The Carlington Summit
by David Darwin.

The school year is rapidly drawing to a close. And the newswire from the local English school boards is also becoming very quiet. A few items are worthy of a mention though.

More than 1,000 elementary students attended the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board's (OCCSB) eighth annual Elementary Peace Festival at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa earlier this month. The Festival was held over two days, with schools in the west end of the city attending on June 5 and east end schools on June 6. The Festival took place at the Aberdeen Pavilion.

The Elementary Peace Festival was attended by grade 4, 5 and 6 students who are involved in Peacemaking or Peer Mediation at their schools. The event promotes and celebrates the contribution of these students to their school communities.

“These students play a very important role in their schools,” said Board Chairperson A.J.M. (Art) Lamarche. “Their individual commitment helps make the schools much safer environments for everyone.”

The day's activities included a keynote address from military and police peacekeepers, student speeches, the launch of the “Think of Me Program,” an OPP program that highlights the dangers of drinking and driving through the eyes of children, and a performance by the Canadian Half-Pints basketball team. The team entertained the students, while discussing the issue of teasing.

The Festival is made possible by the ongoing support of the Patricia Allen Memorial Fund, the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ottawa Police Service and the Ottawa 67's Hockey Club.

Literacy software

A new software program has been introduced to support the development of literacy skills and to help students prepare for the compulsory Ontario Grade 10 Reading and Writing Test.

The program was developed by staff from the OCCSB and the New Era Classroom Technology and Research Foundation (NECTAR), a non-profit organization that develops educational software.

Teachers and curriculum consultants from the Board wrote the tutorials, activities and tests, while NECTAR provided the multimedia programming.

Starting in the 2001-2002 school year, students must pass the Grade 10 Literacy Test in order to graduate. The program, called “Reading and Writing Achievement,” is designed to help students develop the skills necessary to improve their scores on the test.

The software, which has been donated to the Board, will be available on CD-ROM and over the Internet. It will also be provided to local community agencies that provide public access to the Internet and will be integrated into the classroom curriculum.

Kudos

The OCCSB bestowed a number of awards and honours on its schools and staff. Of local interest, a Community Pride Achievement Award was presented to Notre Dame High School staff. The award recognized the school's contributing to the cleanliness and beautification of the City of Ottawa, in particular the clean-up of Michelle Heights Park.

One of the school's staff, Teacher-Librarian Julie Swords, received a Director of Education Commendation Award. The award was presented in recognition of her innovations and/or outstanding contributions to the Board.

Survey re Middle French Immersion

In late May, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) passed a motion to conduct surveys in the early fall of 2001 to determine optimal sites for the expansion of Middle French Immersion (MFI) in those families of schools or areas that do not currently have close access to an MFI program, wherever at least three school councils request such a survey, and also where there is currently an Late French Immersion program and parents/students may prefer MFI.

In families of schools/areas where these surveys are requested, they will be distributed to parents/guardians of all regular English program students in JK, SK and Grades 1-3. School councils in the areas to be surveyed will be consulted when developing and finalizing the survey package.

It was noted that surveys should not in all cases be limited by family of schools boundaries, as it might be reasonable in some areas to establish sites serving schools in two contiguous families.

Conducting a survey would not guarantee the establishment of new programs at specific sites, even if there were sufficient demand, since factors such as the viability of existing sites would need to be taken into account.

Additional textbooks coming

Pursuant to a recommendation received by trustees at a recent budget meeting and senior staff belief that a ‘freeze' on selected current year central operating accounts could produce sufficient funds to support this initiative, the Board approved the provision of $2 million for textbook purchases. The amount is to be provided immediately to schools on a pro-rated basis, to enable them to proceed to order textbooks for September 2001.