St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School

Schools celebrate eco-school status

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School has undertaken environmental initiatives for a number of years but now they are being recognized for it.

The Catholic secondary school has been awarded gold status and teacher Andy Paling said this is the first time they have put in for any sort of designation. Villanova has been performing a number of environmentally-friendly activities for years, he stated, and that is the reason they achieved gold so early in the designation process.

Anderdon Public School’s eco-team helped earn their school platinum status.

Among the projects undertaken at Villanova have been recycling, composting, creation and maintenance of a butterfly garden, a number of tree plantings, maintenance of a trail around their County Road 8 property. They also have an “eagle’s nest” program where Paling said they can view a nest on a neighbouring property through a telescope.

“It’s bringing awareness of what is going on around us,” said Paling.

Anderdon Public School achieved platinum status again this year. Their eco-team performed many different activities with Harrison Kulic explaining one of those was a “boomerang lunch” where garbage is brought home so parents can see how much trash is created.

Anderdon encourages re-usable containers with Claire Brown stating they do garbage audits and have litter-less lunches as well. Sofia Kulic said such things as plastic straws and bags were banned on eco-day with Ava Soucie stating there have also been “lights out lunches” as well where the lights were turned off to save on utilities.

Other projects have included trying to attract bees, recycle batteries and working with a Harrow church to turn milk bags into blankets for those in third world countries. They also compost and do a variety of other environmentally-themed activities.

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School earned gold status the first time they entered as an eco-school.

Teacher and eco-team supervisor Jodi Nolin said they have diverted probably in the neighbourhood of 10,000 milk bags from the landfill over the years.

Nolin added that Anderdon Public School welcomes community groups and parents to help them with projects.

Amherstburg Public School also achieved a gold eco-schools status for the most recent school year as did St. Joseph School in River Canard. Stella Maris School earned a silver designation.

“Hyperrealism” by local youth artist on exhibit at the Gibson Gallery

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The work of Madison Young has made it to the Gibson Gallery.

The local teenager’s work is now on exhibit at the gallery, with previous displays of her work having been at G.L. Heritage Brewing Co. and the former Mudpuppy Gallery.

“This is my first exhibit at the Gibson Gallery. It’s really special to me,” said Young.

Young said she was pleased that, as a 16-year-old, she was able to get her own exhibit at the gallery.

“It’s a really great feeling as an artist,” she said. “Thank you to the Gibson Gallery for giving me this opportunity.”

Young, who just completed Grade 10 at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School, is hopeful the more exposure she receives will allow her to continue to have exhibits at art galleries.

“To have this whole room to myself is really special,” she said.

There are both original works and prints as part of the current “Hyperrealism” exhibit. She uses mediums such as pencil, markers, pastels and has now added an oil painting to her growing collection.

“I’ve been selling a lot of them,” she said, but noted some of the works that are part of the exhibit are not for sale.

Local artist Madison Young is the current artist with an exhibit at The Gibson Gallery. Young’s “Hyperrealism” exhibit runs through July 29.

Young added she has been hearing a lot of good input on her art.

“The feedback has been super-positive,” said Young. “It’s been great.”

Noting she has been drawing since she was three or four, Young said she started getting into hyperrealism when she was 12-years-old.

“I drew a cupcake and that turned out well,” she said. “I decided to pursue it and now I’m here.”

Young defines hyperrealism as drawing something and having it really look the object she was drawing, including using the colours needed to make it look as real as possible.

Young will be one of the exhibitors during Art by the River, which is scheduled for Aug. 25-26 at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

The opening reception for “Hyperrealism” was last Saturday afternoon, but Young is also having a closing reception July 28 from 2-4 p.m. The exhibit runs through July 29.

“It’s been super fun already and I’m excited to meet as many people as I can,” she said.

For more information on Young and her work, visit www.diamonddraws.com.

The Gibson Gallery is open daily from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and is located at 140 Richmond St. For more information, visit www.gibsonartgallery.com or call 519-736-2826. Their Twitter account can be found at www.twitter.com/ARTamherstburg while their Facebook account is found at www.facebook.com/GibsonGallery.

Villanova social justice students donate “comfort dogs” to EMS

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A group of St. Thomas of Villanova students have stepped up to assist children in times of emergencies.

Two Grade 12 social justice classes from the Catholic secondary school donated 101 plush St. Bernard dogs to Essex-Windsor EMS last Wednesday afternoon. Teacher Jolene Coste said there was a “dress down” day in the school that raised approximately $1,200 and that allowed for the purchase of the stuffed animals.

“I’ve been doing it for the last couple of years with emergency services,” Coste said of the project.

Two social justice classes from St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School stand with Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter after the school donated 101 “comfort dogs” to EMS.

This was the first year the Essex-Windsor EMS received the stuffed dogs, with Coste stating the classes believed they would be a good organization to donate to. Emergency services in LaSalle and Windsor have received donations in previous years.

“It’s about giving back to the community,” she said.

Bruce Krauter, chief of Essex-Windsor EMS, said such a donation is very important to someone who is in need. It means a lot to the children and parents, he said.

Krauter praised the Villanova students, stating it shows they are both caring and community leaders for undertaking such a project.

Staff from Essex-Windsor EMS will give out the stuffed “comfort dogs” to children who have been in an accident or are in another crisis situation.

Villanova Relay for Life raises over $50,000

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The fight against cancer got a major boost Friday thanks to students at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

Villanova held its annual Relay for Life with tents and events being inside the school’s track while a Survivors’ Lap and other relays took part on the track itself. Events were held throughout the afternoon and evening with the luminary ceremony taking place at night prior to the closing ceremony.

When all was said and done, the Catholic high school raised over $50,000, far surpassing their goal of $35,000.

A Survivor’s Lap got the Relay for Life started last
Friday at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

Thalia Pandolfi, one of the students on the 14-person organizing committee, noted that “we’re here for one reason – because cancer has impacted our lives in some way.” Pandolfi shared her story, which saw her mother hit by the disease multiple times though now she is cancer-free.

Pandolfi said her mother survived breast cancer but, unfortunately, the fight wasn’t over. Pandolfi recalled a couple of years later, when she was 11-years-old, being pulled from school by her grandmother because her mother was in the hospital. When she arrived at the hospital to find her mother crying, Pandolfi was told she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

After beating that, Pandolfi’s mother was diagnosed with more tumours again a few years later. When she beat that, unfortunately the fight was still not over.

“When I was in Grade 9, I was told my mother had another brain tumour,” Pandolfi said.

This was a particularly “mentally taxing” period for the family, she said, given all that they had already gone through.

“After you go through something that many times, it’s mentally deteriorating,” she added.

However, Pandolfi’s mother beat that as well and took the survivor’s lap with the other cancer survivors. Pandolfi said it shows how strong her mother is as well as the other cancer survivors.

Pandolfi said it was very gratifying to take the Survivors’ Lap with her mom, and that she couldn’t explain the feeling of walking beside her knowing she doesn’t have to worry about her right now.

There were about 40 teams taking part in Villanova’s Relay for Life. She said the relays on the track were symbolic of what a cancer patient can go through as when a person is tired doing their relay, “you just have to keep going.”

Other events included escape rooms, Family Feud games, a slip and slide, bubble soccer and a variety of themed-relay laps.

Megan Veldhuis and Riley Mayville have fun on the slip ‘n’ slide that was at June 1 Relay for Life event at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

“We’ve got a lot of really fun stuff,” said Pandolfi.

Approximately 450 students participated, she said, most of them being from Villanova although some students from Lajeunesse joined in.

“We have an amazing committee,” she added, noting there was a lot of work put in to make sure the Villanova Relay for Life was successful.

“Artists of the Future” shine at Gibson Gallery

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

About 100 students from St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School and General Amherst High School had an opportunity to show their art work at the Gibson Gallery the last several weeks.

The “Artists of the Future” exhibit closed Sunday with a reception where artists and their teachers stopped by to look at the exhibit.

“It’s a nice ray of sunshine on a cloudy day to see so many people come out to see the art,” said Lisa Bastien, one of two Villanova art teachers that turned out.

Bastien said about 70 students from Villanova participated. She picked out various works from first semester art students and came up with a variety of work to submit, though noted there wasn’t a competition. The students created acrylic paintings, water colours, sculptures, mixed media and more.

Jessica Dass, a Grade 10 student at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School, stands with her work that was part of the Artists of the Future exhibit.

Many of the students came up with their own original ideas, she said.

“The students were encouraged to problem solve in creative ways,” Bastien noted.

The art program is thriving at Villanova, she continued.

“We have about 150-200 students going through the art program every year,” said Bastien. “The arts are alive and well at Villanova.”

Pam Burke, the second Villanova art teacher in attendance, said she was impressed to see the quality of work in the exhibit. She said it was fun for the students to be part of the “Artists of the Future” exhibit.

Burke said she was at the gallery a few days earlier and overheard people talking about some of the works.

“It makes you feel a sense of pride,” she said.

Some students enter high school stating they are unable to draw, but Burke added she sees the skill level in them. There were those with work in the show who previously believed they couldn’t draw at all.

“For me, it’s trying to get them confident in their skill level,” she said.

Sophia Fallea, a Grade 12 student at Villanova, shows her work during the recent Artists of the Future exhibit.

Andrea Craig-Wammes, art teacher at General Amherst, said there were about 25-30 of her students involved. She said she teaches 70 students this semester and had 120 last semester.

General Amherst students submitted everything from drawings and photography to sculptures and paintings. Craig-Wammes said she likes to keep art interesting for the students and makes choosing what gets into the exhibit part of the curriculum.

“It’s very important,” she added, of seeing the works on exhibit. “They absolutely love it.”

Craig-Wammes added she brought students to the gallery recently on a field trip so they could see the exhibit and experience the ambience of the gallery.

“We’re just thankful to be part of the show,” she said. “We’re just excited. Amherst keeps growing and a lot of kids are involved in the arts.”

The current exhibit at the Gibson Gallery is “Flashback: Threadworks 2016.”  It runs through May 13. The gallery is located at 140 Richmond St. in Amherstburg.