Ontario Catholic Student Leadership Conference
The CDSBEO had the privilege of hosting, in partnership with the Ottawa Catholic School Board, the second Ontario Catholic Student Leadership Conference. The conference brought together some 350 Catholic students and their supervisors, from across the province. The group of delegates were involved in many enriching discussions, and had the opportunity to hear several engaging keynote speakers, all of which centred on the Catholic Graduate Expectations (CGEs).
Catholic Student Trustee, Sean Fry, provided the Board with an overview of the conference. Held at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, from April 11 to 13, the conference was facilitated by a group of student leaders from the two host boards, who assisted with various roles throughout the event. Activities and speakers were carried by Student Trustee Fry, along with Laura D’Amico and Andrew DiCapua (Catholic Student Trustees from OCSB), who also emceed the duration of the conference.
The opening ceremonies began with an introduction of all attending boards, with greetings from the Directors of Education, Wm. J. Gartland (CDSBEO) and Julian Hanlon (OCSB), and the Board Chairs, Brent Laton (CDSBEO), and Mark Mullan (OCSB). Bishop Douglas Crosby, of the Diocese of Hamilton, gave an inspiring keynote address to the delegates, which focused on the three keys to effective leadership: gratitude, affirmation, and sacrifice.
Two other keynote speakers also inspired the students with motivating messages. Jason Collard, founder of A Day of Info for a Lifetime of Action, encouraged students to become strong leaders, and to dream of a better world, and act on those dreams. Mr. Collard urged delegates to ignore cynicism, and focus on the positive, and what may come from action. Sheri Richer-Camillone, Chaplaincy Leader at St. Michael Catholic High School in Kemptville, shared her story of faith, hope and gratitude, which she found while spending time in a Ugandan orphanage. Mrs. Richer-Camillone inspired students through the genuine connections she made with the impoverished women in a nearby village, and how they taught her about true hope, and gratitude.
Over the three-day event, students were also engaged in liturgical celebrations, student witness talks, and discussion groups which focused on the CGEs. Delegates had an opportunity to explore the National Capital Region and participate in many spirit-building activities including icebreakers, a gala dinner, and an evening dance. The conference ended with a celebration of the Eucharist held at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, presided by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.
STAR Program at St. Matthew CSS
Transitioning from elementary school to secondary school can be both an exciting and stressful time for students and their parents. Becoming familiar with available school and program choices before making a final decision can help ensure the best choice is made to meet the student’s individual needs, thus promoting a smooth transition and positive experience in high school. At St. Matthew Catholic Secondary School, the STAR program (Student Transition, Advising & Registration Program) has been established to help students, and their parents/guardians, with this decision. The program introduces grade 7 and 8 students to the secondary school environment through a number of phases.
For the first phase of the STAR program, St. Matthew CSS staff visit grade 7 and 8 students at CDSBEO feeder schools. A 40 minute presentation is given, which focuses on communicating the key considerations that will affect a student’s secondary school pathway. A school video is shown, and a description of the St. Matthew CSS program is highlighted, including details on the extensive use of technology, individual support through smaller class sizes, and the school focus on engagement through hands-on activities, educational goals, and career exploration.
Those who are interested in the St. Matthew Program will then participate in an activity day, which consists of spending a day at St. Matthew CSS to become familiar with the staff, facility, and the programs offered. During this day, students participate in hands-on workshops in Construction, Hospitality, and Science. In addition, snacks and lunch are prepared by the Hospitality program, and questions are addressed in a brief session at the end of the day. Parents/guardians are also welcome to participate.
Next, St. Matthew CSS has an open house, where information presented at the elementary schools is shared with parents, along with feedback from the activity day. There is an opportunity to ask questions and tour the school. Once the decision has been made to attend St. Matthew CSS, a meeting is held with the Student Success team, parents/guardians, and student, to learn more about the student, including his/her strengths, areas of need, and interests. This facilitates an appropriate course selection, and ensures a smooth transition into high school. There are many opportunities to interact with students and staff before the first day of grade 9, which may include an additional visit to the school, participation in a sporting challenge (i.e. Dodge ball), with the elementary school and students at St. Matthew, and the “New Student BBQ” held on the September PD Day.
St. Matthew CSS currently offers a Specialist High Skills Major program in Construction. Each year, the SHSM Construction program builds a camper cabin for the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. Very recently, the students from St. Matthew CSS won a silver medal in the Integrated Construction category, at the annual Eastern Skills Competition at St. Lawrence College. Principal Renée Rozon, and Vice-Principal Walter MacDonald, credit the win to the skills this group has learned in the SHSM Construction program. The authentic learning experiences provided by the school have been very well received, and the success of the students is a testament to the programs offered. In addition to the SHSM program in Construction, the school is already making plans to implement a SHSM program in Hospitality, beginning September, 2013.
Outdoor Education Enhances Learning Experiences for CDSBEO Students
The Ministry of Education is committed to reaching every student by providing a range of educational programs tailored to individual strengths, goals and interests of learners. Outdoor education, a valuable tool in achieving this goal, encourages students to engage in active and healthy learning experiences.
Funding provided by the Ministry of Education is being used to support outdoor learning activities for students. CDSBEO has partnered with various community agencies, some of which include: Cooper Marsh Conservation Authority, Friends of the Summerstown Trails, Foley Mountain – Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, and MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre, to deliver hands on opportunities for our students.
Principal of Curriculum, Frances Derochie, presented an overview of Outdoor Education initiatives for students in both our elementary and secondary schools. “Outdoor education opportunities clearly link to the Ontario curriculum, including links to the Health and Physical Education – Active Living curriculum and the science curriculum.
Students across the Board participate in a myriad of outdoor education opportunities throughout the year. Activities such as, downhill skiing at Mount Pakenham, skating on the Rideau Canal, snowshoeing at Summerstown Trails, and tubing and tobogganing at Les Cèdres, help learners to understand the importance of being physically active, and provides them with an opportunity to demonstrate responsibility for their own safety, and the safety of others.
Some Students also experience overnight excursions to Upper Canada Village, a three day canoeing/camping trip to Algonquin Park, and a visit to the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority. The outdoor education opportunity that drew the largest number of students has been the trip to La Petite Rouge Centre Touristique, located near Montebello, Québec, in the heart of the Laurentians. This year, approximately 300 students, from 12 schools, participated in the French language camp. Students kept active with cross country skiing, broom-ball, tubing, skating, snowshoeing, firefly tag, and a treasure hunt while perfecting their oral French communication skills.
Offering these experiences to learners promotes an appreciation of, and concern for, the environment. Effective outdoor education also develops students’ problem solving skills, while offering hands on learning opportunities. This curriculum incorporates scientific inquiry, higher order thinking, and cooperative learning, which provides an enriching experience for CDSBEO students.