Stella Maris School

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.

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.”