{mosimage}TORONTO - Sudbury’s Marymount Academy Catholic High School volleyball player Jordana Ealdama says sport has a spiritual connection.

“If you believe in yourself and let God in your life, you can achieve your greatest goals,”  Ealdama, 16, told The Catholic Register from Kenora, Ont., where the school’s senior volleyball team was playing at the Ontario championships.

Coach Tammy Jutilla said she’s tried to instill in her players the importance of having faith and trust in God’s plan, and knowing “where that strength is going to come from.” It’s not all about winning but also about dedication and playing as a team, she said. Jutilla said the team’s success this year has been due to its commitment to improving and working together.

Catholicity put into action in Burlington school

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{mosimage}TORONTO - St. Paul Elementary School student David Buitraeo of Burlington, Ont., says he was anxious about getting his head shaved in front of the whole school. But since it was to raise funds for the Haiti earthquake relief effort, Buitraeo volunteered to do so, along with some other students and teachers.

“Since we are in Grade 8, we thought we should be leaders in the school,” he said.

It’s these kinds of actions merging faith and Catholic social justice teachings that principal Lori Naar says reflects the Catholicity in a Catholic school.

Building a bridge between police, students

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{mosimage}TORONTO - He’s taught students about the dangers of bullying and domestic violence, played side-by-side with the boys’ soccer team, even baked muffins for a school awareness campaign.

He is Constable John-Paul DiCecca of the Toronto Police Service, one of 30 School Resource Officer’s assigned to Catholic and public high schools across the city.

What’s happening at Michael Power/St. Joseph highlights what some studies are indicating about the School Resource Officer program.

Safety on the job must come first, students told

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The one thing a high school student wants is a part-time job and many will work just about anywhere to earn a little extra money. But students need to put a little thought into where they work, for their own good.

Rob Ellis brought this to light when he spoke recently to Grade 12 students at Francis Libermann Catholic High School. That’s because in 1999, his son David went to work in a bakery. He never returned from his second day on the job, losing his life while cleaning a large mixer. David had not received proper on-the-job training.

Daily Mass, rosary groups among the services offered by long-term care facilities

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TORONTO - Elodie Robichaud remembers well praying the rosary as a young girl and is pleased she is able to continue this tradition at Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence.

Homes like Providence Healthcare help to nurture the spiritual lives of residents. Robichaud really appreciates that spiritual component of the community at the Toronto long-term care home. She considers the faith community there, which prays together and attends daily Mass, “family.”

“Being able to go to Mass every morning, it’s a big gift for us,” said Robichaud.

Robichaud, 86, and her husband Gaspard, 84, attend daily Mass and rosary group together.

The rosary group at Providence began about 25 years ago when resident Jack Scriven started volunteering. Scriven, 94, leads the group that has up to 40 people gathering every day at the chapel.

Healthy lifestyle gives seniors their best life

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TORONTO - Mirella Monte walks more than 6 km five days a week. She meets her walking group at 6:30 a.m. and then does a tour of the neighbourhood in about one hour and 10 minutes. Monte is one healthy 68-year-old.

“There’s a lot my children and my grandchildren can give me but I have something to give back too,” said Monte. “I can be an example to them in what I can do.”

Monte is the picture of good health. In addition to walking, she is on a bowling team and takes exercise classes for people over 50 when the weather is sub par.

Her healthy eating supplements her active lifestyle.

“We don’t buy any prepared food,” said Monte. “We cook our food.” In her household, they eat a bit of everything: lots of soup, vegetables, fruits and meat — although they seem to want less meat the older they get, she said.

Boomers take a new attitude towards retirement

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TORONTO - If retirement residences of the past were places to die, today’s are places to live.

Over the past quarter century, retirement living — once an omen of a loss of independence — has begun to take on a new face. As the baby boomer generation begins to flock to residences and homes, they will no longer associate retirement with isolation or dependence, but rather with a healthy lifestyle in an active community.

“We’re always trying to change the perception of aging,” said Maureen Scordamaglia, community relations manager at the Scarborough Retirement Centre in Toronto’s east end. “We want to show that just because you’re a senior doesn’t mean that everything ends.”

The centre’s programs back up that claim. From art, music and fitness classes to regular outings and parties, the centre allows retirees to “continue in senior years and be able to thrive.”

Toronto school board implements elementary school uniform policy

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TORONTO - When eight-year-old Isabella Gouveia walks into St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School to start school this month, she — along with the rest of her classmates — will be sporting a new navy and white uniform.

And so will all students in elementary schools as the Toronto Catholic District School Board implements its uniform policy for all elementary schools. Currently, high schools have a uniform policy in place.

The board passed the “dress code for pupils policy” on June 23. Schools that have an existing uniform policy or dress code can continue with that dress code.

TCDSB chair Ann Andrachuk said the board has always had an “appropriate dress code policy” which prohibits clothing with logos, short shorts and “anything that promoted hatred.” The new policy takes it one step further with a uniform policy for all elementary schools.

Passion to learn, dedication lead to perfect marks

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TORONTO - For top scholar David Marrello, the secret to a perfect report card is rooted in a passion for learning and dedication to his work.

Marrello capped his high school career at Toronto’s Bishop Allen Academy by earning a perfect 100 per cent in all of his classes (Advanced Functions, Calculus and Vectors, Chemistry, Economics, English, Physics and Religion) for the 2010-11 school year.

From here he moves on to post-secondary studies at York University’s Schulich School of Business this September. He earned York’s President’s Scholarship Award for his high school accomplishments.

Marrello divulged one of the secrets to his success.

“I believe in quality over quantity,” he said.

On homework, Marrello spent from two to four hours every day, keeping an 8 p.m. curfew on studying.

Oakville mother recognized for her volunteer efforts

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TORONTO - Oakville Catholic parent Michele Sparling is this year’s recipient of the Father Mazerolle Award from the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education.

The award honours a lay or religious volunteer who supports the goals of OAPCE and has contributed substantially to the Catholic education community through at least two years of volunteer service.

Sparling, a mother of two, credits her family, including her mother, Betty, and grandmother, Catherine, for inspiring her to get involved in her community. She said that volunteering in Catholic education is important because “it’s where my kids are.”

“It’s also the way I was brought up. I was brought up that you give back,” said Sparling. “It’s something I can do that helps add value for not only my kids but other kids.”

Pals tie as top students in York Region

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Engineering enthusiasts Harris Chan and Shums Kassam tied for being the top York Catholic District School Board scholars, ending their high school careers with a near perfect 99.6 per cent average.

Both are students from St. Robert Catholic High School. The pair of classmates and friends are enrolled in the same engineering program at the University of Toronto this fall.

Chan and Kassam were part of St. Robert’s International Baccalaureate program. As students in the IB program, they formed study groups with their peers to examine and analyse course material.

An interesting note on Chan is that despite being colour blind, he has the ability to solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than 10 seconds. He once held the North American record with the fastest official time at 7.33 seconds. At his school, Chan co-founded the table tennis club and tutors students in math, science and physics.