Students and faculty from Holy Trinity Catholic High School with their first-place award for the Stewards of Creation video: (from left) Kevin McCue, Ben Smith, vice-principal Ron Rapps, Nicole Branchaud, principal Stacey Krol, Ashley Payette, Jim Malyon and Nolan Laframboise. Photo courtesy Holy Trinity CHS

Rural Ontario high school recognized for their stewardship of creation

  • February 13, 2018
Holy Trinity Catholic High School's winning film for the "Stewards of Creation" video contest. Holy Trinity CSS/Youtube
“The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.”

Those words from playwright Jonathan Larson inspired students and teachers at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Cornwall, Ont., to create a video on their school’s stewardship of creation. The end product earned them first place in the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association’s annual short video competition. 

The OCSTA competition is open to all Ontario schools with students from Grades 4-12. Entries are judged by a committee of trustees, student trustees and staff.

Holy Trinity is part of the Eastern Ontario Catholic school board, which is also home to the runner-up in the competition, Iona Catholic Academy, an elementary school in nearby Williamstown. St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Elementary School in Woodbridge was third. 

“We were absolutely thrilled,” said Stacey Krol, the principal at Holy Trinity, recalling her reaction when the winners were announced Jan. 19. “It is a great honour for our school. It’s so nice to be recognized provincially, especially when we come from such a small Catholic high school.” 

Situated on 40 acres of land and adjacent to the Gray’s Creek Conservation Area, Holy Trinity is home to 750 students between Grade 7 and 12. Growing up in rural Ontario, many of the students and faculty have a special relationship with their surrounding environment. 

“A lot of our students are drawn here because of the environmental programs we offer,” said Krol. “We just started a specialist high skills major in agriculture. We are also building a greenhouse and recently planted 100 fruit and nut trees along with 150 growing beds.”

The school’s two-minute video, which features footage shot at the school by students and faculty, showcases the work Holy Trinity students undertake to benefit the environment. There are clips of students baling hay, planting trees and conducting science experiments in the laboratory. There are also aerial shots taken from the school’s drone, which they purchased three years ago after fundraising.

The “stewards of creation” theme for the 2017 contest was drawn from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home). 

“This was a great opportunity for us to highlight our school’s activities,” said Kevin McCue, whose Grade 11 Media Arts class helped produce the video. Like a real film crew,  McCue and the Media Arts students undertook the technical side of the project, while the drama students spearheaded the creative direction of the project.

“The kids took over the creative side — the quote from Jonathan Larson (playwright who co-wrote the musical Rent) really inspired them,” said Jim Malyon, who teaches drama at Holy Trinity.

“The message we wanted to get across was that our world is breaking down if we let it, but if we want to rebuild and move forward in the future, then we need to become stewards of creation.” 

The school received a $300 Best Buy gift certificate for first place, but Krol said the real prize was being able to share the school’s efforts in the video, which is featured on the school’s Facebook page.

Krol said she hopes it will inspire other Ontario Catholic schools in environmental stewardship. 

“It feels great to put our school’s name out there and to see how proud our students are of their hard work paying off.”

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