Last Thursday (May 7), during Catholic Education Week, Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton again was demonstrating with its “Voyageur Day” why it continues to glean awards of excellence.
Even though OLW only has an enrolment of 86 students from JK-Grade 8, it was the only school in the Northwest Catholic District School Board, and indeed one of only a very small percentage of schools in Canada, to be recognized with a Platinum Award by Physical Health and Education Canada.
The Platinum Award is the highest-level quality physical education award presented to schools that provide all students with a well-planned program of phys. ed. instruction three-four times a week for the entire school year.
Platinum Award schools provide a minimum of 150 minutes of class instruction each week, according to the PHE Canada website.
Last Thursday’s voyageur program was only one component of Catholic Education Week at OLW. Trips to other area schools to enjoy their presentations, as well as a performance by the school band at two Fort Frances schools in appreciation of the musical instruments donated by those school, also were included, noted principal Brendan Hyatt.
The school’s senior band includes all the students in Grades 5-8. Everyone contributes to their ability, with the emphasis on everyone, Hyatt explained.
The annual “Voyageur Day” at OLW, generally held during winter festival, focuses on the voyageur heritage of this area with a combination of physical outdoor events that simulate skills and cultural aspects.
River crossing, wood piling, bannock baking, and a good, old-fashioned potato sack race were activities participated in by all, with a remarkable demonstration of co-operation as more senior students assisted and cheered on their junior grade teammates while keeping their bannock from getting too charred.
After a wildly strenuous morning, the horde inhaled a massive lunch, more varied, nutritious, and delicious than any voyageur of centuries past could ever even have dreamed of.
Sated, they then settled down on the gymnasium floor for a presentation by Kim Jo Bliss of Emo on wild fur harvesting.
Questions and comments were intelligent, spirited, and stimulating, reflecting an attitude of rural closeness to the land and nature.
Fuelled and stimulated, but disciplined, the students rushed back outdoors to complete a full day of activities.
Themes for the day might be summed as: “You just might be a Canadian if . . .
•you’ve ever worn a canoe as a hat”;
•you’ve ever practised fording a river on a piece of cardboard”;
•you’ve ever piled firewood as a recreational activity”;
•you’ve ever baked bannock on a stick over a campfire”;
•you’ve ever brought an empty potato sack to school for a phys. ed. game”; or
•you’ve ever discussed wild fur harvest without becoming hysterical.”