Frank DiTomasso

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School opens its doors at Grade 8 open house



By Ron Giofu


A large crowd of prospective students, parents, guardians and Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board officials packed into the theatre at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School last week to see what the school has to offer.

The area’s Catholic high school held its Grade 8 open house last Wednesday evening with the night opening with a presentation in the theatre before tours of the County Road 8 building were held. Principal Amy Facchineri told students and parents from the Catholic feeder schools that attending Villanova would be an extension of their education.

Villanova students perform a song and dance number as part of the school’s Grade 8 open house Dec. 12.

“For those of you that may be new, don’t worry,” she continued, stating their children would be “embraced” by the staff and students at Villanova.

Facchineri said they had a tremendous number of current students that wanted to help with the Grade 8 open house.

“We were overwhelmed by the number of students here that wanted to help,” she said.

Facchineri also pointed out that every department within the school was represented at the Grade 8 open house. She noted the students at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School excel in the classroom, using their EQAO test scores as one example, and they also have a wide range of athletic and extra-curricular activities as well.

“We really do have something for everyone,” Facchineri stated.

Villanova students clown around in a “car” that was built at the school. It was displayed during the Grade 8 open house Dec. 12.

The evening also featured performances by Villanova students, who sang and danced for the large crowd in the theatre. Lindsay Pietrangelo, head of the school council, also promoted Villanova and said becoming involved with the school council is a great way to be “plugged in” on what is happening at the school.

Frank DiTomasso, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle, also promoted Villanova.

“I think this is the greatest school in Essex County,” he said. “They have a lot to offer.”

Three-way race for local Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board seat



By Ron Giofu


Frank DiTomasso wants to keep his spot on the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) but has some competition.

DiTomasso is the incumbent trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle but faces two challengers in the Oct. 22 election as Francis Ducharme and Kim Rathbone have also filed their nomination papers and are running.

DiTomasso said he wants to continue to see the students be “top notch” and pointed out the academies that exist in the Catholic system’s secondary level, including at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

“The kids are more important than everything else,” stated DiTomasso.

DiTomasso touted the importance of the STEM program, noting he comes from a trade background. He said he wants “to see the trades come back” and also believed in the importance of robotics programs within the schools.

“A child should be well rounded,” he said.

Noting the additions of day cares to Catholic elementary schools, DiTomasso believed it will bring in more students as parents will have another option for their children.

Over the next four years, DiTomasso would like to ensure the board doesn’t overspend but also has the proper equipment for teachers and children. He also would like to make sure there is enough funding for autistic children and others who have different learning needs.

There is a tremendous team environment currently with the WECDSB, he added, and that the trustees vote with their heads and their hearts with the students always the main priority.

“When it comes to voting, I will ask all kinds of questions,” said DiTomasso. “I will ask the questions I need to in order to understand a situation.”

DiTomasso added that he hopes the voters will give him a chance to return, adding he has tried to attend as many school events as possible and answer whatever questions he is asked.

Rathbone, who is an Amherstburg police officer, said it was “a combination of variables” that led her to run.

“I think the timing is right for me,” she said, adding her children are older now and her work schedule allows her the opportunity to run.

Rathbone said she worked in the high school system in Windsor for a number of years and “I saw where there were gaps and I saw the successes.” She said she wants to bridge the gaps and celebrate the successes.

Rathbone also has a desire to “make positive change” and build further positive relationships. She said it is sometimes difficult for the average person to navigate through a system, in this case the school system, and she believes she can help people do that.

As a police officer, she has organized such community events as the “Not My Kid” community forum on opioids that was held in Amherstburg late last year and believes she can broaden community connections for schools. She believes the board currently has a good handle on that but she believes she can add to it.

“What I bring to the table is a strong voice,” said Rathbone. “If constituents have any issues, they can rely on me to be their strong voice.”

She added she can also be a strong voice for the board as well and that her goals will be the goals that the community wants to see. She said that, if elected, she wants to see what the board wants and the communities want.

Ducharme said he feels the system “needs a little bit of new life” and that it has become “a little complacent.” Ducharme believes that people picked a Catholic school for a reason so the Christianity and Catholicism should stay strong.

“It seems (the province) is trying to eliminate Christian values,” he said. “That needs to stay. The silent majority needs to speak up. That’s something I’d like to protect.”

Knowing there has been talk over the years of merging the public and Catholic boards, Ducharme questioned how that would happen. He said there are two unions representing workers so he wondered how it would work in terms of who has their job cut.

“If someone has any sort of action plan, I’d like to see it,” said Ducharme. “Show me a solution.”

The Catholic school board is “top heavy” with a lot of administration, he believes, and that while he doesn’t dispute people making a fair wage, he wants to ensure that teachers and in-school staff get the resources they need instead of “people at the top getting more and more.”

“There’s got to be some more accountability there,” said Ducharme.

Ducharme added that while he doesn’t have all the answers, he’d like to bring some new ideas to the board, if elected.

All three candidates live in LaSalle.