Category Archives: Special Events

Grade 10 Muskoka Woods Retreat


On October 17, 2018, 185 students, 10 teachers and 2 administrators traveled to Muskoka Woods on Lake Rosseau.  This was the inaugural year of this three-day, two-night retreat for grade 10 students.


No venue could be more tranquil, pristine and inspiring than Muskoka Woods, located on the Canadian Shield, bordered by Lake Rosseau, and covering acres of native Canadian trees, home to a multitude of animal species.   Facilities are welcoming, modern, functional and most important, student-friendly and accessible.

From High Ropes to Zip Line and Escape Room to Nature Hike, students had the opportunity to engage in as many activities as they wished. During this time, I witnessed the greatest learning taking place, as they encouraged and assisted each other in trust activities.


The spiritual focal point of the retreat was the plenary on the significance of The Eucharist and what it means to be followers of Christ.  Students had the opportunity to write a letter to themselves, to be revisited at the retreat in their graduating year.  Mass was celebrated by Father Peter Selvaraj of St. Michael Roman Catholic Parish in Muskoka.


It was truly moving to see genuine peer encouragement and collaboration.  Unlikely friendships were forged and others were reacquainted and strengthened.  Undiscovered talents were showcased at the Camp Fire.  The cold temperatures were muted by the general warmth and collegiality of the student group, as they cheered on their peers.  Perhaps, the favorite activity amongst students was the dance, which took place on the second night of our stay.  The Muskoka Woods’ DJ captured the hearts of his audience, with his carefully-selected repertoire of dance music.  The dance was definitely an inclusive, bonding experience.


Student testimonials highlight their experiences:

  • Muskoka Woods is a great experience where I met different people and made lifelong friends. It taught me to be more independent and it allowed me to really pay close attention to the beautiful surroundings!
  • The Muskoka Woods Retreat Experience allowed me to make new friends.
  • This experience was truly life-changing…I made new friends with people I may have never talked to at school.
  • It was a really fun experience. I think it will be one of my favorite high school memories.

Clearly, this retreat achieved our goals—community building and opportunities for students to exercise understanding, compassion, and awareness of self, other, and the environment, within the parameters of our Catholic values and faith tradition.

Ms. Capozzolo, Vice Principal

**Thank you to Ms. Capozzolo and the office staff for organizing this awesome event.  Thanks as well to the staff who volunteered to supervise! Well done!


Awards Night 2018

One of the most auspicious and joyous nights of the school calendar is the Awards Ceremony. On the evening of October 25th, we acknowledged the hard work of last year’s honour roll winners, subject award winners, Waterloo math contest “Participants of Distinction” and various School and Community Award winners. In all, 412 students were eligible for these awards. Our principal, Mr. Dan Zaroski , congratulated all the students and also acknowledged the role that our teachers and the students’ parents had in their success. The awards committee, who organized the event did a marvelous job and the evening progressed without a hitch. The gym was beautifully transformed with two huge and gorgeous flower arrangements which made an appropriate backdrop for the proud parents wanting to take pictures of their children.

by Mr. R. Lefaive, Vice Principal

**a special thank you to Mr. Lefaive and the Awards Committee for all their work on this event; a team effort all around!

Guest Speaker: Ken Yasinski

Last spring we learned about a Canadian Catholic Speaker, Ken Yasinski.  Ken has been a speaker for almost 20 years. Located in Saskatoon, Ken travels wherever his speaking events take him, in Canada or the US.  His personal journey as a young university student helped him to identify his calling to speak to Catholics about their faith. He has experience as a youth minister in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, is an author, and has a growing family of 5 children.  Ken was a great choice for our Staff Faith Day on September 24th.

A charismatic speaker, Ken opened the day in prayer and invited us to greet our table neighbors with the greeting “hello beautiful.”  This greeting made everyone smile and laugh as we started the day.

Ken’s morning session was titled “What is the Purpose of My Life?”  He shared the story of his own journey as a university student when he came closer to God by reflecting on his own failings.  He shared a quote from Dr. Phil, “You can not change what you do not acknowledge.” In his case, he acknowledged the emptiness he felt and realized that to live a good life, God must be a part of one’s life.  Using a cell phone as an example, he explained how items can break when used in contradiction to their design/purpose. His message was that when we do not use our lives properly,  in the service of God, we too can become broken spiritually. He challenged us to welcome Jesus into our lives by encouraging four ways of coming to know Him.

First, we must come to know Jesus by fostering relationships with others.  Second, we must learn to love Jesus. Third is to serve and help others.  And the fourth is to share with one another.

In his second session “Living with an Internal Perspective,” Ken focused our attention on a simple question:  how would you like to be remembered after you die? Ken states that we are all called to holiness by stating three principles of sainthood. The first is to live a saintly life by focusing on the “now”.  We must live in the moment and make decisions that are made with love, bringing us closer to Christ. Trying not to dwell on the past or focus on items / issues that preoccupy our future will help us live in the “now.”  We all need to focus on the “now” in order to live positive, loving, saintly lives.  The second is that sainthood is here by making the decision to forgive.  Our faith is not perfect but if we ‘Do The Next Loving Thing’ by forgiving one another, we will move toward the goal of sanctity.  The third call to Sainthood is that it is for ALL, especially when we pray and receive the sacraments.

Ken was well received by the 70 secondary and 100+ elementary staff who were present at this lecture.  He helped us to focus on our personal encounters with Jesus and to remember that to live our lives right is a decision that we each must make on a regular basis. Thank you for a good day Ken!

by D. Zaroski  and  Monica DiNardo

*On September 25, Ken gave a similar talk to an assembly of our grade 11 and 12 student.

Catholic Education Week at Bressani

By Vanessa Spagnuolo, Student Writer

This past week, from April 30 to May 5, 2017, Catholic schools across Ontario celebrated the annual Catholic Education Week. This year’s major theme of reflection was “Walking Forward Together,” with sub-themes including “Walking Forward Together” with God, with Our Families, with Others, with Creation and in Hope.

Father Bressani is one of the many schools across the province to hold events in participation with Catholic Education Week every year, and this year was no exception.

On the first day, two Immaculate Conception Youth Group Members, Joey and Daniel Clemenzi, came in to speak to students about social justice, faith development and how to become involved with the Youth Group. Student’s truly took their words to heart.

“I think they are very dedicated to what they teach,” said Catherine Taniajura, Grade 11 Bressani student. “They seem very genuine. I could see myself possibly volunteering with the Youth Group in the future.”

A Catholic Education Week Mass was held at Immaculate Conception Parish and students were also given the opportunity to celebrate by entering a six word story contest. Students were to provide a complete story about catholic education in only six words. Submissions could be dropped off as a ballot at the front desk, or submitted through twitter to the Bressani Library. Unfortunately, many students were unaware of the contest and missed their chance to enter.

“I wish it would have been promoted more,” said Grade 11 Bressani student, Daphne Alvarado. “I would have definitely entered if I knew about it, but I don’t have twitter so I didn’t see the information, and I didn’t go to the library so I didn’t see the sign.”

On the final day of Catholic Education Week, the school’s chaplains, Mrs. DiNardo and Mrs. Petrolo discussed prayer shelves that would soon be put up in each classroom. They are to be available to students for prayer before a test and to take a moment to reflect and destress. Students have mixed opinions on this idea.

“Personally, praying does not alleviate my stress,” said Alvarado, “but I can understand why some students may like this idea. However, we do have a chapel in service and I feel like we should promote that more for students.” Many students share the same opinion and feel that investing in prayer shelves are a waste of money as students will not use them, but others support the idea.

“I think prayer shelves are excellent additions in our classrooms because we are embracing our Catholic faith,” said Joseph Spagnuolo, Grade 11 Bressani student.

Catholic Education Week 2017 was surely embraced at Father Bressani, as it is important to recognize Catholic Education and unite the communities of catholic students.

“We should be proud that we go to a Catholic school,” said Grade 10 student, Sarah Simone. “We should be proud of our religion and we should all walk forward together with God and our families. Also, the Catholic Education Week mass is important because it showcases our religion and student’s talents.”

Patrick Santarsia, a Grade 9 student at Father Bressani, said, “Catholic Education Week is extremely important for Catholic Youth because even in stressful school years, kids should know the stories, the importance, the meaning, and the benefits our faith has in store for us.”

A huge thank you goes out to all the teachers, students and staff who worked so hard to put together all of the events that were held at the school this past week to celebrate Catholic Education. We look forward to celebrating again next year.

Shrove Tuesday

By Madison Geddes, Student Writer

Tuesday, February 28 was Shrove Tuesday for the 2017 year and per tradition, the Father Bressani high school celebrated by serving pancakes to all of its students. During the first and second periods of the school day, teachers handed out tickets and brought their classes down to the cafeteria for members of the student council to distribute pancakes to everyone.

Being given pancakes by the school is not something new for anyone at this school. It has proved to be an old, annual tradition throughout the entirety of all of our lives. However, there are many people who do not know the purpose behind this Shrove Tuesday tradition.

Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday depending upon where you live) is the day preceding Ash Wednesday. A day determined by the day of Easter, which changes annually. It is a day where Christians attempt to get ‘shriven’–(of a priest) hear the confession of, assign penance to, and absolve (someone)–read ‘shrove’, before Lent. Pancakes became forever associated with the day because Christians traditionally fasted during Lent. Making pancakes was a quick way to use up all of the eggs, sugar, milk and all other fattening foods before the fasting period began. Thus, it soon also became known as Pancake Tuesday in lieu of the food usually eaten by many people.

So it has become commonplace for many schools to serve pancakes on this day.

“I liked the pancakes, they were okay,” commented grade 11 student Vanessa Spagnuolo.

“I do think that it’s generous of the school to give out pancakes to everyone,” added student council member Giulia Clarizio.

In the end Shrove Tuesday at Father Bressani was a success. Everyone received good pancakes in tradition with the occasion. With this, we prepare ourselves and await Easter.

Fr Bressani Invades VEX Robotics Competition


By Student Writer, Vanessa Di Stefano

On Saturday January 14th, 2017, the Father Bressani Robotics Team, the FB Eagles participated in the York Region area of the VEX Robotics Competition, sponsored by: Design Solutions and hosted by Sir William Mulock Secondary School in Newmarket Ontario.

The VEX Robotics competition is known worldwide and more than 10, 000 teams from 40 countries participating. Many cities in different states and provinces host the event. The VEX Robotics competition is a day for individuals to be creative and to bring forth all of their ideas and abilities to build the best robot.

The competition is an all-day event.  Battles between the robots take place in a large 12 ft. by 12 ft. cage field.  This cage is spilt into two halves, one half is red and the other half is blue. There are a total of four teams competing in one cage match. Two alliance teams are on each side of the cage. The object of the game is for the robot to pick up an object and throw it over to the opposite side.  The battle starts with a 15 second time period, which the robot is already programmed to work on its own, followed by a one minute and forty-five second control play. This is when the students are allowed to control the robot. Robots need to score higher than their opposing alliance team. On each half of the cage, there are two area zones, the near zone and the far zone.  There are different scores awarded depending on the zone where the objects land.  Robots from opposing alliances are allowed to block objects from landing on their side. The objects include a star and a cube and there are a total of 24 stars and 4 cubes.  It is the battle of the ROBOTS!


The Father Bressani team had a successful outcome. Throughout the first match parts of the robot needed some minor maintenance and repair; however they still received points for having a robot that worked. Other schools had difficulty as well.  Father Bressani won the first match even though there was a small hiccup for maintenance repair. The team kept their spirits high and were ready for the next battle.  They stayed strong and won the second match and although they lost the third, they came back tough and won the forth.

The Father Bressani Robotics Team included Dharma Capitao and Victor Buica for programming, Anastacia De Oliveira, Brandon Paolozzi and Kathrine von Friedl for the design and construction of the robot and Ms. Hofstatter who supervised and assisted with the production of the robot.

Ms. Hofstatter, the team leader and technology teacher at Father Bressani said “This was the first year that Father Bressani participated in the VEX Robotics competition and the team did an amazing job.  I believe that the team really came together in the end.  I am proud of the students because they worked hard and spent a lot of time and effort working on the robot.”


Dharma Capitao a participant of the competition said “At first I felt like our robot would not even come close to the greatness of the other schools robots because it felt like we rushed it.  Once we finished it, I knew that we could win because we worked together as a team and we had fun. I think that was the most important experience. It wasn’t just about winning for us.  It was about working with each other and celebrating this event with other students that had the same interests as us. I feel like our team are the real champions.”

The team’s dedication and creativity demonstrated their true sportsmanship and motivation.  Father Bressani is very proud of their robotics team and we hope to see them competing in years to come.    

Halloween at Bressani

Today at Bressani the vast majority of our students were in costume.  We had a great day of fun, including costume judging and some games during the lunches.  Thank you to the councils for running the fun activities today.  Here are some of the great costumes spotted at FB today:

The Pace Class of 2017 has the Halloween Spirit!
The Pace Class of 2017 has the Halloween Spirit!


Nice eyes!