The Carlington Summit
by David Darwin.

The Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board (OCCSB) has approved the 2001-2002 school year calendar. The first day of school in the new school year will be Tuesday, September 4, 2001. The Christmas Break will run from December 24, 2001 to January 4, 2002 inclusive. Thus, the first day of school after Christmas Break will be Monday, January 7, 2002.

The all important Mid-Winter Break will be from March 11-15, 2002 inclusive.

The last day of school for the Secondary students will be June 25, 2002, while the elementary panel will be in class until the following day.

The high school examination periods are January 24-30, 2002 and June 19-25, 2002.

Professional Development Days are as follows: Friday, October 19, 2001 (all schools); Friday, November 30, 2001 (elementary only); Thursday, January 31, 2002 (all schools); Wednesday, June 26, 2002 (secondary only) and Thursday, June 27, 2002 (all schools).

Architect named for school renovations

An architect has been hired for improvements planned at two schools that the Board recently acquired from the French Catholic board. Pye and Richards Architects Inc. will begin design and working drawings for renovations and alterations at the new locations for St. Elizabeth and St. Daniel Schools. Students from St. Elizabeth will move into the former St. Bonaventure School on Coldrey Avenue, while St. Daniel's new home will be the former Gaston Vincent School, on Field Street. In both cases, the original names of the schools will remain after the moves. Administration plans to have the new schools occupied by September 2001, but that will depend on the scope of work to be done at each site and construction schedules during the summer.

Literacy tests prompt action

The OCCSB will use the school-by-school results from the Grade 10 provincial literacy tests to develop action plans to improve individual student performance.

“The individual school results allow us to more accurately pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of each student,” said Phil Rocco, Director of Education. “As part of our goal of continuous improvement, we will use this information to develop an action plan that will help these students strengthen their reading and writing skills.”

Art Lamarche, Board Chairperson, said staff at the Board and school levels will closely analyse the test results and come up with a plan of action to improve the results next year, when students will be required to pass the test in order to graduate from high school.

Staff are also preparing an action plan for students based on results from another range of testing programs. Grade 5 and 8 students wrote the Canadian Achievement Test (CAT/2), which compared performance with students across Canada. The overall results indicated that OCCSB students performed slightly better than the norm group for both grades 5 and 8. In general, students did better in language, spelling and reading than in study skills and mathematics. In math, students in both grades were below the norm group.

Results were also included for the grade 3 and 6 assessment of reading, writing and mathematics conducted by the Education Quality and Accountability Office.

A higher percentage of OCCSB students in grade 3 achieved at levels 3 and 4 in reading and writing. Grade 6 students achieved higher than the provincial average in all three disciplines.

Only in math did grade 3 performance slip under the provincial average. However, performance in math improved significantly for both grades in the second year of testing, compared to the first.

The Board has also approved a Testing Program Handbook for Parents, prepared by the Staff Development, Evaluation and Research Department. The handbook has been distributed to all the Catholic School Councils and several copies are available at each school for parents' reference.

The Education Improvement Commission has praised the Board for its accountability and communication with parents. This handbook is another example of this exemplary work by the Board. The handbook provides detailed information on province-wide and system testing conducted for students in all grades from kindergarten to OAC.

The handbook is also used as a resource by principals, who often share the information with parents in their newsletters.

Board museum launched

The OCCSB has launched a Board Museum, which honours the rich history of Catholic education in Ottawa-Carleton. The official opening ceremonies were held at the Derry Byrne Teacher Resource Centre, Pope John XXIII Catholic School, 165 Knoxdale Road.

Catholic education has been an important fixture in the Ottawa area since 1845, when the Sisters of Charity founded the region's first Catholic school. The Catholic Religious Communities have continued to play a vital role ever since in laying the solid groundwork for the Catholic schools of today.

“The Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board Museum will allow us to publicly acknowledge the tremendous work that Catholic educators have done over the years,” said Art Lamarche, Board Chairperson. “Their perseverance and dedication have helped us create a first class Catholic education system in Ottawa-Carleton.”

The Museum is the culmination of many months of hard work by the Board's Millennium Committee and its Museum Subcommittee. The Museum was made possible with the help of a grant through the Canada Millennium Partnership Program. The federal program is intended to raise awareness of Canada's history.

Peace Conference Organizers Congratulated

The Board unanimously congratulated the organizers of the eighth annual Secondary School Peace Conference. The Peace Conference was attended by about 300 students representing all of the Board's intermediate and secondary schools. The students spent an entire day at the Ottawa Civic Centre discussing such issues as impaired driving, bullying, conflict resolution, gossiping and peer mediation. The theme for the event was “taking personal responsibility.”

Art Lamarche, Board Chairperson, who addressed the opening of the conference, told the Board of Trustees that the conference was extremely well organized and well attended. He said the Secondary Peace Conference has grown considerably since its rather humble beginnings of about 40 students participating eight years ago to 300 this year. The elementary students in the Board will be holding their own peace conference in June, which will be attended by about 400 students.

Community Access Program launched

The Board is involved in a program, in conjunction with Industry Canada, that provides access to the Internet for members of the public. A total of 26 Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board schools are opened during after-school hours to allow the public to use the computers for Internet access free of charge. Personnel hired under the partnership between the Board and Industry Canada are on hand during these hours to provide support to the public. They are paid through a federal grant.

There are still many families in Ottawa that do not have computers at home, and this program is designed to give these people an opportunity to gain access to computers and the Internet.

Thought for the week

The true purpose of education is to cherish and unfold the seed of immortality already sown within us; to develop, to their fullest extent, the capabilities of every kind with which God, who made us, has endowed. (Anna Jameson)