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OAPCE Conference Final Report: October 2016

The 77th Annual was a success, to say the least! On Friday, the Conference was kicked off at Montecassino Hotel & Event Venue at 6:00 p.m. with over 150 people in attendance. Special guests included the Director of Education TCDSB, Chair of Trustees and other Trustees, TCDSB, many delegates from out of town that travelled to be a part of the Conference, and most notably, the Ontario Minister of Education Liz Sandals.  Minister Sandals made note that the Conference was held during Catholic Education Week and shared the fact that it was a great idea to do so. Not only did Minister Sandals give a heartwarming welcome and speech, but also she stayed for over an hour to mingle with all the delegates. It was a wonderful kick off to the Conference!

The Saturday was a busy day with Madonna High Catholic Secondary School preparing as early as 6:00 am as students helped to ensure the warm welcome for all the delegates. All delegates entered the school to a big welcome as the MCSS school band played in the atrium; they then had the opportunity to munch on a nutritious breakfast to begin the day. 

All vendors were ready to go at 7:00 am and were set up in the gymnasium and along the corridors of the schools, where there were over 50 vendors showcasing their many items from educational to fundraising, to faith based resources, Ontario College of Teachers, Ontario Ombudsman and so on.

The launch of the day was an exciting one as delegates were still arriving and entering the school.  The event began with O Canada and a special Liturgical prayer dance performed by the Madonna students. The MPP Monte Kwinter and City Councillor Maria Augimeri, and TCDSB Director of Education Angela Gauthier gave warm greetings. The keynote speaker, Michael Redfearn, presented his enlightening talk and the day began!

The workshops offered this year were varied and tried to bear interest to those who attended, Sara Westbrook and her amazing "Resiliency" presentation, Paul Davis and Social Networking Safety, Dr. Ashleigh Molloy, among many others. A special presentation was also given by the Me to We new campaign "WE FAMILIES".   All delegates attended their first workshops that were held throughout the first floor of school, there were over 250 delegates registered to attend the all day Conference, and the school was a buzz with all the excitement. For the first time, there were two plenary sessions, one with the Ministry of Education Parent Engagement Office lead by Jack Nigro,  and the other with OCSOA Executive Director John Kostoff and former OCSTA President Kathy Burtnik: these sessions offered information to parents and allowed open discussions with them.

An all-inclusive lunch was served where delegates had the opportunity to eat and mingle, free Booster Juices were offered, and delegates walked around the vendor mall. Delegates then proceeded to their next workshop. After the second workshop the AGM took place with a full room in attendance.  Following the AGM, closing ceremonies took place for this portion of the Conference with delegates being transported to the hotel or going home to change and prepare for the dinner portion of the Conference.

All were once again brought back to the Montecassino Hotel & Event Venue to celebrate Holy Mass with His Eminence, Cardinal Collins. His Eminence led a special commissioning for all the OAPCE Regional Directors, all while listening to the angelic voices of the TCDSB music department and Cardinal Carter choir. During the Mass a special presentation was given to the Cardinal in honor of naming him a Lifetime Member of OAPCE, an original painting of “The Red Madonna” which was commissioned from the talented artist Nick Biagini, a TCDSB principal was presented to him

The Gala Dinner then began and was kicked off by the Drumline from St. Andre Elementary school, the only elementary drumline band in the TCDSB! Local MP Michael Levitt gave warm greetings to everyone, and the big surprise of the evening was the presence of Mark Kielburger, a former graduate of TCDSB, who came to share his success story and to talk about Me to We and We Families.

A video message was shown from Premier Kathleen Wynn and Education Minister Liz Sandals, as well as other warm greetings from special guests. One of the TCDSB Student Trustees spoke and shared the board’s CSLIT (Catholic Student Leadership Team) video and they great work that the students do. The evening was wrapped up with the presentation of the Awards to all recipients!

The 77th Annual Conference was a true testament to the wonderful things that are happening in Catholic Education, as people from across the province came to celebrate and enforce the very importance of its existence .. on to the Conference in 2018!