Stella Maris School

Local schools roll out the welcome mat for prospective JK’s



By Ron Giofu


Both the Greater Essex County District School Board and the Windsor-Essex District School Board rolled out the welcome mat for new students last Wednesday evening.

JK open houses were held by both school boards with local elementary schools joining in welcoming next year’s class of junior kindergarten students.

“We’ve had a strong turnout,” said Stella Maris School principal Sophie DiPaolo. “We’ve had a lot of kids turn out. It’s good to see.”

Not only were the kindergarten rooms open, but so was the gymnasium with demonstrations on robotics and other school programs available as well. Children also had the opportunity to make a craft.

“We want them to give us a shot,” said DiPaolo. “It’s just a warm, caring faith-filled place to be. I’m really proud to be a part of this fabulous school.”

Cole, Amelia and Brady Young attended the JK open house at Anderdon Public School last Wednesday night.

DiPaolo added that they want parents and children alike to know what Stella Maris offers. She said they are not only an academic school, but there are a number of extra-curricular programs available as well. Teachers are very active, she added, and help run many of the additional programs.

Pam Badiuk, principal at Anderdon Public School, said they are proud of their school and its history in the community. She said the educators are excellent, dedicated and know the community well.

“When you come here, it’s a well-rounded education,” said Badiuk.

Anderdon has a full-time music program, band and drum line, she added, and is also one of the few platinum eco-schools within the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“All kids, starting in kindergarten, have access to the library,” Badiuk added, noting they have a full-time librarian.

Badiuk also touted Anderdon’s extra-curricular programs and sports teams.

“We like to be competitive, but in a respectful mindset,” she said.

Technology is in every classroom, Badiuk stated, and that they are also proud of their math and reading programs. Regarding the latter, Anderdon uses Lexia and Empower programs.

Lauren Meloche helps Jaelyn Vigneux with a craft during the JK open house held Feb. 21 at Stella Maris School.

“It honestly has improved our reading programs tremendously,” said Badiuk.

Anderdon also offers the GAINS (Give Attention to Individual Needs) program, she added.

Badiuk added: “Children are welcome here and feel welcome here. It’s a large school with a small town feel.”

Both the public and Catholic boards are offering JK registration through March 2.

Stella Maris Grade 5/6 students show off science skills



By Ron Giofu


The students in Maria Morrison’s Grade 5/6 class at Stella Maris School got a chance to show off their science skills recently.

The students held a science fair in the school’s gymnasium with parents, fellow students and even Mayor Aldo DiCarlo stopping by to view the work of the students.

“The Grade 5/6 class was assigned to be Bill Nye’s apprentice,” said Morrison, in reference to the “Science Guy” television personality.

Kayla Gibb shows off her science fair project to younger students.

The Grade 5 students had to build a model of an eco-friendly home with information they used in the units they had just learned. Students weren’t given exact instructions as they were allowed to have free rein to build a home based on what they had learned. The Grade 6 students had to focus on space with some of the themes being items that emit or transmit light. Other themes included the Hubbell space station, meteors, the sun and satellites.

“We just finished units on science and the conservation of energy,” explained Morrison. “Instead of doing a test or an assignment, we decided to something to encompass all that they learned.”

Grade 6 student Kayla Gibb said she enjoyed being a part of the science fair.

“I like it,” she said. “It’s cool because you get to teach the younger kids. You get to explain it.”

Kaven Garner, a Grade 5 student, explained his eco-house project and pointed out the grass roof and bamboo floor. He said the lifespan of both would be much larger, pointing out a 65-year useful life for both.

Garner’s project also included a plan for a compost toilet with the compost being eventually used to fertilize surrounding trees and gardens.

In all, there were 23 students involved. Morrison said they enjoyed it, adding it could become an annual project for her class.

Stella Maris students enjoy “Breakfast with Santa”


By Jolene Perron

Students, parents and teaching staff gathered together at Stella Maris elementary school Dec. 15 to enjoy a Christmas celebration together.

“We pulled it together quick because usually we would go to the Verdi Club,” explained kindergarten teacher Candace Zimmerman. “Maria’s actually worked with us and brought the food in and Santa came. This is my first year teaching kindergarten as you know so it was really fun.”

Parker Kehoe sits on Santa’s lap while a teacher takes his photo during Stella Maris’ annual Breakfast with Santa event Dec. 15.

The children sang Zimmerman’s “Rudolph Rap Remix” to Eminem’s background music, created Christmas crafts, enjoyed breakfast with parents who were able to attend, and even got to sit on Santa’s lap. She described the event as a “Christmas celebration full of love and community.”

“Our attendance was crazy good, well over 100 in our gym. Maria’s did a great job servicing us for sure,” said teacher Joanne Burns. “Everyone helped putting this all together and the kids are loving it. It was lots of teamwork. We pulled it together for the kids. It’s fantastic, we love doing this. The joy on their faces this morning, the excitement, it’s so great.”

Spitfire player Michael DiPietro visits Stella Maris



By Jolene Perron


Amherstburg native and Spitfires player Michael DiPietro had a chance to visit his old grade school to speak with students about the importance of education.

Stella Maris students gave DiPietro a very warm welcome when he walked into their gymnasium. Principal Sophie DiPaolo said through the Adopt-A-School program, they get two batches of tickets that they use as incentive for the students. Any time they are a good friend, they show compassion, they’ve made improvements, anything good, the teacher recognizes them with Rockstar tickets. From those Rockstar tickets, the school draws three tickets from primary, three from Junior and three from senior, and they give out packages of four Spitfire tickets for them to go see the Spitfires home game.

Michael DiPietro made a grand entrance into the Stella Maris gymnasium, where students greeted him with cheers, Spitfire colored pompoms, and smiles.

“We’re really fortunate to have that here at Stella Maris and the kids love it, they love the Spitfires,” said DiPaolo. “We try to give back to the Spitfires because of what they do for us and then every year they send a Spitfire player here. This is the first year we’ve been able to have Michael DiPietro because his schedule would never allow it. In High School it’s a little bit harder but he’s in University now so we were excited to know he was coming back here and of course you want to do something special for him.”

In addition to speaking with the gymnasium full of students, DiPietro also had a pizza lunch with a handful of Rockstar students who had the ability to sit and chat with him over a pizza lunch.

“I went to this grade school, I had so many memories here, so many teachers. That’s something that I’ll always remember,” said DiPietro. “Hopefully I can keep coming back and visiting because every time I step in the door I just remember old memories. It’s definitely special.”

During his visit, he also pointed out his fifth grade teacher, Mike Mathieson and gifted a signed goalie stick to him. DiPaolo said no one can say enough good things about DiPietro and he is a great role model for the students.

“Kids always want to look up to someone and he was not only a great student here and does talk about how important education is but he’s a great role model in the community,” said DiPaolo. “He’s just a wonderful role model in general, a good person, good everything, with or without the Spitfire jersey.”

Stella Maris students walk in memory of Terry Fox



By Jolene Perron


Schools across the province participated in the Terry Fox walk/run memorial event last week.

Stella Maris students from JK through Grade 8 met in the gymnasium for an information session about Terry Fox and why he is what Canadians consider a Canadian Hero. After their presentation and learning about Terry, students walked with their classes around the Stella Maris neighborhood.

“In order to raise awareness for the event, each day this week a young student has prepared an informative and inspirational message for the students and has shared it during morning announcements,” said grade one teacher at Stella Maris, Marilyn Durocher. “We want the students to know that each of them, like Terry, can make a difference in the world and change people’s lives. The impossible is possible.”

Stella Maris students walked around the block in the neighborhood of their school Sept. 29 in memory of Terry Fox.

Durocher explained they aim to teach their students the importance of perseverance, hope and compassion through Terry’s story.

Students took to the streets surrounding their school shortly after 9 a.m. September 29 to cap off their week learning about Terry Fox.

“We hope that our students learn to never give up and that together we become stronger,” said Durocher. “They are learning that we have an opportunity to help others. We want them to learn to value each and every day, no matter how tough it gets.”