Amazing Grace! The first Monday and Tuesday of February begin one of my favorite weeks in the school year. These days mark two amazing celebrations of our Catholic identity.
Father Michael “Catfish” Mireau Youth Faith Day: The grade 8 students from across our District were joined by the grade 8s from Elk Island Catholic, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic, Evergreen Catholic, and St. Albert Catholic to learn how to “Serve like a Superhero” from the always inspiring Steve Angrisano. He shared incredible stories that show the strength of spirit of young people and their ability to change the world. The day concluded with a Mass concelebrated by Bishop David and Father Paul Kavanagh, along with Father Julian and Father Dean. It is always so moving to see 3800 youth gathered together in faith, deeply engaged and joyfully participating!
Faith Development Day: What a tremendous celebration of God’s saving love! To begin with the Eucharist as an expression of our membership in a community of His love, and then to learn more deeply about being Rooted in Jesus, was a great experience of #ECSDfaithinspires. Father Richard Leonard gave us so much to reflect upon during our time together. He challenged us to look at our image of God, for that reveals our theology. He also drew our attention to our greatest learnings from Pope Francis and gave us an overview of the Ignatian Rules for Discernment. His overarching message speaks to the heart of Catholic education – everyone is welcome here because we are all loved equally by Christ.
Our Board of Trustees: The Board of Trustees is very excited to experience all the excellence that our schools have to offer to our students and families. In the upcoming months, they plan to visit every school to meet the staff and students and to celebrate the wonderful things that are happening in Edmonton Catholic Schools. This has been a great experience for schools and Trustees alike!
Global Woman of Vision: Edmonton Catholic Schools is blessed to be the jurisdiction that Principal Marie Whelan has chosen to live out her vocation to Catholic education. We are so proud to share that Marie has been named Global Woman of vision for this month. Visit our website to view Global’s video of Marie and why she is a visionary: https://www.ecsd.net/News/Pages/Woman-of-Vision---Marie-Whelan.aspx.
Orange Shirt Day Logo Contest: Our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation is fundamental in Edmonton Catholic Schools. We are proud planners and participants in so many events that see our staff and students recognizing and honoring the experiences and impact of Residential Schools and committing to reconciliation. The Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities invites students to design the logo for the 2018 Orange Shirt Campaign and share their vision for respect, remembrance, and reconciliation. Visit http://safeandcaring.ca/orangeshirtcontest/ for details!
Honored to Serve: I am pleased to share with you that I will continue to serve as Superintendent of Edmonton Catholic Schools until the end of August 2020. Guided by the words of Micah (6:8) - to act justly, to love faithfully and to walk humbly with our God, I am honored to continue to live out my mission to empower students, staff and parents to experience the joy and fulfillment of a truly Catholic education, striving for excellence in all areas while sharing in the vision of our risen Lord Jesus Christ! I am excited to work with our Board of Trustees to continue to create excellent opportunities for students to learn and grow in faith.
Happy New Year! –We are so lucky in the world of education. We have two opportunities to celebrate new beginnings: September (or August if you are in a year-round school), and January. The start of 2018 gives us the perfect reason to revisit goals and plans and to adjust as needed to ensure that we are set for success.
We Care Challenge: update – I am so pleased to share the preliminary total for the Edmonton Catholic Schools' We Care Challenge for Christmas 2017. Through school-based projects, the staff payroll deduction program, and the basket raffle, our District raised $115,278 for these two important organizations. The Edmonton Catholic Schools Foundation will receive $42,982, and the Sign of Hope will receive $72,296. What a shining example of how #ECSDfaithinspires!
Shout out to Facilities Services Staff - I would like to celebrate the amazing staff of Facilities Services who were so incredibly responsive to the issues that popped up in our schools due to the inclement weather over the break. I am proud to report to you that their great work has ensured that there is no interruption to teaching and learning in any of our schools. Thank you!
New Assistant Superintendent, Facilities Services– Welcome to Dave Bouma, who has now assumed his new leadership role with our District. Please join me in wishing him an excellent journey.
We Care Challenge– The generosity of our staff and students is always so inspiring. Each year, as we undertake our District wide We Care Challenge, we are humbled by the participation of our community to help support the great work of the Edmonton Catholic Schools Foundation and Catholic Social Services' Sign of Hope Campaign. The three pillars of this Challenge are the staff payroll deduction program, the school based fundraisers, and the staff's Build a Basket Raffle. The first of these totals is in, and I wish to thank all the staff for their participation in the raffle, which raised $2,687.02 for each charity. Congratulations to our winners! I look forward to sharing the success of the other two pillars of this Challenge early in the new year.
Grandin Media – Do you miss the Western Catholic Reporter? The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton is pleased to announce their new online media outlet, Grandin Media, to offer informative and engaging content with a distinctive Western Canadian Catholic voice.
The website Grandin Media (grandinmedia.ca) aims to tell the stories of Catholic life in Alberta and also to apply the lens of faith in its coverage of issues that matter in the wider community. Under the leadership of News Editor Andrew Ehrkamp, a small but dedicated Grandin Media team is posting news reports, feature stories, cultural and social analysis, and high-quality pictures and video.
"Our goal is to inform, to inspire, to evangelize and to fill a gaping and persistent hole on the Canadian news media scene – the Catholic angle and the portrayal of our faith as we know it," says Ehrkamp. "Instead of having the secular media define what it means to be a Catholic and to live out our faith, we're doing it ourselves.
"We're providing news where the faith hasn't been edited out. In fact, it's at the forefront."
Faith & Fun Day at Rogers Place – I am so excited to share this opportunity with you! I will be joined by the Superintendent of Red Deer Catholic Schools as we drop the puck for this game. ECSD will be well represented as the Monsignor Fee Otterson Choir and the Jazz Band from Archbishop MacDonald perform. I hope you can join us.
Are you looking for some Christmas gift ideas? Why not treat the family to a hockey experience on Faith and Fun Day at Rogers Place?
The Archdiocese is sponsoring an afternoon game between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Red Deer Rebels at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 10, featuring a special price of $18 a ticket (regular $29). The first 400 ticket buyers will be rewarded with an invitation to an exclusive pre-game meet & greet event, including opportunities to meet your bishops, have fun in the photo booth, and shake paws with Louie the Lion. To purchase your tickets at the special price, visit http://bit.ly/ArchHockey and click on Find Seats. In the Enter Promo Code box, type CAEDM, and then click on Go to get to the ticket purchase page.
If you have trouble online, you can place your order by phoning 780-414-4625 and following the prompt to go to Edmonton Oil Kings tickets sales. Remember to mention the promo code CAEDM to get the discount price for the February 10th game.
Questions? Contact Steve Defer in the Office of Life and Family at 780-460-1010 ext. 2159.
Christmas Blessings - There is excitement in the air as Christmas approaches. The staff of Lumen Christi Catholic Education Centre were blessed by a visit from the Monsignor Fee Otterson Glee Club on December 14 as they shared the gift of the songs of Advent and Christmas. We are always so delighted when students come visit us to share their gifts and talents!
As I write my last blog of 2017, I want to wish you all a holy and blessed Christmas that is deeply rooted in Jesus, and a joyous and fruitful New Year!
#ECSDfaithinspires – Edmonton Catholic Schools has been using #ECSDawesome since August of 2015 and over the years it has been shared widely in promoting the amazing things our schools do daily. Starting December 1st, we are retiring #ECSDawesome and launching a new hashtag, #ECSDfaithinspires. #ECSDfaithinspires beautifully portrays how our Catholic faith guides every aspect of our schools as we live out our District vision to learn together, work together and pray together in answering the call to a faith-filled life of service. We encourage all our staff, students, and ECSD families to use this new hashtag and help us share the good news of how faith inspires our daily lives at Edmonton Catholic Schools. As our new liturgical year begins with the holy season of Advent, we know that there will be so many opportunities to show that #ECSDfaithinspires!
Great Kids Awards – Do you have a student who has done amazing things in the face of adversity? Consider the Great Kids Award!
Do you know a young Albertan who has done great things despite difficult circumstances?
Consider nominating them for a Great Kids Award. The Great Kids Award recognizes young leaders ages five to 18, who have inspired and changed the lives of others, and helped build stronger communities. These young people have done so while experiencing life's challenges such as managing a physical disability or mental illness, standing up against bullying, or overcoming a difficult living situation.
What's in it for our young people?
The Minister of Children's Services will send all nominees a certificate of recognition. Award recipients will also receive:
A special trophy from Children's Services. Imagine the difference this award could make in the life of a young Albertan. Consider nominating them for a Great Kids Award! Nominations are open until 4 p.m. on January 16, 2018. For a nomination form and more information, visit www.greatkids.alberta.caRededication of St. Margaret Centre for Diverse Learning - I was pleased to join the staff of St. Margaret School and members of our Board of Trustees as Archbishop Smith rededicated St. Margaret School. It was a lovely opportunity for us to witness the amazing work that takes place in serving some of our most vulnerable students!Farewell Canada 150! – Our schools have had an exciting year celebrating our Canadian identity. Edmonton Catholic Schools is excited to offer our families a free fun day of participating in that great Canadian activity, skating! Please join us on Sunday, December 10 from 1-5 pm at the Rogers Place Community Arena for A Welcome to Winter. Register at www.welcometowinter.eventbrite.ca
- An invitation to an awards ceremony, including a special meal sponsored by Fantasyland Hotel and the opportunity to meet the Minister;
- A night's stay with their families at the Fantasyland Hotel;
- A West Edmonton Mall attractions pass; and
Prime Minister's Awards– Would you like to celebrate an amazing teacher whose excellence and commitment has a lasting impact on students? Consider nominating them for a Prime Minister's Award. There are 3 categories for you to choose from: Teaching Excellence, Excellence in Early Childhood Education, and Teaching Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The nomination deadline is January 12, 2018. Nomination information can be found at CANADA.CA/PM-AWARDS.
Métis Week- The week of November 13-18 marks Métis Week this year; an annual celebration of the Métis people, their culture, and their contributions to our society. There are many opportunities for our students to focus their learning in this area for the week and beyond. Visit the Métis Nation of Alberta's website to download their digital calendar and detailed list of events for the week at http://albertametis.com/2017/10/metis-week-2017/. Alberta Education also has many learning and teaching resources that are available to support curricular learning about the Métis people. Click here to access them.
Partnership Appreciation Week– There is a well-known proverb that "It takes a village to raise a child". This is so true for the world of education! Edmonton Catholic Schools is blessed to have many partners in the education, church, civic, business and government communities who help to create opportunities for students to grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. During the week of November 13-17, we are celebrating the organizations and people who make up our village, and offering our sincerest thanks for their ongoing support of our great work with children and families! To learn more about our vital partners, visit https://www.ecsd.net/AboutUs/The-District/community_partnership/Pages/Default.aspx.
Holodomor Memorial Day – Edmonton Catholic Schools marks the Memorial of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian genocide by famine that took place in 1932-33, on the last Friday of November (the 24th this year). This year, in addition to learning about this tragic part of our world history, our students are being challenged to engage in acts of kindness to highlight the role that we all play in caring for each other and Creation. The Acts of Kindness Challenge runs from November 1-24. Visit our website to learn more. https://www.ecsd.net/AboutUs/Overview/Holodomor/Pages/default.aspx
Our New Board Chair and Vice Chair– Our newly elected Board of Trustees was sworn in at their Organizational Meeting yesterday afternoon. At that time, Trustee Terry Harris was elected as Board Chair and Trustee Sandra Palazzo was elected as the Vice Chair for the 2017-2018 school year. There will be a Commissioning Mass for our Trustees on Catholic Education Sunday, November 5, at 12:15 p.m. at St. Joseph Basilica-10044 113 St NW. All are welcome to this special celebration! Remember to set your clocks back an hour before you go to sleep on Saturday night for the end of Daylight Savings.
This Is…Catholic Education- There is such depth to the way that Edmonton Catholic Schools fulfills our mission to provide a Catholic education that inspires students to learn and that prepares them to live fully and to serve God in one another. In honor of Catholic Education Sunday, November 5, we will highlight a different aspect of what makes us so #ECSDawesome each day this week. Visit our website at https://www.ecsd.net/AboutUs/catholic-identity/this-is/Pages/default.aspx
Remembrance Day – Each of our schools honors our fallen soldiers in a special way. One of those is through ceremonies such as No Stone Left Alone. On November 6, we have over 1,160 students from 14 schools who will ensure that every soldier in Edmonton area cemeteries is remembered with a poppy on their headstone. To learn more about this moving event, visit https://www.nostoneleftalone.ca/alberta-edmonton.
Our schools and sites will be closed for Remembrance Day on Friday, November 10, and will re-open on Monday, November 13.
We have many congratulations to be shared!
Our New Board of Trustees – I would like to congratulate our newly elected Board of Trustees, and thank all those who stepped forward to be considered to serve as a champion of the gift of publicly funded Catholic education. The new Board will begin their important work next week with orientation. Their first Public Meeting will take place on October 30 at 3 pm, where they will be sworn in and choose their new Chair, Vice-Chair, and committees. You can watch this live at https://www.ecsd.net/BoardofTrustees/Reports-and-Resources/public_board_meeting/Pages/default.aspx .
Ward 71 Terry Harris
Ward 72 Sandra Palazzo
Ward 73 Carla Smiley
Ward 74 Debbie Engel
Ward 75 Alene Mutala
Ward 76 Lisa Turchansky
Ward 77 Laura Thibert
The Emmaus Award – The Emmaus Award is presented annually at the Newman Theological College Graduation Mass to a student graduating from the Master of Religious Education Program. The Award reflects the experience of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus: the hope that when students attend Newman, they join other colleagues on the journey and through their studies and dialogue with the content, come to recognize Jesus more clearly.
This year the Emmaus Award recognized Beth Pecson from Monsignor Fee Otterson, who has shown incredible effort and dedication, both to her studies in the MRE Program as well the tremendous contributions she has made and continues to make to her school and parish communities.
In her work as a Catholic teacher and school chaplain, she has clearly demonstrated her commitment to Catholic education. From organizing music for district, school, parish, and community liturgies and events, as well as orchestrating extraordinary musical productions at her school, she has worked hard to inspire her students and colleagues to place Catholic education and specifically Religious Education at the core of their lives.
School Opening Mass Collection – I would like to congratulate our staff and offer my thanks for your generosity towards those in need. The collection from our School Opening Mass was $12,548.83, which will be shared between Development and Peace and the Marian Centre. These two very worthy causes do amazing work and we are so pleased to be able to offer them such great financial support.
Our Lady of Schools – The third Sunday in October is the Feast of Our Lady of Schools. This is a special devotion to our Mother, Mary. Our Lady of Schools was declared the patron saint of all schools and students in Canada by Pope Pius XXII in 1952. The purpose of the devotion to Our Lady of Schools is three-fold:
to honor our Blessed Mother under this particular title so that she may protect schools and prepare strong and faithful generations for the future,
to work for the salvation of the family and of society, especially through children's prayers, and
to remind everyone, not only educators but also parents and leaders of states, of the crucial importance of Catholic education.
In honor of this feast, each of our grade 5 students is being gifted with a book mark with a prayer to Our Lady of Schools:
Mother of God,
Our Lady of Schools,
Teach us how to walk in the footsteps of Jesus,
your Son and our brother,
so that He may always be the Light of our minds and the Love of our hearts.
Our Lady of Schools,
Mother of Knowledge and Love,
pray for us.
Orange Shirt Day – I was honored to represent Edmonton Catholic Schools at the Orange Shirt Day Ceremony at City Hall today. It was very moving and inspiring to see so many students, individuals and so many leaders of community and government gathered together to unite in the principle that every child matters, and to recognize that the path to reconciliation begins by acknowledging the truth of the dark history of residential schools for our Indigenous people.
Student Count –It is amazing to think that September is already at an end. It has been a landmark start up for Edmonton Catholic Schools. With the opening of 5 new schools and the re-opening of St. Margaret, we have seen our student population swell to a total of 42,494. That is #ECSDawesome!
Read-In Week – Monday, October 2 marks the launch of Read-In Week. The theme for this year is I'm a READER, I read for ME! This is one of my favorite times of the year, as I have had a lifelong passion for reading. I wish all our staff and students a magical week of diving into the pages of good books for the pleasure of reading. You can find many excellent resources at http://www.readin.ca/.
Catholic Trustee Forum – Our Edmonton Catholic Teachers Local 54 is hosting a forum for all Catholic trustee candidates. It is an excellent time for the electorate to come out and learn more about each candidate's views on the issues facing Catholic education in Edmonton. The forum is on Wednesday, October 4 at 7 pm at the Royal Alberta Museum (12845 – 102 Avenue).
You can also watch videos of each of our candidates stating their platform and answering questions at https://www.ecsd.net/BoardofTrustees/Election-2017/Pages/Trustee-Candidate-Video-Interviews-and-Contact-Info.aspx.
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