Random Acts of Kindness Week: We can all benefit by being on both the giving and receiving ends of a little more kindness in our lives. It goes without saying that even the smallest kindnesses are always appreciated when you receive them. It is also empowering for us to know that when we carry out acts of kindness, we are positively impacting someone's life, even if it is just for a moment. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta told us, "we can do small things with great love!" Kindness starts with one.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has an excellent website that is full of stories, ideas, and resources for everyone. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
Family Day: What a gift it is for us to have a day that is dedicated to a celebration of family. You may have noticed that in our monthly newsletters, you are receiving chapter overviews of Pope Francis' Encyclical Amoris Laetitia: The Joy of Love. This beautiful document speaks about love in the family. You can find the summaries in your school newsletters starting in October, 2016, or visit the "Superintendent's Messages" section of our public website and click the links for the monthly messages.
There are many events going on in the City of Edmonton on Monday, February 20. Visit their website for great ideas on sharing this special day with your loved ones. https://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_events/schedule_festivals_events/family-day-events.aspx
Wonderful Faith Formation Opportunities and Celebrations:
Faith Development Day - February 7: Our annual Faith Development Day is one which I look forward to each year. The spiritual refreshment that this time to pause, reflect, learn, and celebrate brings to me is rejuvenating. On February 7, we will have the pleasure of learning from David Wells and celebrating with our shepherds, Archbishop Smith and Bishop Motiuk. I look forward to joining together with our staff for this amazing day.
2017 ACSTA SPICE and Blueprints Retreats: You have an additional opportunity to enjoy David Wells in the upcoming g months. The Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association has engaged him to present their annual retreats. Here is their message to you:
We are delighted to welcome back David Wells who will be keynote speaker for both the 2017 ACSTA SPICE (April 28-May 1) and Blueprints (May 3-6) Retreats
David was a high school teacher before becoming a research assistant for the Bishops' Conference in England and Wales. His latest position is as Project Manager for School Evangelization. Wells has travelled the world, speaking at more than 350 conferences in Europe, North America and Australia. He guest lectures in three English universities and holds a Master of Philosophy degree from Nottingham University.
David will be speaking on the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), on love in the family, signed on 19 March, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, which brings together the results of the two Synods on the family convoked by Pope Francis in 2014 and 2015. The document highlights the importance of family and all its implications including education. Catholic education is important but the family too shares responsibility for passing on faith. David, in his joyful and powerful manner, will break open the document for us and assist Catholic educators in understanding the as yet untapped influence this document has for us in our own lives, our Church and our Catholic schools.
For further information and registration please visit ACSTA website http://www.acsta.ab.ca/events
48th Annual Friars Ball - May 5, 2017: Westin Hotel. Mark your calendars and make plans to attend this formal event in support of the education, training and formation of seminarians, religious, and lay leaders for the Ukrainian Eparchy and the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton. Tickets are $250 each ($150 for 25 and younger).
For further information, please contact Anna at 780-469-1010 (firstname.lastname@example.org), visit them at www.friarsball.com , or view them on Facebook @friarsball. It is a wonderful evening!
Happy New Year: One of the many exciting aspects of the school year is that is filled with new beginnings. We start a new year of learning in the fall, and then we start a new calendar year in January. For me this creates a mindset of endless opportunity. I wish you all of the excitement that is to be realized in embracing the possibilities that 2017 holds for you!
Canada's 150: One of the opportunities that awaits us in 2017 is to celebrate our Canadian pride as our country turns 150. ECSD will commemorate this special moment in our country's history by recognizing Canada's 150th throughout 2017! We are compiling a variety of activities and resources for our schools to use. They can be found at https://www.ecsd.net/staff/canada-150/Pages/default.aspx . As an example, the Government of Canada has launched #OnThisDay, and you can explore historical events for each day of the year as it unfolds at Canada.ca/OnThis Day.
Benefits of your Edmonton Public Library (EPL) Membership: We are so thrilled with our partnership with EPL that provides a free library card to each of our students. Did you know that one of the benefits of your EPL card is access to a vast number of digital materials? Resources include picture books, novels, reference materials, newspapers, and magazines as examples. Visit http://www.epl.ca/online-resources/ to explore this amazing opportunity for literacy and learning.
Franciscan Youth Poster/Writing Contest: Our Lady of the Angels Regional Council of the Secular Franciscans of Western Canada would like to invite children and youth to participate in their Poster/Poem/Story/Essay Contest. They have chosen the theme "Who is Saint Francis of Assisi?" because they want young people to learn about the 800-year-old tradition of Franciscan Spirituality, living in harmony with each other and our fragile environment. It is an excellent way for children and youth to explore what Pope Francis wanted us to learn from his encyclical Laudato Si'-On Care for Our Common Home. Visit www.ofswesterncanada.ca to learn more about the contest. The deadline for entry is March 17.
10 Students, Santa, Pizza, and the Police: Check out Allan Au's latest Vlog, $200 for the Kids, as he follows 10 lucky students from St. Francis of Assisi School who received a shopping spree from Londonderry Mall as part of their very first CopShop event. The students enjoyed a pizza lunch with Santa, and then had members of Edmonton Police Service as their personal shopping assistants for the afternoon. It is a heartwarming story of all-around generosity! https://www.ecsd.net/AboutUs/The-District/district_song/Pages/ECSD-Video-Blog.aspx
Great Kids Award: Nominations for the Great Kids Award from the Government of Alberta are now open. The award recognizes children and youth, ages five to 18, who have made positive contributions while overcoming life hardships. These include managing a physical or mental illness, standing up against bullying or overcoming other difficult life circumstances. Still, these young people have gone above and beyond for others and their communities. Nominations close on December 16, 2016. For more information, visit www.greatkids.alberta.ca.
Advent Reflections from Archbishop Richard Smith: This holy season points us not only to our commemoration of the Lord's coming among us as a child born of the Virgin Mary but also to his coming again at the end of time and to his many "advents" in our daily lives now.
Becoming ready means taking a serious look at how we are living and asking questions such as: what do I, in fact, worship? Myself? My possessions? Reputation? Desires? And from where do I take instruction? To what voices am I listening and giving my trust? Do I turn to the Internet? Social media? Magazines? TV shows? What is shaping my mindset?
These are tough and challenging questions, but they cannot be postponed. When Jesus speaks in the Gospel of his return (cf. Matthew 24:37-44), he makes clear that he will come at a time we simply cannot know. The conclusion is clear: the time to get our lives in order is now.
Advent is not about candles on a wreath. It is about having a life that is enlightened by right order. May God grant us the grace to clear up any disorder in our lives and thus to be ready to greet him joyfully when he comes. (Quid Novum, November 29/16)
Join in the Advent Festivities: We are so fortunate to be able to offer the opportunity for exceptional musical enrichment to our students. Our All-City Choir and our Junior and Senior All-City Bands are getting ready for their Christmas Concerts. The concerts all start at 7:30 pm: All City Choir @ St. Joseph's Basilica- Dec. 5, Junior All City Band @ John L. Haar Theatre (MacEwan)-Dec. 7, Senior All City Band @ U of A Convocation Hall – Dec. 13. Come out an enjoy!
Celebrating our Great Work: As part of our accountability process to Alberta Education and our stakeholders, we report out specific information at various times of the year. There are two major reports of this nature which were presented at the November 29 Public Board of Trustees Meeting. Our Audited Financial Statements, August 31, 2016 informs you about how we use our dollars in the most fiscally prudent manner to support our great work with children, families, and staff. The Combined Annual Education Results Report 2015-2016 and Three-Year Education Plan 2016-2019 highlights our major achievements as well as our plans for continuous growth and improvement as we strive to provide the best possible opportunities for our students. Both reports are on our website on the Annual Reports and Results page at https://www.ecsd.net/AboutUs/annual_reports/Pages/default.aspx.
Hour of Code: Edmonton Catholic Schools is delighted to be participating in the global movement, Hour of Code for the third year. Our goals is to have 20,000 students and teachers spend one hour exploring computer science and programming during the week of December 5-9. Coding and Computer Science help to enhance literacy and numeracy skills through computational thinking, collaboration and problem solving. Visit http://bit.ly/ecsdHOC to register to participate and win amazing prizes and to checkout this year's ECSD Hour of Code video.
Vlog: Episode 2 of our Video Blog, Pyramids of Wonder, has been posted on our public website at https://www.ecsd.net/aboutus/the-district/district_song/pages/ecsd-video-blog.aspx. Join our amazing Allan Au as he explores the wonderful learning opportunities in Edmonton Catholic Schools. The vlog is truly delightful!
Métis Week: The Métis people have made a rich contribution to Canadian history, and Métis Week, November 13-19, provides us with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate both history and culture. There is a wealth of activities that are taking part across the city of Edmonton this week., culminating in Métis Nation of Alberta Family Day on Saturday, November 19. Visit www.albertametis.com to learn more. I would like to share a prayer from the Diocese of Saskatoon for the success of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that speaks to the importance of understanding and celebrating our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.
O God, we praise and thank You
for the blessings of life in Canada
from your natural bounty and
from the work of human hands.
We ask you to open our ears
to the truths about our collective history
being recorded for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
by survivors of residential schools.
We ask you to open our minds
to the complex and subtle ways
that past mistakes, arrogance, misuse of authority,
and even sinfulness have damaged
our social fabric in ways we have barely begun to redress.
We ask you to open our hearts:
- that we may continue to listen even when the truth challenges us
- that we may understand that we are heirs to a system that has shown itself capable of domination and cruelty, whether or not we personally contributed to building it that way;
- that we may commit ourselves in all humility to do what we can and support the efforts of others to restore our ruptured social fabric.
We pray with confidence that by your grace we may grow into your community of love and forgiveness. Amen
Catholic Education Sunday: In preparation for Catholic Education Sunday, November 6, we are very pleased to be running a series of infographics on the beauty of Catholic education in Edmonton Catholic Schools. This series has been designed to celebrate the richness that is to be found in learning communities that have Christ at their centre. You can view the complete series by visiting www.thisis.ecsd.net
WE Care Giving Program: Our We Care Challenge provides schools and sites the opportunity to join to fundraise so that their collective impact is great. Through this giving program, we receive the gift of making a difference for our vulnerable families and we receive the gift of being able to provide greater opportunities in our classrooms. A vital part of the We Care Challenge is the generous contributions made by our staff to these causes.
Thanks to all of you who have taken advantage of the convenience of automatic payroll deduction as part of the We Care Staff Payroll Giving Program. If you participated in our payroll giving program last year, please consider renewing your commitment once again this year.
For those of you who still would like to donate, simply visit http://wecaregiving.ecsd.net/ to make a payroll donation. You may choose to donate to one or both charities in this way. The payroll deduction program will run from January to December 2017. You may also make a one-time donation.
Thank you for your commitment to showing our city that We Care!
Congratulations to our New Board of Trustees’ Chair and Vice-Chair: At their Organizational Meeting on October 18, the Board of Trustees held their elections. Please join me in congratulating Trustee Laura Thibert, ward 77, on being elected Chair, and Trustee Marilyn Bergstra, ward 76, on being elected Vice Chair. The Board also approved the complete slate of the many committees and positions in community, municipal, and provincial bodies that they are involved in through their role as elected governors of Catholic Education.
Many Reasons to be Thankful: At our Special Board Meeting today, the Board of Trustees received the reports on three important accountability measures for Edmonton Catholic Schools. The results of our Grade 3 and 6 Provincial Achievement Tests, our Diploma Examination, and our Accountability Pillar were made public by the Government of Alberta. You can view those results, along with highlights, on our public website https://www.ecsd.net/AboutUs/annual_reports/Pages/default.aspx . As always, we are so blessed to have staff members in all roles who are committed to providing welcoming, safe, caring, and exceptional learning environments and opportunities for our students. We are equally blessed to have so many families choosing Edmonton Catholic Schools to be a part of their lives.
Thanksgiving: I wish all of our staff and families a blessed time over this special holiday as you gather together to celebrate the Grace of God in your lives! Please visit our website for my Thanksgiving message. https://www.ecsd.net/aboutus/the-district/district_structure/superintendents-office/superintendents-message/2016-2017/pages/a-message-for-thanksgiving.aspx
#MakeItAwkward: A resilient community is one which can turn something awful into an opportunity for growth. We were all shocked to see the video of Jesse Lipscombe being subjected to racist slurs as he was filming a public service announcement. As part of our commitment to creating inclusive, safe, caring, nurturing learning communities, we have created an Educator’s Toolkit for teachers to use in their classrooms as they provide age appropriate education to students on inclusive language and behaviours permeated through all aspects of the school day/life. Staff can access the toolkit right off of the banner in our portal or under Commitment to Inclusive Communities on the public website.
Annual Aboriginal Role Models of Alberta Awards: I am pleased to share with you that Pamela Sparklingeyes, Program Manager for Aboriginal Learning Services, received the Education Award at the 21st Annual Aboriginal Role Models of Alberta Awards. Pam is well known for her passion for ensuring that our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students have the best possible opportunities and resources. Congratulations, Pam!
Celebrating 100 Voices at the Edmonton Valley Zoo: Edmonton Catholic Schools is so proud of the amazing opportunities that we offer to students of all ages. The Eleanore Oakes Award is an achievement award given by Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) for outstanding achievement by an institutional member in exhibit design, animal husbandry, education or for other significant contributions to the zoo and aquarium field. We have just received news that the Edmonton Valley Zoo/Edmonton Catholic Schools 100 Voices has been given this award for our partnership in providing this exceptional learning experience to our pre-kindergarten children. I had the opportunity to go visit our 100 Voices Zoo School this week and it was #ECSDawesome! The richness of the learning that unfolds in such and amazing environment provides such an engaging experience.
Edmonton Catholic Schools is so proud to be a founding partner in the annual Read-In Week which start on October 3. Literacy is a fundamental skill that is important to people of all ages, and this week is intended to create a greater awareness of the importance of reading. The theme for this year is One World Many Voices, which emphasizes that through reading we learn from other people’s lives and can be inspired to raise our voices to tell our own stories. Visit http://www.readin.ca/
to learn more. Happy reading!
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