September & Renewed Purpose

Excitingly, the opportunity to reflect and act upon renewed purpose comes with each September and the start of a new school year. With a commitment to both community and self, Saint Oscar Romero of El Salvador reminds us that “peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.” As such we’re all called to be caring family members and responsible citizens who understand the relevance of such duty and purpose.

A school community that holds true the generosity of peace allows for love to grow and be shared. Equally, as etched in our school crest, the mission of “community, justice and knowledge” reminds us that schooling is more than marks on a report card or “curriculum” taught in class. It’s about character, the journey of learning and who God calls us to be.

Whether it be the pursuit of academic excellence, contributing to classroom life in a positive way or thriving in sport through friendly competition, a school community that believes in peace will excel and transform in God’s likeness. 

Like Saint Oscar Romero who lived and served with humility and in pursuit of the common good, a commitment to community means being courageous, selfless, kind, honest, respectful and loving.  

Looking to self, embrace the opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn. In particular for students, believe in yourself and know that you can achieve personal success. 

Set personal goals, plan, reflect, adapt, try hard, be resilient, ask for help, have an open mind, help others, practice patience, be responsible for your actions and committed to your success. Thrive towards your personal best all while being challenged by a culture of high expectations that respects and looks to nurture your God-given potential. Equally, know you are loved and supported by a school community grounded in faith. You are not alone.

With the new school year beginning, embrace peace and the duty that comes with it. Let the life and words of Saint Oscar Romero guide you.

The Joy of Sport

In the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, we learn that everything has its time. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” As it was over 2000 years ago, or 57 years ago in 1965, the year in which The Byrds wrote a song based on this same Bible verse, we witness that the time for sports has returned to Saint Oscar Romero CSS.

Students are participating in a Spring Football League, Soccer, Basketball, Track and Field, Volleyball, Badminton, and Tennis. Coinciding with Easter that has just passed, we are truly witnessing new life within the school through sports.

According to the English proverb, April showers brings May flowers however, living in Canada, we also witnessed some snowfall in the month of April. Now in the month of May, we see Romero’s new field blossoming with the addition of new sod. As the weather gets warmer, hopefully the field, and the outdoor learning classroom, becomes a location for community formation.

Whether we gather to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, watch a Football or Soccer game out on the field, or cheer for our Home team in the gym, we can be reassured that the Romero is a place where being a ‘Caring Family Member,’ is deeply important.

Nick Saban is the Football Coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He has been quoted as saying, “Don’t ever miss the opportunity to say, “Good job”. As the Athletic Director, I would like to say, GOOD JOB! – to the Coaches and Players, to the Teachers and Students, to the Administration and Staff. Let’s keep the momentum going and make next year an even better year for Sports at Romero.


Photography By: Phoung Le (Visit Phoung on Twitter)

Robotics Team 6397 Keeps Building Success


The Romero Robotics Team #6397 has advanced and will be solely representing the TCDSB at the First Robotics Canada Provincial Championships being held this Easter weekend.

The team competed at Humber College March 5/6 and placed 2nd overall, winning silver medals and going home with huge smiles and a sense of pride! This team started with no previous knowledge and built a competitive robot that was able to collect cargo, shoot, and competitively defend. The team also competed at York University later in March, with the aim of improving the robot’s functionality and its ability to climb in advance of the provincials. The team has flourished throughout this school year with individual students learning not only about robotics but themselves. The learning has been truly transformational.

Coaches and students alike are thrilled with the team’s accomplishment, particularly given that students came to the Robotics Club this year with no prior knowledge following the pandemic lockdowns. This team of students are comprised of diverse students from across Grade 9 – 12 and significantly, are predominantly female students both handling the build and programming. The team is thrilled to see young women embracing robotics and for exemplifying the capacity of women in STEAM!

The accomplishments of Romero Robotics have been made possible by the generous support of their sponsors, Youth Culture & RBC Wealth Management, and the support of the the St. Oscar Romero school community and TCDSB. 

Congratulations to:

Noemi G.R.
Nardos S.
Emily N.
Emily S.
Rosemary S.
Ryan B.
Cameron F.P
Tiago C.M
Darwin B.
Daniel D.
Oliver M.
Justin F.
Jeremy M.
Joshua L.
Steven Rumazza
Michelle Presotto
Joe Longa
Marlon D’Addio
Marc Vittorio

Special Event: In Conversation with Erika Casupanan, the Winner of ‘Survivor 41.’

St. Oscar Romero’s IMPACT, safe schools committee is thrilled to announce a special conversation with Erica Casupanan, the winner of ‘Survivor 41.’ 

Presented as part of St. Oscar Romero’s mental health week running April 25 – 29, Erika will share her experience navigating the corporate world as a PR specialist, the realities of Survivor gameplay and what she discovered about herself on her way to winning season 41 of the mega-hit CBS reality-show. 

Importantly as being an immigrant and woman of colour, Erika will also share her personal story as a Filipino-Canadian. Through story and thriving to be responsible citizens who see fully, this evening promises to provide all participants with an opportunity to reflect on their own assumptions about gender, race and ethnicity all while feeling empowered in telling their story and embracing their identity. 

Erika will be joined by Keasha Docusin (Gr. 9), Chanelle Guddaran (Gr. 9) and Jeremy Ong (Gr. 10), Canadian-Filipino students from St. Oscar Romero who will be moderating the conversation.

St. Oscar Romero Filipino students who Excitingly, students will shape learning that is culturally relevant and responsive by connecting with Erika through shared experiences.

Register here: Finding Your Voice and Knowing Yourself

Brick By Brick: Hope and Resilience in a COVID World

Saint Oscar Romero Catholic Secondary School is proud to present Brick By Brock: Hope and Resilience in a COVID World, a conversation about student social and emotional learning with Kyro Maseh and Dr. Marlyn Morris.

Brick by Brick: Hope and Resilience in a COVID World is presented by Saint Oscar Romero Catholic Secondary School’s IMPACT committee.

IMPACT, is Saint Oscar Romero’s Safe and Accepting School committee. This committee of students and teachers is dedicated to learning, unlearning and relearning together as it pertains to seeing students fully and being responsive to the unique realities that students and families navigate day-to-day.

Brick by Brick is a special community conversation that will address the challenges that students and families have been facing over the course of the pandemic and will look to provide next steps to engage students in having a growth mindset that embraces hope and fosters resiliency in school and beyond.

This presentation is for families of Saint Oscar Romero students and neighbouring TCDSB schools. Families of students from Gr. 7 – 12 are encouraged to participate.

Our Guests:

Kyro Maseh is a practicing pharmacy owner at Lawlor Pharmacy. His advocacy for public health and community initiatives during the pandemic have been widely recognized by National and international media. Kyro is also a mentor to pharmacy students, and a public speaker on a variety of topics. He regularly gives talks to clinicians, but also at risk youth throughout the community. His life mission is to create a humanizing, personal experience for all his patients, always aiming to lift peoples’ spirits during their darkest times; treating the person first before the illness. 

Dr. Marlyn Morris is a development Planning and Policy Consultant/Advisor and Trainer; Legislative Review and Drafting Consultant; a Business Development Advisor;  Educator and Training Provider. She  holds a PhD (Planning and Development);  M.Sc (Econ) from the University of London, UK;  LLB (Hons.) from the University of Wolverhampton, UK; BA (Hons) and a post –graduate  Diploma. Education from the University of the West Indies and a Certificate in (Legislative Drafting) from Boston University.  She also holds a Certified Professional Coach Certificate (CPC) for Life and Business Coaching, is a Certified Teacher and a Practicing Mentor and Coach. Dr. Morris is also a United Nations educator and design thinker who specializes in culturally relevant teaching and learning.

Register here: Brick By Brick: Hope and Resilience in a COVID World Registration

Art and Healing

Last week, as I spent my final day in Ms. Conforti’s Gr. 12 Visual Arts class working away on an artist reflection, Vice Principal Perrotta visited with his video camera in hand. As some of you may know, he often visits classrooms to document student learning and he asked me to write this reflection. We chatted about my goals after Romero and how art can connect to my future career as a social worker.

Looking to the future, I’m so proud to share that I will be studying to be a social worker at George Brown College come September. I’m so excited to learn and I also know that visual arts will give me an advantage as I look to build a successful career.

Any artistic form, can empower an individual to express and share repressed feelings or emotions. The creative process can be very therapeutic for both future patients and myself as I work to be a support to people in need.

As a social worker, my goal is to protect vulnerable children and support families in need of assistance. With this, my art experience will allow me to think critically, problem solve and look at situations in different ways.

I know first hand that art can be healing.

In my own experience, a social worker was able to get me to trust her by pulling out a bin of crayons and asking me to draw my family. At that moment I knew she understood how I was feeling and that I was safe to be open and vulnerable with her.

From healing to diagnosing a mental illness, the creative process allows for storytelling that transcends languages and cultures. Whereas I discovered art at a young age, adults can also find healing and wellness by putting a paint brush to a canvas, a pencil to a sketchbook, even a crayon to a
colouring book.

The creative process can bring a sense of safety – creating with purpose and accomplishing amazing things that come from inside one’s self. Art brings people together – it bonds people from all over the world. When looking at any art work, you’re able to see a story. In creating, you’re able to to share and be understood.

So, looking ahead to my future as a social worker, I know that art can heal and is a great way to connect and share. I’m so proud of where I am heading and so thankful of my learning experience in the Romero visual arts program.

Finding Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

Even though the gig economy has existed for years and years, it has only recently begun to grow rapidly. Several factors contribute to this surge in entrepreneurial spirit, but perhaps none as pressing as the COVID-19 pandemic. This is something that Romero student, Alyssa Da Silva, can relate to since she took advantage of COVID lockdowns to build her own online business.  

What is the “Gig Economy?”

In simplest terms, the gig economy (also known as the ‘sharing economy’) is a job market that includes both part-time and freelance jobs. It is customary for these jobs to be flexible, temporary, in some way allow connection with others through a digital/online platform, and performed  by independent workers. Such  workers  are often  referred to as ‘gig workers’.

Gig workers can also be in a variety of areas – ranging from being an entertainer to working for companies such as Uber or Instacart. When compared to employees with full-time jobs, gig workers are able to perform broad tasks and work on a limited, project basis. Gig workers and the gig economy as a whole are often more refined and successful in cities with larger populations.

How has it changed throughout the pandemic?

It is important to note that there were other factors that helped popularize the gig economy prior to the pandemic’s existence. An example of this is the technology we are surrounded by and use in everyday life. This can include digital programs and new app-based platforms that allow us to directly contact and stay in touch with others from anywhere in the world. Once COVID-19 lockdowns were implemented, even more attention was paid to the gig economy and its workers on a global aspect. This is for many reasons.

 The first reason for this is that gig work ended up becoming a necessity. With having to be in quarantine for months on end and being encouraged to stay home as much as possible, many people weren’t able or even allowed to maintain their regular, in person “9-to-5 jobs.” Inevitably, many people became jobless and were tirelessly searching for employment opportunities (thus, meaning they were not receiving a steady income; if any at all). This is when the gig economy came to the rescue. For some, it is a way to make additional money to help compensate for extra costs while others who lost their jobs or had their hours shortened became fully reliant on it to earn a living. In cases where parents could not hire a babysitter or someone to watch over their kids, the gig economy gave them the chance to concentrate on taking care of their family’s needs while still efficiently working in the comfort of their home.

The second reason for the prosperity of the gig economy during this era is that it was able to bring people together without having them be physically present. Obviously, the connection that people once had was taken away which led to many repercussions. To counteract that, the gig economy was used to provide home-bound buyers with their needs at a quicker rate.

As another matter of fact, the gig economy kept businesses open that would have shut down otherwise. Many small businesses struggled to hire and retain staff, but the gig economy addressed and resolved this problem. An example of this is when delivery people became an essential part of providing food to hungry consumers – this in turn helped keep chefs employed and restaurants afloat.

Finally, people were able to reap the benefits of the gig economy: these can include broadening their skills, constructing a better resume, having experience in multiple workforces, more economic and work opportunities, and flexibility in working hours along with jobs.

Alyssa Da Silva’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

To bring more understanding to what it is actually like to be a gig worker, I was introduced to a fellow Romero student who had a unique story to tell. At first glance, Alyssa Da Silva appears to be your typical highschooler, but there is a lot more to her than what meets the eye.

Alyssa is a “bracelet making, Hot Wheels collecting, car loving girl” as she likes to put it in her own words. As shocking as it sounds, she started her first business at the start of the pandemic in April of 2020. “…My small business was once called ‘Pinkybracelets’, but is now named ‘Pinky Customs’. I started off with (hand-making) custom beaded bracelets and eventually expanded my business to handmade accessories and car accessories – in connection to my love for the car community.” Alyssa went on to explain to me that the intentions behind creating this business were to make money on her own and of course “essentially buy my (her) dream car” that she can work on in her free time.

Sure enough in May of 2021, Alyssa purchased a 1993 Mazda Miata with some help from her parents. Remarkably, Alyssa is the exact same age as me and is also in Grade 10. When I asked her how she is capable of balancing all of these responsibilities and taking such a laborious role, she responded with “As a student I prioritize my school work and well-being first. I find that it’s important that my education comes first so it can help expand my knowledge for some issues I may come across in the process of my business.” I then followed up by trying to see what type of responses she has been receiving and she went on to say “The response has been overwhelming! The feedback has been amazing and I’m beyond thankful….”

“Although sometimes it is difficult to juggle a business with school and a social life at such a young age, I couldn’t be more blessed….” As I expected, Alyssa did face some backlash simply because she is a prosperous 15 year old girl doing what she loves. “I’ve definitely been doubted a lot…. I find that some people find it impossible and hard to believe that a 15 year old runs her own successful business, and is building her dream car. I tend to just put the negative criticism behind me because I’m continuously working towards my goals, and I know what I’m capable of as an individual! I also find that when I tell some males that I’m building a car that they think that I’m making it up…. I don’t let it phase me! I may not have the best knowledge on cars and I may mess up some (car) names here and there, but I know what I’m capable of…. ”

Alyssa has already made it this far in such a short span of time and it got me thinking – what is next for this entrepreneur? “My biggest goal is to get Pinky Customs BIG! I want to expand it as much as I can. I want to fulfill everyone’s desires as much as I can as well as to relate my car back to my business and expand my car accessories line as well as continuously building my car!”

Personally, I think Alyssa is fantastic at what she does and I highly suggest you check out Pinky Customs on Instagram/Facebook @pinkycustoms and follow her car’s journey at @pinkyyata (only on Instagram).

Closing Thoughts

More and more people like Alyssa will start developing their own businesses and being a part of this economy and in response to this, we should start to get rid of the mentality that all gig workers are someone with a ‘side hustle’ or taking on ‘extra work’ – some are developing a full career from this. I also think that as the world continues to advance, we must advance with it. We need to prepare for these types of changes in the workplace and support gig workers to the best of our abilities.

Thanks for reading!
Melissa Andrade

The Gifts I Bring to Canada

When the students were first presented with the idea of entering a competition that would focus on their gifts, they showed little interest. They didn’t welcome having a camera pointed at them, nor did they think they could finish the sentence “My gift is…”. After brainstorming possible talents, they were able to identify with some examples and create “I”-statements to express their gifts. This exercise of self-analysis and taking personal inventory, which they rejected and considered intimidating at first, gave the students a sense of confidence and empowerment which will influence their ability to take risks in language learning – to voice their ideas and attempt assignments that may seem difficult – and actively participate in a new community. 

This video competition also gave the newcomer students the opportunity to build community within the class and beyond. New to the country, province, city, and school, these students have had few opportunities to interact, and so this project created an environment where they learned more about each other – their interests and their languages – and encouraged each other to take risks. The collaboration with Mr. Perrotta, Vice Principal, in creating the video furthered these students’ sense of recognition. Therefore, in addition to the literal experience of seeing each other’s faces, the students felt seen – by themselves, their school, and the greater TCDSB community.

Anti-Bullying Awareness Week: Presentation Reflection

A key highlight of Anti-Bullying Week has been the presentation for Gr. 9 students. The presentation teaches Gr. 9 students how to stand up to bullying in a way that is interactive and informative. Facilitated by Gr. 12 leaders , the goal has been to encourage everyone to lead by trusting in themselves and the Romero Family.

The presentation focused on the effects that bullying can have and what forms of bullying exists. Along with focusing on the “Bully,” the presentation addressed the “Bystander.” Students watched a short-film which showed a series of different decisions a bystander can make – both positive and negative. After the presentation, Grade 9 students participated in group conversation that activated their prior knowledge and new learning. The students were empowered to share their voices from the onset of the presentation.

Along with other activities including Bingo, students were introduced to supports such as the Anonymous Alerts, a web-based application where students can report incidents of bullying. The presentation also included an open floor, led by Gr. 12 students, where participants reflected on bullying, past experiences etc. Of course, every presentation demands a Kahoot. Needless to say, all of the students had a blast answering questions in such a way, especially with prizes to giveaway.

Importantly, the presentation concluded with Gr. 12 leaders, highlighting the results of the student bullying surveys conducted earlier in the week. The results garnered immediate attention by participants as they reflected real life and real people. From this, Gr. 9 students added their names to a pledge wall – promising to take a stand against bullying. Overall, the presentations provided all participants with an opportunity to be Effective Communicators.

Special thanks are extended to all the teachers who participated in the presentations with their Grade 9 classes. This includes: Ms. Aucoin, Mr. Colle, Mr. Corrigan, Mr. Burns, Mrs. Kingswell, Mrs. Reily, Mr. Prudant and Mr. Anthony.

Importantly, huge thanks to the Gr. 9 students for being active participants. Here at Romero, it’s more than just a high school – it’s a family. Family members are called to treat each other with respect, trust, love and care. Thus, all students are called to be caring family members in school and beyond.

Let’s continue to make Romero proud!

Written By

Andre, Andrhei and Antonio

Anti-Bullying Awareness Week: Tuesday Thoughts

Yesterday, we continued with our Anti-Bullying Awareness Week efforts. As our Gr. 12 classmates prepared activities and facilitated presentations, we took some time to reflect on the significance of this week and our continued learning as a school community. In conversation with Ms. Mormile and Mr. Mendes, we took the time to understand fully.

Tuesday’ Anti-Bullying Awareness Week activities included making Friendship Bracelets.

Why is it Valuable for Gr. 12 Students to be Leading Anti-Bullying Awareness Week?

It is valuable for the Gr. 12 students to be leading Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, because we are both showing young students (primarily Gr. 9s) that bullying is not appropriate or morally guided. Equally, we are showing younger students that they can very much lead. This leadership is critical for the St. Oscar Romero school family to thrive and be a safe place for all.

It’s important that the Gr. 12s lead this week with courage, resilience and determination so that a difference can be made. By bringing this vision for the week to life, we hope all students are inspired by our hard work and community spirit. In particular, we hope that Gr. 9 students have more confidence in themselves and stand up to bullying. The St.Oscar Romero Family is an inclusive and safe space for all students and staff, and we want to ensure that everyone feels dignified, valued and respected.

Why is it Important for Gr. 9 Students to Participate in Anti-Bullying Awareness Week?

It’s very important for the Gr. 9 students to be engaged as the newest members of our school community. This is their first year in high school and as the youngest grade, the students have much to adjust to. Starting high school, we’re sure the Gr. 9 students had particular assumptions created by the media they consume. This, includes what the school may feel like. We as seniors, needed to show the Gr. 9 students that to be in high school is to be a leader. This includes making it known that bullying is not acceptable and will not be tolerated at our school or anywhere else.

By being proactive and preventing negative incidents before they occur, we are encouraging the active responsibility of all students. Throughout our four years we want to grow as Responsible Citizens who give witness to Catholic Social Teaching by promoting peace, justice and the sacredness of human life. With our Gr. 9 peers starting off their high school experience with these open, engaging and meaningful conversations, we hope that they grow in understanding what being a Responsible Citizen is and the the importance of coming together as a Caring Family Members.

As the week continues, warm thanks are extended to the entire Romero Family for their support.

Remember to press Play For Anti-Bullying!

Written By: Antonio, Andhrei and Andre