{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.

Toronto Catholic board needs to direct surplus to special ed, union says

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{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.

School boards reject gender studies course

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{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.

Students connect to the church through the arts at St. Michael’s Choir School

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{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.

Importance of retreats not lost on educators, students

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{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.

Faith helps athletes focus

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{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.