It is important for you, as a parent, to monitor the relationship and to create an open environment where your child will be comfortable talking to you if they feel they are in an unsafe/unhealthy situation. Some potential warning signs of an unhealthy relationship:

  • Your teen’s partner is possessive/controlling/jealous of time spent with other friends
  • Your teen starts to pull away from other friends and/or family activities- they don’t feel they have a choice
  • Excessive texting/calling- example would be if your son/daughter is busy and his/her partner calls/texts continually until response is given
  • Your teen changes their habits- the way they act, dress, their personality
  • The relationship progresses too quickly
  • Your teen has unexplained bruises or injuries

If your son or daughter comes and tells you they are in an unhealthy relationship .... What do you do? 

  1. Listen to them...don’t judge and don’t punish. They will be more likely to keep open communication if you create a non-judgemental safe place to talk.
  2. Talk to them about what makes a healthy relationship- mutual trust, respect, care.
  3. Create some dating rules that limit unsupervised time. Further, social media/texting can result in manipulation, control and abuse. Having your child power down at night from their computer/cellphones and monitoring social media accounts is a worthwhile suggestion.
  4. Take their feelings and concerns seriously.
  5. Stopping them from seeing the individual will likely end up in them going behind your back. As hard as it is to not step in and stop it, it is better to give them the skills on how to make the decision to end it themselves. Unless you feel their safety is in immediate danger, empower them to make healthy decisions to safely end the relationship.  
  6. Try to get your son/daughter in counselling.
  7. Call and talk to a professional- you could call 
    1. Central Alberta Child Advocacy (587-272-2233) 
    2. Women’s Outreach (403-347-2480)
    3. Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre (403-340-1124)
    4. Your School grade counsellor or Family School Enhancement Counsellor (FSEC) (403-342-4800). The grade counsellor can support your child while the FSEC counsellor can provide you with guidance on how to support your child. 


January- Exam Prep

Welcome back! Being that we only have a couple of weeks left before our final exams for the first semester, we thought it would be a good idea to share some studying and exam prep tips! 

  1. Start your studying early! Take advantage of any reviews sessions or packages that your teachers may offer! Last minute cramming is not often successful and can increase your nervousness heading into the final. 
  2. Organize your notes.
  3. Organize your best time to study. Are you a better learner in the morning, afternoon or evening? If you have other commitments, it may help to write down a schedule so that you make the best use of your time. Also helps if you have an organized space to study! 
  4. Look after yourself! A good sleep routine, healthy eating, and physical activity are really beneficial in your success! 
  5. Use different study methods- explaining your answers out loud, study groups, rewriting notes, practice exams/tests.
  6. Plan for the day of your exam: Know your schedule and where you are writing, arrive early, bring water, snacks and any items permitted in the exam setting (calculator and extra batteries, dictionary, etc) and ID. Dress warm! If you are in the gym, it can be cool.

During the exam, there are some strategies that can help you remain calm and set yourself up for success! 

  • Listen to directions
  • Read the test directions
  • Survey the test
  • Budget your time
  • Read each question carefully
  • Note or underline key words and terms
  • Read multiple choice options carefully
  • Skip questions you don’t know and go back to them later 
  • Answer those questions you do know really well and build your confidence


  1. Answer the easy questions first, then the harder ones. Don’t get nervous if some questions look unfamiliar. Skip them and return to them later.
  2. Pay attention to qualifiers (“usually,” “none,” “always,” “never”) and key words (“except,” “all but the following,” “the best,” “the least,” etc.)
  3. Try to anticipate the correct answer before looking at the options.
  4. Read all of the options; eliminate the ones you know are incorrect.
  5. Look for options that contain other options. These are called "umbrella" options because the other options fall within their scope.
  6. Familiarity of a response option does not necessarily make it the correct choice.
  7. Sometimes the longer response may be the clue to the correct response.


  1. Watch for absolutes such as “always,” “never,” or “all” and "none." If they are present, chances are that the statement is false.
  2. If a statement is more detailed or specific than most, chances are it is true.
  3. Never leave a blank – you have a 50% chance of getting it right!
  4. Unusual sounding statements are likely to be false. 

*tips taken from www.wiu.edu

Are We Safe?

In light of recent events outside, but near our school, it is understandable that parent and student levels of anxiety may be escalated.  What is most important to remember is that these incidents happened off of school property. We are confident in our ability to keep our students safe within our supervision, which our new attendance policy is proactively reinforcing by encouraging students to be in class.  Furthermore, we have protocols in place (On Alert, Hold and Secure, Shelter in Place, and Lockdown) that allow us, as a staff, to respond appropriately and quickly to specific incidents. An element of every protocol is a debrief to ensure staff and students are safe. 

Part of being in a school is the community that is created.  At Notre Dame we have a staff that is dedicated to the well-being of students, and it works collaboratively to ensure students who may be experiencing anxiety, or other fallout from these incidents, are given an appropriate outlet at school.  The counselling team is well-equipped to work with our students and encourages students to access its services. 

Again, we are confident that you are sending your children to safe and caring learning environment every day.  The gifts and talents that your children share within our community, be it in academics, athletics, fine arts, within their CTS classes, or in any other myriad ways, bears witness to this.   

Despite how safe we know our school is, we also are aware that these types of incidents can generate much conversation within families.  Here are some tips that you can use to help manage the conversation and direct it in a way that is constructive. This information is a summary from The Center for Parenting Education 

1. Remain calm.  Your child will be influenced by your reaction.

2. Give your child opportunities to express their thoughts and feelings.  Validate their concerns without minimizing them. Examples of how to do this include:

“Tell me more about that.”

“Are there other things that are bothering you right now?”

“What have you heard about . . . .?”

“What do you think happened?”

3. Stay off social media as much as possible as it often exaggerates fears and spreads misinformation.

4. Maintain routines as much as possible as they are reassuring during times of stress.

5. Reassure your child that s/he is safe.  Review the steps taken to ensure the safety of the school community.

6. Teach your child healthy coping strategies such as talking to a trusted adult, writing their feelings in a journal, drawing, exercising, deep breathing, etc.

7. Look for signs of anxiety such as, but not limited to, a change in behaviour, stomachaches, headaches, fighting/arguing, a change in sleep patterns, overreaction to minor stress.  

Please remember, you are not alone.  If you are concerned about your child’s well-being, we invite you to contact the counselling team at Notre Dame and they will support you and your child through this process.

It seems as though you cannot turn on the television without seeing increasing concerns with the impact that vaping has on our youth. While many teens believe it is a safe alternative to smoking, the studies that are starting to surface would indicate vaping poses its own risks and concerns. At Notre Dame we prohibit vaping- if caught on school grounds or during school activities, vapes will be confiscated and consequences will be given. Why the tough approach? We care about the health of our students!!! Please take a look at the following articles and news clips  for some valuable information. This should provide you with a solid foundation on understanding vaping as well as some strategies on how to prevent or help your child. 

Further, we have an addictions counsellor at the school if you feel that your son/daughter could benefit from meeting her, just call Student Services (403-342-4800) to set up an appointment.


Feature Topic - VAPING

CTV News clips explaining the growing epidemic...






Teen Vaping- What You Need To Know

What can you do as a parent? Follow this link for a great article from the NY Times

How to talk to your son or daughter about vaping