Niagara Catholic had many things to celebrate in 2019. Here are some of the many highlights from the year:
In January, we held our annual Baby Celebration, a yearly tradition which brings together staff who had babies within the past 12 months for a morning of fellowship and joyful noise with their babies. It’s a favourite event at the Catholic Education Centre.
In March, Niagara Catholic welcomed Toronto Argonauts James Wilder, Jr. and Matt Black to St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in Niagara Falls, as part of a donation from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Foundation. Niagara Catholic received 1,500 balls from Canadian Tire, as part of their meeting taking place in the city. The players talked about goal-setting and overcoming adversity to achieve their dreams.
During the Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education’s Annual Benefit Gala in April, Niagara Catholic honoured Bill Amadio and Patrick Hudak with the Niagara Catholic Education Award of Distinction. Mr. Amadio was recognized for his many years of service as a trustee and Board lawyer, as well as for his years of service to the Foundation. Mr. Hudak, the principal who rallied Catholic families in Fort Erie and south Niagara to attend a new Catholic high school in Port Colborne, was recognized for his commitment to the school and Board both during his years as principal of Lakeshore Catholic High School, and into his retirement.
In May, Niagara Catholic held its Celebrating Excellence Awards event, bringing together the very best in students, staff and alumni. This event included the Catch the Spirit Student Awards of Excellence, the Inspiration Award (for staff) and the Distinguished Alumni Award. One student from each Catholic elementary school and secondary school receives a Catch the Spirit Award, as well as one student representing Continuing Education. The 2019 recipients of the Inspiration Award were Philip Jones, Amanda Lamb, Scot Maxwell, Linda McQueen, Nicole Royer, Mario Scozzafava and Deanna Williams. Our Distinguished Alumni were John P. Groetelaars, Dr. Robert Murray, Fr. Rico Passero and Bonnie Vadacchino.
Dr. Christina LeRose, one of our Itinerant Arts Teachers, was honoured by the City of Niagara Falls with her name on the City’s Arts and Culture Wall of Fame.
Niagara Catholic celebrated a number of students who earned provincial recognition for their efforts in technology and science in 2019. Congratulations to the students who competed at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and at local, provincial and national technology skills competitions. We’re very proud of you!
Niagara Catholic had a number of sports teams excel in 2019, including a number of teams and individual competitors winning OFSAA, the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Rowing Association’s annual “Schoolboy” Regatta.
Niagara Catholic celebrated approximately 40 retirees and long-serving staff during the annual Service and Retirement Celebration in June. It was another wonderful celebration of those who have served Catholic education in Niagara for 25+ years, or moved on to new journeys in retirement in 2019.
We welcomed many new students to our schools in 2019, and continue to welcome new students to Niagara Catholic throughout the year. Their smiling faces said it all on the first day of school in September!
In October, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Elementary School welcomed the original Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno, to the school to speak to students about growing up bullied due to his hearing impairment. He told students about how he channeled his feelings into fitness, and ultimately became one of TV’s most recognizable figures.
In November, Niagara Catholic was recognized by the Early Childhood Community Development Centre for excellence in Early Learning. The Kindergarten team at St. Charles Catholic Elementary School received the Kindergarten Team Award for its outstanding efforts to strengthen Full-Day Kindergarten for children and their families, and Superintendent of Education Lee Ann Forsyth-Sells, received a Contributor Award for Volunteers and Colleagues.
Niagara Catholic had another very successful registration month in November for both our elementary and secondary schools and online registration for the 2020-2021 school year is strong. Once again, our social media campaign to promote our open houses was very successful, in large part due to our promotional videos.
Wrapping up the year at the annual Advent Mass at the Pope Francis Centre, I was honoured to be recognized with the Pope Francis Centre Award, presented by graduate Erin Gillis and her son Xavier. Erin is currently a student in Nursing at Brock University. I was humbled by her words about how being permitted to enroll at the Pope Francis Centre as a student-parent allowed her to continue her goal to study nursing. I am profoundly grateful to be recognized by the Pope Francis Centre, and was touched to see the youngsters baptized during the Mass.