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OCSB readers celebrate with human library

On June 16th, about 100 students from six schools came together at Mother Teresa High School to celebrate their participation in the Red Maple Reading program. A part of the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading, students read 10 fiction and 10 nonfiction that were featured this year. Students from across Ontario voted on the best fiction and nonfiction book, and both winners have OCSB connections. The winner of the 2017 Red Maple Fiction Award was "Shooter" by Caroline Pignat, a teacher at All Saints High School. The nonfiction award winner was "Child Solider: When Boys and Girls are Used in War" by Michel Chikwanine, Jessica Dee Humphreys, and Claudia Dávila. Michel is a former student at St. Patrick's High School.

Members of the Human Library at the OCSB's Red Maple Reading celebration.

At the celebration, the students participated in a Human Library, where they had over a dozen local guests on hand to answer questions and engage in conversation with students. Award-winning author Caroline Pignat was one of the guests, along with OCSB Chair Elaine McMahon. Other guests included blogger Elle Mills, RedBlacks defensive end Connor Williams, mental health nurse Margaret Robinson, and many other interesting people.


OCSB students propose solutions to global problems

Over 60 Grade 12 students from both the Ottawa Catholic School Board and Ottawa Carleton District School Board participated in The Learning Partnership's first Annual Global Solutions Student Symposium last month. Global Solutions introduced students to a current global problem and provides them the background, tools, and guidance to propose innovative solutions, which they presented to a panel of experts at the Student Symposium. "The greatest impact of this symposium was connecting with students who were both very professional and knowledgeable. I learned the importance of Global Education in schools," said one of the expert panelists.

Participants at the Global Solutions Student Symposium.

St. Patrick's and Immaculata High Schools participated in the inaugural symposium. During their World Issues and Economics classes, students explored problems about birth registration, sanitation, nutrient deficiencies, and banking access around the world. "It gave us a lot of insight into what's going on around the world and not only focusing on ourselves," said one student. Tasked with creating solutions to these global problems, they worked collaboratively and developed their critical thinking and researching skills. Students also prepared and practiced their seven-minute pitch to explain their solution, detailing cultural considerations, challenges, and how it would be financed.

One student looked at micronutrient deficiencies in Guatemala, which have been leading to babies being born with major developmental defects and have been impacting the brain development of young children. She proposed reinventing the look of micronutrient packages called "sprinkles" in order to make the packaging culture-friendly, with clear labelling and instructions. She also looked into teaming up with church leaders to set up booths at local churches, to help educate the people on the importance of sprinkles. Through funding from a local NGO and partnership with the church, people would be able to pay very little for these micronutrient packages.

"Students worked collaboratively and made connections with the research they'd done and the course itself."

Julie Slinger, teacher

Teachers Julie Slinger, Michelle Howe, and Stephanie Pearson noticed that students learned a variety of skills throughout the process. "I think the biggest impact that I saw was in their ability to be critical thinkers. Throughout the project they had to use their critical thinking skills along with problem solving. To make their solutions sustainable I found the students really had to empathize and understand the culture and the people they were going to help," Michelle Howe explained.


OCSB students receive Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards

A number of OCSB students were honoured at this year's Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards held on June 5th at Ottawa City Hall.

Rebecca Kahindo of Lester B. Pearson High School was a recipient of the Academic Perseverance Award. She is a dedicated student who works very hard to achieve her goals. She grew up in Uganda, dealing with the hunger and hardships of living in a refugee camp. Despite this, her outlook remains hopeful and focused on moving forward with gratitude. She is a member of Global Outreach, raises funds for planting seeds in Guatemala, and has raised awareness in her school community about social justice issues such as poverty, hunger, and access to clean water. She also volunteers daily at Lester B. Pearson's breakfast club, regularly visits Alzheimer's patients, and has started her own charity to help young people in the Congo attend school. Rebecca is a great role model who demonstrates compassion and a drive to help others.

Rebecca (middle) at the Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards ceremony with her supporters.

Sacred Heart High School's Tysen Lefebvre received the Max Keeping Award for Personal Courage. Tysen was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome Type 2, resulting in the need for numerous surgeries throughout his life. In 2012, after having his wish granted by the Make A Wish Foundation of Eastern Ontario, Tysen decided to give back, and started his Mission To A Million campaign to raise $1 million to grant the wishes of 100 kids. So far, he's raised over $620,000. Tysen continues to be an inspiration to all those around him.

Tysen poses with Mayor Jim Watson at the Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards ceremony.

OCSB students collaborate to create welcoming schools

Hundreds of OCSB student from Grades 4-6 who are involved in peacemaking or peer meditation at their schools recently attended the 23rd Annual Elementary Peace Festival. The goal of the conference is to challenge students to recognize the power they have to make their schools into communities where all students feel welcome. It is also a way to highlight and celebrate the many practices used to build and maintain safe schools.

"The Peace Festival aims to create a community of Christian leaders. We strive to have our younger students inspired to help build a society where it is easier for people to be good, highlighting student-led acts of kindness, showcasing their talents and leadership."

Luce Paradis, event organizer

At the event, students heard about the incredible work their peers around the OCSB are doing to make their communities better places: donating hair for wigs for cancer patients, lemonade stands to raise money for cancer, spending time with veterans, raising money door-to-door for a member of their community who has cancer, and so much more. They spent much of the rest of the day participating in fun cooperative games. The day is developed and run by the Leadership Program students at St. Joseph High School.


OCSB employees make life-saving donations

While students all over the city were enjoying one of the last PD Days of the year, over 20 Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) employees took time out of their day on June 9, 2017 to save some lives. Administrative staff from the main Board office rolled up their sleeves to give a life-saving donation to Canadian Blood Services (CBS), who is currently struggling to maintain a strong national blood inventory.

The OCSB heard the call to donate to this worthwhile cause, and answered with enthusiasm. Thanks to Life Bus shuttles provided by CBS, participants took a 10 minute drive up West Hunt Club Road to Tudor Hall, where a mobile blood donation clinic was set up. After answering some eligibility questions, donating blood, and enjoying a cold drink and sweet snack, they headed back to work with a greater sense of purpose. 

Every minute of every day, a Canadian needs blood. While many people have extremely valid reasons for not donating blood, only 4% of people who are eligible to donate actually do. One car accident victim can require transfusions from over 70 donors. One child diagnosed with cancer might need several blood transfusions each week just to stay alive. One donation can save up to three lives.

The OCSB is proud of all of its employees for supporting this cause. Contact Canadian Blood Services today to make an appointment to donate blood and join the movement today.


St. Brother Andre PGL students shine at science challenge

Students from the Program for Gifted Learners (PGL) at St. Brother Andre School dazzled at Carleton University's recent Let's Talk Science Challenge. The competition aims to encourage students to get excited about STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The event involved a Quiz Show portion to test students' knowledge in STEM subjects, along with an Engineering Design Challenge. About 50 teams of Grade 6 to 8 students from across the region competed to take top honours. Of all those teams, two groups of St. Brother Andre PGL students came in first and third place. The Euphoric Eukaryotes took first place, comprised of students Allison Cretel, Eva Copeland, Corinne Park, and Brooke, while the Elite Electrons team came in third, with medals going to Shireen Ciccarelli, Sophie Goodman, Adam Rowan, and William Copeland. Congratulations to all the students involved on their outstanding performances.

The Euphoric Eukaryotes (left) and the Elite Electrons (right) at the Let's Talk Science Challenge.

Asked & answered: Kids can make a difference in the world

St. Benedict School teacher Julian Daher and his Grade 4 FSL Immersion class recently won the Learning Partnership's Entrepreneurial Adventure Program Judge's Choice Award for their inspiring Tiny Terry Bracelet Business to support the Terry Fox Foundation. Their year-long business journey began with a simple question posed by a student: "Can kids make a difference in the world?"

The students began by exploring learning partnerships and environments, and connecting with national partners and Canadians across the country. To better understand how their money would be spent, they Skyped with Wendy Eric of the Terry Fox Foundation. They had countless questions, and learned much about the foundation and Osteosarcoma, the type of cancer that Terry had. After that, student teams pitched ideas about how to best raise money to support the foundation in the Raven's Den, the school's version of the Dragon's Den. The winning idea was to design and sell silicone bracelets - and so was born the Grade 4 #TinyTerry Bracelet Business.

Julian Daher (left) and his Grade 4 class pose with their cheque for the Terry Fox Foundation and the plaque they received for winning the Judge's Choice Award.

The next step was the Seed Money Bake Sale to raise the initial funds to order bracelets. They raised over $500 to pay for the bracelets they designed. Through Social Entrepreneurialism, students took on different jobs and roles in the venture. They were part of awareness committees, finance committees, advertising/marketing committees, communications committees, and project managing, all with the goal of promoting awareness and help for those suffering from cancer. They even received a $2000 grant from the Ministry of Education to further support the incredible work they were doing.

"Can kids make a difference in the world?"

Throughout the year, students innovatively and creatively dove deeper into that question and discovered the real meaning of citizenship and global change. Keeping in line with our Board's spiritual theme, Sent to Be the Good News, students made real and meaningful connections to help make a difference in the world any way they could. In total, the class raised over $1500 for the Terry Fox Foundation, and they just received another $500 for their project for winning the Judge's Choice Award. Safe to say, Mr. Daher's Grade 4s proved that the answer to their original question is: yes.


St. Jerome takes part in Project North

As part of a school-wide inquiry into what it means to be Canadian, the Grade 2 students at St. Jerome School decided to get involved with Project North, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in Canada's northern communities. They decided to tie it to their Lenten project, and began raising money for needy northern students. They organized a number of fundraisers and ended up with over $1000 to send north.

In addition to raising money, the students also learned about Nunavut, their art, culture, geography, and more. They wrote letters to northern students and had them delivered by expedition members. They're now waiting to see if they have pen pals up north. Either way, this incredible initiative truly shows the citizenship and community spirit of the St. Jerome community.


A heartfelt farewell to Uplands

As Uplands Catholic School winds down its final school year before closing its doors for good, staff and students are leaving on a positive note. At a recent mass, Principal Elaine Phinney reflected on some the life lessons she learned at Uplands. "I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn." At the same mass, they blessed a stained glass ornament of the Uplands logo that will hang at Holy Family School next year. Tania Gonsalvez, Principal of Holy Family School, was present to receive the ornament and welcome the students of Uplands into the Holy Family community.

The priest blessing the stained glass ornament of the Uplands logo that will hang at Holy Family School next year.

Special Olympics swim meet lets students shine

"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."Special Olympics Athletes Oath

Almost 400 students competed at the 16th annual OCSB Special Olympics Ontario Swim Meet on May 9th and 11th. Hosted by the OCSB Special Education and Student Services Department, this uplifting two-day event let our student athletes shine. Their spirit was evident in all areas of the pool. They demonstrated true grit and perseverance, from the assisted walk to the 50m races. The focus of the meet was friendly companionship and competition, and our athletes made us all proud on both counts. It was truly an inspirational day for everyone. See more on Storify.

"Mrs. G., this was the best day of my life!"

Good Shepherd School student

OCSB schools among top Terry Fox Run fundraisers

Three OCSB high schools were among the top 20 fundraisers in Ontario for the 2016 Terry Fox School Run. Holy Trinity Catholic High School, St. Pius X High School, and Immaculata High School went above and beyond to raise over $70,000 combined for cancer research. All of our schools raised a combined $180,689 last year, and our running total is $2,466,902. The dedication, enthusiasm, and selflessness shown by our school communities to support such a worthy cause is an inspiration for the entire OCSB family.

Holy Trinity students at their 2016 Terry Fox Run.

Before their run, Holy Trinity held an assembly where two speakers shared how cancer had affected their lives. It brought the whole school community together, and reminded them of the stakes involved. The run itself is always one of the highlight of the Holy Trinity school year. Students wear school colours, there's food, music, dance numbers, lip synch battles, and much more. They raised the 3rd most money in Ontario, a total of $44,507.30.

St. Pius students getting into the spirit at a past Terry Fox Run.

St. Pius organizes a wide variety of events and fundraisers to get people in the spirit and encourage donations. They host a car wash, sell "Pius Potatoes" from the school garden, and have a day where students can pay a fee to miss part of their fourth period class to watch teachers play against students in a variety of sports. Their 2016 total was $16,223.53, earning 12th place in the province.

Immaculata celebrating their 2016 Terry Fox Run.

Immaculata has been taking part in the Terry Fox Run for 24 years. In that time, they've raised over $250,000 for cancer research. They incorporate homeroom challenges, staff initiatives, and give out prizes for top fundraisers. Primarily though, they just ask that each student donate $10, and it all adds up. Their run brought in $13,209.94, 19th most among Ontario high schools.

Over 4200 Ontario schools organized Terry Fox Runs last year, raising more than $6.7 million to fund cancer research. Almost 40 years after Terry took his first steps on a cross-country run that would captivate and inspire a nation, his legacy lives on at thousands of Canadian schools each year.


St. Paul students get VIP treatment at Shopify

Earlier this month, 43 Computer Science and Business students from St. Paul High School were treated to a VIP tour of Shopify's Ottawa offices. They enjoyed their visit to the impressive facility, which included robotic go-karts, a slide, and many themed work spaces. Two St. Paul alumni who now work at Shopify prepared a motivational presentation for the visiting students. They also heard from Andrea Ross, who shared her extensive expertise regarding educational opportunities with our students.

One of the visiting students, Grade 12 Emma Orhun, was also awarded the prestigious Shopify Computer Science Internship. This paid internship is a partnership between Carleton University and Shopify, and will cover all of Emma's tuition for her full undergraduate degree, among other advantages and opportunities. Congratulations, Emma.

St. Paul High School students get the VIP treatment at Shopify.

OCSB students to send another experiment to space

The St. Brother Andre PGL students hard at work on their experiment.

Students in the Program for Gifted Learners (PGL) at St. Brother Andre School recently earned the right to send one of their experiments into outer space by qualifying for the Cubes in Space program for the second year in a row.

Thousands of students aged 11 to 18 from around the world sent in scientific proposals, hoping to get their experiment a spot on either a NASA sounding rocket, or a high-altitude scientific balloon. Our hardworking students from the Ottawa Catholic School Board collaborated over several weeks to create an experiment that looks at the effects of radiation and weightlessness on teeth in space.

Thanks to their hard work, creativity, and critical thinking, their proposal was one of the 160 experiments chosen to participate in this special endeavour. Two of their experimental chompers will be taking to the sky: one on a sounding rocket and one on a high-altitude balloon. On top of all that, several of the students and their families will be traveling to the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia next month, where they will have the chance to present their research and watch the rocket that will be housing their experiment launch into space.

The St. Brother Andre PGL students jumping for joy at the fact that their experiment is heading to outer space.

Governor General honours OCSB community members

On April 28th, three outstanding members of the OCSB family were among those awarded the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers, which recognizes the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country. OCSB Trustee John Curry, St. Jerome School teacher Tracey Nesrallah, and Sacred Heart High School student Tysen Lefebvre were all honoured at the special event at City Hall. Mayor Jim Watson, Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, and many city councillors were on hand to congratulate the worthy volunteers.

Congratulations to all three award-winners, you inspire each and every one of us at the OCSB on a daily basis. See photos of the winners in our Facebook album.

From left to right: Mayor Jim Watson, OCSB Trustee John Curry, Her Excellency Sharon Johnston, Councillor Scott Moffatt. Photo credit: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall © OSGG, 2017.

Wrapping up another successful Education Week

Last week marked another successful Catholic Education Week here at the OCSB. I had the pleasure of attending many great events throughout the city and was reminded once again why it's such a privilege and honour to work in Catholic education.

Some of my highlights included our annual Catholic Education Mass, where 35 remarkable OCSB employees were recognized with Commendation Awards for their dedication and service to Catholic education. Our annual Dance Showcase and Choral Celebrations featured wonderful performances from dozens of our schools. We also celebrated the 50th Anniversary of St. Rose of Lima School, and held a farewell celebration for Uplands Catholic School who will be joining the Holy Family School community in the fall. The many open houses and special events in each school throughout the week showcased all of the wonderful learning opportunities and social justice initiatives anchored in our faith.

Catholic Education Week is about celebrating the great value and distinctiveness of each Catholic school in our community, and I would like to take a moment to congratulate and thank the staff and students in all of our schools who made last week possible.

See some highlights from social media on our #CathEdWeek Storify


2017 Catholic Education Week Choral Celebration

To close out this year's Catholic Education Week, choirs from several OCSB schools gathered to participate in our annual Choral Celebrations held at Notre Dame High School and St. Paul High School. The talented students gave a beautiful singing performance in front of their peers and parents. To end the celebration, the choirs got creative, putting all of their parents up on stage while the students performed for them from the seats. It was a moving scene, and a great way to end another successful Catholic Education Week.

The Divine Infant School choir performs at the OCSB's annual Choral Celebration.

2017 #CathEdWeek Dance Showcase

Every year during Catholic Education Week, several schools from across the OCSB come together for a three-day event to celebrate their shared love of dance. This year's dance showcase theme was "Broadway Bound: Start Spreading the Good News." Students from both elementary and high schools performed brilliantly choreographed dance routines in a wide variety of styles and genres, including hip hop, fusion, salsa, jazz, tap, broadway, and many more. The lively and outstanding performances were a tribute to all the time and effort the dancers and coaches spent working on their routines. Check out our Facebook album for more photos of the talented dancers.

The talented dancers from St. Peter High School perform their fun and upbeat jazz routine.

2017 Catholic Education Week Mass

Our annual Catholic Education Week Mass was held on Tuesday, May 2nd, hosted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in downtown Ottawa. The Ottawa Catholic School Board Chamber Choir performed and Monsignor Daniel Berniquez presided over the Celebration of the Eucharist.

Following the Mass was the presentation of the Director of Education Commendation Awards, presented to outstanding role models in the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

"Most of our recipients do not feel deserving of the recognition. They are just doing their jobs like anybody else. But their colleagues do not agree with this analysis of their contributions. They see true leaders. People who walk the talk, role up their sleeves, and pitch in to make their school communities better."

OCSB Chair Elaine McMahon

Congratulations and thank you to all of these employees who demonstrate devotion and service in Catholic Education. See pictures of all 35 award recipients in our Facebook album!


Bob Santos honoured as Principal of the Year

The Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario (CPCO) has honoured St. Stephen School's Bob Santos as Principal of the Year. Bob started his career as a teacher in Northern Quebec, then moved to Calgary, before settling in the Ottawa area where he has worked for close to three decades. Bob exemplifies gospel values in his daily actions and personifies leadership by his commitment to self-improvement. He teaches classes, supervises students, and coaches within his school's extracurricular activities. He fosters a school environment that is caring and promotes student success. In 2003, Bob was awarded the Director of Education Commendation Award for his strong leadership qualities.

Bob has served on CPCO's Constitution Committee and was Co-Chair at CPCO's Conference in 2014. Bob and his wife Barb live just outside of Ottawa, where he enjoys gardening and spending time with family and friends. They have three children. Bob is also an active member of his town's Community Emergency Response Volunteers' team, and is often seen helping neighbours by mowing lawns and shoveling driveways. On behalf of the entire OCSB family: congratulations, Bob.

Heartfelt congratulations are extended to Bob for being recognized as CPCO Principal of the Year. Bob's leadership has been invaluable to the Ottawa Catholic School Board, both within the school communities which he has led, as well as among his peers, as vice-president and president of the Catholic Principal's Council of Ottawa.  We are very proud of Bob and are grateful to him for his dedicated service to the students, staff and parents of the OCSB.

Denise Andre, OCSB Director of Education
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Guest — LindaWare
Congratulations this doesn't surprise me in the least my boys had him as a teacher he was awesome then a true educator and wonderf... Read More
Tuesday, 02 May 2017 12:12 AM
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Kelly McKibbin is a United Way Community Builder

Kelly McKibbin (center) was recently honoured with a United Way Community Builder Award at the Ottawa Catholic School Board's Catholic Education Centre.

Devoted, enthusiastic, and committed– three words used to describe the Ottawa Catholic School Board's Kelly McKibbin as she was recently honoured with a United Way Community Builder Award.

On Wednesday, April 26th, Laurence Wall from CBC Radio comically interrupted a staff meeting held in a packed OCSB boardroom to present Kelly with her well-earned award. Appropriately presented during National Volunteer Week, Kelly was celebrated for the many ways she serves to make her community a brighter and better place.

"Kelly McKibbin is one of those people that always says 'yes' to any volunteer activity. Once she says 'yes' what you get is the commitment of a uniquely devoted, enthusiastic, professional and kind volunteer."

Laurence Wall, CBC Radio

In 2016, Kelly co-chaired the OCSB's United Way campaign where she worked tirelessly and collaboratively with a campaign team of almost 100 to raise over $524,000. Thanks in no small part to the motivating work of Kelly and her team, the campaign reached an impressive 80% participation rate among 4,000+ OCSB employees.

Kelly has also been the driving force behind her family's commitment as a summer host family for Waupoos Farm. She embodies the Waupoos theme for everyone who supports the farm: Pray, Work, Play. Whether she's collecting materials and planning meaningful activities for guests, or coming up with fun and creative ways for guests to get the most out of their Waupoos Farm experience, you can count on Kelly to put her heart and soul into her work to ensure everyone has the best time possible.

The Community Builder Award program recognizes individuals who work tirelessly, passionately and collaboratively to make Ottawa a better place in which to live, work and raise a family. Kelly's name will be permanently added to the Wall of Inspiration, located at City Hall and the revealing of the 2017 plaque of award-winners will be in March 2018.

Congratulations, Kelly on your well-earned award!

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