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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.

 

Model Parliament for Youth

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario Model Parliament is an educational program designed for high school students in grades 10 to 12 who are interested in current events and provincial issues. During a three day interactive experience, students have the opportunity to meet key figures in Ontario’s parliament as well as learn about the history of the provincial legislature and the legislative process through workshops and presentations. Students must submit an application to be considered for the program which includes a 500-word essay and a letter of recommendation from a teacher, principal, vice-principal or guidance counsellor.

St. Mary CHS grade 12 student Richard Deeves had an opportunity to participate in the enriching learning experience, and he presented his experience to the Board at the April 17th meeting.

“The program took place over three days at Queens Park in Toronto,” began Deeves. “I was lucky enough to be selected to be the representative for my home riding Leeds Grenville. The application process was quite lengthy, and included an essay. I was really interested in the experience and my parents pushed to follow through with the application process.”

In total, 103 students from across the province participated in the experience, which took place at the end of February.
“I was the first St. Mary student to attend. My dream profession is to be a lawyer, and I knew the experience would help me to learn about the formation of laws and political policy, which seemed like important and applicable knowledge for my future.”

During the three days at Queens Park, students participated in many engaging and enriching activities, including the “Meet the MPP Game”. In this activity, attendees liaised in a “speed rotation” discussion format with MPP’s and non-partisan political employees. Students learned about the political motives of MPP’s, and had an opportunity to connect on a personal level with all of the participants.

“The most enriching experience included the mock parliament session held in the legislative chamber on day three,” noted Deeves. “I learned the most on this day because of the hands on experience. Each party brought a bill to debate in the morning, which was followed by question period in the afternoon.”

Deeves noted that the experience was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’ve made some lifelong friends and I look forward to using all of the knowledge I’ve gained to help inform my future studies.”

“I would like to congratulate you on your experience,” noted Trustee Robin Reil. “It is certainly a terrific accomplishment for someone coming from the rural parts of Ontario to have this opportunity, and we wish you success as you move on to your studies next year.”

St. Mary CHS student Richard Deeves with Trustee Robin Reil (left) and Director of Education John Cameron (right)

Cornwall Area Students Recognized With Bravo Breakfast Awards

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario celebrated the final of four area Bravo Breakfast Awards on Thursday, April 12, at St. Joseph Catholic Secondary School. The event recognized students from the Cornwall area schools, including students from Williamstown, St. Andrews West, Alexandria, and Morrisburg, with the prestigious award. One student from each elementary and secondary school is chosen to receive this award annually, which acknowledges the unsung heroes within CDSBEO Catholic schools. This is the tenth year the Board has hosted the celebration.

“Bravo is a word that is often used when a performer or any person has done something very well. The word dates back to the 1700s in Italy, and it literally means “brave.” For me, this word is the perfect combination of what we are here to celebrate this morning,” began Director of Education John Cameron in his address.

“We are here to celebrate the great efforts of our students and also to acknowledge the courage and bravery that is a key part of stepping forward to make a difference for others. Students, you have been carefully selected because people in your school have noticed how you have made a difference in the lives of those around you.”

Todd Lalonde, Board Chair and Trustee for the City of Cornwall and Glengarry County, was in attendance, along with Ron Eamer, Vice-Chair and Trustee for the City of Cornwall and Glengarry County, and Karen McAllister, Trustee for Stormont County and Dundas County. Many other local government officials, dignitaries and parish priests were also in attendance.

The following students were recognized at the April 12th Bravo Breakfast:

Isabella Dugas, Bishop Macdonell Catholic School, Cornwall
Connor Scrivin, Immaculate Conception Catholic School, Cornwall
Payton Bell, Iona Academy Catholic School, Williamstown
Paige Besner, Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School, Ingleside
Edwain Amit, Sacred Heart Catholic School, Cornwall
Andre Sylvester, St. Andrew’s Catholic School, St. Andrew’s West
Emilie Ostler, St. Anne Catholic School, Cornwall
Cora-Leigh McLaughlin, St. Columban’s Catholic School, Cornwall
Nathaniel Gerow, St. Finnan’s Catholic School, Alexandria
Rhiannon Beckstead, St. Mary – St. Cecilia Catholic School, Morrisburg
Devyn Bray, St. Peter Catholic School, Cornwall
Keirra Poulin, Holy Trinity Catholic School (Elementary), Cornwall
Cassidy Thomson, Holy Trinity Catholic School (Secondary), Cornwall
Calvin Scoot, St. Joseph Catholic Secondary School, Cornwall
Kyle Wylie, St. Matthew Catholic Secondary School, Cornwall
Tracy Neville, Hanley Hall School of Alternative and Continuing Education, Cornwall Campus

Congratulations to all of the 2018 award recipients.

Left to right back row: Connor Scrivin, Keirra Poulin, Nathaniel Gerow, Rhiannon Beckstead, Calvin Scott, Cora-Leigh McLaughlin, Tracy Neville, Andre Sylvester, Kyle Wylie, Edwain Amit
Left to right front row: Emilie Ostler, Paige Besner, Isabella Dugas, Payton Bell, Devyn Bray, Cassidy Thomson

Bravo Breakfast Awards – Smiths Falls Area Schools

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario celebrated the third of four area Bravo Breakfast Awards on Thursday, April 5, at Hanley Hall in Smiths Falls. The event recognized students from the Smiths Falls area schools, including students from Perth, Carleton Place, Westport, Almonte and Lanark, with the prestigious award. One student from each elementary and secondary school is chosen to receive this award annually, which acknowledges the unsung heroes within CDSBEO Catholic schools. This is the tenth year the Board has hosted the celebration.

“Bravo is a word that is often used when a performer or any person has done something very well. The word dates back to the 1700s in Italy, and it literally means “brave.” For me, this word is the perfect combination of what we are here to celebrate this morning,” began Director of Education John Cameron in his address.

“We are here to celebrate the great efforts of our students and also to acknowledge the courage and bravery that is a key part of stepping forward to make a difference for others. Students, you have been carefully selected because people in your school have noticed how you have made a difference in the lives of those around you.”

Trustee for Lanark County, Nancy Kirby, was also in attendance, along with many other local government officials, dignitaries and parish priests.

The following students were recognized at the April 5th Bravo Breakfast:

Marah Peters, Hanley Hall School of Alternative and Continuing Education, Smiths Falls
Jordan-Anne Rich, Holy Name of Mary Catholic School, Almonte
Wyatt Leafloor, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, Lanark
Jordon Billingham, St. Edward Catholic School, Westport
Joshua Greene, St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, Smiths Falls
Hayden Smithson, St. Gregory Catholic School, Carleton Place
Olivia Frayn, St. James the Greater Catholic School, Smiths Falls
Hope Buchanan, St. John Catholic Elementary School, Perth
Savannah Rousselle, St. Mary Catholic School, Carleton Place
Mya Fournier, Notre Dame Catholic High School (Elementary), Carleton Place
Gillian Whitlock, Notre Dame Catholic High School (Secondary), Carleton Place
Zachary Nosworthy, St. John Catholic High School (Elementary), Perth
Steven Fenn, St. John Catholic High School (Secondary), Perth
Emily McAllister, St. Luke Catholic High School (Elementary), Smiths Falls
Penny Wardle, St. Luke Catholic High School (Secondary), Smiths Falls.

Congratulations to all of the 2018 award recipients.

Left to right back row: Savannah Rousselle, Joshua Greene, Jordon Billingham, Marah Peters, Steven Fenn, Penny Wardle, Gillian Whitlock, Emily McAllister Left to right front row: Olivia Frayn, Hope Buchanan, Hayden Smithson, Wyatt Leafloor, Jordan-Anne Rich, Mya Fournier, Zachary Nosworthy

Lenten Almsgiving Project at Our Lady of Good Counsel

Students at Our Lady of Good Counsel School participated in a Lenten Almsgiving project with proceeds going to the Ryan’s Well Foundation. Each week during lent, students were asked to bring in a specific coin, starting with a nickel and ending with a toonie on the last week. Together, the school raised a total of $1035.85 for Ryan’s Well. Students then had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Ryan. Listening to him speak about his story and his foundation, the students were inspired by Ryan, and how he persevered to achieve his goal. Students learned that no matter how old you are, you can create positive change.

The school chose Ryan’s Well Foundation as it was the school principal, Nancy Prest, who taught Ryan in grade 1 and informed him that clean water was not accessible to all children. This inspired Ryan to take on the task of raising money to build a well in Africa.

 

CDSBEO and UCDSB Reach Deal about Cornwall Program Sites

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) have successfully concluded discussions, resulting in a Memorandum of Understanding to exchange facilities in Cornwall.

The CDSBEO and UCDSB have shared a common site located at 1500 Cumberland Street, which is the current site of St. Joseph Catholic Secondary School, and the Cornwall Campus of the TR Leger School for Adult, Alternative, and Continuing Education (formerly General Vanier Secondary School). Since the 1990’s, the facility has been the location of St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School (CDSBEO) and the primary program site for TR Leger School (UCDSB).

Through their respective Pupil Accommodation Review processes, both boards identified surplus school property that formed the focus for the recent board-to-board discussions. For the UCDSB, the former General Vanier site was declared as a property surplus, while the CDSBEO has several surplus facilities including the current Immaculate Conception, St. Columban’s and Sacred Heart Catholic Schools.

In January, the Ministry of Education announced that it would fund the CDSBEO’s acquisition of the former General Vanier Secondary School from the UCDSB to accommodate a new consolidated JK-6 Catholic school for Sacred Heart/St. Columban’s, as well as a grade 7/8 program for St. Joseph Catholic Secondary School. The new 7/8 program would accommodate all grade 7 and 8 students from Bishop Macdonell, St. Anne, and the consolidated Sacred Heart/St. Columban’s Catholic Schools.

In June 2017, the Upper Canada District School Board received word that the Ministry of Education would fund the building of a new public high school (grades 7-12) for Cornwall, consolidating the current Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School with St. Lawrence Secondary School. The Ministry announced it would commit $39 million for this project.

Through much discussion and a strong partnership, the Memorandum of Understanding supports the exchange of school properties. The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario will purchase the site of the former General Vanier Secondary School, and the Upper Canada District School Board will purchase Immaculate Conception Catholic School.

“This exchange is a great example of school boards working together to ensure that the best programming is available for all students while remaining fiscally responsible,” noted CDSBEO Chair and Trustee for the City of Cornwall and Glengarry County, Todd Lalonde.

UCDSB Chair Jeff McMillan added that “the integration of educational services in these facilities will help to address the immediate needs for program space that suits our current requirements. This is both a practical and a timely solution for our respective needs to serve students in the best way possible.”

“While our two Boards have had a thirty-year history of cooperation on the St. Joseph’s/General Vanier site, this latest transaction is absolutely the best use of available resources and will provide our Catholic school community with an excellent facility,” explained CDSBEO Vice-Chair and Trustee for the City of Cornwall and Glengarry County, Ron Eamer.

David McDonald, UCDSB 2nd Vice Chair and Trustee for the Cornwall area, commented that “this exchange builds on our commitment to collaborate with our community partners like the CDSBEO, to ensure students throughout the district are best served by the educational facilities they need. We are pleased that many students in the Cornwall area will be able to benefit from these facilities.”

Both boards are extremely pleased with the outcome of the agreement, as all students in the Cornwall community will be well served for many years to come. The exchange of properties will be in effect for September 2018.

(Left to Right) UCDSB Director of Education Stephen Sliwa, UCDSB Chair Jeff McMillan, CDSBEO Chair Todd Lalonde, and CDSBEO Director of Education John Cameron.

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