Column: STAR Catholic trustees the road and tour the division

The board of trustees checked out 12 schools within the district.

Dan Svitich

STAR Catholic Trustee Ponoka

St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic School Division serves six communities across central Alberta and has 12 schools in those six communities.

Our board is aware of, and interested in, the unique accomplishments and challenges of each school, but with a new board there was an eagerness to visit these schools in person.

To that end, the board set out on a tour of all STAR Catholic schools, over several days.

Through the tour we were able to see the beautiful and most recent additions to STAR Catholic with Ècole Mother d’Youville School in Beaumont, which opened to the community this school year. The other recent addition is Father Leduc Catholic School in Leduc, and it opened in the 2016-2017 school year, and is in its second year already. We are pleased to see how these schools are embraced by parents, from the initial announcement of the schools to the early days of operation and beyond.

Part of what is included in the tour is to see first-hand the schools we have on our capital plan. We have several projects listed on our capital plan, and top among them for the past several years has been a modernization of Father Lacombe Catholic School in Lacombe. We look forward to continued progress in advocating to the provincial government in funding for the projects listed in our capital plan.

The tour allowed the board to see the amazing work done by our facilities department over the past year. During the 2016-2017 school year, STAR Catholic received more than $890,000 in Infrastructure, Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) funding. Of the $780,000 spent from the IMR funds, there were significant building improvements and projects completed.

Trustees saw the re-flooring of many areas of St. Augustine’s Primary School in Ponoka and St. Benedict School in Leduc, including its gym floor. St. Ben’s also saw a new sidewalk, and a new portion of the roof, as well as drainage in the area around the school’s new playground. Sacred Heart School in Wetaskiwin saw concrete replacement in a couple of entryways, and the conversion of two computer labs into classrooms. There was also painting of certain areas of many of STAR Catholic’s schools and included in these projects was the finishing of Ècole Mother d’Youville School and Father Leduc Catholic School.

All of these projects speak to the commitment STAR Catholic has to the facilities that welcome and serve our students each day.

In addition to seeing the schools, these tours went far beyond bricks and mortar. Although the buildings are the place our students come to learn, it’s the dedicated and passionate people who serve in those schools as educators, mentors, support and leaders that truly make STAR Catholic what it is. These school tours gave trustees the wonderful opportunity to meet teachers and custodians, admin assistants and principals, and every other staff member who, with joy, work to educate the body, mind and spirit of students. It also provided the opportunity to meet and see those young, bright minds in action and that is an experience that is second to none.

We are blessed to have the division we do, and look forward to its continued growth. Thank you again to our schools for hosting these trustee tours and God bless your work in His name.

Dan Svitich is a Ponoka Trustee on the STAR Catholic Schools Division board. STAR Catholic Schools has more than 4,000 students in 12 schools located in Beaumont, Drayton Valley, Leduc, Lacombe, Ponoka and Wetaskiwin.

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