Local farmers are bringing the farm to the school to celebrate Canada's Agriculture Day, which this year was held on February 16th.
At Monsignor Uyen Catholic School in Chatham Theresa Buis, from the Buis Beef Ranch, talked to JK, SK and Grade 1 students about her farm.
"I really enjoy talking to students about life on the farm," says Ms. Buis. "It's really important that young people know where their food comes from!"
A recent census shows that fewer than two per cent of the population now lives on Canada's farms. Local federations of agriculture are working to close the gap between consumers and producers. They say the classroom is an excellent place to start.
"This was a really fun morning for our students," says Barbara Brecka, a teacher at Monsignor Uyen Catholic School, who arranged for Ms. Buis' visit. "Our students were really interested to hear all about her farming operation and the cattle, sheep, ducks, chickens and horses that she raises.
To celebrate agriculture day, 19 local farmers volunteered to visit 55 classrooms in Lambton County and Chatham-Kent, including Our Lady of Fatima, St. Michael (Ridgetown), Holy Trinity, Sacred Heart (Sarnia) St. Anne (Sarnia) and St. Joseph (Corunna) in the St. Clair district. The visits were organized as a joint effort between the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, Lambton Kent Agriculture in the Classroom Committee and the Science Education Partnership, a joint venture between the St. Clair Catholic and Lambton Kent District school boards.
In the photo above, students at Monsignor Uyen pose with Theresa Buis of the Buis Beef Ranch (left) and teacher Barbara Brecka.
Grade 7 and 8 students from St. Anne Catholic School in Blenheim were joined by students from Georges P. Vanier Catholic School in Chatham and St. Michael Catholic School, Ridgetown for a day of prayer, dramatic role play, video and song led by a NET Ministry team from Ottawa.
"This was a fantastic day for our students," says Stacy Shepley, Principal of St. Anne Catholic School. "It was an opportunity for them to grow in their faith, meet new friends and have fun!"
NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries is a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to spreading the Gospel to youth. Through discussion groups and role play, the students explored themes of self-worth, personal confidence and acceptance. A Who Are You? theme helps young people come to a greater awareness of their goodness and uniqueness as God's children, and explores ways in which they can have a closer relationship with Him.
NET Ministries is the largest Catholic travelling youth ministry in the world, with an active presence in Australia, Canada, Uganda, Ireland, Scotland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
"It was an exciting day for our students and we will continue to build on the themes explored at our youth rally throughout the school year," says Ms. Shepley.
In the photos (top) students from St. Anne and St. Michael enjoy the rally; and (centre and below) the NET Ministries team leads students through a number of contemporary worship songs.
Father John Comiskey was the featured speaker at St. Clair Catholic's annual gathering, The Great Family of Our Church - Our Annual Day of Faith and Learning Together. Father Comiskey is Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of London.
"We are extremely grateful and honoured that Father John made time available in his busy schedule to attend our two-day conference in the St. Clair district," says Dan Parr, Director of Education. "Father's theme for the events was Joy in Life - Leadership in Catholic Education and he had a tremendous message for each of us who attended."
Father Comiskey quoted from a recent Papal encyclical, in which the Holy Father addressed this topic. Pope Francis said, "... the Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children, who show signs of a wounded and troubled love, by restoring in them hope and confidence, like the beacon of a lighthouse in a port, or a torch carried among the people to enlighten those who have lost their way or who are in the midst of a storm."
"This is an important lesson for each of us who serves the mission of Catholic education," says Mr. Parr.
The Great Family of Our Church is an annual celebration, which brings together representatives of the Catholic community, all of whom have an interest in Catholic education and its future. Representatives include St. Clair Catholic trustees, senior administration, principals, staff, parents, students, union and association presidents, the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Women's League, priests and parish partners.
In the photos (Above) Fr. John Comiskey.
(Below) (Back Row L-R) Scott Johnson, Superintendent of Education; Ray Power, Principal, Ursuline College; Megan Gooch, Student, UCC; Madison Herreweyers, Student, UCC; Lesli Jeffrey, CWL, Blessed Sacrament; Maxx McGlynn, Student, UCC; Cindy Boyd, Principal, St. Joseph Catholic School, Tilbury; (Front Row L-R) Fr. Jim Higgins, Episcopal Vicar, Kent Deanery; Fr. John Comiskey; Dan Parr, Director of Education; John Van Heck, Chair of the Board; Christine Canniff, Parent, Georges P. Vanier Catholic School; Stan Powell, Knights of Columbus, Corpus Christi Council.
(Bottom Photo) (Back Row L-R) Father Vince Guilikers, Pastor, Sacred Heart Parish, Sarnia; Linda Ward, Trustee; Chad Coene, President, OECTA Secondary; Mike Hendrycks, Knights of Columbus, District 40; Deacon Lyle Lalonge; Len Fera, Principal, St. Michael Catholic School, Bright's Grove. (Front Row L-R) Michelle Parks, Trustee; Amy Janssens, Executive Superintendent - Corporate Services; Fr. John Comiskey; Dan Parr, Director of Education; Deacon John Lamers and Scott Johnson, Superintendent of Education.
Students in Grade 1 at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Sarnia celebrated the 100th day of the school year by boarding a Sarnia Transit bus and touring the city; and they topped it off with a stop at Sarnia City Hall and a visit with Mayor Mike Bradley.
"The students planned the itinerary on their own," says Grade 1 Teacher Mary Jo Cocarell. "We study 'community' as part of the Grade 1 social studies curriculum; so, they picked the spots in their community they wanted to see."
Ms. Cocarell and teacher Shannon Geary accompanied the students on a tour that included Canatara Park, Lake Chipican, Lake Huron, the Bluewater Bridge and St. Clair River, the big ships by the grain elevators, Sarnia Bay Marina, the Sarnia police and fire stations, Our Lady of Mercy Church, Bluewater Health and St. Patrick's Catholic High School, among other sites.
The highlight was a tour of city hall, with Mayor Mike Bradley acting as tour guide. He greeted the students in the council chambers then accompanied them up a private staircase to his office on the second floor.
"Mayor Mike was very gracious," says Ms. Geary. "The students asked lots of questions and were very enthusiastic. They learned a lot and had a very fun day!"
In the photo above, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley poses in the Council Chambers with three students from Grade 1 at Sacred Heart Catholic School, Sarnia.
Students at St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Wallaceburg participated in a day to help raise awareness of the importance of reading. Students wore western costumes, including cowboy hats and boots, as they set out to "round-up" reading for the day!
"This day was all about stressing the importance of literacy in our every day lives," says Liz Gibson, Principal of St. Elizabeth Catholic School. "Our staff developed a number of activities, both in the classroom and in school-wide groups, that made for a fun day of reading and learning together!"
Guest readers were invited in, including Trustee Carol Bryden, who co-authored the children's book Yellow Bear Goes to Catholic School. Other guest readers included Ursuline College Principal Ray Power, UCC Vice Principal Ed Freeburn, Superintendent of Education Laura Callaghan, members of the staff of Catholic Curriculum Services and parents.
Students also collected pledges to honour the reading goals they set a few weeks back and participated in reading activities in school families and with their reading buddies.
In a brand new tradition at St. Elizabeth, the Grade 8 class will purchase a legacy book for JK students entering the school in September. They will write a short message to the future Charger graduates and sign it with the date.
"Families will be able build on many of these activities at home," says Mrs. Gibson. "Special thanks to all of our staff members for making our reading round-up a success!"
In the photo above, Trustee Carol Bryden reads the children's book Yellow Bear Goes to Catholic School to students at St. Elizabeth Catholic School.
kinderSTARt is a special one day registration event in each elementary school for parents and their children, who are beginning Junior Kindergarten in September 2017. It is an opportunity for families to visit the school to meet the staff and engage in activities in preparation for Full Day Kindergarten. Parents also have a chance to bring younger siblings (18 months to three years) to participate in the Ages and Stages developmental questionnaire. kinderSTARt is also a fun and informative way for families to get tips on healthy living and immunization for their children.
For more information, including dates and times for kinderSTARt registration at your local Catholic elementary school, click on the following links: Chatham-Kent Catholic Schools Sarnia-Lambton Catholic Schools
St. Clair Catholic students took home honours in several categories at the First Lego League Robotics Competition in Sarnia earlier this month. As part of the competition, students program, design and make robots, which are required to complete a series of challenges.
Students also present their innovative solutions in a research project. They are also given a core values challenge, in which they demonstrate the skills they have developed, both individually and as a team throughout the year.
“The First Lego League Program is designed to encourage young people to pursue careers in the sciences – computer, mechanical, physical and engineering,” says Cortnee Goure, one of the team leaders. “The Lego League competitions are also important as they help students build knowledge and innovative and interpersonal skills, which are important in both academic and social settings. It’s all about team work!”
First Lego League challenges are held in more than 80 countries around the world.
Several St. Clair Catholic teams received awards of merit. The Our Lady of Fatima team was named Ontario West Championship Qualifiers; Aaron VandenEnden, an Ursuline College student, who was mentoring the St. Ursula team, was named Outstanding Youth Mentor; the Gadget Girls Team from Holy Family was Rookie of the Year; and the girls’ team from St. Joseph in Chatham received the Ontario Innovation Celebration Nomination.
The Our Lady of Fatima team now advances to the next competition in Waterloo in January.
In the photo above, the Holy Family Gadget Girls team, which was named Rookie of the Year, poses with staff leaders Cortnee Goure (left) and Janice Prangley (far right).
Through inquiry-based learning, students in Steve Churchill's Grade 11 English class are helping to provide solutions to real issues confronting the community.
"This semester, we invited some local agencies into our classroom to talk to us about some 'real world' problems which face our community," says Mr. Churchill. "The students have followed their passion and their interest and are helping to provide solutions."
Some of the groups invited to speak to students were Pet and Animal Wildlife Rescue, Learning Disabilities Association, Chatham-Kent Outreach for Hunger and the Ursuline Sisters.
"The local Pet and Wildlife Rescue Centre had a recent break-in and was in need of emergency funding," says student Erykah Bugros. "We decided to design bracelets and sell them, hoping to raise $400. We've already hit $300 and we're sure we will make our target!"
Another group of students was concerned about young people who cannot afford to play organized sports. They partnered with SportChek and Canadian Tire to promote the JumpStart Program, which helps give kids from families in financial need the same opportunities to participate in sports as their neighbours, classmates and friends. They also partnered with students in Grades 1 to 8 at St. Michael Catholic School in Ridgetown to produce dozens of posters, to help promote JumpStart.
"The students all designed their own projects to work out solutions to the problems they were passionate about. I'm so proud of all of them and the work they're doing in our communities," says Mr. Churchill. "What I like best about these projects is that they tie so directly to the mission of Catholic education. These kids aren't only talking about their faith, they're living it!"
The students will discuss their projects in a Ted Talks-style presentation to the community agencies and invited guests on January 18 in the UCC Theatre.
In the photos (above left) students show off the bracelets they designed for the Chatham-Kent Pet and Wildlife Rescue fundraiser; and (above right) some of the posters designed to help promote the JumpStart Program.