{mosimage}TORONTO  - Catholic school trustees say they are taking steps towards rebuilding trust among themselves and with the public.

“We need to be able to talk with each other and try to rebuild the trust that we once had,” said Angela Kennedy, who was elected chair of the board on Jan. 22 but has not been able to take her seat.

A public display of trustee infighting led provincially appointed supervisor Norbert Hartmann to delay the appointment.

Celebrating excellence in our schools

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{mosimage}Dear Readers,

In Ontario’s Catholic schools students, teachers, trustees, parents and administrators walk by faith, not by fear. The gallery of excellence on the following pages is testament to what faith can do with us, among us and for us.

There is a spectre of fear hovering over our history. Before Confederation immigrant Catholics knew the Anglican-controlled school system was a mechanism for their assimilation by the Protestant establishment. They knew very well the establishment held Catholic newcomers in contempt. At Confederation the danger of assimilation was real enough for Catholics to fight a political battle to ensure their education rights in the basic law of the new country.

As Catholic education rights were maliciously and illegally undercut after the First World War, Catholics relied on a secret weapon — religious sisters and brothers who would give their lives to ensure a Catholic education and to preserve the culture and spirituality which sustains the church. As high school became the new standard for a basic education after the Second World War, Catholic parents made financial sacrifices to give their children the necessary education in a Catholic context.

Winning the political and legal battle for full funding in 1984 and for more equal funding in 1998 hasn’t erased the spectre of fear. Today, Catholics worry about the bureaucratization of Catholic education, the focus on testing and measurement at the expense of free enquiry and intellectual growth, a funding formula that leaves boards in a financial straight jacket, falling enrolments everywhere but the suburbs surrounding Toronto and the failures of leadership which have become an embarrassment to us all.

Excellence is not founded in fear. Nor is it the product of worry. Examine especially the young faces in these pages. The excellence they have achieved is founded in faith, hope, love and charity.


Grant empowers Dufferin-Peel youth

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{mosimage}MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Thirty-five Dufferin-Peel Catholic schools were excited to receive a total of $78,594 through the Ministry of Education’s Student Voice Program this month.

The program, now in its second year, provided financial aid to Grades 7 to 12 students at more than 850 schools across Ontario this year.

With the funding, the Dufferin-Peel schools will be able to move forward with 73 projects to help students become more engaged in learning and interacting with their communities.

Golden Rule hits class

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  

It is a simple and logical instruction that transcends many of the world’s religions, ethical codes and cultures — and one that is now being used in Toronto-area classrooms to help form a common bond between diverse groups of students.

“The Golden Rule preaches unity,” said Canadian filmmaker Tina Petrova. “You may have a different skin colour or a different label on your religion, but under God we are all the same.”

Ontario Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynne, says no to charter schools

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{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s no to an American-style educational overhaul and yes to continued support for Ontario’s publicly funded education system, albeit on a tighter budget, says Kathleen Wynne.

The education minister said Ontario won’t be following U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposals on merit-based teacher salaries or charter schools.

Canadian Catholic School Trustees honour retired archbishop Joseph MacNeil

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{mosimage}Edmonton Archbishop-emeritus Joseph MacNeil will be honoured in June with Canada’s top Catholic education award.

MacNeil is to receive the Justice James Higgins Award. Sponsored by the Canadian Catholic School Trustees’ Association , it recognizes exceptional service in Catholic education.

South Pole trek aids Hamilton Catholic schools

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{mosimage}A trek to the South Pole helped raise $101,595 for schools within the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.

Four Hamilton, Ont.-area businessmen — Peter Turkstra, president of Turkstra Lumber, Steve Stipsits, owner of Branthaven Homes, Fred Losani, CEO of Losani Homes, and Mark MacLennan, director of manufacturing for The Econo-Rack Group Inc. — set out on their South Pole for Kids adventure in December in support of 35 charities that would provide help to underprivileged children. They raised $550,000 to support local causes.

Losani said they chose charities where they knew the money would go directly to helping the children. The Catholic school board had been particularly pleasant to work with after the group’s 2006 fundraising trip to the North Pole which Losani, Turkstra and Stipsits had completed with two other men, raising a half-million dollars.

Dufferin-Peel film warns of dangers of gang life

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{mosimage}MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - When gunfire interrupted a funeral and killed Darren Watts’ friend, it was a wake-up call about gangs for the 19-year-old high school student.

“Beware of the company you keep. They can lead to your downfall,” he said during an interview at Ascension of Our Lord Catholic High School in Mississauga.

Watts is describing the message of Mouse, a short film on the dangers of gang lifestyle. He plays Clutch, a fictional gang leader who preys upon a 10-year-old  whom he nicknames “Mouse” and convinces to steal and sell drugs for him and the gang.

Archdiocese of Toronto helps launch school-based faith initiative

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The Gospel, liturgical worship and community witness will be the pillars of a new three-year faith initiative at the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Toronto’s Archbishop Thomas Collins was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the April 15 launch of “Nurturing Our Catholic Community through Word, Worship and Witness.”

MBA programs need ethics reform

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Some call it the “monster” model. For years, critics have charged that MBA schools have been teaching business students the mantra of maximizing shareholder profits with little regard for anything else.

But according to CEO and business ethics researcher John Dalla Costa, it's critical to have a reform of this business mentality now, given the depth of the economic crisis the world is facing.

Ontario Catholic Education Week extends beyond class

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{mosimage}Parishes across Ontario are being invited to support Catholic Education Week by getting involved with school activities, reflecting on the significant contribution made to the church and to society by Catholic education and by participating in prayer celebrations being held across the province.

The week of May 3-9 has been designated as Catholic Education Week in Ontario, but the celebration extends beyond classrooms. Parishes are being asked to include a notice in Sunday bulletins to invite parishioners to become involved.