Social justice has been the focus for Pembroke-area schools in the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board during March, as students have done fund-raising and other charitable works.
Principal Clint Young of Bishop Smith Catholic High School (BSCHS) reports “this has been an amazing year for social change and helping others at BSCHS. We have done bake sales to raise money for the Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre and First Step Options, held a food drive for the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, collected snowsuits for the Child Poverty Action Network’s (CPAN) Operation Snowsuit program, raised money for the Dominican Republic Experience, and created a BSCHS funny farm to purchase two goats for families in Haiti.”
BSCHS also held its Lenten food drive from March 23 to 27, with students “earning their way to We Day” by bringing in items for the St. Joseph’s Food Bank, Principal Young said. On April 1, 38 BSCHS students will attend the National We Day event at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, one of a series of stadium-sized events held annually to encourage young people to take action and to help needy children around the world. We Day is sponsored by Free The Children, an international charity that works to educate, engage and empower youth to become agents of change. Students must earn their tickets to We Day events through various charitable and fund-raising activities.
Two BSCHS students also were invited to Free the Children’s “Evening of Champions” at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa on March 31, where they received recognition on behalf of the entire school! Grade 11 student Rachel Osterholm, a long-time member of BSCHS’s Social Justice team, also received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award at a special ceremony.
Students at Holy Name Catholic School also focused on social justice in March, said Principal Amy Sicoli. They continued to support CPAN through school fundraising and initiatives, such as spirit rallies and Fun Fridays, by making donations to dress up in a theme or participate in an event.
Sicoli said that the school also supports Free the Children by raising money to combat global poverty. “Recently our students purchased goats to provide to a third world country,” Sicoli said. “We are also thrilled to have a number of students and staff attending We Day on April 1 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.”
Another major goal at Holy Name has been building parent engagement, Sicoli added. “We are working together as a school community to involve parents in their children’s learning and in our school faith life and extra-curricular activities.” The school uses a Twitter account to make daily tweets about upcoming events and student learning activities. An active School Council also allows parents to share input on the school’s vision, School Improvement Plan, policies, fundraising and extra-curricular events, Sicoli said.
As well, “Holy Name has hosted a family mass and math social for parents. We are focusing on helping our students work with math manipulatives, so we had a family mass, and then coffee and refreshments while parents did math activities with their children using manipulatives.” In April, the school will host a student/parent spirit rally where parents will participate in games and fun with their children, Sicoli added.
Another focus at Holy Name isa partnership with Kid Active, an organization that helps schools build “greener” play areas for students, and supports exploratory and play-based learning for kids, said Sicoli. “Holy Name has a multi-year plan to develop our school yard to make it greener and more engaging for our children,” said Sicoli. The school has received a TD grant for $3,200 to help with the project.
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School launched a Food For Learning Breakfast Program in February, says Principal Randy Bissonnette. In the first month, parents, staff and community volunteers served more than 600 healthy breakfasts to students. “Initially established to assist families, the breakfasts provide for the nutritional needs and often the social needs of students,” Bissonnette said. “Several staff members have reported that theprogram has already had a noticeable and positive impact on student learning. It’s a wonderful example of community building and helping others.”
Grade Six students will perform The Passion at noon on Holy Thursday, Bissonnette said. “This re-enactment of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ has become an annual tradition at the school and students look forward to this production each year.”
At Cathedral School, Principal Karen Kenny said students have been involved in a Coins for CPAN campaign.“With the realization that Renfrew County is one of the poorest areas in the province, we have decided to reach out to the children in our community who are less fortunate than ourselves,” Principal Kenny said. “Our Grade 6 class has taken the responsibility of writing morning announcements to promote our campaign and encourage students to bring in their coins each week throughout Lent. Facts about child poverty are given each morning to raise awareness that poverty exists in our community and it is our responsibility to do what we can to help alleviate this local concern. Our goal is to raise $400.00.”
The school has also been focusing on prayer and almsgiving during Lent, Kenny said. Through discussions, mentor texts and prayer, each class has focused on the virtues of Love and Hope. “Hopeful people live the Gospel with joy, work for peace and justice and trust that God’s plan for us will be fulfilled,” Kenny said.
March 30, 2015
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