Trustees Approve Name for New Chapel at Our Lady of Fatima Grimsby
Trustees have approved a recommendation to name the new chapel at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School in Grimsby.
The new chapel is named Our Lady’s Chapel of the Apparitions. The chapel was built as part of an expansion and renovation to the school in 2017, and was blessed by Bishop Bergie during the Official Blessing and Opening of the Expansion and Renovation April 18.
Shining the Spotlight on St. John Grimsby
Every month, a school or program in the Niagara Catholic District School Board is showcased for trustees as part of the School Excellence Program. In April, the spotlight was on St. John Catholic Elementary School.
Principal Deborah Guthrie and Vice-Principal Tim Guthrie attended the meeting, joined by French Immersion teacher Lauren Swindley, Student Senator Emma O’Brien, Eco-Team member Larissa Arjani and Catholic School Council Chair Nicole Chamberlain who spoke with enthusiasm about the many great things that happen at St. John every day.
Mrs. Guthrie began by speaking about the history of the school dating back 60 years to its opening as a four-room schoolhouse in 1958, to its current status with 14 classrooms and six portables for 466 students in English and French Immersion. She spoke with pride about the Grade 3 and 6 EQAO results, and about the fact that 100 per cent of St. John students move on to attend Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School after graduation.
Emma, a Grade 8 student, spoke about the ways in which the school is an open, accepting and special place. She spoke about the many ways in which students are empowered to share their voice, and the student-led initiatives such as WE Scare Hunger and WE Walk for Water, Valentines for Veterans (students created more than 1,000 Valentines and sent them to members of the Canadian military overseas), Shrove Tuesday and Lenten food drive and an initiative with the Grade 8 students planning dates, preparing acts and creating programs to share with residents at a local retirement home. Throughout April, the students walked to the home and brought joy to the residents living there.
Emma also spoke about a project to bring badminton back to the Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School Family of Schools through intramural sports. She and other student leaders are learning the rules of the game so they can promote it with other schools to create opportunities for students for years to come. She concluded her portion of the presentation by saying she knows she can always speak with Mrs. Guthrie or Mr. Atkinson about thoughts, opinions and ideas and knows that her voice will be heard and respected.
Grade 7 student Larissa spoke about the initiatives the Eco-Team has in place at St. John Catholic Elementary School. Among the projects this year is one that has seen students begin composting the brown paper towels used in the school, drastically reducing the amount of waste generated every day. A garden at the front of the school was created using natural and untreated materials, and the team has worked in partnership with the greenhouse located across the street, which provides organic soil for the seedlings that they grew and nurtured throughout the spring and summer of 2017. Students tended the garden until the end of the year, and then families signed up for a week of time to tend to the garden last summer, picking weeds and ripe vegetables which were then donated to the Grimsby Benevolent Fund. More than 300 families in the community benefitted from the fresh produce, and the team plans to build compost bins/boxes for food waste next year which will help the garden flourish and divert waste from landfills.
French Immersion in West Niagara transitioned from St. Mark Catholic Elementary School to St. John Catholic in September 2017. Teacher Mme. Lauren Swindley spoke about the welcome the French Immersion students received and the positive ways in which students have benefitted from the change.
Mr. Atkinson spoke about the ways in which staff focuses on student mental health. There’s a Healthy Action Team comprised of teachers, E.A.s, E.C.E.s, a parent and a student, the school health nurse and Mr. Atkinson, who work together to promote student mental health in the school by following the Six Steps to Creating a Healthy School program provided by Niagara Region Public Health. A survey administered to all students in Grades 4-8 identified sadness, anxiety, worry and stress as the most prevalent mental health issues among students, and an action plan was created to address these issues.
Mental Health Mondays include information about mental health issues during the morning announcements, and provide positive ways to combat these problems. A compliment box was created to allow students to take a compliment whenever they need one. Guests often help themselves to a compliment when they leave the school.
Finally, students who are feeling sad, stress or agitated can use the Mind Jars at the school. Students give the jars a good shake and watch it settle, calming them at the same time. The team will continue to monitor the progress of the mental health initiative, and will expand mental health awareness initiatives next year.
Parent Nicole Chamberlain spoke about the blessing students enjoy of having the Niagara Escarpment in their backyard, including the access to wildlife and nature. She also spoke about the strong sense of community felt throughout the school and the welcome parents and guests receive when they visit the school. She praised the commitment of school staff to student excellence and joy, and the excellent relationship students and staff have with St. Joseph Parish, Father Rico Passero and Father Ronald Angervil in particular.
Mrs. Chamberlain also spoke about the wonderful support from parents in the community that bring people together, concluding with the thought that the students at St. John Catholic Elementary School are truly blessed.
Principal Guthrie had the final moments in the presentation, and used her time to offer trustees the opportunity to ask questions – and to have her students and staff in attendance wish the Director of Education Happy Birthday.
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