Villanova

St. Thomas of Villanova bids farewell to its 2017 graduates

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School has said farewell to its graduating class of 2017.

Over 320 graduates were honoured at last Wednesday night’s graduation ceremony, held at the WFCU Centre in Windsor. This year’s valedictorian was Brandon Meloche, who said he was “a terrified Grade 9” four years ago and “now I’m speaking to hundreds of people.

“The moment we’ve been waiting for is here, and this event has only transpired due to the guidance of our teachers, our friends and our families,” said Meloche.

he graduates of St. Thomas of Villanova listen to valedictorian Brandon Meloche’s address at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.

he graduates of St. Thomas of Villanova listen to valedictorian Brandon Meloche’s address at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.

Meloche added that the “four year journey” to graduation has been completed and now they are young Canadians “hoping to take on the world.” He stated that going to school at Villanova “has been a crucible of events” that has shaped their futures.

“We all lived through lockdown drills, homecomings, sports games, spirit weeks and exams,” said Meloche. “We lived through the union strike that scarred our school community for over a month. It divided us, it separated us, but through weeks of hard work and waiting, the few who refused to talk learned that if you aggress upon the right to collective bargaining, the union’s people will not relent!”

Meloche reflected on past memories of their days at Villanova, including getting lost in the halls in Grade 9 and hearing about “the pool on the third floor,” the “lip dub” video in Grade 10 and school trips to Europe and Costa Rica.

Villanova principal Amy Facchineri addresses the graduates at the June 28 graduation ceremony.

Villanova principal Amy Facchineri addresses the graduates at the June 28 graduation ceremony.

Their Villanova experiences went from being “thrown into a new, overwhelming arena to begin building a legacy and a future to believe in” during Grade 9 to Grade 12 where he joked they were “rulers and governors, and some dictators, of the building. We owned the halls, the sports fields and the caf(eteria). We readied ourselves to leave these comfortable halls and begin our transcendence toward the future.”

The graduating students have celebrated amazing times and went through horrific times, he added, recalling triumphs in academic competition and sports games. He also recalled the bad times, including the loss of six former and current Wildcats over the last four years.

The students have become “charitable, caring citizens who have raised thousands of dollars and cans for charity.” Meloche continued that “we’ve learned to grow in mind with the guidance of our teachers, who have in some ways become models for us in terms of personality and work ethic.”

Meloche said he has developed greatly as a person in the halls of Villanova, not just in physical dimensions but also in character, and gained confidence each year. He believed many others did as well.

“Today marks a great end, but an even greater beginning,” said Meloche, as he thanked the many departments within Villanova. “To the people, my fellow graduates, thank you for all you’ve done. Thank you for choosing me to be your voice. Thank you for this journey.”

Greetings were also brought by salutatorian Joey Corio as well as Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board superintendent Joseph Ibrahim and Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Frank DiTomasso.

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School valedictorian Brandon Meloche addresses his fellow graduates.

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School valedictorian Brandon Meloche addresses his fellow graduates.

Principal Amy Facchineri wished this year’s graduates all the best.

“I hope and pray your future will be a successful one, filled with everything you want it to be,” she told the graduates.

Facchineri said that success is defined by some as money and possessions, but Villanova tries to teach that success is also defined by personal character rather than material success.

Graduates need to be out of their comfort zones, but not their talent zones, she continued, and further stated that failure is not the enemy, complacency is.

The graduates have contributed from an academic, athletic, extra-curricular and community perspective, Facchineri added, and that the school “feels blessed” to be part of that.

Facchineri encouraged the graduates to meet all the challenges that life gives them to meet and to keep doing the right things in life.

Tour for Humanity visits local Catholic schools

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

An educational group visited two local schools to teach students about genocide and other human rights violations.

The Tour for Humanity, organized by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, stopped at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School and St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic High School to discuss the Holocaust and various other genocides throughout history. Students were invited to head inside the tour’s mobile classroom, which travels throughout Ontario and includes three large projection screens.

“Basically we’re dedicated to promoting human rights and looking at why it’s so important to protect those rights, through the violation of human rights specifically with the Holocaust, and looking at different incidences of anti-Semitism leading into that event,” said Elena Kingsbury, educator with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal.

TourForHumanityPhotoWEB

The group was named after Wiesenthal, a concentration camp survivor, because of his dedication to human rights promotion and educating people about the Holocaust. Although the group largely focuses on Holocaust education, Kingsbury said they use the event as a jumping-off point to teach students about genocides that occurred before and after World War Two as well.

“Events including the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, Rwanda, Darfur, but we also touch on a few events before (the Holocaust) as well. The Armenian genocide, what was going on in the Soviet Union in the 1930s,” said Kingsbury. “We try to hit a lot of different major topics. It’s hard to do them all justice in an hour, but that’s what we try to do.”

Kingsbury added that the tour teaches students about the 10 recognized stages of genocide, as she feels it is important for students to understand the progression of events that can lead to human rights atrocities.

“Even though when we talk about genocide we’re usually talking about violence and killing, a lot of the time there are legal steps that are taken before that later phase of violence takes place,” she said.

During the stop at Villanova, Kingsbury said she had a great experience with students at both schools.

“I would say we got really positive feedback (at St. Joseph’s) and so far so good today.”

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School graduation a time of celebration and remembrance

 

 

By Shelbey Hernandez

 

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School celebrated its 26th annual commencement ceremonies last Wednesday night with the graduates now moving forward to the next phase of their lives.

Past staff and alumni presented a multitude of awards. Aside from past staff and alumni, Catholic school board’s superintendent Joanne Shea was also present. She was once a principal at the school so she provided some advice to the graduates.

The graduates of Villanova Secondary School are seated  during the  presentation of the awards for their  graduation which was held in the St. Clair College SportsPlex last Wednesday evening at the St. Clair College SportsPlex (Photo by Shelbey Hernandez).

The graduates of Villanova Secondary School are seated during the presentation of the awards for their graduation which was held in the St. Clair College SportsPlex last Wednesday evening at the St. Clair College SportsPlex (Photo by Shelbey Hernandez).

“Please take charge of your life by beginning something you’ve always wanted to do,” said Shea. “If your goal seems overwhelming, just start small. Your imagination has no boundaries. Dreaming about something is the first step toward achieving it.”

Shea wasn’t the only one who had words of wisdom for the graduates. The class valedictorian did too.

“High school’s not a place where we become molded into what we are going to be for the rest of our lives,” said valedictorian Mackenzie McAlpine. “As people, we are not clay, we are playdough. We can be shaped by the people around us over and over again and by no means do we have to stay that way.”

A few of the awards that were presented were in honour of graduates who passed away. One of the awards was in honour of Derek Osborne who graduated in 2003 and passed away in February 2009. He went to university and excelled at math courses. So this award for $500 was presented to someone who excels in math just like he did.

Another award in honour of a past student was the Emily Bernauer award. Bernauer passed away two years ago. Since then, her brother, CJ Bernauer, released a film about her called Angel Baby. For this graduation, the family decided to donate a $700 bursary that was split between two graduates, one for $500 and the other for $200.

Photographed is Andrew St. Pierre, a Villanova graduate who won an award during the school's graduation. (Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

Photographed is Andrew St. Pierre, a Villanova graduate who won an award during the school’s graduation. (Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

After her passing, there were many people who expressed the fondest of memories with her, something that graduation emcee Tony Lucchino noted clearly when presenting the award. That’s why he said these bursaries were for those who like Bernauer, try to make others happy.

“She was a kind, hardworking individual who always spoke her mind,” said Lucchino to the crowd at the St. Clair College SportsPlex. “She brought a smile to everyone around her. Her friendly, upbeat demeanor changed countless people’s lives and her compassion for other people will always be remembered.”

There is no telling where exactly these graduates will be. However, as McAlpine said in her closing for her valedictorian speech, welcome to the outside world graduates.

Lady Gens claw back to capture WECSSAA slo-pitch title

 

By Ron Giofu

The General Amherst girls slo-pitch team had their backs against the wall in last week’s WECSSAA playoff tournament but managed to battle back to win the title.

The Lady Gens dropped an 18-4 decision to the Leamington Lions in last Monday’s double-elimination tournament at Co-An Park in McGregor, meaning they couldn’t lose again that day if they wanted to win the championship. Amherst won their next three games to bring home the WECSSAA title.

The first game against Leamington was one that coach Brad Bondy called “the worst game we played in five years” as nothing went right for the Lady Gens.

“We got them together,” said Bondy. “In our minds, the only team that could beat us was us. We beat ourselves versus Leamington.”

However, they quickly rebounded and edged Villanova 18-17 in the semi-finals to advance to play Leamington again in the finals. Bondy said they had to down the Lions twice to win the title and things didn’t look good early as General Amherst fell behind 6-0 in the first inning. The Lady Gens fought back and the game went back-and-forth the rest of the way until Amherst captured a 15-14 win.

The General Amherst Lady Gens girls slo-pitch team captured the WECSSAA championship June 6 at Co-An Park in McGregor. (Photo by Kathy Dodds)

The General Amherst Lady Gens girls slo-pitch team captured the WECSSAA championship June 6 at Co-An Park in McGregor. (Photo by Kathy Dodds)

In the second game of the finals against Leamington and third game of the day against the Lions, General Amherst finally got it going and defeated Leamington via the mercy rule 21-4.

“They were crushing the ball,” said Bondy. “All the girls picked it up huge.”

The girls rallying from a bad defeat earlier in the day was special, Bondy added.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It was an awesome experience. It was one of our best wins ever. It was one of the proudest moments in the history of General Amherst girls slo-pitch.”

It was Bondy’s last game as a coach, as he is turning the program over to the other coaches. He said he was proud to coach with Nicole Maxey, Mike Prescott, Stephanie Melcher not to mention his daughter Sarah Bondy. He was also happy to work with the players over the years.

“They are always a great group of girls to coach,” said Bondy, adding most are very well coached even before joining the Amherst team.

Bondy added his thanks to the parents.

“The parents always do a great job with their girls,” he said.

Villanova volleyball star earns St. Clair College scholarship

 

By Jonathan Martin

Opportunity has sent a hard spike toward a local volleyball player and she isn’t about to let it pass her by.

Villanova student Madison Trotter signed on to play for the St. Clair College women’s volleyball team during a signing ceremony March 8.

Head coach of the St. Clair College women's volleyball team Jimmy El-Turk (right) explains the contents of a player contract to Villanova student Madison Trotter in Villanova's auditorium on Tuesday, March 8, 2016.  Trotter signed on to play as a setter for the St. Clair Saints while she attends the college to study pre-health sciences. (RTT Photo by Jonathan Martin)

Head coach of the St. Clair College women’s volleyball team Jimmy El-Turk (right) explains the contents of a player contract to Villanova student Madison Trotter in Villanova’s auditorium on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Trotter signed on to play as a setter for the St. Clair Saints while she attends the college to study pre-health sciences. (RTT Photo by Jonathan Martin)

The agreement includes a $1,200 grant toward each semester’s tuition. Trotter plans to use that money to attend the college’s pre-health program. From there, she hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps to work as a nurse.

Her father, Michael Trotter, is also the one who got her involved with volleyball. He has refereed the sport for around 35 years.

“She’s gone to a lot of my matches and that’s what got her interested,” he said. “She started getting involved at around eight-years-old and participated in some of my clinics.”

As she got older, Trotter started playing travel with the South County Bandits. When she reached high school, she joined the Villanova Wildcats under head coach Deb McMahon.

“This past summer I got a job at a hair salon and I’m a receptionist there, so when the high school volleyball started I was juggling high school volleyball, travel volleyball, work and school,” said Trotter. “It was hard sometimes, but when it’s something you love you’ve got to find a way to make it work.”

McMahon said players like Trotter are a rarity.

“They come cyclically,” she said. “You get one in a million after a couple years, but hopefully some girls will be inspired, work hard like she did and learn to fill her shoes.”

McMahon has been Villanova’s head volleyball coach for 15 years. Trotter is the third student to sign for a post-secondary scholarship since her tenure began. Maria Carlini earned an NCAA Division I scholarship to the University of Wisconsin in 2003 and Samantha Sutton preceded Trotter in being picked up by St. Clair College last year.

St. Clair College women’s volleyball head coach Jimmy El-Turk started working at the college in May of 2015, so Trotter is the first local athlete he has personally brought onto the Saints.

“It’s exciting for me to find such a skilled player so close to home,” he said. “She’s been playing a long time and you can tell her ability to set and manage the offence is very good.”

El-Turk said in order to keep her scholarship, Trotter will have to maintain a grade point average of 2.0, which translates to 60 per cent or a C-.

Trotter said she’s used to juggling academics and extra-curriculars, so she isn’t worried.

“I’m often up studying until 1 a.m.,” she said. “Some nights I go from school to practice, to work and then back to travel practice until 10 o’clock at night.”

Once she graduates, though, Trotter said she’ll be done with the sport.

After college, Trotter decided she wants to direct her focus completely toward helping others as a registered nurse.