Cycline Aid at St. Patrick's Catholic High School Set for Saturday, March 24th!

More than 200 students and 150 parent and staff volunteers from St. Patrick's Catholic High School are set to go door-to-door in Sarnia and Point Edward this Saturday for the 17th annual Cyclone Aid.

"This is really a great thing to do," says Beth Schoenmaker, a Grade 12 student an co-chair of this year's event.  "In one day we collect enough food to help keep the shelves stocked at the Inn of the Good Shepherd for almost a month.  It's good to know we can make such a difference in our community!"

Each year, the volunteers aim for about 30,000 to 35,000 pounds of food.  The Inn of the Good Shepherd typically goes through about 40,000 pounds each month.

Cyclone Aid, which began at the former St. Christopher Catholic Secondary School and continued following the consolidation with St. Patrick's, runs each year during Lent.  It is one of two major food drives at the school.  During Advent, students collect non-perishable food items for Irish Miracle, which supports the St. Vincent DePaul Christmas hamper campaign.

The students say they are amazed every year at the generosity of the community.

"Some people give us laundry baskets filled with food and others have several grocery bags full," says Izzy Kokkinis, co-chair.  "It's nice to know so many people want to help - and we really appreciate it!"

Volunteers will go door-to-door from 8:00 a.m. until noon on Saturday.  Residents can give their donations directly to the students, leave it on the porch, or drop it off at the school.

A kick-off pep rally was held at the school today, attended by Myles Vanni, Executive Director of the Inn of the Good Shepherd; Director of Education Deb Crawford; Trustee Linda Ward; Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley; and Point Edward Mayor Bev Hand.

Lunch will be provided for the volunteers this Saturday courtesy of the Catholic Women's League.

In the photo above are (L-R) Sarnia Trustee Linda Ward; student co-chairs Izzy Kokkinis and Beth Schoenmaker; and Director of Education Deb Crawford.

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Successful Chess Tournament at St. Matthew Catholic School Still Going Strong After More Than 20 Years

  Two-hundred-and-ninety students from 13 Catholic schools across Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent participated in a chess tournament that has a long tradition in Sarnia.

  "It was a great day," says St. Matthew Catholic School FSL teacher and tournament organizer Chris Vaillant.  "This event has been running in our Sarnia Catholic schools since the mid-90s.  It's something the students and staff look forward to every year."

  The students competed in six rounds of chess for trophies in age groups that ranged from Grade 1 to 8.

  "Not only is it a lot of fun, but chess also provides great opportunities for learning," says Mr. Vaillant.  "It touches a number of subject areas, including math and helps students to develop skills in critical thinking."

  Participating schools this year, in addition to the host school St. Matthew, were:  Christ The King, Wallaceburg; Gregory A. Hogan, Sarnia; Holy Rosary, Wyoming, Holy Trinity, Sarnia; St. Anne, Sarnia; Sacred Heart, Sarnia; St. John Fisher, Forest; St. Joseph, Corunna; St. Michael, Bright's Grove; Monsignor Uyen, Chatham; St. Peter Canisius, Watford; and St. Philip, Petrolia.

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Family Wellness Night at Georges P. Vanier Catholic School a Huge Success

  More than 175 students and parents attended a Family Wellness Night at Georges P. Vanier Catholic School in Chatham recently.

  "It was a fantastic event with tremendous support and participation from many community partners," says Americo Todino, Principal of Georges P. Vanier Catholic School.  "I want to thank everyone who attended!"

  The evening was organized by the Georges P. Vanier Catholic School Advisory Council and funded through a Parent Reaching Out Grant.  The goal was to promote health and wellness. 

  Council members sought out community partners who were willing to share information about living a healthy lifestyle.  Participating agencies included CK Public Health, the Kent Dairy Association, CK Recreation, YMCA Chatham-Kent and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  In addition, representatives of Cornell Irish Dance, Pure Dance, Blenheim Golden Eagles Gymnastics Club, Peak Athletic, the Chatham Granite Club, DrumFit and Cobra Taekwondo were also on hand to provide demonstrations.

  In keeping with the theme for the evening, an army of parents and school volunteers helped prepare healthy snacks, including wraps, veggies and fruit.

  "It was a busy evening," says Mr. Todino.  "Our school library and eight classrooms were needed to host all of our visitor booths and interactive centres.  Thanks also to our Grade 7 and 8 students, who helped run events and stamp participation passports."

In the photo (above) students participate in a Taekwondo demonstration.

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St. Patrick's Grade 11 Communications Technology Class Receives Ontario Heritage Award from Lieutenant Governor

  Students in the Grade 11 Communications Technology class at St. Patrick's Catholic High School were presented with the prestigious Ontario Heritage Award by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell at a ceremony at Queen's Park on Friday.

  "This is a tremendous honour for our students, our school and our community," says Rob Cicchelli, Principal of St. Patrick's Catholic High School.  "I want to commend them and their teacher, Robert Walicki, for this tremendous project that will be a benefit to future generations of Lambton County residents."

  The students were recognized for their Eye Was Not There 360 project, which involved creating a series of 360 degree videos of notable Lambton County attractions.  Each online video features a tour guide describing the historical locations.

  "Our students have learned a lot about Lambton County history through this project," says Mr. Walicki.

  The Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement recognizes the most exceptional individuals and groups, who have contributed to conserving Ontario's cultural and/or natural heritage.

  "These exceptional individuals, organizations and communities are champions of our past and architects of our future," says Lt. Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell in a statement released following the ceremony.  "On behalf of a grateful province, I thank them for their exemplary achievements in conserving the best of Ontario from which we may learn and mature."

In the photo (above) Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell presents the Ontario Heritage Award certificate to Teacher Robert Walicki and students of the St. Patrick's Catholic High School Grade 11 Communications Technology class.

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Three St. Clair Catholic Schools Receive Ontario Government 'Speak Up' Grants

Three St. Clair Catholic schools have been awarded more than $4,500 in funding through the Ontario government's SpeakUp projects.  The grants for Sacred Heart, Sarnia; St. Anne, Blenheim; and Ursuline College, Chatham were announced this week.

  SpeakUp is part of the Ministry of Education's student voice strategy, which promotes student engagement and success in Ontario schools, by listening to and learning from students.  The grants support student-led initiatives in projects that make a difference to their schools in four pillars - achieving excellence; ensuring equity; promoting wellbeing and enhancing public confidence.

  The Sacred Heart Student Council will use the grant to host activities that will connect students by promoting positive interactions with their peers.  The goal is to improve student wellness and classroom engagement.

  "Congratulations to the staff and students from these three schools," says Deb Crawford, Director of Education.  "I look forward to hearing more about their projects in the months ahead."

In the photo (above) are students from the Sacred Heart (Sarnia) Catholic School Council, who will be leading the SpeakUp events at their school.

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Fire Safety Presentations at St. Joseph Catholic School in Corunna

  Fire safety messages were presented to students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Corunna recently.  The presentations were given by students of the Fire Sciences Program at Lambton College.

  "This was a great day both for our students and our friends from the college," says Colleen Cogghe, Principal of St. Joseph Catholic School.  "We benefited from valuable fire safety messages and the Lambton College students had the opportunity to present to an interested and eager audience!"

  Students in higher grades were also given information about exploring the fire services as a career.

In the photo are (L-R) Scott Brown, Professor of Fire Sciences at Lambton College; Fire Sciences student Laura Gray; Marshal from the Paw Patrol; and St. Joseph Catholic School Principal Colleen Cogghe with students.

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Special Salad Bar Events Held at St. Anne Sarnia and St. Vincent Chatham

Students at St. Anne Catholic School in Sarnia and St. Vincent Catholic School in Chatham recently enjoyed healthy and delicious salad bar lunches!  The idea is to involve students in making healthy eating choices and show them just how tasty nutritious foods can be.

"Statistics show that young people, as well as adults in Ontario, are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than they used to," says Daniela Mezzatesta, Principal of St. Anne Catholic School.  "We're hoping that by showing students the wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are available to them we can boost their intake of healthier food choices."

Student peer leaders are responsible for helping plan the salad bar events, as well as shop for and help prepare the vegetables.

"This has also been a great experience for our peer leaders," says Nicole Stevens, Principal of St. Vincent Catholic School in Chatham.  "These are excellent skills for our students to have.  Knowing how to prepare the fruits and vegetables will make it more likely that they'll actually eat them." 

Funding for the salad bars is through the Healthy Kids Community Challenge in Lambton County; and Super Kids CK in Chatham-Kent, both of which are part of initiatives launched in 45 communities across the province last year, through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.  The projects are designed to promote and encourage healthier life-styles in children up to 12 years old.

The focus on fruit and vegetables is the third theme; the two previous being 'Run. Jump. Play. Every Day.' and 'Water Does Wonders.'

Other St. Clair Catholic elementary schools participating in the salad bar events include Sacred Heart, Sarnia; St. Joseph, Corunna; Christ The King, Wallaceburg; and St. Joseph, Tilbury.

In the photos (above) St. Anne Principal Daniela Mezzatesta (left) poses with students at the salad bar event; and (right) students enjoy the salad bar at St. Vincent Catholic School, Chatham.

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Province Approves $17 Million in Funding for New Catholic Elementary School and Child Care in Sarnia

The Ministry of Education has approved $14,371,913 in funding for a new Catholic elementary school in Sarnia.  A further $2,672,104 has also been approved for a child care facility at the new school.

"We are very pleased with this tremendous announcement from the Government of Ontario," says John Van Heck, Chair of the Board.  "This is fantastic news for the Catholic school communities of Gregory A. Hogan and Sacred Heart in Sarnia."

The money will be used to build a new French Immersion school, to accommodate the ever-growing population currently housed at Gregory A. Hogan.  With the transition of French Immersion students to the new school, the Sacred Heart population will move to the facility at Gregory A. Hogan, which has recently been extensively upgraded and refurbished.  As a result, both school communities will occupy state-of-the-art facilities that are the right size for their student populations.

“Once again we are pleased to partner with our friends at London Bridge and the County of Lambton, as together we work to provide excellent quality child care for the families who will be served by this brand new school community,” says Deb Crawford, Director of Education.

The new school will include six child care classrooms with 88 child care spaces.

Timing for construction is not yet finalized; however, a best case scenario would be that the school would be ready for occupancy by September 2020. 

The Board will now begin to pursue options for obtaining property in a location that best suits St. Clair Catholic’s French Immersion families.

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