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Certificates of Appreciation 2018

Each year, the CDSBEO honours deserving students and staff through the presentation of Certificates of Appreciation. Awarded to remarkable persons with outstanding successes, the certificates were presented to 18 students at the June 19th Board meeting. The following are this year’s award recipients:


Abby Jurchuk, Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School
Abby is an accomplished weightlifting and CrossFit athlete, who competes at the provincial and national level for weightlifting. She has dedicated herself to the sport since the age of 12. In January, Abby won a bronze medal at the Canadian Junior Olympic Weightlifting Competition in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 2017, Abby won a silver medal at the same event.

Aubree Bowes, St. James the Greater Catholic School
Aubree Bowes is a grade 2 student who has shown exceptional talent in writing. As part of her work for a French poetry unit at school, Aubree wrote several poems which were submitted for consideration to the OECTA Young Authors Awards. Aubree’s poem was selected in April by the Provincial Selection Committee, and her work has been published in the 2018 Young Authors Awards compilation.

Brooklyn Jordan, St. John Catholic Elementary School
After participating in the St. John Catholic High School’s annual Relay for Life in May, and being so touched by the experience, Brooklyn felt that she wanted to do more to help. Brooklyn took on her own initiative to make and sell bracelets, with all proceeds going to Relay for Life. Brooklyn is a very caring person who makes a difference among her peers and within her school community.

Victoria Nichols, Notre Dame Catholic High School
Victoria has been a dedicated highland dancer from a very young age. This year, Victoria placed 7th in the Scottish Open Championship in Dunoon, Scotland; placed in the top 6 in the Commonwealth Championship in Stirling, Scotland; won first place at the Loch Norman Carolinas Open Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina; and represented Canada in the Basel Tattoo musical event in Switzerland, as part of the Canadiana Celtic National Dance Team.

Charlotte and Jaclyn Stewart, St. John Catholic High School
Charlotte and Jaclyn are two sisters that have been dedicated dancers from a very young age. Both compete at the national and international level in highland dance. Charlotte placed 3rd overall, and Jaclyn placed 4th overall for their respective age groups at the 2018 Ontario Closed Championship. Charlotte placed first at the Ottawa Highland Dance Association Championship, 5th at the Commonwealth Championship, 7th at the Cowal World Championship, and 5th at the Bute Highland Championship, all of which were held in Scotland. Jaclyn won the Commonwealth Championship in Stirling, Scotland, and placed 5th at the Juvenile World Championship in Cowal, Scotland. In addition to dance, Jaclyn has also played the lead role in the short film “From Sarajevo”, which won numerous awards at the South Academy Arts and Film Festival.

Lisa Ding and Mahi Patel, Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School
Lisa and Mahi participated in the 2018 United Counties Science Fair. The girls grew a bean plant under various light conditions, exploring the circadian rhythm of the plants. An environmental chamber was used for the experiment, and the girls were required to take daily results (both qualitative and quantitative) in order to fully explore their topic. Their project won the following list of awards: Outstanding Research Award, St. Lawrence College Health & Sciences Trophy, and the Rotary Club Cornwall Best Junior Trophy. The girls moved on to the National Science Fair in Ottawa, Ontario.

Elise Plaschka, Lily Young, Abby Douglas, Jessica Meeson, and Sherron Sabourin, St. Mary Catholic High School
This group of grade 10 students are members of the Brockville Blazers Midget Girls Basketball Team. This past April, the team won gold in the Division 2 Provincial Championship.

Angelina Polegato, St. Mary-St. Cecilia Catholic School
Angelina is a grade 4 student and competitive gymnast. This year, she competed in three qualifying events for the season: Envol 2018, where she placed 2nd, Woodbridge Provincial qualifier, where she placed first, and lastly at the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre Qualifier, were she placed second. Of 24 provincial athletes in her level and age division, Angelina held the sixth highest score. At the provincial championships, Angelina finished in tenth place. She also travelled to Boca Raton, Florida for the Florida Crown Championship, where she competed in a level 7 open age session, placing first all-around.

Lauryn Roy, St. Mary-St. Cecilia Catholic School
Lauryn began gymnastics less than three years ago, and has only been competing for the last two seasons. She began in level 3, and is now at level 5. After all of the qualifiers for this season, Lauryn sat at number 1 in Ontario for her age and level. Lauryn competed in the Provincial Championships in May, in London Ontario.

Maggie Shaw, St. John Catholic Elementary School
For the last four years Maggie Shaw has been inspired to help others and to give back to her community. In doing so, she has raised $5,000 that has been dispersed to various families in need or community organizations that support families. Three years ago, she helped to organize a school wide skating party to raise money for a fellow student who was terminally ill. Last year, Maggie organized a church and school parish event to support a former student of St. John Elementary who was battling cancer. This year, another fundraiser was organized that saw the proceeds go directly to Ronald McDonald House.

Isabelle Georgeadis, St. John Catholic Elementary School
Isabelle is a grade 6 student who recently raised $1,200 to shave off her long hair. She generously donated the funds to the Children’s Wish Foundation of Ontario, and to the Cadets association to which she belongs. Congratulations Isabelle on making a difference and demonstrating to your classmates how important it is to give back to others.

Marie-France Pilon, Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School
Marie-France worked all year developing makeup, costume and hair design for the Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School entry into the National Theatre School Drama Festival Provincial Showcase. She, along with her partner Jasmin Virtanen, won the award for Makeup Design from the provincial adjudicator for their efforts in bringing stage characters to life.

2018 Certificates of Appreciation Award Recipients


Exceptional Students Create Beautiful Art for Charity

Without Exception: Exceptional Art from Beautiful Minds is an exhibition of artworks created by special needs students of the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario. The program was implemented by Sarah Jaynes and Mieke Stacey, from Notre Dame Catholic High School in Carleton Place. The two oversee art workshops and tour the student exhibitions throughout Eastern Ontario. Each year, students come together for a one day workshop to work on a new project with a theme. The 2018 workshop, which was held yesterday at the Cornwall Board Office, gave students the opportunity to create beautiful works of art.

The Without Exception program has been gaining popularity since its creation in 2008, and has been shared with school boards across Canada. In an effort to share the joy of this program, 100 per cent of the profits from the sale of items created with the art, such as prints (paper or canvas), note cards, mugs, t-shirts, canvas bags, are donated to the Good Samaritan Trust Fund. The Good Samaritan Trust Fund is a Board charity which helps CDSBEO students and families with financial emergencies in circumstances not aided by other existing charity organizations.

For more information on the Without Exception program, please visit their Facebook page at:




























Catholic Education Week 2018

Each year, the Catholic community of Ontario engages in a week-long celebration of the unique identity and distinctive contributions of Catholic education during Catholic Education Week. This year, Catholic Education Week took place from May 6 through 11. The event celebrated the theme “Renewing the Promise,” which draws on documents created by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario about Catholic education in Ontario. The week began with the celebration of the annual Board-wide Mass at Holy Cross Parish in Kemptville, which was led by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of the Archdiocese of Ottawa.

Superintendent of School Effectiveness, Natalie Cameron, gave a brief overview of the week’s events, which was followed by a video presentation. Throughout the week, schools shone a great light on the ways in which CDSBEO Catholic schools celebrate Catholic education. The week was marked by special activities and events for all grade levels, including prayer celebrations, service activities, celebrations of the arts, sporting events, and fundraisers; the spirit of service and learning was the hallmark of each event.

The video below highlights some of the many happenings at CDSBEO schools during Catholic Education Week


New Specialist High Skills Major – Agriculture Program in Cornwall

Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School is now offering a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program in Agriculture. The program began in September 2017, and this year’s first cohort of 15 students, has helped to support a very successful start-up!

Students have created a small sized farm on the Holy Trinity property, planting over 2,000 trees (maples, oak, spruce, apple, pear and plum), and setting up a permaculture garden area. The students have also helped to build a greenhouse for additional growing of plants and vegetables.

Lead Teacher Michael Smith noted that getting the program up and running was hard work.

“It’s been a lot of work setting up the farm for the program, but all of the students have really enjoyed working outside, building the permaculture gardens, and planting the 128 fruit and nut trees. They have certainly become proud ambassadors for the program.”

The Specialist High Skills Major in Agriculture is one of 24 SHSM programs offered throughout the CDSBEO.

Students from the Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School SHSM, Agriculture















Patrick Paul, a grade 11 SHSM Agriculture student, and the new greenhouse.

Update on the new K-8 Catholic Elementary School, Smiths Falls

In November 2016, the CDSBEO received approval for the construction of a new 432 pupil place JK-8 Catholic elementary school in Smiths Falls, along with a daycare and family support centre. This school is the new consolidated school for the current St. James and St. Francis de Sales Catholic Schools.

Construction of the project, which is scheduled to open in September 2018, is progressing on schedule and the principals of the current St. James and St. Francis de Sales have several transition initiatives underway.

“The new facility will be approximately 50,000 square feet, on 6.28 acres,” noted Manager of Plant and Maintenance, Roger Cauley. “Estimated cost for the facility is $14.5 million, which includes 19 classrooms, and a 5,000 square foot Ontario Early Years Centre (EarlyOn Community Hub), 3,500 square feet for the childcare centre, and 1,500 square feet for CDSBEO Plant Department offices and drop-in space.”

The facility is made up of three sections (the school, childcare and family centre, and board staff area), with some special features including staff parking area, and a bus loop. Currently, the project is progressing on schedule, and the east block is well underway with drywall and painting now underway. At any one time there is up to 85 people working on the site.

Some innovative design features have been added to the interior of the school as well, including classrooms with large glass panels between them which can open to create one large space.

“We really wanted to create a school designed for the future. We know that education is changing, and we wanted to encourage creativity and collaboration,” explained Susan Forbes, Principal of St. James the Greater. Forbes has been appointed to the position of principal at the new St. Francis de Sales Catholic School.

Student workspaces in the new school will include flexible tables that are moveable, and which can be manipulated to create both individual and group workspaces.

“We didn’t order any traditional student desks, and we didn’t order any traditional teacher desks,” noted Forbes. “We have teacher mobile workstations with a power source in the centre, and these can move around the classroom to have a point of instruction at any place in the room.”

The learning commons, known in the past as the school library, is a redesigned concept which incorporates a bright and vibrant common space that includes books, a Lego wall, smart boards, vertical learning surfaces, and comfortable seating, to allow for a variety of activities to take place in that space.

“If you have a smaller parent meeting, you can have parents in the space. We are very excited about the learning commons, and the potential it offers for the learner.”

“A new scoreboard has been purchased for the gym through fundraising efforts from both schools,” she continued. “We know having a new school, and having a big school, we will be able to host tournaments. We are planning to add more school gym equipment and we are spending time looking at the outdoors space, and encouraging more natural space, such as tree stumps. Eventually we would like to have an outdoor classroom to get the students outside and take the learning outside as much as we can.”

The schools have also begun to host collaborative events to be able to bring the two staff groups together.

“We’ve been trying to do as much as possible to bring the two staffs together,” explained Theresa Lalonde Pankow, principal of the current St. Francis de Sales.

“Our community is very involved, and does rally together, and we are planning more joint things for the new school as we move forward.”

The school will be introducing a new mascot, which is yet to be decided.

Rendering of the site of the new St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, Smiths Falls.

Guatemala Service Trip 2018

The CDSBEO Board of Trustees had the privilege of hearing testimonials from Catholic secondary students who had the opportunity to participate in the Guatemala exposure trip in February. Clearly moved by their life-changing, profound experiences, the group gave a reflective account of their time in Guatemala.

Twenty-six students from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School, St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School, St. Matthew Catholic Secondary School, St. Francis Xavier Catholic High School, and Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School, along with five supervisors, participated in the experience. The students spent the majority of the week in a village called Anibal Archila, working in the community. Over the course of their stay, the students painted homes, and helped to build a road with interlock stones which will help to reduce mud in the wet season, and reduce dust in the dry season. They also spent some time visiting the Mayan ruins, and the Chichicastenango Market.

The students were impacted deeply by the relationships that were developed over the course of their time in Guatemala, and they reflected on the special individuals that made their experience so enriching and educational.

“Emmanuel, our tour guide, was very kind to us,” noted Madison Snelgrove, a student from St. Joseph’s CSS. “He provided us with cultural knowledge of the places we visited, including the Mayan Ruins, the Chichicastenango Market, and the city of Antigua. His insight helped us to truly see all that Guatemala had to offer, and the stories behind this incredible adventure.”

St. Matthew Catholic High School student Joshua Ryan spoke of how the experience opened his eyes to the world.

“The time our group spent in the community has been life-changing and unforgettable,” he explained. “I felt an instant sense of love when we arrived in Anibal Archila, and I truly found a sense of passion when working with the children there. I decided to change my co-op placement upon my return, in order to work with children. I now have the pleasure of working in the grade one class at Bishop Macdonell. I will truly treasure the memories made in Guatemala for the rest of my life.”

St. Matthew student Kyle Wylie noted that everyone can learn from the people of Guatemala. “They all know and trust each other, and depend on each other. Many of us don’t even know our neighbours, but there, the people are so happy and caring and they all look out for one another. We can learn a lot about the benefits of community and trust from the people in Guatemala.”

The presentation concluded with a song performed by teacher Brianna McElroy and students, with accompaniment by teacher Bruce Ciccarelli.

While in the Chichicastenango Market, the group purchased a blanket which was handstitched by a Mayan grandmother. The blanket, which took over a month to create, was presented as a gift to the Board of Trustees.

“I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a positive experience on these service trips. It’s so nice to hear testimonials from students, such as we did this evening from Joshua Ryan, about how its changed him already, regarding the path he wants to take moving forward,” noted Trustee Nancy Kirby. “Every year we hear that from students, and it truly makes all of these efforts worthwhile in so many ways – it helps the communities, and it helps our students to grow.”


CDSBEO Celebrates Catholic Education Week

Students and staff across the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario marked the beginning of Catholic Education Week through the celebration of the annual Board-wide Mass, held on Monday, May 7, at Holy Cross Church in Kemptville.

Representatives from every school in the Board participated in the celebration, along with parish priests, trustees and administration. The Mass was presided by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, of of the Ottawa Archdiocese, with clergy from various parishes around the Board as concelebrants. The student choir from St. Mary Catholic High School provided music for the mass, and each school received a lectern cover embellished with the logo for Catholic Education Week 2018 – Renewing the Promise.

Catholic Education Week 2018 draws from previous literature on Ontario Catholic education which speak of the unique mission of Catholic education in Ontario. Archbishop Prendergast reminded parishioners that each of us have ways of becoming in touch with Jesus.

“Jesus said ‘I am the vine, you are the the branches. Apart from me, you do nothing, but connected with me, growing your life from me, drawing the sap from me, you can do all things. You can bear abundant fruit.’ That is the fruit that we expect from Catholic education. Transforming the lives of our young people, transforming the lives of our parents and teachers,” explained Archbishop Prendergast in his homily. “If we are intimately connected with Jesus, we bear fruit.”

The week long promotion is the culmination of several months of school activities, social justice initiatives, prayers and reflections designed to help students deepen their awareness and understanding of their calling to serve others with compassion, humanity and joy. Catholic Education Week is marked by many open houses and special school activities that take place during the week-long event, which celebrates the distinctiveness of Catholic education.

Students Moved by Guatemala Exposure Trip Experience

The CDSBEO Board of Trustees had the privilege of hearing testimonials from Catholic secondary students who had the opportunity to participate in the Guatemala Exposure Trip in March. Clearly moved by their life-changing, profound experiences, the group gave an emotional and heartfelt account of their time in Guatemala.

Twenty-five students from St. Mary Catholic High School, St. Luke Catholic High School, St. John Catholic High School, St. Michael Catholic High School, and Notre Dame Catholic High School, along with six supervisors, participated in the experience. The students spent the majority of the week in a village called Anibal Archila, working in the community. Over the course of their stay, the students painted homes, and helped to build a road with interlock stones which will help to reduce mud in the wet season, and reduce dust in the dry season.

The students were impacted tremendously by the relationships which were developed during their visit.

“Although we think we are privileged for all the materialistic things that we possess, we soon discovered that these children are the ones who are truly blessed,” noted Alicia McBride, a student from St. Michael CHS. “All the joy and happiness that we shared was their gift to us. They have a contagious smile, and they never once complained.”

“We worked alongside Guatemalans, chatted with the locals, and played with the children. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, we made some incredible friendships, just by giving of ourselves and by interacting with and watching them,” explained Emma Kealy, from St. John CHS.

“Whenever we bought treats from the local shops, we were giving back to the community. Our donations of basic necessities helped families through tough times, and also helped students go to school. Our monetary donations helped to pay for the road building supplies, the paint, and even the local construction workers wages to assist us with our tasks. Spending our week in this community taught us the true meaning of service,” noted Mary Cowan, from St. John Catholic High School.

“There are not enough words to describe how amazing and life changing the Guatemala exposure trip was,” began Elora Wales, a student from St. Mary CHS. “The second we arrived we were welcomed with smiles, firecrackers, dancing, tears of joy, and an overwhelming sense of community and love.”

The students expressed their gratitude for having the opportunity to participate in the experience.

“I would like to compliment the students on their presentation tonight, and for sharing with us your emotions, and how this has affected your lives in a meaningful way,” noted Vice-Chair Ron Eamer. “Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.”

“I would like to thank the staff. I know the dedication and leadership you brought will never be forgotten by these students,” concluded Chair Todd Lalonde.

WWII Code Talker Levi Oakes Visits CDSBEO Educators

On Tuesday, May 1, grade 10 history teachers from secondary schools across the CDSBEO, gathered for a day of learning and authentic experiences. The group had the opportunity to hear stories from World War II Code Talker, Levi Oakes, who is the last surviving Akwesasne Mohawk Code Talker. Oakes received the Congressional Silver Medal in 2016.

Code Talkers were members of the army that received special training so they they could relay messages in their tribal languages. Oakes worked alongside other Mohawks for the United States Army. His service included 2.5 years served in the Asiatic Pacific.

Now 96, he recalled his time as a Code Talker to the CDSBEO group.

“We were in the Philippines and New Guinea Islands, in the jungle. We had to run in the jungle to deliver messages – that was my job,” explained Oakes.

“It wasn’t too much fun, it was out in the jungle,” he joked.

The Code Talkers delivered thousands of messages, in Mohawk, to other Code Talkers during World War II. In total, there were 19 Code Talkers from the Akwesasne region, however, there were other Indigenous groups from other areas of the United States who also worked as Code Talkers for the US Army.

“We used a compass to navigate the jungle, sometimes alone,” he explained. “It was my job to transfer the messages.”

The group also had a presentation from Romaine Mitchell, the Regional Indigenous Education officer with the Ministry of Education. Mitchell spoke to teachers about the new First Nations, Inuit and Métis expectations for the Social Studies, History and Geography curricula. He encouraged teachers to be open to the learning, and to learning alongside their students.

“Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ and engage with your students to find out answers,” he noted.

Educators asked many questions to both of the visitors. The day was an enriching opportunity of sharing cultural information.

Left to Right: Director of Education John Cameron, Mr. Levi Oakes, Superintendent of School Effectiveness Natalie Cameron, Regional Indigenous Education Officer Romaine Mitchell

CDSBEO Educators Uncover Personal and Systemic Bias in Professional Development Session

School teams gathered today at the eQuinelle Golf Club in Kemptville to learn about diversity and systemic bias. The training session was hosted to support the Ministry of Education’s Equity and Inclusive Education strategy, and included a keynote address and facilitation by Shakil Choudhury, co-founder and senior partner with Anima Leadership.

The session aimed to bring awareness to personal biases and beliefs, and to help the group gain a deeper understanding of equity and inclusivity for creating safe, respectful and supportive learning environments in CDSBEO schools.

Choudhury discussed ideas of how unconscious bias and self-hate (also known as internalized racism), can manifest in many ways including racism, gender bias, homophobia, classism, and ableism.

“Self hate is not just based on racism, and can translate on gender and internalized sexism,” explained Choudhury. “For example – math isn’t for me, or boys are better at that. These are examples of internalized sexism.”

The goal of the keynote address was to bring these ideas of unconscious bias to the forefront, and to help the group to develop awareness, empathy and compassion for one’s self, and others.

“Sometimes we can see patterns – patterns that indicate internalized hate, patterns that indicate loss of success. For us as educators, we need to be aware that this is what’s happening. We have to be connected to that, and recognize it.”

Choudhury used personal anecdotes as a springboard for those in attendance to discuss and uncover their own stories, and to discover and make connections to instances along their personal and professional journey, where they were made to feel like the minority. The discussion also focused on topics such as emotion, leadership, empathy, and different types of bias.

Attendees were also provided with takeaways to help support classroom instruction and assessment, including a checklist for an inclusive classroom community.

Shakil Choudhury of Anima Leadership addresses school teams from across the CDSBEO at a session focused on uncovering personal and systemic bias.


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