The Niagara Catholic “Catch the Spirit Student Award of Excellence” has been established to honour representatives of this leadership within our student population as we continue to work together to “nurture souls and build minds” throughout Niagara Catholic.

The recipients show and demonstrate outstanding qualities in the following areas:

  1. Catholic Leadership Qualities
  2. Catholic Faith and Catholic School Philosophy
  3. Family Commitment
  4. School Community Relations (rapport with teachers and other students)
  5. Involvement in School Affairs and Activities
  6. Involvement in Community Activities
  7. Commitment to a Difficult Situation or Task
  8. High Degree of Academic Excellence

Congratulations to our 2021 Catch the Spirit Award Recipients!

Jose Palma Alfaro
Alexander Kuska Catholic Elementary School

Chloe Meisner
Assumption Catholic Elementary School

Emma O'Brien
Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School

Nina & Olivia Lavorato
Canadian Martyrs Catholic Elementary School

Cait Whittard
Denis Morris Catholic High School

Jake Kelley
Father Hennepin Catholic Elementary School

Bronte Ibbotson
Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School

Kaydence Muniak
Holy Name Catholic Elementary School

Vittoria Seca
Lakeshore Catholic High School

Noella Tropea
Loretto Catholic Elementary School

Afrah Parmar
Mary Ward Catholic Elementary School

Claire Cuthbert
Monsignor Clancy Catholic Elementary School

Hope Tsuji
Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School

Zoe DeMille
Notre Dame College College School

Julia Darvich-Lopez
Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School
(Grimsby)

Axel Rodriguez Galicia
Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School
(St. Catharines)

Immanuel Emareyo
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Elementary School

Mitchell Reeves
Our Lady of Victory Catholic Elementary School

Alec Linton
Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary School

Cole MacDonald
Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School

Meghan Naar
Saint Michael Catholic High School

Serena Butera
Saint Paul Catholic High School

Gabriel Forte
St. Alexander Catholic Elementary School

Abby Hutton
St. Alfred Catholic Elementary School

Lauren Potts
St. Andrew Catholic Elementary School

Seun Adeyiwola
St. Ann Catholic Elementary School
(St. Catharines)

Julia Tremeer
St. Ann Catholic Elementary School
(Fenwick)

Ben Arnold
St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School

Annabella Perdomo Quintero
St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School

Emilia Zuk
St. Charles Catholic Elementary School

Natalie Jansz
St. Christopher Catholic Elementary School

Leticia Barros
St. Denis Catholic Elementary School

Isabella Pijl
St. Edward Catholic Elementary School

Gavin Gallo
St. Elizabeth Catholic Elementary School

Kimberly Saunders
St. Gabriel Lalemant Catholic Elementary School

Camryn Lattimer
St. George Catholic Elementary School

Syrah Mills
St. James Catholic Elementary School

Emerson Pergentile
St. John Catholic Elementary School

Ella Muller
St. John Bosco Catholic Elementary School

Kate Bishop
St. John Henry Newman Catholic Elementary School

Kadence McLean
St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School
(Snyder)

Keegan Hedley
St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School
(Grimsby)

Nicole Dixon
St. Kevin Catholic Elementary School

Christian Ferro
St. Mark Catholic Elementary School

Allison Tracey
St. Martin Catholic Elementary School

Rose Peter
St. Mary Catholic Elementary School
(Niagara Falls)

Xander Williams
St. Mary Catholic Elementary School
(Welland)

Katharine Vanderkaay
St. Michael Catholic Elementary School

William Wagner
St. Nicholas Catholic Elementary School

Ethan Perri
St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School
(Niagara Falls)

Bridget Peazel
St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School
(Port Colborne)

Kayleigh DiGirolamo
St. Peter Catholic Elementary School

Serena Kelly
St. Philomena Catholic Elementary School

Gabriel Ongcangco
St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Elementary School

Adriel Dela Paz
St. Theresa Catholic Elementary School

Karina Sneek
St. Therese Catholic Elementary School

Samantha Dino
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Elementary School

The Inspiration Awards are presented annually to exemplary Niagara Catholic colleagues who embody the Mission, Vision and Values of our system, our vocation and our call to serve students, colleagues and our Catholic community.  The Inspiration Award is presented in recognition of faithful, passionate, innovative and extraordinary contributions to Niagara Catholic.

Congratulations to our 2021 Inspiration Award Recipients!

Brenda Allington

I am extremely honoured to be a recipient of the 2021 Inspiration Award.  I would like to thank all of the people who have inspired me through their own acts of kindness and caring.  It is a privilege to help students achieve their goals and dreams for their future. 

Rosie Araujo

I feel extremely thankful for this award. I truly share it with countless dedicated members of the Niagara Catholic family that I have had the privilege to work with for the past 20 years. Thank you for continuing to inspire me.

Rob Battista

I am honored and humbled to be chosen for this award. I would like to thank my nominators for their support. I am inspired everyday by the students and staff I work with, particularly my Educational Assistants who always go above and beyond the challenges they are presented with. I am blessed to go to work each day and learn so much from my students.

Andrew Boon

I am incredibly humbled and grateful to receive this recognition. I would like to thank the entire staff at Holy Cross Catholic for their kindness they show to not only me, but to all of our students. I’m honoured to be a part of the Niagara Catholic family and truly feel lucky to be in this position. 

Danny DiLorenzo

 I am most honoured and humbled to be recognized as one of this year's recipients of the Niagara Catholic Inspiration Award.  It has been a most a fulfilling and rewarding experience to work with so many wonderfully talented colleagues to shape and influence the lives of our students every day. As an educator, we are called to a vocation in Catholic Education that is inspired by God. It is only through His inspiration that I have been able to fulfil my vocation as a Catholic educator. Thank you to my nominators for nominating me for this award and to the whole of Niagara Catholic for supporting educators in their day-to-day endeavour to educate our students' mind, body, and soul.

Kate Einhorn

Growing up in a small town in Saskatchewan, there was a small library in the small basement of our small church. To me, this small room was everything and it made me anything but small-minded. It was here that I learned about the heroes of the Bible and the saints of the Church.  These heroes and saints were characterized by joy and closeness to the Holy Spirit because of a heart conformed to the heart of Christ. True charity is not just telling every truth of the Catholic Faith in every situation- true charity sees the heart of the person and proceeds to tell the truth in love as they are able to receive it. This is what I hope to bring each day in the classroom.  

Rose Gentilcore

I am wholeheartedly grateful for the inspirational colleagues and students of Niagara Catholic. Our youngest learners keep me ever mindful of the gifts of wonder, joy and awe in learning and teach me, with each new encounter throughout Niagara Catholic, how to embrace each ordinary moment as an extraordinary gift. I am humbled by this kind nomination and feel blessed, as we all continue to accompany one another on our faith-filled journey together.  

Lisa Higgins

I am very honoured to be one of this year’s Inspiration Award recipients and to join the elite group of the past recipients. Being an Educational Assistant who supports special needs and influencing the day to day lives of the students has been an extremely rewarding journey.  I do what I do for the students I love to care and work for. Thank you.

Tina Ianniello

“Time belongs to the Lord. Trusting in Him, we move forward with courage, building unity through discernment, to discover and implement God’s dream for us, and the paths of action ahead.” Pope Francis”

I am pleased, honoured and humbled to have been nominated and to receive this award. I would like to share this award with all those I have worked with, my husband, my family, students and their families, faith filled leaders and friends who I hold close to my heart. Thank you to Niagara Catholic for giving me the opportunity to encourage minds that think, hands to create and hearts that love.

Agnes Komar

I am truly humbled to have been nominated and selected to receive one of the 2021 Inspiration Awards.  I believe that teaching is the demonstration of servant leadership, a job as challenging as it is meaningful, and I am truly blessed to be able to help nurture the young people that are growing up to be our future. It is a great honour to be a part of the Niagara Catholic District School Board family, with such great administrators, teachers and support staff to help guide and support one another. Thank you very much for this privilege.

Joanne Milinkovich

I am both honoured and humbled to have been chosen as a recipient of Niagara Catholic's Inspiration Award.  It is I that is inspired daily by my colleagues at Saint Michael Catholic and all members of the Niagara Catholic District School Board.  We are fortunate that our profession allows us the opportunity to influence and inspire future generations!

Alfonso Monachino

This is certainly a very humbling experience, but it offers me the opportunity to thank my Niagara Catholic family (students, staff and parents) for walking with me in joy and in suffering and for reminding me that Catholic education is a journey in love and learning. I feel very blessed to have my heavenly angel and my earth angels inspiring me to keep the faith and to always pay it forward.  God bless you and thank-you!

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented annually to graduates from a Catholic secondary school in our Board. The individual must be described by the nominee as extraordinary, notable or acclaimed and has achieved distinguished success in his or her adult life.  The nominee must have achieved and reflect the characteristics described by the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations.

Congratulations to our 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients!

Dr. Matthew Cecchini

Dr. Matthew Cecchini attended Monsignor Clancy Catholic Elementary School and Denis Morris Catholic High School, before attending Brock University (B.Sc, with Distinction) and the combined MD/PhD program at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University. He is an MD and a Doctor of Philosophy. 

Dr. Matt, as he is known, is a pathologist, and has lectured on issues such as the dangers associated with vaping. In addition to mentoring six undergraduate students, Dr. Matt has organized a global pathology competition, and taken to teaching pathology in both YouTube and Twitter, where he has more than 5,000 followers. He also writes for a magazine called My Pathology Report, which allows patients to understand their diagnoses and pathology in simple language. 

Still, he finds time to speak to youngsters about medicine, including time spent online with students at St. Peter Catholic Elementary School during the January lockdown. Talking to the Kindergarten class, Dr. Matt talked about what it means to be a scientist, and how he helps understand what makes people sick so that they can stay healthy.

He has been on the Pathologist’s Power List in 2019 (Top 100 Trailblazers) and 2020 (The Social Network) and was also a recipient of the 2019 Resident Achievement Award. 

For his advocacy for a career in science, and for helping make complex concepts simple for everyone, we are pleased to recognize Dr. Matthew Cecchini with a Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Robert De Planche

Robert De Planche graduated from Notre Dame College School in 1952, and immediately began working for Ontario Paper in Thorold. With an eye to broadening his career, Robert obtained his electronics certification in 1965, and moved to New Brunswick to accept a supervisory position at another company. While there, he attended the University of New Brunswick taking a number of management courses – all while working full-time. 

Eventually, Robert and his wife Joan set down roots in Berlin, New Hampshire, where he spent most of his career. In 1997, Robert capped off his career by completing his MBA at the age of 63, with a GPA of 3.85, again, while working full-time. That same year, he was elected mayor of his adopted home-town. 

Robert met the love of his life Joan on March 17, 1952, at a St. Patrick’s Day dance at Notre Dame College School and they have spent the last 69 years together, side-by-side. He credits his life-long love of learning and work ethic to the Holy Cross Fathers and the Sisters of Notre Dame.  

The couple remains so connected with Notre Dame that they created a scholarship in their name, contributing approximately $40,000 to a fund to support students who worked hard throughout their four years and left their mark upon the school. 

For his commitment to life-long learning, and for his philanthropy toward worthy students at Notre Dame College School, we are pleased to recognize Robert De Planche with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

Riley Sheahan

Riley Sheahan attended St. Ann Catholic Elementary School and Denis Morris Catholic High School. During his time at DM, Riley was an active part of the student body, and an outstanding hockey player.  His commitment to excellence was second to none as he was always the first on the ice and the last one to leave the ice. 

Success at the professional level did not come easy for Riley. After going to Notre Dame University, he was drafted in the first round by Detroit Red Wings (21st overall). Since then, Riley has become somewhat of a journeyman forging his way to fit into whatever a team requires in order to continue to play at the top level. His journey began in Detroit and continued on with further stints in Pittsburgh, Edmonton and now in Buffalo, where he is playing out this season. 

Being in the spotlight has afforded Riley the opportunity to assist with many community-based programs. With each team, Riley showed his kindness and good nature, contributing to several programs outside of the hockey bubble. He was a stand-out with the Detroit Humane Society helping sheltered dogs be adopted, and surprised a high school senior in Detroit who was battling cancer by showing up as her prom date, unbeknownst to anyone.  

Riley has supported mental health initiatives in Edmonton and Pittsburgh, serving with fellow Penguin Brian Rust as youth mental health awareness advocates in the city. Not only did they provide the seats for the kids and their families but they also brought them down to the dressing room following the games for autographs and meet and greets with some of the other athletes. Despite all of the trappings of life as a professional athlete, Riley remains close to his DM friends and family, who have grounded him throughout his journey. 

For his commitment to professional excellence and community service, we are pleased to recognize Riley Sheahan with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

A few words from our recipients

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