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All in a rope of yarn: A student blog about Deep Learning and Social Emotional Learning

On the last day of school, me and my Grade 2 class made a “finger-knitting” rope that stretched around our whole school, St. Leonard’s. My friend Ethan showed Ms. White, my teacher, some of the finger-knitting he was doing, and Ms. White wanted for the class to work together to show each other how to do it. I watched a pair of two people and learned all on my own. Then, we had this great idea that we could try and make it around the whole school. It took from November until the last day of class. That’s almost the whole year! We all finger-knitted during our free time at school when we wanted to, and Ms. White let us do it on some Friday afternoons. Ms. White even had yarn in the prize bin in class.

The whole point that we did it around the school was for an activity with measurement. We gathered up all of the pieces we were working on, and tied them together. Some grade sixers helped us with it. We finally made it around the whole school, with all of us holding it together, and the whole class yelled like crazy! One of the wool ropes snapped, you see, because finger-knitting can be all scrunched up in your backpack, but when you stretch it, it gets thin. That’s science.

I’m so happy I learned how to finger-knit. It’s very relaxing to do in your free time and it calms me down when I need it. I do it before bed, in the car, wherever. All you need is your hand and some wool. I’m pretty sure people who only have one hand could do it too, so that’s really good. Ms. White really made this activity special for us. We were having so much fun, we didn’t even know we were learning! She’s a really good teacher. She brings the spirit out in me, and gives me courage to be better. I wonder what I’ll do next year in Grade 3!

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.

Congratulations to our two first place French public speaking winners

Canadian Parents for French (Ontario) welcomed over 300 students from 22 school boards and 11 independent schools from across Ontario on May 5, 2018 for the 34th annual provincial French public-speaking event at York University’s Glendon College in Toronto.

Students presented an original speech before a panel of officials recruited by the Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association (OMLTA). Students in grades 9 to 12 participated in a competitive concours in both the traditional and impromptu divisions for cash prizes and partial scholarships to Glendon College and the University of Ottawa. For the impromptu category, students were given minimal time to prepare their ideas on a randomly selected topic before presenting their “speech” and answering questions on their selected topic.

Congratulations to Sebastian Nicoll, a St. Paul High School Grade 10 student, and Emma Jorge, a St. Pius X High School Grade 9 student, who placed first in the francophone and extended categories of the impromptu speech category, respectively.

Ready, set, swim at the 17th Annual OCSB Special Olympics Swim Meet

Over 400 students participated in the 17th annual OCSB/Special Olympics Swim Meet held by the OCSB Special Education and Student Services Department at the Nepean Sportsplex on May 8-9, 2018. The two day event offered the opportunity for students from all over the OCSB to be active and participate in a competition, persevere, and have fun! The focus of the meet was friendly companionship and competition. It was wonderful day for all, filled with student pride and many smiles.

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).

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.”

The social work of OCSB Social Workers

The work of OCSB School Social Workers make this possible by supporting the whole child and enabling them to access the curriculum, achieve academic success and grow as future citizens.

Achieving success at school can be hindered by various social and mental health challenges. School Social Workers have the expertise in mental health, social systems, and community resources to help overcome these barriers. They are concerned with the social determinants of health, and focus not only on the unique needs of each student, but also on the role of the wider social-economic context impacting our diverse communities.

Students may be referred for service from an OCSB Social Worker by school administrators and resource teachers, or requests may come directly from parents/guardians or the student. The involvement of a Social Worker may be an effective support to overcoming barriers to regular school attendance. They provide a variety of interventions and supports to students, parents, and school staff including such services as: counselling, clinical consultation, crisis response, professional development, and referrals to community support agencies, to name a few.

The work of our Social Workers support our Board’s mission to create the best possible conditions in which a child can develop and achieve their full social, emotional, spiritual, and academic potential.

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.