Students, parents, teachers and invited guests gathered at the Sudbury Catholic District Board office on May 9, 2012 to take part in the SCDSB’s third annual Turning Points Essay Contest Awards ceremony. This essay contest is an initiative which stems from the Learning Partnership which is an organization that champions a strong public education system to deliver innovative programs, credible research, policy initiatives, executive leadership and public engagement across Canada. Turning Points is a character development and literacy program that allows students to reflect on their fundamental values and, through a process of self-reflection and dialogue, write a narrative essay about a significant event, or turning point in their lives. As it is the third year, student participation has continued to grow as teachers have continued to encourage their involvement with this rewarding program. The secondary students that took part in this contest and authored the winning essays were awarded plaques, a copy of the publication, as well as monetary awards at Wednesday night’s celebration. The students were honoured for their efforts and several students had the opportunity to read their essays allowed. The audience was visibly moved by these emotional accounts and several of the teachers involved spoke of the courage and strength of their students to be able to write such heart-felt accounts of their experiences. Allison Cameron, a Marymount English teacher was the master of ceremonies at this event and was visibly moved after the students read aloud their essays. “Even after being involved with this initiative for three years, I am never really prepared for the poignant words our students have written and shared with others,” Cameron stated. “The courage of these students to express their deepest feelings and emotions about their life’s turning point is so powerful – for the student, and their families.” Catherine McCullough, Director of Education for the Board echoed Cameron’s sentiments. “I am thrilled that the this program once again met with such success, and am so honoured that our students have courageously shared their most personal and meaningful life experiences. We are certainly overwhelmed by their talent and honesty involved in this writing experience.”
Students at Bishop Alexander Carter Catholic Secondary School are trying to change the world. As part of her student’s Grade 10 Religion Class, teacher Shelley Raymond was inspired to get her class involved in the “Change the World” campaign. This campaign is a three week campaign for Ontario Youth, and is a challenge with one goal – to get secondary school students to volunteer in their community. To take part in this challenge, Raymond’s class decided on two different projects. On Thursday, May 3, they organized a school goalball tournament with monies raised for the CNIB. The second project involved a community wide clean up. The goal ball tournament was a huge hit with a school with all ten team spots immediately filled. Sudbury Catholic Specialist Teacher of the Blind and Partially Sighted, Adriano Simonato, helped with the organization and instruction on the rules and regulations of goalball. “One of the great benefits of goalball is that it promotes teamwork and cooperation among participants as all players are blindfolded” Stated Simonato. “Also, because goalball can be played by individuals who are sighted and visually impaired together, it acts as a medium for breaking down barriers. As a result it helps promote awareness within the school community regarding what individuals who are visually impaired can do.” Natalie Perdicou and Brittany Prosser were two of the students who were key in organizing the school’s “Change the World” events. Both girls felt that each element, the goalball tournament and the community clean up were excellent opportunities for Bishop students to join together to make their school and community better places to be.