September has been an exceptionally busy month for RCCDSB’s Madawaska family of schools as students and staff have participated in a transition project that involves the closure of two schools, while also gearing up for the annual Great Partridge Run and other fall activities.
St. Casimir’s Catholic School students from Round Lake have been welcomed at St. Andrew’s Catholic Elementary School in Killaloe this fall, and Principal Mary Catherine Brisco reports that everyone is adapting well to the change. St. Mary’s in Wilno will close August 31, 2015.
Principal Brisco also chairs a Transition Committee established by the Board to ensure the smooth transition of students from St. Mary’s into other Catholic schools next fall. The Transition Committee includes Father Ken O’Brien, Rob Bersan (a community member), RCCDSB’s Director of Education Michele Arbour, Superintendent of Educational Services Jaimie Perry, Ann Lepine, St. Mary’s Principal in Wilno, Ruth McNulty, Acting Principal of George Vanier in Combermere, and Marie Finnerty, Principal at St. John Bosco in Barry’s Bay.
According to Brisco, the committee plans several partnerships between area schools to prepare students and staff for the transition. “The committee also is working, with assistance from transportation, to ensure that reasonable school zones are set soon so that parents know the school their children can attend as early as possible,” Brisco said.
Another big event for Madawaska schools in September was the annual Great Partridge Run, where more than 350 students congregated at St. Mary’s School on September 26 for the cross-country run that features individual trophies and a point system for schools.
St. Mary’s Principal Ann Lepine reports that students “practiced running every day in September and staff started preparing for the Partridge Run as soon as school commenced.”
Brisco said that the Partridge Run “is an important tradition for the Madawaska family of schools and it will continue” after St. Mary’s closure next fall. “Board staff, retirees and community members will pitch in to ensure that the event will be enjoyed for years to come,” she said.
Meanwhile Principal Lepine says that St. Mary’s started its last year in operation with “some great fall activities,” including a mass to celebrate the opening of school and a Terry Fox walk. “On September 16, more than 20 bus drivers converged on St. Mary’s for their annual fall Driver Safety workshop,” Lepine says.
“Students will be even busier in October with an Aboriginal workshop at Hock Farm in Killaloe, and two visits to Killaloe sponsored by the Killaloe Municipal Council, for an Irish concert and a Local Government Week visit to the Council Chambers. We also will attend a concert from the Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre at St. John Bosco,” Lepine reports. “And the Fire Department will visit St. Mary’s during October’s Fire Prevention Week.”
Students at St. Andrew’s in Killaloe, meanwhile, are studying Pope Francis as a school-wide project this year, says Principal Brisco. “Our school theme this year is Pope Francis and on the second day of school, at our opening prayer service, students came together to answer some questions that they had been given about our new Pope. Then, all of the answers went onto our school bulletin board. Each month a class will hold a Pope Francis assembly and the students will work to change the bulletin board in some way for that month. The kids have certainly taken off with this Pope,” Brisco says. “On Oct. 1, the Grade 7/8 class is doing a re-enactment of the selection of Pope Francis at the Vatican, including the smoke coming out of the chimney.”
Students at St. John Bosco also are studying Pope Francis this year, says Principal Marie Finnerty. “We are following Pope Francis’ journey and walking in his footsteps. Many classes are using his words to launch their writing programs in their respective classrooms. Our second assembly is focusing on kindness and students will be acknowledged for how they have walked in Pope Francis’ footsteps.” The school’s first mass was celebrated on September 5 at St. Lawrence O’Toole Parish, Finnerty says.
St. John Bosco also held its annual Welcome Back to School Dance in September, welcoming students from all over the Madawaska area, Principal Finnerty says. “Our newly elected student council is extremely active in collecting food for a Thanksgiving Food Drive as well as promoting awareness of poverty in our area. Also, a group of young ladies in Grade 6 are making and selling jewellery at lunch to raise funds for charity.”
Finnerty reports that the school’s Terry Fox Run “was a huge success, netting $336 for the Canadian Cancer Society.” Students also trained daily in September for the Great Partridge Run, Finnerty says.
In Combermere, Acting Principal Ruth McNulty reports that George Vanier School held its Open House on September 8. “The Open House coincided with the feast day of Mary so we celebrated with cupcakes!” Principal McNulty says.
A school mass was celebrated with Father Ken O’Brien at Holy Canadian Martyrs’ Church on September 16. McNulty reports that Joseph Platt, the new teacher for the Grades 4–8 class, provided guitar music. As well, teacher Ann-Marie Landon prepared the students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 to lead the mass with greetings, readings and prayers.
George Vanier’s Terry Fox Run was held on September 23, and Principal McNulty says the school is well on its way to achieving its fundraising goal, with students and staff each donating a toonie.
With the purchase this year of 21 iPad minis, George Vanier students and staff will work to integrate technology, curriculum and critical thinking, says McNulty, in line with the RCCDSB’s focus for 2014–2015. “We are following our Board’s vision,” she says, “which states: ‘In a spirit of freedom, affirmation and celebration today, we strive to … integrate the Catholic faith tradition in a critical analysis of the arts, media and technology’.” Julia Graydon, RCCDSB’s Information and Learning Technologies SPAT, gave a tutorial to students on proper use of the iPads on September 24.
George Vanier also welcomed Rebecca Paulsen, RCCDSB’s Mental Health Lead, on a few occasions in September to discuss feelings and other subjects with students.
The school also plans to participate in the Board-wide “Who I AM” scripture food drive, McNulty says. “We’ll collect items from all students, from October 1through 9, and we plan to carry the donated food items as part of our Offertory procession at our school’s Thanksgiving Mass on October 10 at Holy Canadian Martyrs’ Church.”
September 29, 2014
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