{mosimage}TORONTO - A new equity policy for Ontario school boards could mean more prayer spaces for non-Catholic students and gay/straight student alliances at Ontario Catholic high schools next year.

The provincial government introduced its equity and inclusive education strategy last year. Boards are required to have equity and inclusive education policies in place by next fall. The policies range from religious accommodation to tackling discriminatory biases like gender or racial discrimination and systemic barriers to education.

{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s a half-century tradition that Neil McNeil High School supporters say they’d like to keep: having their school at the very site where the Spiritan Fathers founded it 1958.

Neil McNeil, along with four other schools in its cluster group in the Toronto Catholic District School Board, is undergoing a school accommodation review this year. The schools — which are part of four clusters of 17 schools under review — either have too many or too few students and could be consolidated, relocated or closed. In December, the board decided to close two schools and relocate another.

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Assembly of Catholic Bishops in Ontario is urging Catholic secondary schools to reject a proposed gender studies course that contravenes church teaching on sexuality.

“A reading of the overall expectations leads us to believe that, though much of the content could be taught within a Catholic context ... the fundamental thrust of this proposed optional course reflects an ideology which is at variance with Catholic anthropology and moral teaching,” the bishops said in a recent letter to Catholic school board chairs and directors of education.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Three months ago a troupe of young dancers from Haiti performed at Mississauga’s St. Joseph Catholic High School. So when news broke of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, teachers and students from the school rallied  to raise close to $2,000 in less than a week.

St. Joseph joined with several Ontario Catholic students as schools from across the province raised thousands of dollars for the relief effort almost overnight.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic education has received an ally in newly appointed education minister Leona Dombrowsky, says the head of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.

James Ryan told The Catholic Register that the OECTA association welcomes Dombrowsky’s appointment and is confident that there will be a productive working relationship with the new minister.

“In all of our meetings with (Dombrowsky) over the years, she has always been supportive of publicly funded Catholic education and public education,” he said. “Her background in education supports that.”

{mosimage}TORONTO - It was a “life changing” experience for Toronto teachers attending a First Nations educational conference in Moose Factory, Ont., says teacher Brenda Stewart.

Stewart was part of a delegation of 12 Toronto Catholic District School Board teachers who made presentations at the Great Moon Gathering conference on Feb. 18 and 19. Two teachers from the Toronto District School Board and three members from Me to We/Free the Children also attended.

{mosimage}TORONTO - With a projected $3-million surplus for next year’s budget, the Toronto Catholic District School Board should sink the money into special education, says its teachers’ union. 

Anthony Bellissimo, head of the Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers’ union, said the board needs to reverse the reassignment of 67 special education teachers it made last year.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Most larger Catholic school boards in Ontario say they’re taking the Ontario bishops’ advice and rejecting a gender studies course being proposed by the Ministry of Education.

The Toronto, Dufferin-Peel, Halton, Ottawa and Windsor Catholic District School Boards will not implement the course which could be introduced as part of the high school curriculum as early as September.

{mosimage}TORONTO - Angelic voices fill the auditorium at St. Michael’s Choir School on an early Sunday morning.

At 8:30 a.m., Grade 5 and 6 students attend their weekly rehearsal for the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral. Along with tuning up their pipes, students stand tall and practise the proper enunciation of “Christe” for the “Kyrie Eleison.”

On this day, junior choir conductor Caron Daley encourages the boys to keep their focus on their singing. With guests featuring police officers, firefighters and dignitaries such as Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor David Onley, the annual Police Mass could create some potential distractions for the young students.

{mosimage}TORONTO - One of the things that differentiates Catholic high school students from their public counterparts is participation in sacrament-based retreats.

Fraser Garteside, a teacher from Francis Libermann Catholic High School, is the school’s chaplaincy leader and has planned and led retreats for two years. 

“It’s vitally important that students have an awareness and engagement with their spiritual life,” Garteside said.