Spotlight December 1


December 1, 2015

Trustees Elect 2016 Chair and Vice-Chair

Chair Vice-Chair hug

Board Chair Father Paul MacNeil hugs new Vice-Chair Kathy Burtnik following her election during the Organizational Meeting December 1, 2015.

The Niagara Catholic District School Board held its Annual Organizational Meeting at the Catholic Education Centre on December 1, 2015, before the December Meeting of the Committee of the Whole.

Father Paul MacNeil was re-elected Chair for 2016, and Kathy Burtnik was elected as Vice-Chair.

Father MacNeil was first elected to the Board in 2010, representing voters in Grimsby, Pelham, Lincoln and West Lincoln. This is his second term on the Board and his second time as Chair.

“As Chair, I will continue to do whatever I can to bring us closer together as one family in Christ, so that we may each know Him, love Him and serve Him,” said Chair MacNeil. “We must continue to work together, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in our decisions, to protect us from our own egos, including mine, and point us in the right direction.”

Kathy Burtnik has served as Chair and Vice-Chair in the past. She is currently the President of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association.

“There is no single event or individual who gets credit for where we are right now,” Mrs. Burtnik said, remarking on the Board’s rich history and spirit of collaboration. “We have a diverse, dedicated staff whose efforts to bring the light and the life of Christ into our classrooms, hallways, offices and communities need our appreciation and continued support.”

Director of Education John Crocco congratulated the Chair and Vice-Chair on their election.

“Congratulations to Chair MacNeil and Vice-Chair Burtnik on their selection as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board for 2016,” said Mr. Crocco. “Appreciation and gratitude are extended to Trustee MacNeil and Trustee Sicoli for their commitment, dedication and service to Catholic education as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board for 2015.”

Read the full texts of the Chair and Vice-Chair’s statements here.


Niagara Catholic Students Lead Out Loud to End Stereotypes of All Types

On November 18, 184 students in Grades 6 through 12 participated in the Board’s annual Student Voice Conference, Lead Out Loud.


Student Senators and Niagara Catholic Student Trustees promote the Lead Out Loud Student Voice Conference.

Student Senators and Niagara Catholic Student Trustees promote the Lead Out Loud Student Voice Conference.

This year’s event focused on encouraging students to better understand biases and stereotypes so that they can become “social changemakers” and effect positive change in the world.

During the December 1 Committee of the Whole Meeting, Arts and Student Leadership Consultant Teri Cristelli shared some of the highlights of the day-long conference, which was organized and led by Niagara Catholic Student Senate and Harmony Movement, which promotes equity, diversity and inclusion.

Student Trustees Michaela Bodis and Aidan Harold also spoke about Lead Out Loud.

Michaela called it an “enriching and enlightening experience” for students, and Aidan spoke of how students learned about the lesser-known “isms,” such as ageism, classism and ableism, which impact our lives every day.

View photos from the Lead Out Loud Conference here.


New “Safe Arrival” Student Absence Reporting Tool is Now Online in All Schools

In May, Niagara Catholic launched a pilot project to test the company’s Safe Arrival system, which provides parents with fast, new way to report their child’s absence from school.

The pilot project was so successful that the School Connects system has now been fully integrated into all Niagara Catholic schools. Parents can call a toll-free number (1.844.287.6287), use the Safe Arrival App on Apple and Android phones or use the web ( to report their child’s absence. Elementary absences may be reported at any time up until the bell time for the day, and secondary absences may be reported at any time. Parents have the option of putting in planned absences in advance, and can also report their child late using the Safe Arrival System.

To find out more about the Safe Arrival system, click here.



Policy Vetting

As part of its regular, cyclical review of policies, Niagara Catholic is currently vetting five policies with stakeholders. Stakeholders may provide comments about Facilities Partnerships Policy (800.6) and Pupil Accommodation Review (701.2) through January 14, 2016 and Dress Code – Secondary Uniform – Safe Schools Policy (302.6.6), Elementary Standardized Dress Code – Safe Schools Policy (302.6.10) and French Immersion Policy (New) by January 15, 2016.

All comments are to be sent to Jennifer Pellegrini, Communications Officer by the deadline for consideration that the next Policy Committee meeting, which will take place January 26, 2016.

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