Column: Offering thanks to STAR Catholic school communities

Ponoka’s STAR Catholic trustee Dan Svitich offers thanks for September and October

Dan Svitich

Ponoka Trustee STAR Catholic Schools

“All this for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God”. – 2 Corinthians 4:15.

In the month of October, we stopped to give thanks and spend that time to acknowledge family and friends, and the grace of God for the betterment of our lives. At St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic School division, we as a board are acutely aware of those who make our schools what they are, and, in this still young school year, there are many examples that stand out.

Our school division’s connection to its families is one we are always looking to strengthen. Through past consultation and conversations with parents, we heard that sessions to help with the increasingly complex mission of parenting and how that relates to the school partnership was desired.

In September, our STAR Catholic division-wide learning day (an annual professional development day for STAR Catholic staff), focused on wellness in the school division. Part of this year’s event was a parent session the day earlier with Dr. Alex Russell, which was live-streamed to our communities throughout the division. This gave all parents the opportunity to come and take part and listen to this important lecture. Dr. Russell spoke about youth anxiety, and how parents and educators can create a closer bond and partnership to help students. We are thankful to have such dedicated staff that work tirelessly to assemble these crucial resources for the betterment of our staff and school communities.

Of course Christ is the centre of Catholic schools, and that relationship with Christ is something reinforced, embraced and explored dearly through many events throughout the year. For our junior high and high school students, one such event is the annual STAR LIGHT DAY. That is a day where students from around the division come together in faith and share in a message from a youth-focused faith speaker. It’s easy to understate such an event, but please know that our division is large geographically, stretching throughout central Alberta, and an event such as this strengthens those ties and lessens that distance from community to community, and student to student. We were blessed to have Steve Angrisano share with our students and for such days we are thankful.

And finally, although there is much more to share, one significant highlight is the enrollment trend of growth for STAR Catholic which continued this year. STAR Catholic has 4,267 students, more than a four per cent increase from last school year. But, there is more behind that number. That growth, and a trend of growth for well over five years now, means that STAR Catholic schools are a genuine choice for families in the communities we serve. It means families see something special in our schools, in our staff and in Catholic education. And, to our students, parents, staff and communities, for this and all you do, we truly thank you!

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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