Brianna SmrkeTORONTO - Brianna Smrke had a perfect ending to her year final year of high school.

The 18-year-old Michael Power/St. Joseph High School student graduated as the top student in the Toronto Catholic District School Board with a flawless mark of 100 per cent in all six of her courses.

The secret to her success? Smrke says it’s been a supportive family and a positive school environment that helped her develop as a well-rounded student and person.

“I didn’t know I would be the best,” Smrke said, adding she just kept working hard, a habit she developed early. Her diverse experiences in sports, arts and community work also helped build up her skills, she said.

Ragot leads Dufferin Peel grads

Dufferin-PeelBRAMPTON, Ont. - For Notre Dame Catholic High School student Don Marcial Ragot, moving to Canada from the Philippines came with some hurdles, including adjusting to a new culture and learning a new language.

But it took just two years for Ragot, who was enrolled for a semester in the Brampton school’s English as a Second Language class, to finish with the highest marks at the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board. He ended his high school career with a 98.83-per-cent average.

Mom helps Chiang excel in York

Albert ChiangWhen his grandfather needed eye surgery, St. Robert Catholic High School student Albert Chiang was there to accompany him.

During the hospital visit, Chiang spoke to his grandfather’s doctor and was fascinated by the process and the profession. So this summer, Chiang is volunteering at North York General Hospital. He will be studying at McMaster University in the health sciences program in the fall.

Chiang, who’s 99.33 average at the Thornhill, Ont., school was just shy of Charis Lam’s 99.83 average for tops with the York Catholic District School Board, said this experience sparked his motivation to pursue a career as an eye surgeon. (Lam declined interview requests from The Catholic Register).

Gereb is Halton's top student

Eszter GerebWhether it’s studying physics, her toughest subject, or being a member of the “Ecosaders,” Assumption High School student Eszter Gereb says she likes to challenge herself in everything she does.

Gereb, 17, graduated as Halton Catholic District School Board’s top student with an average of 97.2 per cent.

The Burlington, Ont., student hopes to add physicist to her list of accomplishments. Gereb said she found physics to be her most difficult subject, but adds it also turned out to be her favourite.

Community of great importance to Durham scholar

Timothy KoFrom preparing for school debates to raising awareness about poverty and homelessness, St. Mary Catholic High School’s top ace Timothy Ko says his high school experience has been a mix of academics and community involvement.

“Being part of a community is really important,” said the Pickering, Ont., student. “All my friends kept me in a good mood while at school... If I see someone else doing well, I want to do well.”

Ko had the highest marks in the Durham Catholic board, ending his high school career with a 97.7-per-cent average.

School doors shut on immigrant children, report says

TCDSB LogoTORONTO - Toronto’s Catholic schools are keeping some children of non-status immigrant families out of the education system, according to a new report.

The July 14 report  by Social Planning Toronto said the Toronto Catholic District School Board was not implementing or enforcing policies that ensure non-status children can go to school.

“Results of this study demonstrate that TCDSB school staff are largely unaware of the rights of non-status students to public education under the Ontario Education Act,” said “Policy Without Practice,” a report by Social Planning Toronto, an advocacy and research group of 150 community organizations including Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

TCDSB passes 'sustainable' budget

TCDSB LogoTORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board unveiled its new plan to get the board’s books in the black for the next three years, and for trustees to regain control of the board from the province.

Provincially appointed board supervisor Richard Alway told The Catholic Register that the budget is financially and educationally “sustainable.”

All-day Kindergarten program set to launch

AjaTORONTO - With the dawn of the era of all-day Kindergarten for children three-and-a-half to six years old, Ontario will begin to see how much difference an early introduction to formal learning can make in the life of a child.

The program will begin in fewer than 600 schools province-wide when the school year dawns following Labour Day, but should be available in all elementary schools by 2015-2016. By September 2011 up to 50,000 pupils will be enrolled in upwards of 800 schools.

Course engages students in charity work

tcdsb logoA Catholic high school leadership and peer support course is being offered this August and will earn participating students a high school credit.

The course, which will be taught by Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Secondary School teacher Steve DeQuintal, will take place at St. Sebastian’s Church, 20 Pauline Ave.

Toronto St. Patrick School embraces art and media

St. Patrick SchoolAnother Toronto Catholic school is now slated to become an arts, media and technological school through new programming to begin in fall of 2011.

St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School in Toronto’s east end was selected for a Grades 9-12 arts, media and technologies centre after a review of five city schools including Cardinal Newman, Jean Vanier, Neil McNeil, Notre Dame and St. Patrick’s.

De La Salle (Oaklands) Cadet Corps forms character

Grade 6 student Aiden McCarthy goes over the edge, rappelling down De La Salle College’s two-story library. McCarthy’s mother said he was nervous, but that she wanted him to take risks. (Photo by Sheila Dabu)TORONTO - Not many 11 year olds are encouraged to dangle from a rope down the side of their school. But being a member of the De La Salle College Cadets means Aidan McCarthy is not your average school kid.

He is one of 12 students — 11 boys and one girl — who are part of the De La Salle (Oaklands) Cadet Corps program. Now in its 100th year, the program is one of the few remaining — if not the only — Catholic cadet corps in Canada. It is part of a century-old tradition of training leaders at the private Catholic school for Grade 5-to-12 students run by the De La Salle Brothers.