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St. Thomas Aquinas AVENGERS Team Continue Success with YAY-BALE Wrap

A group of ten grade 8 and 9 students from St. Thomas Aquinas CHS in Russell, Ontario, known as the AVENGERS (A Very Energetic Nerdy Group of Environmentally Responsible Students), have been working very hard on an innovative environmental project, in conjunction with teacher coaches Ann Jackson, Blair Fitzsimons, and Brad Reid. YAY-BALE was created in response to the First Lego League (FLL) annual competition, which challenges students to develop solutions to real-world problems. This year’s challenge was called “Trash Trek,” whereby students had to develop a solution to a problem involving trash.

In speaking with local farmers and travelling to Lafleche Recycling Facility, the AVENGERS learned that plastic hay bale wrap and bunker plastic is a huge environmental problem. Rather than trying to find different ways to recycle the oil based plastic, students decided to look at ways that plastic could be made from starch, rather than fossil fuels. Through consultation with many different organizations about the issue, the group has developed an alternate product, along with a business model of how the product could be brought into production.
“We wanted to make sure our product stood up to the environmental elements. We had to create a business model, and create a pitch for our product,” explained team member Noah Hill.

The newly developed plastic, which is both strong and completely biodegradable, was presented, along with the team’s business model, at the FLL Global Innovation Awards on February 27 in Toronto, and the group moved on to become semi-finalists in the 2016 Trash Trek international finals held in Washington, in June.

At the global challenge, the group was one of the top 20 teams of 30,000 that applied to enter the competition.

“God helped us through the very stressful times, and thanks to Him, we were able to realize our dream of attending the Global challenge,” noted team member Rachel Fiset.

The success of the project has resulted in some amazing opportunities for the group, who have received notable media attention, as well as the opportunity to present their project to the Honorable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and to the Agricultural Attaches at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.

The group also had the opportunity to present their idea to Sean Wise, a Canadian mentor capitalist and consultant for CBC’s Dragon’s Den.

“Our responsibility to be stewards of God’s earth has been a pivotal inspiration to this project,” explained teacher Ann Jackson. “I was so inspired by the team work these students demonstrated in the countless hours that they put into their project. Their collaboration, support, and respect for each other was a shining example of what can be accomplished when people work together and look for the best qualities in each other.”

The team is currently in the process of filing a Canadian patent application, and has interest from an overseas firm to bring the product to market. The students have also continued to be involved in other environmental initiatives, and several of them may travel to Toronto in February to share their journey at the FLL provincial competition.



Board Meeting – Public Session Cancelled

Please note: The public session of tonight’s Board meeting, scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm, has been cancelled due to expected inclement weather.

Holy Name of Mary Celebrates Environmental Stewardship on National Sweater Day

Friday, February 3 is National Sweater Day, and Holy Name of Mary Catholic School participated by turning down their thermostat by 2 degrees, and encouraging staff and students to wear a sweater. The school gathered at an assembly, which was organized by the school’s eco team, to discuss ongoing environmental initiatives, and the school’s mission of being stewards of the earth. Employees of the Ontario Clean Water Agency were also present to speak about clean water, and the importance of reducing the amount of plastic bottles used by drinking the clean Almonte tap water.

Over the past year, Holy Name of Mary students have organized a “Water Fountain Committee” to raise funds to purchase a Water Refilling Station, which was installed in the junior wing. The effort was organized by students, and two staff members (Sara Reid and Regine Boissonneault) supervised their fundraising. At the February 3 assembly, the Ontario Clean Water Agency announced that they would be donating a second Water Refilling Station for the school’s primary wing.

Holy Name of Mary achieved Gold certification last year for the Ontario ECOSchool program, and staff and students continue with ongoing efforts to maintain this certification, proudly focusing on educating students, and working to clean up the local environment. The school is also very excited to continue its partnership with the Ontario Clean Water Agency.


Photo, left to right: Cory Smith (from the Township of Mississippi Mills), Andy Trader (OCWA), Robert Leblanc (OWCA), Sara Reid (teacher), Regine Boissonneault (teacher), students who organized the “Water Fountain Committee” and Dan Lesser (Principal). Also in attendance but not in the picture was Aimee Hennessy (OWCA)


Susan Forbes, Principal at St. James the Greater, Chosen as One of Canada’s Outstanding Principals 2017

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario is pleased to announce that Susan Forbes, Principal of St. James the Greater Catholic School in Smiths Falls, has been named as one of forty exceptional educational leaders from across Canada.

Candidates are nominated by their peers, school staff, and community members annually to The Learning Partnership, who recognizes exemplary leaders from across all Canadian provinces and territories.

“Sue Forbes is an inspirational leader,” explains her bio. “She ensures students and adults feel safe and empowered, and makes it a priority to know and greet each and every child at her school. To improve student achievement Sue incorporates data analysis and targeted interventions such as guided reading, specialized programs, and provincial assessment booster groups. She is optimistic and energizes her staff using a “Stop, Start and Continue” methodology, and schedules sessions for relaxation and team bonding to boost morale and trust. Sue has also been actively involved in the Eastern Ontario Staff Development network and within the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario. Efforts by Sue and her staff have resulted in more students self-reporting positive feelings on resiliency and mental health surveys, and provincial assessment scores are up by 12 percent for writing and 10 per cent for math. Sue sees solutions, not obstacles, and brings a positive attitude to school each and every day.”

“I am very grateful for this award, but I accept it on behalf of all of the staff, parents, and students at St. James,” noted Mrs. Forbes. “As a team, we work together to make St. James an amazing place for children to learn.”

Now celebrating its 13th year, The Learning Partnership’s Canada’s Outstanding Principals program recognizes the unique and vital contribution of principals in publicly funded schools. The 40 principals are being celebrated for demonstrating innovation, leadership and for employing creativity in finding solutions and opportunities within their school communities. They will be awarded for their accomplishments at the annual Canada’s Outstanding Principals gala on February 28th, 2017, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

Susan Forbes

Significant Events in the History of Catholic Education

A message from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association:

As you know it is very important that all involved in the tremendous gift of publicly funded Catholic Education have a good understanding of our rich history and the vision and sacrifice of those who built such a strong foundation. Particularly for those in governance and administrative leadership positions it is crucial we are able to articulate, celebrate and share “Our Story.”

In this regard you will find attached a document prepared by OCSTA entitled “Significant Events in the History of Catholic Education and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association” (Appendix 1). It was updated in 2004 to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of our Association. It outlines significant milestones, legal decisions and legislative changes that incrementally have
positively impacted Catholic Education in Ontario. Among the most consequential of these events was the passing of Bill 30 which led to the extension of funding to Grades 11, 12 and 13 (OAC) in
Catholic schools. You will find attached a copy of the text of Premier Bill Davis’ June 12, 1984 speech which ushered in this historic change (Appendix 2).

There have of course been a number of events since 2004 which have impacted Catholic Education. Among these would be the passing of Bill 177, “The Student Achievement and School Board
Governance Act” in 2009 and Bill 122, “The School Boards Collective Bargaining Act” in 2014. As you know both of these pieces of legislation have more clearly defined and changed the
role/responsibilities of trustees, school boards and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association.

It is our plan to update the 2004 document over the next few months and forward it to you along with other historic information. We ask that you share this with the trustees of your board as well
as others who you believe it would benefit.

If you would like additional information or have questions regarding any of the specific events, please let us know.

Please click here to view the document: Significant Events in the History of Catholic Education and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association

Board Meeting Cancelled

Please note that due to inclement weather forecast for today, tonight’s Board meeting has been cancelled. Next scheduled Board meeting date is Tuesday, February 7, at 6:30 p.m.

St. Andrew’s Catholic School Takes First Place in Provincial Video Contest

Congratulations to St. Andrew’s Catholic School who have won the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association short video contest “The Story Behind the Name of My Catholic School”! A great video which details the first history of Catholic education in St. Andrew’s West, which began in 1802.

The contest invited Ontario’s Catholic school students in grades 4 through 12 to create a two minute video detailing the story of the person or saint for whom their school was named. In total, over 170 submissions were received. St. Andrew’s Catholic School won first place for the elementary panel.

Kindergarten registration is now underway!

CDSBEO schools are now accepting new student registrations for September 2017! We invite parents to call the school to make an appointment to visit during Kindergarten Registration Week, which begins Monday, January 16. Please visit the CDSBEO website registration page at for information on how to register your child. We look forward to welcoming your child to Kindergarten!


A Christmas Blessing

Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

The CDSBEO would like to wish all members of our Catholic school community, staff, students and families many blessings this Christmas, and in the new year.


Director of Education Presents Annual Report

Director of Education, Wm. J. Gartland, presented his annual report to the Board of Trustees at the meeting held on Tuesday, December 6. The report reviews successes in areas such as student achievement, faith development, and program initiatives.

“The CDSBEO continues to focus on the well-being of all students. Our success resonates in the accomplishments of our learners, who continue to excel in their faith, as well as their academic achievements.”

Director Gartland congratulated staff and members of the Board for making the past school year one of continued success.

Please click here for the print version of the Director’s Annual Report.

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