St. Basil Catholic Elementary School was formally opened on Thursday, January 18, in a dynamic ceremony that honoured the past and celebrated a future full of promise.
The hour-long event was opened and closed with drumming by the St. Basil’s Female Drummers. Students from the kindergarten classes led the gathering in prayer with a song taught by one of the school priests. Prior to the ceremony, there was a school blessing and a smudging. During the ceremony, dignitaries in attendance noted how the school has a rich history and bright future.
“This was a fantastic day to formally recognize the opening of our school. I was so proud of our students in so many ways. They helped in creating a dynamic presentation for our guests and were respectful and attentive during the ceremony,” said St. Basil Principal Fil Lettieri.
Chief Dean Sayers of the Batchewana First Nation spoke of the fond memories he had of being a student at the school, which is the original site of St. Mary’s College. Board Chair John Caputo mentioned that he was a part of the former St. Basil Secondary School community while his daughters attended the school. Director of Education Rose Burton Spohn told the gathering about how much promise she saw in the students in attendance.
Also addressing the students and special guests were: Mayor Christian Provenzano, Kim Powley of the Métis Nation of Ontario and Cathy Syrette from the Indian Friendship Centre.
Representing the Minister of Education was Sault Ste. Marie native Karen Fabbro-Cobb from the Ministry of Education’s Regional Office. She presented the school with a special scroll and an Ontario flag.
Afterwards guests were given a student-led tour of the school and then a lunch which included desserts created by students in the St. Basil A.C.E. class.
“I extend a round of applause and gratitude to the extraordinary efforts by staff in going beyond the call of duty to ensure the Grand Opening was truly a community celebration. They, and the students involved in the celebration, made everyone feel welcomed, valued and included. I also commend other members of our Board staff and the Catholic School Council parents who contributed to making this a special day,” said Superintendent of Education Maria Esposito.
St. Basil opened its doors in September 2017 to complete the consolidation of four schools, St. Ann, St. Bernadette, St. Pius X and St. Theresa.