The following is part of a 90th Anniversary series that features Catholic trustees from across Ontario sharing insight on the experience of Catholic education at their boards.
1. What singular experience as a Trustee at your CDSB can you share that can serve to illustrate the positive impact of Catholic Schools in the community?
The most singular experience for me as a Trustee that shows the positive impact of Catholic Schools is our annual Bishop’s Dinner for Community Needs. Aside from incredible fund raising, a defining moment at this event is listening to our students speak in front of clergy, politicians, community leaders, and parents about their experience of attending a Catholic high school. Here is the testimony from just two extraordinary students at St. John Bosco Secondary School:
“I didn’t like going to school…I was exhausted and discouraged. My older sister struggled the same way I did until she graduated from Bosco – that small Catholic school next to the church on the hill. A majority of Bosco students, like me, lack a stable person in their lives…yet in the midst of my worst days and my worst experiences, I have people at Bosco who make it their priority to see me through it all…” Sydny
“Prior to attending Bosco, I felt hopeless. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been living with an anxiety disorder. For me this meant having panic attacks and crying at the thought of even going to school. I transferred to Bosco in Grade 9. Slowly, my love for learning came back, and then my sense of belonging, and finally, my freedom. The staff at Bosco fought for me even when I didn’t want to fight. For once I’m ready to tackle the next chapter in my life.” Emily
2. What current Good News story about student/Catholic schools at your CDSB would you like to share?
For the past 11 years Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic high school in Guelph has brought veterans to the school during Remembrance Week. The panel consisted of TEN Canadian veterans from both World Wars, the Canadian Women’s Army Corp, the Korean and Vietnam War, United Nations Peacekeepers and a young recruit from Guelph’s 11th Field Regiment. The Vets spoke about their life during the war, their struggles with PTSD, life after war, their love for Canada and the importance of freedom. 96-year-old Eleanor “Bobby” Freeman” drove trucks and jeeps during World War II and once drove for Winston Churchill. She said that women in the war opened the path for all women showing they can do anything. After the panel, students and vets gathered outside the school to plant tulip bulbs sent to them by the Netherlands Government to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Dutch Liberation. Mr. Zuccala and his Grade 10 History students made welcome posters, presented gifts and Mrs. Dickie’s Culinary class prepared a special luncheon for the veterans. Airforce vet, 99-year-old Grant Johnston, summed up the day: “I am so thankful that young people today remember our service.”
Trustee, Wellington Catholic DSB