It was a blessed start to our school year. On Aug. 26, the Prince Albert Catholic School Division staff and trustees gathered at Sacred Heart Cathedral for a eucharistic celebration to begin our 130th year of providing quality Catholic education to our students. The mass began with exceptional music provided by members of our school staffs.
The music selections and readings followed our spiritual theme for the year: Faith, Proclaim it! In delivering his homily, Bishop Albert Thévenot made many references to the Gospel reading of Luke 24: 13-34 (the road to Emmaus). Bishop Albert explained that, like Jesus walking with the disciples, school staff members also walk with students as they provide educational experiences. In addition to providing instruction, staff members also witness their faith by their words and actions. Bishop Albert challenged us to proclaim our faith in new and exciting ways this year, as we journey together with our students.
After mass the staff gathered at St. Mary High School where we were honoured with the presence of the Honourable Don Morgan, Deputy-Premier and Minister of Education. He brought greetings from the province and congratulated the Prince Albert Catholic School Division on 130 years of quality Catholic Education. It was an exciting first day.
On the Monday of the next week, the staff gathered again for our Faith Development speaker. This year we were happy to have Mike Patin, an international Catholic speaker, provide some humour and a great message. He shared with us his message that we are to be intentional witnesses of our faith, for this is the most powerful way to show Jesus to others. Words alone are not enough. Rather, we must demonstrate our beliefs in our decisions and actions. This is the way we proclaim our faith.
Later that day the staffs also gathered in their schools for staff meetings. The staff was pleased when our learning improvement plans were reviewed. The learning improvement plans are aligned goals that focus on faith, reading/writing and math, student engagement, and First Nation/Métis/Inuit achievement.
Upon examining the data collected, we were pleased with the results, which celebrates the dedicated work of all staff and reinforces our desire for a quality education for all our students. Briefly, in our faith goal, we were pleased that over 2,300 social justice actions were reported by our schools over the year. In reading, writing, and math, we tracked student achievement rates and our data demonstrated a positive trend. In terms of graduation rates, especially for First Nation/Métis students, we surpassed the provincial average. In our engagement sector, data tracked at all our schools indicated that there were tremendous opportunities for our students, and the vast majority of students are engaged. Finally, the First Nation/Métis goal allows the school division to continue to focus upon First Nation achievement, addressing themes presented in the Truth and Reconciliation report.
With all these good news items, it was a great sign that this would be an exciting and blessed school year. Our dedicated Board of Education trustees, who provide tremendous Catholic leadership, are also planning a banquet in May 2017 to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Queen’s proclamation of the Prince Albert Catholic School Division. In addition, the board hosted the local clergy for an appreciation meal in the middle of October. The schools are also planning additional special masses and celebrations to recognize the 130th anniversary.
Great things are happening in the Prince Albert Catholic School division and we are blessed to be the oldest Catholic school division in the province.
Salahub is the Religious Co-ordinator for Prince Albert Catholic Schools.