Madawaska schools celebrate community, sacraments and a 50th anniversary
The Madawaska community of schools had a busy month of May with several celebrations during Catholic Education Week.
St. Mary’s Catholic School in Wilno launched its Catholic Education Week by celebrating the school’s 50th anniversary. The May 6 celebration included mass led by Father Wojciech Blach, followed by a reception at the school. Many former principals and staff attended the event to view pictures and memorabilia, and to reminisce. Renfrew County Catholic School Board Trustee Marlene Borutski brought greetings from the Board, while Principal Ann Lepine talked about St. Mary’s early years. Grade 7 student Martina Coulas also explained why St. Mary’s is the best school in the area.
St. Mary’s continued its Catholic Education Week celebrations with a prayer service every morning. Other activities included a Safe School Ambassador training session, Hat Day, planting shrubs with funds from a SpeakUp grant, a Frisbee tournament and a sock hop (including 1960s music) on Friday afternoon. “It was a momentous week all around,” says Principal Lepine.
St. John Bosco Catholic School in Barry’s Bay hosted a “Cherishing Our Community” luncheon on May 11, the last day of Catholic Education Week. Using funds from a SpeakUp grant, the school invited all members of the community who supported the school, either directly or indirectly, to the luncheon. Special guests were the school’s spiritual advisers, Father Mervin Coulas and Father Chris Shalla, along with parent volunteers, community members, local businesses and bus operators.
Principal Marie Finnerty reports that the students made invitations, under the supervision of school secretary Gertie Blank and teacher Kelly Etmanskie, which they hand-delivered to community members. They also decorated the school library and prepared salads, appetizers and sandwiches. Staff donated desserts and Grade 6 teacher Halinka Shulist made a homemade soup.
“Fresh flowers and candlelight enhanced the meticulously set tables,” says Principal Finnerty. Students dressed in black and white attire, with the boys in ties and shirts. They greeted all guests, seated them and waited on them. One student serenaded the guests with guitar music as they entered the building.
“It was a special event to witness,” says Principal Finnerty. “We are modelling servant leadership for our Grade 8 students. It is important to teach the students to be grateful to our extended community.”
The event was a great success, Finnerty says. “At the end of the day, we sat together as our own little community, feeling very satisfied. Not only did we get to eat the leftovers, we celebrated together the gift of teamwork! This team certainly surpassed all expectations.”
St. John Bosco students rounded out the month with a Fun Fair on May 31.
Students at St. Andrew’s Catholic School in Killaloe celebrated Catholic Education Week by learning from people who are truly walking in Christ’s light, reports Principal Mary Catherine Brisco. Students and staff “skyped” with Seminarian Scott Murray, who is currently studying in Rome. “Scott shared what it means for him to walk in Christ’s light,” says Principal Brisco. “Students got to ask him questions that ranged from how often he sees the Pope to how he heard God’s call to become a Priest.”
Catholic Education Week also included a “Light Presentation for Grandparents,” in which students were able to share their faith with their grandparents, says Brisco. “This was done through songs, drama, written pieces and truly sharing from the heart. The turnout was great and grandparents truly enjoyed their grandchildren being so open about their faith.”
Other visitors included Sisters Faustina and Michael Daniel from Our Lady of Immaculate Convent, who have been studying at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom in Barry’s Bay. “Friday’s culminating activity saw students moving from station to station to learn from community members who are walking in the light by doing charity work,” Brisco says.
Grades 7 and 8 students at St. Andrew’s held a pasta dinner on April 27 and raised more than $1,300 for multiple sclerosis. Students also participated in Jump Rope for Heart on May 18 and raised more than $1,200.
Meanwhile, in Round Lake, Principal David Giroux reports that St. Casimir’s Catholic School hosted the annual MESSA chess tournament for the Madawaska schools on May 2, with seven schools participating.
St. Casimir’s also had a full-day dance presentation on May 9. A dance teacher spent half a day with each class teaching the fundamentals of the dance curriculum.
The Grades 3, 4 and 5 students have also been participating in a nine-week swimming lesson program every Friday afternoon at the Kinsmen pool in Pembroke.
Principal Giroux reports that 18 students in the Grades 6, 7 and 8 class also have been learning to play the guitar over the course of the year. “On the whole, they have made great progress. Both classes are also involved in ‘Drums Alive,’ which is a fitness/drumming/movement program whereby students play drumming patterns with movement on a large fitness ball.”
The EQAO Primary and Junior Assessment at St. Casimir’s was held over a six-day period at the end of May.
In Combermere, George Vanier Catholic School is “springing into summer with a big splash!” reports Principal Melissa Carroll-Dubeau.
“The whole school continues to nurture our students in their preparations to achieve the Catholic Graduate Expectations,” Principal Carroll-Dubeau says. Grades 7 and 8 teacher Katie Milosek prepared 18 students for the sacrament of Confirmation on May 28 while Principal Carroll-Dubeau prepared the Grade 2 class for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion.
“During Catholic Education week we had a living rosary, school mass, daily readings, an art display, presentations and a French cultural afternoon,” Principal Carroll-Dubeau says.
In the area of academics, “after-school tutoring for the Grades 2 and 3 classes is a great success,” says Carroll-Dubeau. “Teacher collaboration, accountable talk and teamwork are all contributing to success at GVCS.”
Carroll-Dubeau also says that the parent school council is key to the success of fundraising events. The school participated in the Relay For Life in Barry’s Bay on May 25, with three teachers and the school secretary participating along with lunch supervisors, parents and most of the parent school council. A total of $1,400 was raised. “The school also contributes weekly to the Food Bank and we have been showered by thank you cards from them,” says Carroll-Dubeau.
Principal Carroll-Dubeau also reports that George Vanier has new additions to its population. “Baby turtles have hatched in our outdoor sandbox!” she says.
May 28, 2012
For further information, please contact:
Michele Arbour, Director of Education
Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
499 Pembroke Street West
Pembroke, ON K8A 5P1
Phone: 613-735-1031 or 1-800-267-019l