Social justice fundraising events, physical fitness activities and innovative learning are a few of the ways students in our Westmeath and Renfrew elementary schools are keeping busy in 2019.
It has been a busy start to the year at Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in Westmeath. As 2018 came to a close, the Christmas season offered staff and students the opportunity to be ‘faith-filled community builders’ presenting their annual Christmas musical and celebrating a Christmas lunch as a school family. Students also visited Marianhill to sing Christmas carols, perform their musical, and present a cheque to the Marianhill Palliative Care Unit. Funds were collected at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. In the past two years, students have raised and donated $988.20 to Marianhill.
“We plan to continue this tradition and hope to obtain a leaf on the donor tree at Marianhill,” notes Principal Terrence O’Grady.
In January, staff and students began discerning what it means to be a reflective, creative and holistic thinker by focusing on problem solving and making responsible decisions both at school and at home for the common good of all, shares Principal O’Grady.
The annual skate program is underway with students visiting the community rink each Friday to build their skating skills and physical fitness. “We are extremely fortunate to be able to continue this OLG tradition with thanks to the Westmeath District Recreation Association and local parent community. It is wonderful to build the love of skating and see the joy it brings students while building endurance and physical fitness,” says O’Grady.
Grade 7 students are also preparing for a badminton tournament on Jan. 30.
OLG students celebrated Wellness Week by taking time each day to pray and reflect on a virtue for the day. “It was wonderful to take the time to explicitly bring focus to a daily virtue and teach students about how our Christian faith, the act of prayer, the sacraments and reading God’s word makes us resilient people,” says O’Grady.
Staff continue to build student mathematical knowledge with daily Number Talks and recently have started to implement a new Kathy Richardson diagnostic assessment for math.
Our Lady of Fatima students in Renfrew are developing Global Competencies! Students are actively exploring Global Competencies and learning how to relate those skills to their overall academic and personal growth, states Principal Karen Keels.
As part of the Innovation Learning Fund, a Makerspace was launched at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Funding was used to support the purchase of furniture and learning devices that encourage the development of 21st Century Learning Skills and Global Competencies in a collaborative learning space. “Students have persevered through coding projects, which combine various mathematical and computational skills with collaborative problem solving, they have integrated engaging tools such as Lego and Kinex to reinforce various curriculum expectations,” says Keels.
The next development in the Makerspace will invite students to explore hands-on activities related to various trades such as an electrician, an automotive power technician, a hair stylist and a carpenter!
Students at Our Lady of Fatima are also exploring the development of necessary skills such as collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking as they tackle the challenges set out in Destination Imagination. Some students in Grade 6 are challenging themselves to solve the Engineering challenge, which asks them to problem solve as they design and build a structure that can support weight without breaking, while incorporating it into a story that uses a special effect to highlight the appearance of a monster! Others are exploring the Improvisational Challenge, which combines the need to think critically on your feet, while students research historical figures found on a coin and integrate it into an improvisation that highlights the difference between comedy and tragedy. The Rising Stars team is learning about the difference between fiction and non-fiction, while they present a story that includes a technical device! “We are looking forward to seeing further engagement through this amazing learning space,” concludes Keels.
Students at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School were thrilled to welcome Dion Metcalfe “Stranger” who gave a presentation about the upcoming Arctic Winter Games in March. The students were very enthusiastic to take part in some of the demonstrations, and, like a veteran educator, Dion was able to impart some important lessons through his demonstrations, not only related to indigenous education, but on spirituality and life in general, reports Principal Rory Donohue. “Our students are very eager to be among those selected to take part in the games at Shaw Woods,” says Principal Donohue.
The STA Social Justice Club has been active with a number of activities including Socktober to collect socks for families in need, a huge Christmas Food Drive, and continued and ongoing work with the Renfrew Foodbank. Many thanks to Mrs. Halk and the Grade 7 students who are part of the Social Justice Club for living their faith through their actions, says Principal Donohue.
Donohue also thanked Mr. Trainor and Mr. Halk for the excellent ‘explore block’ they have offered to the Grade 7 class. Each week the students engage in STEAM-related activities, such as coding and robotics to help prepare them for the increasing demand for these skills in the 21stcentury.
Mrs. Galbraith and the Grade 6 class were very moved by an article indicating that poverty in Renfrew County, and in the village of Renfrew itself, has increased. Living by the call of our faith to act justly, the Grade 6 class sponsored a fun day for the students in order to raise money for CPAN says Principal Donohue.
Mrs. Galbraith thanked everyone who helped to make the Grade 6 Operation Snowsuit fundraising initiative a success. “The boxes of winter gear are overflowing and we raised an additional $1,000! Amazing.”
OLG: Ms. Cindy Giroux and students took to the kitchen to make a special treat for the school as part of a Kindness initiative. They also put their culinary and Math skills to the test.
January 28, 2019
For further information, please contact:
Jaimie Perry, Director of Education
Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
499 Pembroke Street West
Pembroke, ON K8A 5P1
Phone: 613-735-1031 or 1-800-267-0191