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Making Things Happen: Autism Awareness Month

October is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month in Canada. It is a great opportunity to learn more about autism, raise awareness, and raise acceptance in our schools, workplace, and community. Please enjoy this short, 5-minute video entitled: Amazing Things Happen, created by Alex Amelines (independent animation director). The aim is to raise autism awareness among young audiences who do not have autism as well as to encourage understanding and acceptance in future generations.

Future Ready! OCSB students demonstrate their skills on the national stage

This year, 35 students from the Ottawa Catholic School Board had the exciting experience of competing in the 2018 Skills Ontario Competition in Toronto. Supported by their proud teachers, these students were challenged to put their skilled trades and technology skills to use as they were presented with timed challenges that pushed their abilities to the limit.

Among these 35 dedicated students were Christopher Hearty and Heejo Suh from St. Mother Teresa High School. They were given a small time window to create a complex 3D character animation, utilizing skills they learned in Mario Francoeur’s technology class. With their versatile skill set in sketch modelling, animatics, character rigging, time management, and teamwork, they were able to take home a gold medal and move onto the Skills Canada National Competition.

Students and staff embark on day of service

The OCSB community was hard at work during Catholic Education Week this year, as schools embraced opportunities to serve others. Over 1,000 students and 30 staff members from St. Mark High School participated in their annual “Massive Day of Service.” Students were rewarded with a great sense of pride while making sandwiches and collecting toiletries for the Shepherds of Good Hope and the Ottawa Mission. Others reached out to help the elderly in their community with yard work, or just to pay a warm visit.

Staff from St. Patrick’s High School wrapped up their Catholic Education Week by preparing and serving lunch for over 300 of Ottawa’s homeless population at the Shepherds of Good Hope. After chopping, peeling, and arranging, the staff had a prayer service led by their chaplaincy leader, Dr. Joe Rogers. Following prayer, the crew worked the front serving lines, loaded the dishwashers and took care of the cleaning.

The greater community thanks these selfless students and staff for taking the time to make a difference in the lives of their neighbours in the spirit of Catholic Education Week.

OCSB schools named top Terry Fox fundraisers

The Terry Fox Foundation has announced that three OCSB schools have placed in the “Top 50 Fundraisers of 2017” listing. These three schools, as well as the many other OCSB schools who raise funds for this worthy cause, are playing an important role in funding innovative cancer research by supporting the brightest researchers in Canada who are dedicated to a wide spectrum of projects including lung, brain, pancreatic, and children’s cancers. Congratulations Holy Trinity Catholic High School (#4), Immaculata High School (#8), and St. Pius X High School (#13).

Mourning the loss of Trustee Kathy Ablett

The Ottawa Catholic School Board  is saddened by the passing of Trustee Kathy Ablett, R.N. on Saturday, May 12. The Board of Trustees and OCSB staff extend sincere condolences to Trustee Ablett’s family and friends. Trustee Ablett represented River/Capital (Zone 9) and was involved in Catholic education her entire life. Over the past 27 years as Trustee, she has demonstrated accountability, accessibility, and a true commitment to the success of all students, making significant contributions to the environment of servant leadership within the OCSB.

The OCSB’s 5th Annual Keep the Promise Summit

In 1989, all three federal government parties promised to end child poverty by the year 2000. Today in Ottawa, 1 in 5 children live in poverty. This is unacceptable! After the Keep the Promise (KTP) National Summit in November 2014, I was so impacted by the commitment, determination and passion of young people that I felt compelled to keep this conversation going. With 20 Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) retiree volunteers ready, and the OCSB committed to host, the conversation continued … with some 50 schools and 250 students participating.

St. Patrick’s High School participates in Memory Project

During Catholic Education Week at the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), we get to see and experience the beauty and vibrancy of OCSB student talent through various events and activities across the city. I recently had the opportunity to hear about a heartwarming project from St. Patrick’s High School‘s art club. Here are the highlights of my conversation with OCSB Student Success Arts Consultant Katie Lewis-Prieur and St. Patrick’s High School’s Arts Department Head Mirella Frost.

Mirella: “I first heard about The Memory Project from my niece who studies art at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Her art class participated in it, and I thought it would be so rewarding, so I decided to propose it to my Art Club. The Memory Project is a non-profit organization that sends hand-drawn portraits to children living in refugee camps in Syria. Seeing as most of the students had studied portraiture with me in the past, they were so excited to participate.”

Easter Blessings from the Director of Education

Photo: St. Pius X High School students from the school’s Developmental Education (DE) class bless school staff with a thoughtful Easter gift of appreciation. @StPiusXOCSB #WeAllBelong #ocsbLent

When I think back to Easter as a young child, I remember with fondness Easter egg hunts, family gatherings, new Spring outfits (usually matching for me and my sisters), even little gifts like skipping ropes and marbles (no doubt to get us outside of the house for a while). It was the day that our Lenten observance came to an end, holy water reappeared in the font at the entrance to our church, the Alleluia was sung once again, and purple vestments and decor gave way to the white of Easter.

While we all have different memories of Easter, we remember what it means to be an Easter people. It’s more than Easter eggs and new Spring outfits, and goes beyond the symbols of our faith. We are called to care for one another, for those who are most in need, and for our planet. We do this daily in our schools. Let’s recommit ourselves, as we journey together in these last three months of the school year, to be God’s love and spirit at work in our world.

Bi-Giwen: Coming Home – Truth telling from the Sixties

Bi-Giwen: Coming Home, Truth telling from the Sixties is an exhibit focused on the survivors of a time in our recent history where Indigenous children were taken from their families by child welfare services and fostered or adopted into non-Indigenous families. My Grade 11 History class was invited to attend the opening ceremony of the exhibit. Elaine Kicknosway, a Sixties Scoop survivor, introduced us to the exhibit by sharing her experiences. She spoke of the names given to her generation (“policy children” or “catalogue kids”) and how Indigenous families had been victims of “institutions” for decades. Her 14 year old son is the first in her family to live without institutional intervention.

Ms. Kicknosway’s words resonated with the students as they explored the exhibit. They read stories of losing identity and not knowing where to find it, and about the abuse that accompanied institutional living. These courageous stories were rendered life-size in the exhibit. Many of my students noticed that while the stories were all so different, in the end, survivors had a loss of identity and a lack of choice in their own history. Students commented on the fact that there are still people alive that experienced the Sixties Scoop and are not just dates in a history book. “They are still alive, this actually happened,” Logan Crawford said. Another student reminded us of the dark time in our past and how the exhibit cast a light on it to ensure something like this will not be repeated. We all agreed that we had been blessed to experience Bi-Giwen and we hope to aid in the reconciliation process by passing on the truth of the Sixties Scoop.