Welcome to May!

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the penultimate month of the 2015-2016 school year!

It’s been an outstanding year so far,and this month and next are shaping up to be awesome.


The month begins with Catholic Education Week, which takes place across Ontario May 1 – 6. This year’s theme is Opening Doors of Mercy. Niagara Catholic students and staff will be reading a special Catholic Education Week message in Mass services on the opening weekend, and we have many special events this week to celebrate the gift of Catholic education.

On May 1, celebrate 50 years of excellence in Catholic education at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School in Smithville.  If you are a former student or staff member of St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, please join the current students and staff for this celebration.

On May 2, we will celebrate student excellence with the Catch the Spirit Student Awards of Excellence at Saint Michael Catholic High School. This award recognizes one student from each school who exemplify academic excellence, outstanding service to their school and community and Catholic faith. Congratulations to the students from our Catholic elementary schools, secondary schools and our recipient from the Continuing Education Centre.


Earth Day is Friday, April 22. Our students and staff will be out in their communities on Earth Day and throughout Earth Week participating in a variety of civic and schoolyard cleanup events. And don’t forget our Recycle Your Electronics event at the Catholic Education on April 18-22. If you have unwanted electronic items, drop them off in the large bin in front of the Catholic Education Centre at 427 Rice Road in Welland for safe disposal.


For the past year, Niagara Catholic staff and committed volunteers have been working on the first-ever Niagara Catholic Education Congress, which will focus on the topic of Catholic education in Niagara.

Our event at Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School took place in late April, and three more events are planned for Catholic Education Week: On May 3 at Denis Morris Catholic High School, on May 4 at Lakeshore Catholic High School, and on May 5 at Saint Michael Catholic High School. These events are open to all Catholic community stakeholders and are facilitated by Father Tom Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light Television. Register at bit.ly/congressRSVP.

This year-long conversation on Catholic education will continue throughout the year, and will culminate in a day-long event held during Catholic Education Week in 2017.

On May 4-5, Niagara Catholic will hold the annual Inspiring Thinkers Conference. Day One focuses on Numeracy, and Day 2 focuses on Literacy. This event, held at Brock University, brings together senior students from our eight Catholic secondary schools who are involved in math and Writer’s Craft classes.

On May 6, Niagara Catholic will turn its attention to celebrating alumni with our annual Distinguished Alumni Luncheon at the Catholic Education Centre. Now in its fourth year, the Distinguished Alumni Awards recognizes graduates of one of our Catholic high schools who are notable in their field and whose lives exemplify the Catholic Graduate Expectations. A media release announcing our nine 2016 recipients is available here. Congratulations to our recipients, and we look forward to celebrating with you.

That concludes Catholic Education Week activities in our schools. For a list of events and activities in your child’s school, or click here for our full list of Catholic Education Week events. Please check our Good News section of this website and our Facebook page for photos from these events.

On May 7, come out and enjoy storytime in the great outdoors with the Board’s first-ever Storywalk, which will take place at Heartland Forest in Niagara Falls from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This is a free event for families. In addition to reading Paul Showers’ The Listening Walk as you walk through the fully-accessible trail, there will be wagon rides, sing-a-long and bonfire. Pack a picnic and plan to spend the day!

On May 12, our Student Leadership Symposium will take place at Club Roma. During this event, our 2016-2017 Student Senate Co-Chairs and Student Trustees will be elected by their peers.


May 19 is a very exciting day at Niagara Catholic. In the morning, the 2,000 students in our Class of 2016 will come together for a special Graduation Celebration at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls. This is an annual tradition at Niagara Catholic, one of the signature events in our school year and is certainly a highlight of students’ years at Niagara Catholic. This year’s guest speaker is Marcel LeJeune, one of the sought-after Catholic speakers for youth in North America. Mr. LeJeune will bring his dynamic message to members of Catholic School Councils during the annual Partners in Catholic Education event that evening.




The mission of the Diocese of St. Catharines is founded in the mission of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus states that He came down from heaven, "not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." (Jn6:38) Jesus' mission is doing the will of his Father. This is the will of the Father, "that all who see the Son and believe in him will have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day". (Jn 6:40)

The Diocese of St. Catharines' mission is rooted in doing the Father's will by proclaiming His son to the world so that all can know, love and serve Him. This mission is lived out on a daily basis in our parishes, schools and Catholic institutions. We find clergy, religious and laity committed to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ by witnessing to His truth, justice, love and mercy. St. Catharines Diocese is where faith lives.


May 10, 2016


Niagara Catholic’s Graduation Rate Second in Ontario Among English School Boards

A+Ontario Ministry of Education released the 2015 graduation rate for all publicly funded high schools in Ontario on May 3.

Director of Education John Crocco was pleased to announce that once again, Niagara Catholic continues to provide a variety of programs and services designed for students in all four career pathways (apprenticeships, college, university and direct entry into the work world), which has resulted in a graduation rate of 91.3 per cent, second among the province’s 57 publicly funded English-language school boards for four-year graduation rates.

That figure is 13 per cent higher than the provincial average, and a 2.3 per cent increase over Niagara Catholic’s graduation rate in 2014, the first year the Ministry of Education released the provincial results. We are also proud of the fact that 93.5 per cent of all secondary school students completed their OSSGD requirements within five years of beginning high school, eight (8) per cent higher than the provincial average.

Niagara Catholic’s figures exceed the Ministry of Education’s goal of an 85 per cent five-year graduation rate, and fulfill a strategy laid out in the Board’s Vision 2020 Strategic Plan to exceed the Provincial target rate.

Board Chair Father Paul MacNeil said the results reflect the commitment Niagara Catholic has to student success.

“This is truly wonderful news, and I can think of no better time than during Catholic Education Week in Ontario to celebrate the excellence in Catholic education here at Niagara Catholic,” said Chair MacNeil. “Parents, staff and our parish priests play a significant role in influencing students to strive for their personal best. This outstanding result is a fantastic good news story, but is certainly no surprise to those of us who see first-hand the commitment to student success by all those involved in our Catholic schools.”

Director of Education John Crocco called the 2015 graduation result evidence of the Board’s commitment to academic achievement.

“The graduation rate of students is a key indicator of student success completing an Ontario Secondary School Diploma,” said Mr. Crocco. “We believe our graduation rate is a clear indication of our Board’s commitment to student success. We provide a range of pathways, programs, options and supports for all students, including Specialist High Skills Major, Dual Credit/Connecting College programs and a number of innovative strategies designed to increase student engagement and programs to enhance student experiences for all students throughout Niagara Catholic. While we are very proud of the success of all of our students, who are nurtured by our dedicated and talented staff, we will continue to strive to exceed our own excellent standard to ensure our students graduate from high school fully prepared for the next stage of their lives, whether it is apprenticeship, college, university or the world of work.”


Vision 2020 Strategic Plan Check-In

Vision 2020 - Strategic Plan-page-001Earlier this year, students, staff, parents, guardians, clergy and partners in Catholic education were invited to provide feedback on Niagara Catholic’s multi-year Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, which is now at its halfway point.

Vision 2020 focuses on two Strategic Directions: Build Strong Catholic Identity and Community to Nurture the Distinctiveness of Catholic Education, and Advance Student Achievement for All.

The Check-in questions focused on the two Strategic Directions, and also the seven enabling strategies found in the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, all of which align with the Board’s Mission, Vision and Values and clearly articulate Niagara Catholic’s direct focus. Respondents provided feedback on the seven Enabling Strategies: Provide Supports for Success; Enhance Technology for Optimal Learning; Building Partnerships and Schools as Hubs; Strengthen Human Resource Practices and Develop Transformational Leadership; Create Equity and Accessibility of Resources; Ensure Responsible Fiscal and Operational Management and Address Changing Demographics.

The feedback will be reviewed to support the collaborative design of the Board’s annual System Priorities for 2017 through 2020.



2016-2017 Annual Budget

After months of working diligently to ensure Niagara Catholic’s cost structure is aligned with the Board’s estimated 2016-2017 Ministry revenue, during the May 10 Committee of the Whole Meeting, Trustees were presented with a projected balanced 2016-2017 budget. This balanced budget will be achieved without the use of prior year surplus funds.

The 2016-2017 Annual Budget is set at $254,053,854, an increase of $211,000 over 2015-2016.

In March, the Ministry of Education announced funding for the 2016-2017 school year. This includes a 1.25 per cent increase for salaries, a result of the central labour agreements within the province.

Keeping this, an estimated decline in enrollment of 426 students for 2016-2017, and the two per cent benchmark for School Operations Allocation in mind, Senior Administrative Council presented a budget which addresses these issues and accomplishes the expectations of the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan.

The Report on the 2016-2017 Balanced Board Budget is available in the May 10 Committee of the Whole agenda.


Phase Three of Long-Term Accommodation Plan Approved

At the April 26 Board Meeting, Trustees approved the third phase of the Board’s Long-Range Accommodations Plan for Niagara Catholic’s 57 Catholic elementary and secondary schools. This phase focused on potential boundary changes, closings, amalgamations and potential space-sharing with outside agencies.

During the May 10 Committee of the whole Meeting, Trustees reviewed the complete Long-Term Accommodations Plan, which included a number of updates. Among the options being discussed is examining the potential of a joint venture with the French Catholic District School Board to build a new joint-use Catholic elementary school in downtown St. Catharines that would be occupied by St. Nicholas Catholic Elementary School and Ecole Immaculee Conception.

Read the complete report here.


Policies Approved

During the May 10 Committee of the Whole Meeting, Trustees recommended three policies be sent to the Board for consideration.

 Access to Board Premises – Safe Schools Policy (302.6.3); Reimbursement of Travel Expenses Policy (201.4) and Establishment and Cyclical Review of Policies Policy (100.5) will be considered at the May 24 Board Meeting.


Catch Up With Our Good News!

If you haven’t checked out our Good News section in a while, be sure to take a look at some of the great stories we shared in April and Catholic Education Week, including our Distinguished Alumni Celebration, our students bound for the Skills Canada competition and our Catholic Education Congress. Check out the In The News section found on the front page of our website for some great coverage from our schools, including Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School’s Art Auction and our Inspiring Thinkers Conference.


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To ensure you stay connected with Niagara Catholic news and events, please be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and check our website often for updates and breaking news. It’s the best way to stay in the know.







The Niagara Catholic District School Board, through the charisms of faith, social justice, support and leadership, nurtures an enriching Catholic learning community for all to reach their full potential and become living witnesses of Christ.