St. Clair Catholic Welcomes 66 New Employees at System Mass

Each year, the St. Clair Catholic family gathers for a district-wide Mass, to celebrate the beginning of another school year.  It's also an opportunity to give thanks to God for the gift of Catholic education and to ask for His blessings on our students, families and staff.

It is also tradition at St. Clair Catholic that our newest employees are recognized and commissioned, as they begin their service to our students and the mission of Catholic education.  This year, 66 new employees were welcomed and presented with new bibles to mark the occasion.

Father Chris Gillespie of Holy Redeemer Parish Cluster was the principal celebrant.  The St. Vincent Catholic School choir provided the ministry of music.

This year, our unions and associations provided lunch following Mass, as our new employees, principals and Catholic Education Centre staff gathered together for a meal in celebration of this great annual event.

In the photo above are (L-R) Director of Education Deb Crawford; new employees Damon Srokosz, Custodial Staff Shift Supervisor and Briana Landschoot, Teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic School; and Chair of the Board John Van Heck.

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Lambton County Employees and Marshall Gowland Manor Residents Donate Backpacks and School Supplies

Each year, employees of the County of Lambton donate backpacks and school supplies to get the school year off to a successful start for students and families who need a bit of help.

"Our employees are pleased to contribute to this worthwhile endeavour every year," says David Cummings, Health and Safety Coordinator with Lambton County.  "And for the past several years, residents at Marshall Gowland Manor have provided tremendous support by filling the backpacks with school supplies and getting them ready for distribution to the schools."

More than 50 backpacks, filled with school supplies, were donated this year.

"We are very blessed by the generosity of Lambton County staff and the great support of the residents of Marshall Gowland Manor for this amazing gift," says Deb Crawford, Director of Education.  "On behalf of our students and our Board, I want to say a very heartfelt thank you!"

Above, members of the Residents' Council at Marshall Gowland Manor pose for a photo after packing the many donated backpacks.


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St. Clair Catholic Summer Learning Camp Now in its Fifth Year and Growing in Both Enrolment and Success

The St. Clair Catholic Summer Learning Camp is contributing to student success by reducing summer learning loss, helping students build friendships and connections with students from other schools in the community and creating a range of tremendous experiences, both inside and outside the classroom.

"This three week camp makes a difference in our students' lives," says Brenda Corchis, Elementary Curriculum Coordinator for St. Clair Catholic.  "We are not only supporting student learning; but we’re also supporting wellness, by connecting students and parents to a wide range of activities and community partners."

The camps began in 2014 with three classrooms and 60 students at Georges P. Vanier Catholic School in Chatham.  This year there are 10 classrooms at four locations in Chatham, Blenheim, Wallaceburg and Sarnia, with an enrolment of about 270 students.

New this year is the addition of junior division camp called Young Minds Making Change, which focuses on local needs such physical health and wellbeing and emotional wellness – what they are and what students need to do to keep healthy.  The students will be encouraged to join the wellness teams at their schools in September.

"The goal is to have these students take what they have learned back to their schools," says Mrs. Corchis.  "This summer camp is helping them develop leadership skills and contribute to the overall wellness plan for their school as they enter Grade 7." 

The primary division students focus on literacy and numeracy activities as part of each school day; and then participate in a range of other experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, including swimming, bowling, golf, visits to museums and public libraries, activities led by Indigenous partners and visual arts.  There is also a STEAM Team (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), which is led by secondary and post-secondary students from UCC and St. Patrick’s Catholic High School.

Math and literacy diagnostics are completed at the beginning and at the end of camp for each student.  In 2017, the data showed that 85 percent of students showed some improvement in assessments over the three week camp

"We are seeing real and measureable progress," says Mrs. Corchis.  "We are grateful for the partnership we have built with parents and community members over the past five years.  The range of resources and experiences they provide for our students is invaluable."

St. Clair Catholic Summer Learning Camp runs for three weeks from July 9 to 27 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at St. Anne Catholic School, Blenheim; Georges P. Vanier Catholic School, Chatham; St. Elizabeth Catholic School, Wallaceburg; and Holy Trinity Catholic School Sarnia.  Healthy snacks are provided to the students through funding from the Ontario Student Nutrition Programs of Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton. 

The camp is funded through a grant from the Ministry of Education with support from the Ontario Council of Directors of Education.

In the photos are students at Summer Learning Camp (top left) working with computers at St. Anne, Blenheim; (above right) strengthening reading skills at Georges P. Vanier, Chatham; (below left) eating healthy snacks prepared by the students at St. Elizabeth, Wallaceburg; and (below right) a 'Bricks for Kids' lego activity at Holy Trinity, Sarnia.


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Fundraiser at Gregory A. Hogan Catholic School Supports MADD and UNICEF

Students and staff at Gregory A. Hogan Catholic School, led by Catherine Couture's Grade 3 class, came together for a successful fundraiser recently.

The school raised $1,138 for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and UNICEF.

"All of my students were so excited and worked so hard to make the event a success," says Ms. Couture.  "With the help of our entire school, siblings, parents, grandparents and friends, we had a tremendous day."

The fundraiser included a car wash, bake sale and yard sale.  Yard sale items that were not sold by the end of the day were donated to Goodwill Industries.  The students were especially thankful for the support of the Sarnia Fire Service and the opportunity to wash a fire truck!

"I could tell by the smiles on my students' faces that they were having lots of fun," says Ms. Couture.  "Each person has helped to make a huge difference in the lives of others.  That's something for which we can all be proud!"

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Disciples in the Hallway Initiative Recognizes Students and Staff Who Exhibit Characteristics of Jesus

Since April, a new initiative has been underway at St. Clair Catholic to recognize students and staff who exhibit the qualities and characteristics of Christ.

"This is really about living our faith as Catholics in a Catholic school system," says Deb Crawford, Director of Education.  "There are many characteristics of Christ which are demonstrated in our school communities every day - compassion, selflessness, forgiveness, empathy.  This initiative is just a way to recognize and proclaim these qualities in students and in our staff."  

Each month, schools nominate students and staff to be recognized as Disciples in the Hallway.  The schools acknowledge the honourees with a certificate.  All names are then entered in a system-wide draw with a student and staff member from Sarnia-Lambton and a student and staff member from Chatham-Kent selected and treated to a family dinner at a restaurant of their choice.

"We know that good mental health is closely tied to a rich and fulfilling faith life," says Christine Preece, Mental Health Lead for St. Clair Catholic.  "That’s why it’s important to recognize and honour these character traits in both the students and staff in our schools."

Grace Herron, a Grade 6 student at St. Michael Catholic School in Ridgetown was a Disciples in the Hallway honouree for the month of April.  She attended tonight’s Board meeting to help explain the program to trustees.  Grace was nominated by her friend.

"I am grateful to have her for a friend,” says Grace.  “In my opinion, I really think she should have won the award!"

For more information about Disciples in the Hallway, go to:

In the photo above (L-R) are Michelle Park, Vice Chair of the Board; Deb Crawford, Director of Education; Grace Herron, Disciples in the Hallway Student Honouree; and Christine Preece, Mental Health Lead.

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Board of Trustees Expresses Appreciation to Lori Barbato, Recipient of Prime Minister's Award

Lori Barbato, a recipient of the Prime Minister's Certificate of Achievement for Teaching, has now also received the appreciation of the Board of Trustees and senior administration.

"By recognizing you in this way, the Government of Canada has proclaimed what we at St. Clair Catholic have known all along," says Deb Crawford, Director of Education.  "You are an exceptional teacher.  In countless ways, your students and your school community have benefited from your leadership in the classroom."

Ms. Barbato is a Grade 2 teacher at St. Anne Catholic School in Sarnia.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence have honoured exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines since 1993.  Teachers are honoured for their remarkable achievements in education and for their commitment to preparing their students for a digital and innovation-based economy. 

The awards selection committee praised Ms. Barbato for engaging students for success, building relationships and providing consistency in her Grade 2 classroom.

"Lori provides a wide range of opportunities for all students to be actively engaged in hands-on learning and using tasks and tools," says a Government of Canada release, which announced the awards in May.

Among her many achievements, Ms. Barbato was recognized for her innovative classroom learning using digital technologies, leading the school social justice club and celebrating families’ home cultures and their children’s milestones, with annual multi-cultural feasts in her classroom.

"I am humbled and amazed by this award," says Ms. Barbato.  "It means so much to receive this recognition from the Government of Canada, but it's so very special to be honoured by my students, parents, colleagues, my principal and the Board.  Thank you all."

In recognition of her achievement, Ms. Barbato has received a letter from the Prime Minister, a commemorative pin and a cash award.  As an expression of appreciation, the Board presented Ms. Barbato with a gift certificate for dinner at a local restaurant.

In the photo above are (L-R) Michelle Parks, Vice Chair of the Board; Lori Barbato; Deb Crawford, Director of Education; and Lisa Demers, Superintendent of Education.



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Ground Breaking Celebrated at Site of New North Chatham Catholic Elementary School

Students traded in their books and pencils for hard hats and shovels, as they were joined by special guests to help turn the sod at a special Ground Breaking Celebration at the site of the new north Chatham Catholic elementary school on Monday, June 18, 2018.

"This is an important milestone in our journey towards the opening of our new north Chatham Catholic elementary school," says Deb Crawford.  "The students are excited about being a part of this historic event!"

Guests included Nicole da Silva representing MPP Rick Nicholls, officials from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, members of the Ursuline Order and parish partners, neighbourhood residents, senior administration and trustees of the Board, and parents, students and staff from the three north Chatham schools who will come together to form the new school community.

"What a tremendous day for St. Clair Catholic and for the three north Chatham elementary school communities of St. Agnes, Our Lady of Fatima and St. Vincent," says Michelle Parks, Vice Chair of the Board.  "It's an especially important day for our students.  One day, many years from now, you will look back on this day and remember that you were here being part of history and helping to break ground for this magnificent new Catholic school!"

“I want to especially thank Father Jim Higgins for leading our prayer celebration, as we gave thanks to God for Catholic education and asked for His blessings as we prepare to begin construction,” says Mrs. Crawford.

Students from the St. Vincent Catholic School choir - the Vinnies - led the singing during the service, under the direction of music teacher Jacquelyn McGlynn.

The new north Chatham school will replace St. Vincent, St. Agnes and Our Lady of Fatima Catholic schools, while the Our Lady of Fatima site will be upgraded, refurbished and rebranded as the new home for French Immersion in Chatham, which is currently housed at Monsignor Uyen.

“There will be many celebrations throughout the months and weeks ahead,” says Laura Callaghan, Superintendent of Education and Chair of the North Chatham Catholic Elementary School Transition Committee.

“Our committee has already begun to look at ways to celebrate the future and honour the past as we bring these three Catholic elementary schools together.  What an exciting time in our history!”

The Board continues to work with partners on securing suitable land as the site for the south Chatham elementary school.   

Participating in the ceremonial sod turning in the photo above are (L-R) Father Jim Higgins; Michelle Parks, Vice Chair of the Board; Deb Crawford, Director of Education with students from the three north Chatham elementary schools; Councillor Trevor Thompson representing Mayor Randy Hope and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent; and Nicole da Silva, Special Assistant to Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls.  Below left Superintendent of Education Laura Callaghan, with help from students, leads prayers of the faithful; and below right the Vinnies lead singing during the prayer service.


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Students at St. Anne Catholic School Blenheim Among the First to Ride New Electric Bus Piloted by Blenheim Bus Lines

"Wow!" and "This is so cool!"

Those were just some of the comments overheard by students at St. Anne Catholic School on Friday afternoon, as they boarded a brand new electric school bus for its maiden run.

Blenheim Bus Lines has been selected as one of just 14 student transportation operators across the province to participate in the Ministry of Transportation’s Electric School Bus Pilot Program (ESB Pilot).

“We are very excited to be part of this important study, which could pave the way for a greener future in student transportation,” says Kent Orr, General Manager of CLASS (Chatham-Kent Lambton Administrative School Services), which provides transportation services for the St. Clair Catholic and Lambton Kent district school boards.

ESB Pilot funding has been provided to selected school bus operators to determine if ESBs can operate reliably and cost effectively in Ontario in a range of weather conditions.  The ESB Pilot also aims to determine any potential constraints for school bus operators, as well as the potential of ESBs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

In October 2017, school bus operators applied for funding for an ESB and the necessary charging infrastructure for its operation.  As a condition of funding, successful applicants are required to report on aspects of their use and experience with their ESB.  Recipients were selected based on their experience in student transportation, ability to successfully deliver a pilot project, location in Ontario, type of route serviced and the size of their school bus fleet.

“The ride aboard an ESB is completely different from traditional school buses because there is absolutely no engine noise,” says Mr. Orr.  “The vehicle that will be test driven on routes in the Blenheim area is highly computerized and equipped with GPS technology and a 100 percent electric propulsion system.”

The pilot bus route transports students from St. Anne Catholic School, Harwich Raleigh Public School and Blenheim District High School.

In the photo above top, Jarrod and Ken Denure of Blenheim Bus Lines pose with students from St. Anne Catholic School before boarding the new electric bus for its maiden run on Friday, June 15, 2018.



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