Across the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board, students will mark Catholic Education Week 2015, May 3–8, with a wide range of special events.
The theme of this year’s province-wide celebration is Exploring Paths of Joy. Five sub-themes, one for each day of Catholic Education Week (CEW), are aimed at helping staff and students to reflect more fully on what Exploring Paths of Joy asks of them: Walking Together and Sharing Our Stories, Opening the Scriptures, Welcoming Others to the Table, Recognizing Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread, and Proclaiming the Good News.
“Catholic Education Week gives us a chance to celebrate the joy of learning and growing as Jesus’ disciples in our Catholic schools. This is really what Catholic education is all about,” says Tony Cosentino, Religious and Family Life Education Resource Teacher at RCCDSB.
Classrooms throughout the RCCDSB will use the mentor texts and incorporate special lessons for the weeklong celebration into the curriculum, along with many special activities that have been planned.
Elementary schools in the Pembroke, Petawawa and Deep River area have scheduled daily events that include talent shows, performances, and presentations. Our Lady of Lourdes Principal Randy Bissonnette says the week will begin with First Holy Communion Mass on Sunday May 3. The Bishop Smith Catholic High School (BSCHS) Band will perform on Tuesday May 4. Donations will be collected for the Dominican Republic Experience at the school’s annual talent show on Wednesday May 6, and students from Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in Westmeath will join Lourdes’ students for Mass on Thursday. The week will wrap up with a school dance on Friday May 8.
At Holy Name Catholic School, students will have a ‘planting day’ as part of their Kid Active partnership, and host a ‘Technology 101’ information session for parents on May 7. “We will talk to parents about the technology their children are using, Twitter, Facebook, iPad apps, GAFE, etc., and also provide a session on internet safety and cyberbullying,” says Principal Amy Sicoli.
Cathedral Catholic School will follow the footsteps of Jesus. “Students will be awarded a footstep each time they are ‘caught’ following in the footsteps of Jesus—being kind, inclusive, helping, showing compassion, etc.,” explains Principal Karen Kenny. Classes will be reflecting on quotes from the Bible, Mother Teresa, and Pope Francis. The quote that resonates most with students will be put up in the front foyer. New kindergarten registrants will visit on Wednesday and on Thursday students will pray a living Rosary. Cathedral will also enjoy the music of the BSCHS band, and will end CEW week with the annual staff versus grade seven students’ soccer game.
Meanwhile, the Renfrew and Arnprior family of schools will participate in daily readings on CEW themes and living Rosaries, and host special guests. At St. Thomas the Apostle in Renfrew, students will begin the week with First Communion on Sunday and a full school Mass on Tuesday. The entire school will learn the CEW theme song and sing it daily. Students will also participate in a CEW poster contest by the Catholic Women’s League. “This will be wonderful as it ties in the theme and extends our discussions and lessons,” notes Principal Connie Dick. The week will also include the school’s annual book fair.
Also in Renfrew, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School will have special visits from storyteller Susan White, and First Nations Elder Skip Ross as well as a presentation about cyberbullying. “In addition to daily CEW lessons and special prayer, we will share Mass with St. Joseph’s High School,” says Acting Principal Ruth McNulty.
Among the activities at St. John XXIII Catholic School in Arnprior are a weeklong Scholastic book fair and the annual ‘For the Love of Art Show’ in the gym. Mass and a visit from CWL members to read a special book about Mary with primary students will round out the week, notes Principal Heidi Fraser.
St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Arnprior will take part in Mass at St. John Chrysostom along with St. John XXIII Catholic School on Thursday May 7.
St. Michael’s Catholic School in Douglas, in addition to Mass and a living Rosary, will include a Pink Day in their CEW celebration of joy, and celebrate school involvement by way of badminton finals, reports Principal John Freemark.
At the Madawaska family of schools, Mass, prayer and living Rosaries will build the foundation of Catholic Education Week activities.
St. Andrew’s Catholic School in Killaloe will have a visit from members of the Dominican Republic Experience to talk about their work, says Principal Mary Catherine Brisco.
St. Mary’s Catholic School in Wilno will begin the week with a student dance to raise funds for the Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN). Students will attend a chess tournament on Tuesday and a spelling bee on Thursday at St. John Bosco Catholic School in Barry’s Bay. On Friday May 8, students will attend an Aboriginal Education presentation by First Nation Elder Skip Ross and two University of Ottawa science workshops at the school—“A very busy week,” sums up Principal Ann Lepine.
A prayer cart will be decorated in the school foyer as a place of worship for students at St. John Bosco Catholic School. “The Bible, cross, candles and other articles that reflect the sub-themes will be incorporated,” notes Principal Marie Finnerty. The school will host a chess tournament and spelling bee, as well as an outdoor living Rosary led by community volunteers, Confirmation at St. Hedwig Church, a spirit day (dress in red and white in celebration of Paralympic Games), and a healthy snack/pita bread (representative of the last supper). Loony Spoons author Janet Podleski will present a motivational talk about healthy living for parents and the community.
Principal Maureen McHale Enright says it will be a busy week at George Vanier Catholic School in Combermere, beginning with a prayer service in the gym. An Ontario Hydro presentation on arbours will provide tips for being good stewards, and a book exchange will include the school and the wider community. George Vanier students will also participate in the chess tournament at St. John Bosco on Tuesday. Parish and community members are invited to join the school for a living, glowing Rosary on Thursday evening. “Most lights are off and as each prayer in the Rosary is completed, we light a glow stick. The end result is very powerful,” says Principal Enright. The week concludes with School Mass at the Church of the Holy Canadian Martyrs.
In Eganville, native language students at St. James Catholic School will present displays to the school community, beginning with a drumming ceremony led by Language Teacher Ms. Gaudry, and facilitated by Mr. Sabourin, Aboriginal Student Success Lead. The annual fun fair will take place on May 7 with a bbq, games, face painter, bouncy castle and obstacle course, PP/ambulance/military/fire responders, silent auction, themed basket raffle, cake walk, etc. “There will be activities for all ages!” says Principal Jody Weller.
A province-wide Student Mass will take place on May 7 in all Catholic high schools across Ontario as part of the 2015 celebrations.
“Catholic Education Week provides an opportunity to celebrate the gift of Catholic education, and highlights the partnerships between our schools, parishes and the Catholic community,” comments Michele Arbour, Director of Education for the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.
“The theme this year, inspired by the work of Pope Francis, aligns with our Board’s vision to ‘facilitate an active faith journey rooted in prayer and the sacraments’,” she adds.
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