The Carlington Summit
by David Darwin.

Here are a few items which highlight recent happenings at the Ottawa Carleton Catholic School Board:

Education Week Apr. 30 to May 5

The Board has scheduled its Education Week 2000 festivities for the week of April 30 to May 5. The Ontario Ministry of Education had earlier picked the week of May 8-12 for Education Week across the province. However, the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board made the change because the provincial dates conflict with the first week of province-wide testing for grades 3 and 6.

A highlight of the OCCSB Education Week 2000 will be a Mass at the newly renovated Notre Dame Basilica with Archbishop Marcel Gervais presiding. The Board made the change now so it can confirm its date for the Mass with the Archdiocese.

Award program encourages students to be their best

The Duke of Edinburgh Program at Notre Dame High School involves 24 students this year, but that number will likely increase as students see how much fun it is, Virginia Winfield, one of the program's coordinators, told the Board. “I look for this program to explode,” she said. There are three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award; Bronze, Silver and Gold, each having an increasing degree of commitment. There are four areas of achievement; service, skills, physical fitness and expeditions. The program's objective is to challenge young people to reach their best. Those who achieve the Gold level get their award personally from the Duke of Edinburgh.

Board requests funding for program harmonization

The Board has asked the Ministry of Education to pay the $5 million it was forced to spend to harmonize its educational programs after amalgamation. As a result of the amalgamation of the two former boards on January 1, 1998, it has become necessary to harmonize several programs, such as French as a Second Language. The FSL program at former Ottawa sector schools differs considerably from that provided at Carleton schools. In a report to the Board, administration outlined the costs associated with the harmonization -- over $127,000 for a major review that is currently under way, while there may be more costs in future years, depending on the program changes approved by the Board. The most costly harmonization involved Information Technology. The Board had to spend almost $2.5 million to bring the level of computer technology in former Ottawa sector schools to the level that existed in the former Carleton sector. Training also had to be provided for teachers and site administrators at the Ottawa schools. These steps were necessary in order to merge the academic programs and provide system-wide professional development for teachers. The Ministry has so far refused to provide funds to help amalgamated school boards across the province harmonize their educational programs. Trustees pointed out that the $5 million spent on harmonizing educational programs would cover the cost of building a new elementary school in a high-growth area of the region.

Students taking educational trip

The Board approved an educational excursion by Immaculata High School and St. Mark High School students to the Dominican Republic in March 2000. The trip is designed to provide essential supplies and sports equipment to a community in the Dominican and to allow students to engage in community service projects and to experience first hand the daily reality of poverty in a Third World country. The trip provides an opportunity for students to “live their faith” and give “witness” when they return.

Archdiocese reviews celebration of Sacraments

The Archdiocese of Ottawa is currently reviewing the order of the traditional practice of the three Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion. Discussion on the subject, which will involve consultation with the Board and its schools, will continue during the next few months and implementation of any changes in the current practice is scheduled for the 2000-2001 school year. Currently, baptized Catholic children celebrate First Communion at the age of 7 (usually grade 2) and are confirmed at age 12 (usually grade 6). In a letter to the Director of Education, Archbishop Marcel Gervais said the Archdiocese is considering celebrating Confirmation before First Communion, which would follow long-time traditions within the Catholic Church. Administration will prepare a report outlining the implementation plan.