{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.

Students feel connection urges them to help Haiti

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{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.

New Ontario education minister, Leona Dombrowsky, knows Catholic schools

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{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.”

Toronto teachers get closeup view of northern experience

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{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.