Stella Maris School

Stella Maris students weigh in on possible glass factory



By Ron Giofu


Students in Maria Morrison’s Grade 5 class at Stella Maris School have weighed in on the possible glass plant that has been talked about for the former General Chemical lands.

The students recently learned about the environment, including fossil fuels, pollution and renewable sources of energy. When news of the possible glass plant coming nearby broke, they took the initiative to talk about the pros and cons of such a development.

Stella Maris Grade 5
students show the letters they wrote regarding the proposed glass plant. (Submitted photo)

Students cited property taxes, jobs and the possibility of attracting more people to Amherstburg as pros while pollution, water usage, noise and environmental issues were cited as cons.

Of the 24 students in the class, 19 of them raised their hands in opposition to the plant while three were in favour. Two students were undecided.

Morrison said the students wrote letters to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and she delivered all of them to town hall.

“The mayor promised he’d read them,” said Morrison. “We’re awaiting a response from the mayor.”

Stella Maris robotics team wins prize in First Lego League competition



By Ron Giofu


The Stella Maris School robotics team did well in a recent First Lego League competition at St. Clair College.

The “Raybots” won first place in the robot design and got “call backs” in the other two categories at the competition. The call backs saw the team go back up before the judges for a second presentation in the categories of core values and their season project.

“They were one of three teams that got three call backs,” said teacher/mentor Christine Parks.

Molly Parks, one of the team members, noted there was a space theme with their goal being to have their robot perform the most tasks in the least amount of time. The robot has two motors and a forklift powered by a vertical linear actuator.

Christine said during competition season, the Raybots practise every lunch hour and for two hours after school every Wednesday.

The Stella Maris Raybots robotics team did well at a recent competition at St. Clair College. (Submitted photo)

“They are a very dedicated group. They are very committed to this,” she said.

The robot was driven by the students with coding done by the students.

“I think we did a good job,” said team member April Quimby.

Their project was to help design a way to clean clothes in space. They designed a system with a “space bag” (the type of bag used to compress and store duvets in a linen closet) and hot glued it to a freezer bag. They used a hose to put water into the bag and a scrub board with suction cups to create agitation. “Washing soda,” otherwise known as sodium carbonate, was used as soap.

The Raybots even consulted with aerospace engineers at Aventec on their project.

Other team members include Ella Renaud, David Rufo, Daniel Rufo, Darian Dufour, Nico Fox, Seth Hansman and Matt Meloche. The latter three said in a written statement that robotics has taught the team a lot about technology, making commitments, wise choices and working together.

“The whole team was very nice to each other and were willing to listen to one another,” the three Grade 8 students said. “For anyone interested in robotics, we really recommend it for anyone who wants to learn about technology and teamwork. Our mentors from A-Team Robotics (the high school-aged team in Amherstburg) were funny and very good teachers.”

Stella Maris School promotes literacy and fitness in one event



By Ron Giofu


Stella Maris School raised money for themselves by holding two events at the same time recently.

The local Catholic elementary school hosted a “drumathon” and a “readathon” with students taking turns doing both. Staff from Movati Amherstburg volunteered their time to assist with the drumathon portion of the event in the school’s gymnasium with guest readers helping with the readathon portion of the day.

Dan Monk, clerk with the Amherstburg Fire Department, reads to Stella Maris School students during the school’s drumathon/readathon.

Guest readers included Father Brian Jane from St. John the Baptist Church, Zack Yott from the Amherstburg Admirals Jr. C hockey team, Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone and fire clerk Dan Monk as well as health nurse Dawnice Kavanaugh.

“It’s a good day,” said principal Sophie DiPaolo. “The kids enjoy this.”

DiPaolo said funds collected by the students will go right back into the school. Such uses will include offsetting busing costs for field trips, technology for the classrooms, updated team uniforms and other items deemed necessary by the Girard St. school.

“It’s all to help the kids and their families,” said DiPaolo.

The entire school participated, she added. DiPaolo also pointed out the school’s parent council did a cookie dough fundraiser earlier in the school year.

Stella Maris School students participate in the “drumathon” portion of their recent fundraiser.

DiPaolo added that they don’t put pressure on the students to fundraise and that if students weren’t able to bring in any money, they were still allowed to participate.

“It’s literacy-based and it’s fitness-based,” DiPaolo said of the daylong event. “Everyone wins.”

Stella Maris students embracing robotics



By Ron Giofu


Students at Stella Maris School have embraced robotics, albeit at different levels.

There are about 15 students in the “Wonder League” group while the First Lego League (FLL) team has about ten members. Wonder League is a beginner league with pre-built robots known as “Dash” and “Dot” that students have to program to perform tasks.

“This is the junior version,” explained teacher Deanna Way. “It’s beginner code.”

The First Lego League team has about ten members, ranging in age from 9-14.

Ella Renaud, April Quimby and Molly Parks test out their robot as they are on Stella Maris School’s First Lego League team.

The Wonder League students use a mat in the hallway that is divided into grids. Student Micah Moore explained last Thursday that their task was trying to move a group of paperclips through the grid and have them land on a space labelled E8.

Sarah Shudaifut said she enjoys Wonder League as it allows her to use her brain and figure out what do do to solve a problem.

Way said it is the first year Stella Maris has had a Wonder League team and that it is a lot of “trial and error” thus far. She noted the students have been coming in most lunch hours for the past three months and working together.

“We’re hoping they will continue to like it and get involved in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math programs,” she said.

Christine Parks oversees and coaches the FLL team and noted they came in seventh place in a recent competition.

“We are currently the only First Lego League robotics team competing from Amherstburg,” she said.

Members of Stella Maris’ “Wonder League” team include (front) MIcah Moore, (middle row) Makayla Clarke, Sarah Shudaifat, Felicia Fox, Lily Laur, Helayna Fevreau and (back row) Steven Craner, Brie Sieben, Lucas Boudreau, Luca Fiorito, Kylie Thepvongsa, Alivia Piper and Cohen Sieben.

There were groups of students building robots out of Lego pieces, while others devised programs. Others drove their robots on a track. Parks said they also talk about co-operation and competition during their lunchtime sessions.

“We win by helping each other,” she said.

The FLL team at Stella Maris are the “Raybots,” a play off the school’s “Stingrays” nickname, and Parks noted they are preparing for their second season. She also pointed out the importance of STEM and said they are “engulfed” in it already.

“It’s amazing what they can do when they experience STEM early,” said Parks.

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.