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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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 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.
On January 31st, Saint Francis Xavier High School hosted a Liturgy and Blessing Ceremony for the New Wing Addition to the school. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast presided over the Liturgy in the school chapel. The chapel was filled with several board personnel including Chairperson of the Board, Ms. Elaine McMahon, Director of Education Ms. Denise Andre, Superintendent Mary Donaghy and Superintendent Fred Chrystal. We were blessed to also have in attendance Mayor Jim Watson, representation from the Ministry of Education, as well as several community partners including the school council chairs and several student representatives.
A plaque unveiling and ribbon cutting ceremony took place at the entrance to the new wing. Principal John Pedari gave a tour of some of the contemporary classrooms including a multi-purpose room and the spacious new Grade 7 art room, which is adorned with samples of the wonderful artwork the students have produced. Mr. Pedari spoke about how innovative and functional the space is and how students are deepening their learning in the new collaborative space.
On November 22, 2017, the OCSB held a sod-turning ceremony to celebrate the construction of a new Catholic elementary school in Kanata North. Construction has begun in the Marchwood Lakeside Community of Kanata North. The state of the art school will sit on a 6.52 acre site and will have the capacity to accommodate 460 students.
The assembled crowd then watched as students from St. Gabriel Elementary School gripped shovels and participated in the sod turning for their new school. A special blessing was performed by Fr. Virgil Amirthakumar, Parish Priest, St. Isidore. Director of Education Denise Andre gave her closing remarks and thanked all in attendance, including staff, students and parents from St. Gabriel and architects and contractors who were present. After the ceremony, attendees were invited back to St. Gabriel Elementary for a tour and reception.