Sophie DiPaolo

Local schools open their doors for prospective JK students

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Local elementary schools opened their doors recently to welcome prospective new students.

Open houses were held to showcase the schools and what they have to offer. For Amherstburg Public School, they are now accepting registration for the second year of its French Immersion program. Principal Mark Campbell said there has been a lot of interest again in the French Immersion program, but a lot of interest for the traditional English-stream as well.

Joshua Sutton pedals a tricycle around the gymnasium at Stella Maris School during the Catholic elementary school’s recent open house.

Joshua Sutton pedals a tricycle around the gymnasium at Stella Maris School during the Catholic elementary school’s recent open house.

The first year of the French Immersion program at Amherstburg Public School has gone well, he stated, with 21 students currently enrolled.

“We’re happy with where we’re at,” said Campbell. “We’re hopeful to have 20-25 kids in the program next year.”

Campbell estimated that roughly 15 families expressed interest in French Immersion during the open house. He said another 20-25 students would help keep the program sustainable. Eventually, the plan would see French Immersion run from JK-Grade 8 in addition to the English stream.

Students who choose to take French Immersion could write a French proficiency test once they arrive at high school, Campbell added.

Chloe Maziak tries her hand at some of the musical instruments at Amherstburg Public School’s recent open house.

Chloe Maziak tries her hand at some of the musical instruments at Amherstburg Public School’s recent open house.

“It opens a door for them if they follow through with it,” said Campbell.

There was interest split between the English and French Immersion streams, he said.

“It’s (the families’) choice and they can register for whichever they prefer,” said Campbell.

“Both are fantastic programs,” added vice principal Christina Pottie.

Stella Maris School also welcomed possible new students and principal Sophie DiPaolo reported it was a good turnout there as well.

“We’ve had a lot of people come in and take packages,” said DiPaolo.

Now that students from the former St. Bernard School have integrated into Stella Maris, DiPaolo believes it led to a higher turnout.

Journey Laframboise creates some artwork during the recent JK open house at Amherstburg Public School.

Journey Laframboise creates some artwork during the recent JK open house at Amherstburg Public School.

“I would say it’s up from previous years,” she said.

DiPaolo said she loves seeing the children excited to come to school in the fall and said they enjoyed the activities and tour of the school, which is an indication they are doing something right.

“They liked being here and they liked the interactive activities,” said DiPaolo.

Stella Maris School students, staff enjoying newly expanded building

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Staff and students are enjoying their newly expanded building at Stella Maris School.

The new addition opened last month and features four new classrooms, expanded classrooms in other parts of the building and three new storage areas. One of the new storage areas allows for better storage of musical instruments.

A senior class at Stella Maris School work in their new classroom (above) while the electric guitars are stored in the new music instrument storage room. The expansion was completed late last month.

A senior class at Stella Maris School work in their new classroom. The expansion was completed late last month.

The construction at the Catholic elementary school also included a new bus bay and parking lot that were completed earlier this year, with the latter including a “Kiss & Ride” lane to allow parents a safer option when dropping their children off.

The entire renovation was $1.5 million.

Principal Sophie DiPaolo said the new classrooms are going over well. She said it has been a different school year so far as they have had to mesh two schools together as well as deal with construction in the aftermath of the closure of St. Bernard School and the transfer of most of those students to Stella Maris.

The hallway in the new section of Stella Maris School.

The hallway in the new section of Stella Maris School.

“Staff, students and families have been supportive. It’s been great,” said DiPaolo. “It’s been a true team effort.”

There are still a few things left to be done but those odds and ends don’t impact the learning the students are doing daily. Three senior classes no longer have to be housed in the school’s gymnasium though DiPaolo said the teachers collaborated well during the time their classes were in the gym.

“The kids deserve credit for that too,” said DiPaolo. “We have an amazing group of kids.”

The construction period wasn’t always easy, she noted, but all parties involved helped smooth the transition.

“Everyone made it work,” said DiPaolo. “It hasn’t been easy but it’s been good.”

Electric guitars are stored in the new music instrument storage room.

Electric guitars are stored in the new music instrument storage room.

Stella Maris received support from board officials, their trustee, the superintendent and others to ensure things went smoothly “because the kids come first.”

Jenna Cole, a Grade 8 teacher at Stella Maris, said the new classrooms allow the students to have their own space and improves their concentration. She said the students were “fabulous” during the transition period but the new classrooms allow the students to better do their own activities.

Stella Maris gives St. Bernard School students and parents a look at their new home

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

St. Bernard School students and parents got a look at their new home last Tuesday night as an open house was held at Stella Maris.

With the schools consolidating at the Stella Maris site starting in September, students coming over from St. Bernard got to have a look around their soon-to-be new school. Teachers from both schools were on hand with Stella Maris principal Sophie DiPaolo and St. Bernard principal Marisa Wismer greeting students and parents as they entered.

Stella Maris students Emily and Megan Regnier welcomed St. Bernard School students to their school May 3. An open house was held at Stella Maris as a way to welcome the St. Bernard students that will be coming over in September.

Stella Maris students Emily and Megan Regnier welcomed St. Bernard School students to their school May 3. An open house was held at Stella Maris as a way to welcome the St. Bernard students that will be coming over in September.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet some of the students and teachers,” said DiPaolo.

The two principals were happy with the turnout, as the event began at 5:30 p.m. and saw a steady flow of people come through right from the start.

“It allows them to see the school,” said Wismer. “Our goal is to make it as smooth of a transition as possible for the children.”

DiPaolo said the transition team had one meeting prior to the open house and more meetings are expected. Wismer added they will likely plan more transition related activities.

Tania Parete and her children attended the open house. She was impressed with what she saw.

Sophie and Samantha Bergeron take a look around one of the classrooms at Stella Maris School May 3. An open house was held at the school to welcome in St. Bernard students who are coming there after the two schools are consolidated.

Sophie and Samantha Bergeron take a look around one of the classrooms at Stella Maris School May 3. An open house was held at the school to welcome in St. Bernard students who are coming there after the two schools are consolidated.

“It’s actually really nice,” said Parete. “I’m surprised by how many people are here.”

Parete said her oldest child is fine with the idea of switching schools.

“He’s happy to be with all of his friends,” she said.

Kim Renaud found Stella Maris to be “very welcoming” and she believed the transition is going well thus far.

“They are keeping us posted, which is nice,” said Renaud.