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Ottawa Catholic School Board mourns 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.

A dedicated and persistent advocate for Catholic education in the city, Trustee Ablett was committed to raising the profile of Catholic education as a gift that Catholics must be prepared to safeguard. She was honoured with the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’  Association (OCSTA) Trustee Award of Merit in 2009 for rendering exceptional service to Catholic education. She was also the recipient of the Success by Six award from The United Way Ottawa in recognition of her efforts to provide educational opportunities for the very young.

A thoughtful advocate for her constituents, Trustee Ablett was elected to the Ottawa Roman Catholic Separate School Board from 1988 to 1997 and returned in 2000 to 2018 as Trustee with the amalgamated OCSB. She served as Board Vice-Chairperson in 2005, and Chairperson in 2006 and 2007. During her tenure as Chairperson, she nurtured an atmosphere of cooperation and respect by her careful consideration of others’ needs and her dedication to service.

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.

“If any of you happens to see an injustice, you are no longer a spectator, you are a participant, and you have an obligation to do something.” June Callwood

Friday, May 4th marked the fifth KTP Student Summit with the theme “Child Poverty – Hidden in Plain Sight”. It was all about raising awareness! Participants were challenged to keep the conversation going in their schools, at home and with any adult that will listen. We hoped to ignite a spark in our young leaders, so one day they will find solutions to end child poverty. Based on the positive feedback we received from participants, it’s clear that the sparks were ignited!

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.

OCSB is a Top Employer for fourth year in a row

On Wednesday afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending an event at the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa, recognizing the top employers in the National Capital Region for 2018. It brings me great joy to share that the Ottawa Catholic School Board was recognized for the fourth year in a row as being a great place to work and learn.

As we have in years past, I invite our entire OCSB community to celebrate with us by participating in our #ocsbCelebrates social media campaign. This special campaign allows us to pause, observe, and recognize the outstanding employees that make our school board such a wonderful community.

Thank you in advance for your participation in this exciting activity, and congratulations to the employees of the Ottawa Catholic School Board for this outstanding accomplishment. Let’s celebrate!

Andrea Green is one of “Canada’s Outstanding Principals”

St. Cecilia School’s Andrea Green has been recognized as one of “Canada’s Outstanding Principals” for 2017. She is among 40 exceptional educators, from every province and territory, who are being celebrated by The Learning Partnership, a national charitable organization dedicated to building stakeholder partnerships to support, promote and advance publicly funded education in Canada.

Her career as an educator has been marked by collaborative relationships with her colleagues, tremendous adaptability to changing technology and pedagogical practices, and a deep engagement with students and parents that fosters partnership in student learning. She is a strong, visionary leader who supports, leads and empowers her staff to take risks, try new strategies, and adopt change. Her mantra is “Try one new thing” and she provides a learning environment that allows her staff to constantly grow professionally and refine their teaching practice.

80% of OCSB employees generously pledge $533,362 to the United Way

It’s been another record-setting year for the Ottawa Catholic School Board’s United Way campaign. OCSB employees raised $533,362.93, with $404,981.52 being directed to the Catholic Education Foundation of Ottawa. We also met our goal of 80% participation among staff for the second year in a row. The generosity of the staff in this school district is both amazing and inspiring.

At the Announcement Ceremony on Friday, December 8, 2017, central OCSB staff witnessed the unveiling of the total funds raised with the help of seven very special guests from St. George, Dr. F.J. McDonald, St. Emily, and St. Joseph Schools. We had the numbers a little mixed up at first, but with the help of the students and some “Price Is Right” theme music, we were able to get all of the numbers in order for the audience.

An honour we can all share

On Tuesday evening, the Ottawa Catholic School Board was honoured at the annual Ottawa Philanthropy Awards ceremony with the Outstanding Philanthropic Group award for our longstanding partnership with the Shepherds of Good Hope. I am proud of our school board’s continued generosity and service to our community through our special partnership with the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Thomas D’Amico, Associate Director of Education, and Joanne MacEwan, Vice-Chair of our Board, were present at the celebration to accept this award on our behalf. The countless acts of mercy, kindness and generosity our staff and students have contributed to the Shepherds of Good Hope also provide people with the invaluable gifts of respect and dignity.

As a faith-filled OCSB family, we work together every day to share in this caring community we’ve created together. Thank you to every staff member and student whose contributions have touched the lives of our neighbours with love and kindness.

Christian Community Day: A perfect prelude to Thanksgiving

The gathering of our OCSB community at this year’s Christian Community Day could not have been a more perfect prelude to Thanksgiving. This year’s focus filled us with gratitude as we celebrated the achievements of our very own alumni, as well as the profound impact we can have on the lives of those in our community who need it most, through the launch of our annual United Way campaign. This feeling of family, even among those we had only first met, is what made the day so special. In so many of us it inspired pride, for the realization that this loving culture is the result of our dedication to be kind to one another. From my eyes, it was the act of standing that symbolized the entire day.