By Editor

May 5, 2023

OCSTA Newswire

May 5, 2023

OCSTA 93rd AGM & Conference – Recap

OCSTA President Patrick Daly  with
Huron Perth CDSB Chair
Mary Helen Van Loon (left) and
Trustee Tina Doherty.

OCSTA was pleased to welcome more than 220 delegates and guests to the Association’s 93rd Annual General Meeting and Conference, April 27 – 29 in Toronto.

The Durham Catholic District School Board served as this year’s wonderful Conference co-host and set the context for this year’s conference with the prayerful and thoughtful Opening Liturgy on April 27th. The opening procession featured Trustees carrying in backpacks filled with clothing and supplies for the homeless youth served by Covenant House in Toronto.

Monique Forster, Chair, Durham CDSB
Anne O’Brien, OCSTA; Glenn Shuculski, Chair, Northeastern CDSB

Archbishop of Toronto, the Most Rev. Francis Leo

Speaking on the topic of the Conference theme “Journeying Together in Faith” was the Most Rev., Francis Leo, newly installed Archbishop of Toronto. OCSTA was pleased to welcome His Grace to this provincial gathering of Ontario’s Catholic Trustees. Archbishop Leo’s presentation was an inspiring examination of defining aspects of what it means to journey together in faith.

York Catholic DSB Student Trustees Anthea Peta-Dragos (2nd from right) and Jonah James (far left) with Deputy Minister of Education, Nancy Naylor
and OCSTA President Patrick Daly.

Representing the Ministry of Education at this year’s conference was Deputy Minister of Education, Nancy Naylor. Throughout the years OCSTA has developed a very good working relationship with the Deputy Minister’s office and staff. During her address the Minister reviewed newly announced draft legislation – Bill 98: Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, 2023 (see comments on this legislation later in this report).

After an outstanding career leading important portfolios in the Education and Health Ministries, Deputy Minister Naylor announced at the conference that she would be retiring in June. President Daly expressed OCSTA’s appreciation for her service and her strong support for publicly funded Catholic education in Ontario.

Closing Session

Award winning writer and Professor of Indigenous Studies, Dr. Niigaan Sinclair delivered a powerful presentation at the closing of the conference that examined the lessons of the 2022 Papal Visit to Canada and matters for Catholic education leaders to consider for Reconciliation and the path forward.

Conference Materials and Recordings

To view the full OCSTA conference program, please click here

To view presentations and audio recordings of Conference sessions click here.

OCSTA 93rd AGM Regional Director Election Results

“I am pleased to acknowledge with gratitude all the candidates who put their name forward to serve the mission of Catholic education at the provincial level as an OCSTA Regional Director. The newly acclaimed and elected trustees accept the call to serve Catholic education and share a commitment to place Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church at the centre of students’ learning experiences. We look forward to serving with them in the best interest of Catholic Education,” said OCSTA President Patrick Daly.

OCSTA Regional Directors – Election Results:

Region 1: Colleen Landers, Northeastern CDSB (Acclaimed)

Region 2: Paul Landry, Kenora CDSB (Acclaimed)

Region 3 (At Large): Glenn Sheculski, Northeastern CDSB

Region 4: Marino Gazzola, Wellington CDSB (Acclaimed)

Region 5: Linda Ward, St. Clair CDSB (Acclaimed)

Region 9: Morgan Ste. Marie, Durham CDSB

Region 10: Brian Evoy, Algonquin & Lakeshore CDSB (Acclaimed)

Region 11: Rick Petrella, Brant Haldimand Norfolk CDSB (Acclaimed)

*CDSB – Catholic District School Board

To view the complete list of trustees on OCSTA’s Board of Directors please visit:

OCSTA Awards Program

The Association was pleased to acknowledge outstanding Catholic education leadership and service through the annual OCSTA Awards Program. This year’s awards recognized the following individuals:

2023 OCSTA Trustee Award of Merit Recipients:

Former Trustee Fred Alexander, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (view profile)
Trustee Jim McCafferty, Durham Catholic District School Board (view profile)

To register for the OCSTA 2023 AGM and Conference click here

To download the Conference program click here

Human Rights Program for Catholic School Board Leaders:

A reminder that Registration is now open for the sessions on Disability Rights in Public Education. These sessions are designed for trustees, student trustees, directors of education and board senior leadership. All are encouraged to attend and full details are in the informational flyer that can be downloaded here.

These sessions will provide trustees and school board leaders with a foundational understanding of disability rights in publicly funded education.

The registration deadline date for the May 13th session is 12pm on Tuesday, May 9.

The registration deadline for the May 23rd session is 12pm on Wednesday, May 17.

Release of 2023 GSNs and Bill 98:

On April 17, the Minister of Education announced the 2023-24 Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) totaling $27.1 billion, an increase of $693 million or a 2.7% increase from last year.

At the same time as the release of the GSNs, the government introduced draft legislation Bill 98: Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, 2023.

This legislation addresses the following areas in education:

  • Accountability and transparency
  • Governance and leadership
  • Maximizing capital assets
  • Teacher training and education oversight, and
  • Consistent approaches to student learning.

President Daly stated the following regarding this announcement:

“We are pleased to see included in the draft legislation acknowledgement of the need to respect denominational rights and the requirement to consult in important areas.”

Following deeper examination of the legislation and consultation with OCSTA members, the Association will be developing a brief for submission during the Bill 98 hearings.

OCSTA Year in Review

The OCSTA 2022-23 Year in Review report highlights the priority work of the Association over the past year. This report can be downloaded directly from the OCSTA website at the following URL:

Catholic School Board News

Catholic Education Week Highlight – Brant Haldimand Norfolk CDSB

As Catholic Education Week wraps up for this year, we are pleased to spotlight the Brant Haldimand Catholic District School Board which launched a newly redesigned section of the board’s website for CEW promotions and materials that includes daily news highlights focused on that day’s CEW theme. Click on the image below to view the Day 2 video featuring students and staff discussing and celebrating the theme “When We Listen”.

Outstanding School Board Achievement Highlight

From Wellington CDSB:

Wellington CDSBs Our Lady of Lourdes Wins FIRST Robotics World Championship

When Michael Moore, Kevin Reid and Antoine Trabulsi started the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High School robotics team fifteen years ago it was only a dream to make it to the finals of the FIRST Robotics World Championship – let alone to win it all.

Yet with the odds stacked against them, this past week FRC Team 2609, BeaverworX, were part of the winning alliance to win the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Houston, Texas – representing the country as the only Canadian team in the finals.

“We are humbled to be there and to win,” shared Moore, founder and lead instructor of BeaverworX. “It was amazing. There were approximately 50,000 people there cheering on every team.”

Held only once a year, the FIRST Robotics World Championship welcomes over 600 teams from near 60 countries to compete for the grand title of World Champion. Teams are required to qualify through regional competitions in order to compete at worlds. This year, BeaverworX ranked 13th in the province – landing them within the top 23 who head into worlds after winning quarter finals, semifinals, placing 4th in the science division in district championships at FIRST Robotics events hosted at University of Waterloo and McMaster University.

At worlds, BeaverworX’s won ten matches with their alliance, made up of two entries from California and one from Illinois, and then four more playoff matches to win the Hopper division. They then moved on to win two matches in the Einstein Field at the FIRST Robotics World Championships, before heading to the finals.

“I would think the most amazing experience was coming back from Einstein’s ring and all of the Canadian teams were there just cheering us on – it is a very tight knit community, we are very supportive of each other,” shared Moore.  “To be in the company of such great teams and to still win was awesome, I’m just very impressed with the kids performance and their work.”

Among the team members competing in Houston was driver and team captain, Dominik Wrobel. For the grade 12 student, finishing off his high school career with a World Championship title was nothing short of a dream come true.

“It feels awesome to win on my last year. I can’t imagine how the rest of the team is feeling – especially the mentors who have been working towards this for the past 15 years. Its awesome to end it on a really great high note,” he said.

Wrobel is grateful to have been picked by their alliance, who brought a breadth of knowledge and experience to the alliance.

“Madtown (California) made it to Einstein’s the last four years in a row and won worlds in 2019, so they really wanted to win again,” he said.

“To be picked by a strong alliance really helped us get to where we were,” added Moore.

BeaverworX worked closely with the other teams about their strategy, going into each match with an extremely thought-out game plan.

“We had that consistent plan that we executed every single match so there were no surprises, no things that could go wrong there was a set plan that we stuck to all the way from our first match all the way to the finals. They were super supportive as well, after every match we had a team meeting to go through game strategy we were happy with how things went,” shared Wrobel. “I can’t believe we won by one point in the finals. It was so close; all the robots were doing everything they could and at the end we were all huddled together – it was just awesome to get the win.”

While the season is now concluded for the team and five of the twenty-two members are moving on to post-secondary aspirations, Moore is looking forward to next year – which since their win, they are guaranteed an entry into the 2024 FIRST Robotics World Championships.

“I want to double down and defend our title next year with more work, more effort, more everything.”

At the beginning of March, students gathered at St. John Catholic Elementary School (Wellington CDSB) to package and prepare a food delivery for those in need within the local community.

The initiative was a culmination of a special joint collaboration on a wellness project between St. John CS and Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary School.

“Being that St. John and Holy Trinity serve much of the same community, we wanted to work together to help those less fortunate this winter. On November 2, St. John students from Mrs. Girgis-Tweedle’s Grade 2 class and Mr. Parkinson’s Grade 6 class met virtually with my Grade 8 class from Holy Trinity to begin planning! The idea of wellness bags was introduced to the group, and the students guided much of the planning. They were so excited and had such wonderful ideas to share, deciding on what items they thought would be of most importance to include in our wellness bags,” shared Lisa Gibson, grade 8 teacher at Holy Trinity CS.

Over the past few months, both St. John Catholic School in Guelph and Holy Trinity Catholic School have been asking for donations of various items for a Wellness Project in support of the Royal City Mission and The Bench downtown.

“As a joint school community, St. John and Holy Trinity, we decided that this winter we wanted to focus on serving those locally. There are people within our own community that go without during these cold winter months, and we wanted to find a way to help! Pairing our Wellness Project with The Bench was a perfect way to achieve this goal!” shared Alijha Girgis-Tweedle, grade 2 teacher at St. John CS.

Following the initial call, St. John’s students traveled to Holy Trinity to continue planning and deciding on what items each school would be collecting.

“Students from both schools collaborated, creating cards which will be included in each bag, painting inspirational tags, and designing posters which were used to promote our project in the hallways of our schools. It was so special to see each and every student using their gifts to make a difference in the lives of others. They fully embraced the opportunity to meet and work with different schools and understood the purpose of our project: to serve those less fortunate in our community,” explained Gibson.

“Prior to the Christmas break, a letter was sent out to all families inviting them to begin collecting items which would be included in each bag. Some of the items collected were hats, mitts, hand warmers, toothbrushes and toothpaste, scarves, socks, etc. We had a goal of collecting 150 of each item, and we soon realized that we were going to well surpass this goal! The generosity and kindness and the way in which our school communities fully supported this call, was spectacular!” added Girgis-Tweedle.

St. John’s Grade 2 and Grade 6 classes, and Holy Trinity’s Grade 8 class, have been working together to educate students on the need to give back to our community members experiencing homelessness during these very cold months.

“The wonderful thing about this project is the way in which it has evolved, and we are blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing people throughout the planning process. Our initial plan was to get primary, junior, and intermediate students involved from both St. John and Holy Trinity, as we serve much of the same community. What began as a goal to pack 150 wellness bags, soon developed into baking and preparing a meal and dessert for the Royal City Mission, and after the overwhelming amount of donations from our local school communities, we will likely be helping more than 150 people this winter,” said Gibson.

This past week, all three classes gathered together for the ‘packing party’ and to make some yummy treats at St. John CS. Following the day, they then prepared pizzas for the Royal City Mission and delivered the donated items to The Bench downtown.

“We have been working together for one cause: SERVICE, and while downtown, we wanted to find another way that we could give back to our community and to help those less fortunate. With Mark (Berardine)’s help, we were able to organize a meal, cooked by our students, which we will be served at the Royal City Mission by staff members from St. John and Holy Trinity,” added Girgis-Tweedle.

The students had been really looking forward to these two special days where the students can collaborate with their peers and be hands on in a helpful way.

“It has been a gift to be able to work together, as two school communities, with the same overarching goal: to serve our community! It has been a humbling experience, and we are overwhelmed and overjoyed by the generosity and kindness of others,” said Gibson. “Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project, it truly was a community effort.”

Ali Wilson, Communication and Community Engagement Lead, Wellington CDSB

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