Parent Newsletter

Macdonald Drive Junior High, April 2020

What's been going on...

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Staff picture!

Above is a snap from our staff meeting on Wednesday, April 1. We used a program called Google Meet that accommodated the staff well and we had a great meeting. Everyone is wearing pajama pants and fuzzy slippers.

Hello from MDJH

Hello everyone. This newsletter is going to take a slightly different format because of all the goings-on. I want to let you students know that we all miss you. All your teachers have been hard at work keeping in touch with their students in different ways. They have updated websites, created Google Classrooms, and sent numerous emails; some have even been holding virtual classes with their students. See the file below to find out exactly what your teacher is doing in your class.

Of special note is Ms. Watton's Guidance Google Classroom, which has tips and strategies for dealing with stress related to the Covid-19 shut down. The classroom code is peb3w63.

In addition, FoodFirstNL ( is a place to donate to those that may need help . . . we are currently donating the remainder of our Loblaws grant from the breakfast program.

We miss you!

On behalf of our MDJH Staff, WE Care and truly miss all of you!

We wanted to show you how much so we took time to create this little video. Special thanks to Mr. Sharpe who put it all together! Enjoy!

MDJH Cares

Outdoor Classroom

A BIG thank you goes out to our School Council and Parent Representative John Sandlos who took the lead on the TD funding application for our Outdoor Classroom. The following are excerpts from the application submitted:

"The key project goal is to build an outdoor classroom on the north side of the school, close to student entrance, adjacent to an existing garden. The project will provide opportunities for students to connect with the living world and to provide an alternate, more engaging setting to achieve curricular outcomes in subjects including science, language arts, social studies, health, and physical education. The project will also provide opportunities for students to engage in naturalizing and greening the school yard through careful cultivation of plants, shrubs, and trees that are native to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Through an initial consultation with the school community, students said they wanted a space for learning that allows for movement, a space for learning that is beautiful, a place where they could do hands on science, descriptive writing, poetry about the natural world, lessons about the environment, and photography."

The idea is to build seating for 30 students, low tables for group work, a covered shelter to protect against the elements, an outdoor white board, a storage area for science equipment, and a garden for trees and flowers.

In order to achieve these goals, the school community has raised $7000 from our 50/50 draw.

The Toronto-based organization Evergreen, which specializes in schoolyard renaturalization, has responded positively to our request for help with landscape architecture design for this project.

Window Decorating

Destiny Lucas in 7-1 did a beautiful job on her window to cheer us all up, remind us to stay home, and help spread the love during this difficult time. Awesome job, Destiny!

Upgrade an Old Computer to a Chromebook!

Do you have an old laptop or PC that is gathering dust? One that still works, but runs really slowly or can't be updated? You might be able to turn it into a ChromeBook-like machine!

Neverware is a company that makes a free operating system that converts older machines so they can run on Chrome, giving them a second life. Plus, if your household only has one computer at the moment, this update can help ease the strain on everyone trying to go online.

Visit the Neverware site at to download the free Home version. They also have an install guide to help you through the process. We have used the Educational version of this at MDJH, and while it will not create a true ChromeBook, it comes pretty close. - Mr. Walsh

Provincial Arts and Letters Award

Emily Pike 9-7 submitted a poem to the Arts and Letters Competition and won the poetry award for her age group. She will also receive $350!

MDJH Science Fair

Our school science fair on March 12 was a great success. It showcased mostly grade 7 students, with the addition of a few determined scientists in grades 8 and 9. In all, we had almost 100 projects registered, with fifteen judges drawn from St. John’s scientific community. Judges were very impressed with the overall calibre of the projects and enjoyed the experience of talking with our students. The science department is proud of all our students who participated and excited to announce the top projects of the MDJH Science Fair 2020.

Grade 7

  • Ibrahim Anwar, 7-1
  • Billie Taylor, 7-2
  • Sydney Nichols, 7-2
  • Orpa Hawlader, 7-3
  • Sawyer LeBlanc, 7-3
  • Caroline Hubley and Maria Stone, 7-5
  • Megan McCallum, 7-5
  • Nancy Hassan and Karlee Butt, 7-6
  • Ella Brown and Sophie Rideout, 7-6
  • Alexander Kennedy and Sam Beckett, 7-8
  • Grace Ryan and Quinn Schmiedendorf, 7-8
  • Eric and Emily Guzzwell, 7-9
  • Olivia Harding and Isla Growns, 7-9
  • Sarah Jewer and Breanna Woodrow, 7-9
  • Andrew Squires, 7-9
  • Lucas Osborne, 7-9

For students in grades 8 and 9, the science fair project was not a course requirement. These are the intrepid souls who took on the extra challenge.

Grades 8 & 9

  • Dipayan Dhar, 8-1
  • Meghna Saha and Olivia Pike, 8-1
  • Lakshmi Chedella, 8-3
  • Hadi Shaikh, 8-3
  • Tanish Bhatt, 8-4
  • Farha Farha, 9-1

MDJH Music

From the Music Department

Students are asked to check their Google Classroom for a new Band BINGO challenge for the month of April. Any student who has completed their March 30-Day Challenge can send a picture of their practice sheet to Mrs. Comerford to win prizes.

Also check out the MDJH Music website for videos and other resources.

Student Council News

Canadian Student Leadership Conference 2020

The 36th annual Student National Leadership Conference will be held September 22 - September 27 in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The theme is “From the Roots Up." The conference theme will flow through the keynote speeches, leadership workshops, volunteer opportunities and cultural experiences of the conference.

Any current grade 8 student interested in attending this conference should see Ms. Quann. Parents can email There are limited spaces so students will be placed on a list in the order the requests are received. You can visit the website for more details.

Pending a decision on whether this conference will go ahead as scheduled, registration has been tentatively moved so as to begin on May 6.

Regional Leadership Conference: May 6th, 2020 (Update)

The Horizons Leadership Conference scheduled for May 6 at MDJH has been CANCELLED.


Work is underway to produce a yearbook for the 2019-2020 school year. As we are a busy school, there are more than enough pictures to produce a yearbook in spite of our school’s current closure. The only event that will not be included in the yearbook that was included in all previous yearbooks is our Grade 9 School Leaving Carnival. Orders for yearbooks will be available online. Details will follow in our next newsletter or will be sent out via email.

Photos Wanted!

Thank you to everyone who has submitted pictures for the yearbook. Please send any team pictures to If you are sending from a cell phone, please select actual size to ensure the quality is sufficient for uploading. Team pictures are still needed.

When sending a picture, please include the student grade level and coach's name in case there is more than one team in a grade. Team and group photos cannot be included without your help. Do not assume someone else has sent one in. I would rather have multiple pictures of a group/team than no picture!

Grade 9 Baby Picture Slideshow

The Grade 9 School Leaving Carnival may not be happening as scheduled, but we do anticipate celebrating with students at some point. A highlight of this celebration is always a slideshow of all of our grade 9 students, featuring pictures of each student as a baby/child alongside the current edition (Lifetouch picture)! To be included in this slideshow, please email a baby picture to

What some teachers are up to...

And we have music!

Mr. Sharpe reunited electronically with his former band Clean Sheets to do this! Awesome!
Clean Sheet Covid Cover - Lady Madonna
Here is the an @home recording from the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra - see if you can spot a current teacher and a former teacher!
NSO @ Home - Pictures from an Exhibition by Mussorgsky
Parent's ultimate guide to Google Classroom

Click here for help navigating Google Classroom.

Things to do - In Math

Interesting Math

Ms. Doyle has created an "Interesting Math" Classroom where she will post some challenging questions for students to try, some cool videos to watch, and some interesting math topics that may catch your eye. Here is the Google Classroom Code: mlgsjsz

Things to do - in French

French Enrichment During School Closures

These are some ideas for activities you can do at home to practice your French while school is closed. Try doing a different one every day!

  1. Look at 10+ different products in your home and compare the French and English labels. Look at the French only and try to guess what each word means.
  2. Choose an area in your home and use a dictionary or to learn the vocabulary for every object.
  3. Text with a friend in French.
  4. Watch a movie you’ve already seen, but in French. Write down words you recognize and figure out what they mean.
  5. Teach someone else in your home 10-12 French words you know.
  6. Spend 15 to 20 minutes working on DuoLingo.
  7. Practice reading simple texts using sites like Answer the questions to see how well you understood.
  8. Explore some news sites in French, like .
  9. Take a virtual tour of a famous Francophone monument or a Francophone region using sites like Google Arts and Culture. Some ideas are:
    - Eiffel Tower (Paris) -
    - Musée d’Orsay (Paris) -
    - Louvre (Paris) -
    - Palace of Versailles (Versailles) -
    - France -
  10. Watch children’s TV in French using sites like and Keep a list of new words you learn.
  11. Choose a hobby or game you enjoy and learn all the words associated with it in French using a dictionary or
  12. Listen to children’s stories read aloud in French using sites like and, or read along with story videos at Find the story in English afterwards - how well did you understand?
  13. Design or build something and describe it in French (written or spoken).
  14. Look at shopping sites in French like and imagine what you would buy if you won $500. Using the pictures, try to figure out what new words mean.
  15. Listen to 2 popular songs in French and write down words you recognize. What are the songs about?
  16. Try cooking or baking something familiar following a recipe written in French from a site like
  17. Watch a short tutorial video for kids in French and try to follow the instructions. Here are some to get you started:
  18. Try a kids quiz like these ones at to practice vocabulary. Pick a familiar topic (here’s one about different fruits) and see how many questions you can get right.
  19. Practice or grow your vocabulary with games like the ones at

Originally from:

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Interesting facts about MDJH

  1. MDJH was a Dree school built in 1972 by the federal government. It was a federal program designed to support education in the provinces . . .even though education normall falls solely under provincial jurisdiction.

  2. Macdonald Drive is named after Canada's first Prime Minister - Sir John A. Macdonald. The location of the school is surrounded by streets with place names of cities in Canada (i.e. Toronto Street, Edmonton Place, Quebec Street, Charlottetown Place, Winnipeg Street, and Jasper Street, just to name a few). It is noteworthy to know the spelling of "Macdonald" as it has no uppercase letters with the exception of the first letter.

  3. As noted above, our school was built in 1972, so its 50th anniversary will be in 2022

  4. The original Industrial Arts room was a fully equipped and functional wood-working facility. During the 2015-16 school year, this facility had a renovation which included the installation of walls for a new computer lab, thereby creating a clean space and a production space for the Technology Education courses which replaced Industrial Arts. Still in use from 1972 are four woodturning lathes, a bandsaw and a table saw. During the summer of 2016, Mr. Murphy brightened up this room by painting it a colour called "stratosphere."

  5. Ms. Cindy Garland (student assistant) is the staff member that has been here the longest. Accounts vary, but the next longest-serving staff member may be Ms. Donna Parsons! Also, Mr. Barry White's wife worked there as a typing / special ed. teacher in 1979.

  6. There used to be a common room for all students to hang out in, but it was removed to make Ms. Lynne Shepherd's, Mr. Steve Sharpe's, Ms. Jennifer Riggs's and Mr. Peter Tarrant's classrooms.

  7. The breakfast program began here in 2012.

  8. A number of students later became NHL hockey players . . . Teddy Purcell, Colin Greening, Clark Bishop . . .

  9. In 2012, MDJH student Jennifer Mong, 12, won the Canspell National Spelling Bee with the correct spelling of the word ‘vindaloo.’

  10. In 2013, under the direction of Grace Dunsmore, the jazz band travelled to Labrador to visit the "big land" and to perform shows. They were accompanied by the school guidance counselor Mr. Terry Ryan and by Mr. Barry White. They visited and performed shows in Sheshatshiu, Churchill Falls, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. During their trip to Labrador, they visited the Military Museum in 5 Wing Goose Bay, the interpretation center in North West River, and the CFLco. Hydro development site in Churchill Falls. It was an unbelievable cultural experience for all.

  11. The school purchased its first AED machine in 2012 and conducted CPR training with staff and students.

  12. The school purchased its first iPads in 2013.

  13. The school erected school signage still in place over the entrance in 2012.

  14. In 2013, the school implemented an exploratory program (Friday afternoons for 4 weeks in fall and another 4 weeks in spring). Each teacher was responsible for introducing an activity to enhance student learning. Students registered for the one of their choice. Some sessions included fly tying, first aid, babysitting course, crafts, Lego robotics, baking, swimming, orienteering, snowshoeing, x-country skiing.

  15. MDJH once had two schools operating in the building for about a month from April to May, 2009. Brother Rice Junior High had a fire at their school so all their students came to ours while repairs were being made.

  16. MDJH students' cultural heritage represents more than 25 countries.

  17. More than 15 different languages are spoken throughout the MDJH community.

  18. The first 3-D Printer, a Luzbot Mini, was purchased for a new Makerspace (STEAMLab) in 2017. The second 3-D printer, a Ender-3 Pro, was purchased for the Technology Education Lab in January, 2020.

  19. There have been teachers and students at MDJH using Google Classroom and Google apps since 2015.

  20. The housing area around the school was once called Confederation Heights and was built between 1970 and 1971.

  21. Mr. Shane. Lambert's great-uncle, Rex Meadus, taught at MDJH and actually had Mr. Tarrant as a student.

  22. In the 1980s, a time capsule was created by MDJH with the intent of opening it on the occasion of our 50th birthday in 2022.

Macdonald Drive Junior High

We are a WE School.

Our background picture is by Silvi Ivardi.