The Carlington Summit
by David Darwin.

St. Joseph's cheerleaders repeat as Ontario's best

For the second consecutive year, the cheerleading team from St. Joseph's Intermediate School has won the Ontario junior championships.

“The members of this team have a great deal to be proud of,” said Kathy Gorman, team coach and a teacher at St. Joseph's. “They've worked very hard, and their commitment has paid huge dividends.”

The St. Joseph's squad competed against 11 other teams in the junior division at the Ontario championships held on the first weekend of May at York University. The Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board (OCCSB) was well represented in the junior division, which includes grades 6, 7 and 8. The junior teams from Frank Ryan Senior Elementary School and Mother Teresa and St. Mark High Schools also competed in the provincials, and all finished among the top six teams overall.

In the varsity division, which includes grades 9 to OAC, Notre Dame High School's cheerleading team finished in eighth place among 37 teams. Mother Teresa and St. Mark High Schools also competed in the varsity division of the Ontario championships.

“All of our cheerleading teams that competed provincially have done remarkably well,” said A.J.M. (Art) Lamarche, Chairperson of the Board. “The team members and their coaches are to be congratulated for their dedication and hard work.” St. Joseph's Intermediate teachers Michele Tessier Bonini and Karen Gerrior also helped coach the team, along with former cheerleading team members Amy Latimer, who is currently studying for her Masters Degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, and Allison Camilucci, who graduated from teachers' college this spring.

“The success enjoyed by our cheerleading teams this year is another indication of the commitment to excellence that is prevalent among students and staff throughout our Board,” said Phil Rocco, OCCSB Director of Education.

Catholic Education Week

Hundreds of students joined in song earlier this month to kick off the OCCSB's events marking Catholic Education Week 2001, which ran from May 6 to 11. The Choral Celebration, held Sunday, May 6 at Blessed Sacrament Church, 194 Fourth Avenue, Ottawa, featured student choirs from several elementary schools. The students prepared music in keeping with the theme of Catholic Education Week “Act justly, love kindly, walk humbly with your God.”

Another highlight was the Catholic Education Week Mass, on May 7 at Notre Dame Cathedral, 385 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, with Archbishop Marcel Gervais presiding. After the Mass, the annual Director of Education Commendation Awards were presented.

The 10th Annual Dance Showcase, featuring the footwork of hundreds of students, was presented on May 8 and again on May 10 in the auditorium at Notre Dame High School, 710 Broadview Avenue, Ottawa. The showcase highlighted a variety of dance, including folk, rap, jazz, liturgical, interpretive and more performed by both elementary and secondary students from right across the Board.

All OCCSB schools held open houses and many other activities during Catholic Education Week.

World Youth Day kick-off

On Palm Sunday, April 8, Pope John Paul II entrusted the World Youth Day Cross to the delegation that would bring it from Rome to Canada. On Wednesday, April 11, this sacred cross arrived in Ottawa for a welcoming celebration at the Corel Centre.

Many people spent many hours preparing for this event including young dancers from Mother Teresa Catholic High School, many fine young musicians from across the Board, and a special choir brought together for the day.

15,000 students from the Archdiocese of Ottawa gathered at the Corel Centre. They brought both their youthful enthusiasm and respectful reverence as the event unfolded.

The opening was truly spectacular aboriginal drummers created a powerful musical background, aboriginal dancers performed in their native clothing, followed by the chanting of Inuit singers. They were followed by enthusiastic young people, waving the flags of so many countries of origin. They processed forward to surround the stage with the many flags, the Canadian flag foremost.

Archbishop Marcel Gervais, spiritual leader of the Archdiocese, was truly moved by the energy and excitement in the air. The World Youth Day Cross was respectfully processed in, the very cross that had travelled from Denver to Manila, to Paris and to Rome was now being honoured in Canada.

Accompanied by young dancers in white, the cross was carried to the stage and raised up high.

With music, song and dance, in the most holy week of the Church year, the World Youth Day Cross, symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, proclaimed its message.

In prayerful reflection all were invited to enter into remembering the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

Attendees learned how Christ's message of hope and love came to the aboriginal peoples, how the message was proclaimed through the service of Elizabeth Bruyere and the leadership of the first Bishop of Ottawa, Bishop Gigues. Several dramatic sketches showed that the love of Jesus Christ speaks to young people, offering healing and hope.

As Archbishop Gervais was given a sweatshirt for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, everyone was reminded that the cross would travel throughout Canada in preparation for the great event next summer.

With representatives from all the high schools, colourful banners were used to create a cross of majestic size and vibrant colour. All this in prayerful veneration of the cross.

Suddenly it was over, and most people left to catch buses back to their schools. A few remained in their own quiet way to thank God for the gift of his son, Jesus Christ.

Deficit reduction plan

In April the Board approved a plan by administration which deals with a projected deficit of approximately $3.5 million for the current fiscal year.

By law, school boards in Ontario are not permitted to operate a deficit, so a deficit management plan was drafted by administration. That plan has been approved by the Ministry of Education.

The deficit has been caused by a number of factors. A new collective agreement was signed with teachers, which added $1.3 million to this year's budget. A further $540,000 was required to pay for an increase in teacher retirements. Another factor was a $431,000 increase in the cost of natural gas.

The deficit management plan involved a five-per-cent reduction in costs across the board for all departments. In addition to the five-per-cent cut, there were a number of reductions in every department, in order to meet the $3.5-million target.

The Board, however, unanimously agreed that the Dependently Handicapped Summer Program should continue to be offered. The $300,000 program had previously been funded fully by the province, but that funding has since been withdrawn.

Trustees instructed administration to appeal once again to the Ministry of Education to pay for the program.

New student trustee

Immaculata High School student Jubilee Jackson has been elected to serve as student trustee for the 2001-2002 school year. Miss Jackson was elected from a field of five candidates. Two student council representatives from each of the Board's high schools voted for the candidate of their choice. Miss Jackson assumes her position in September.

Grade 7 and 8 programs harmonized

Programs offered to grade 7 and 8 students across the system have been harmonized to conform to Ministry of Education guidelines. The guidelines state that between 12.5 and 16 per cent of the student's year must be devoted to teaching each of the following subject areas: Language, Mathematics, and Science and Technology.

The guidelines also state that between eight and 12.5 per cent of the year must be devoted to teaching each of the following subject areas: History and Geography, French Second Language, Physical Education, Health and Dance, the Arts, and Religious and Family Life Education.

Schools congratulated by Board

The Board congratulated the three schools that participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Showcase, held at Nortel Network's Carling Avenue campus.

A team from Mother Teresa High School took first place in the secondary school category for its Guardian security program, which runs on next generation Windows XP technology.

Also participating from the OCCSB in the 24-school event were Notre Dame High School and St. Patrick's Intermediate School.

Sponsored by Nortel and co-ordinated by the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI), the event's objective was to raise student interest in information technology and, ultimately, point them toward a career in that field.

John Baird briefed

Board Chairperson A.J.M. (Art) Lamarche outlined several of the Board's concerns in a brief to John Baird, Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services and Nepean-Carleton MPP. The brief cited a number of areas the Board feels the Ontario government is not providing sufficient funding, including such things as Special Education programming, the retrofitting of older schools and the need to build new facilities to reduce the number of portables.

One specific area where funding is a problem is the Dependently Handicapped Summer Program. The government previously paid the entire $300,000 annual cost of the program, but that funding has been withdrawn.

Mr. Lamarche said Mr. Baird was sympathetic to the Board's position and promised to continue the dialogue and work co-operatively. The brief was sent to all seven MPPs in the Ottawa-Carleton area, seeking their support.

Testing program handbook

The Board has provided on its web site a new publication entitled Testing Program: Handbook for Parents. It may be viewed by going to the OCCSB website at http://www.occdsb.on.ca/ and following the Publications link.