St. Gemma’s Catholic School Council works in cooperation with the school, home, parishes and community to ensure the best for our students. We consult with parents and guardians and provide recommendations to the principal and the Ottawa Catholic School Board on a variety of matters.  Rules for our engagement are outlined in our constitution:  St. Gemma Catholic School Council Constitution (approved June 12, 2018)

Mission statement: “To foster a nurturing environment where all children are encouraged to grow and develop to their fullest potential in a spirit of cooperation and friendship.”  

School Council is elected at the first meeting of the school year. We encourage you to reach out to the Parent Members for 2018-19:

  • Co-chairpersons: Brent Dowdall and Meredith Tomas

  • Treasurer:  Marisa Fusaro

  • Secretary:  Cecille Soberano

  • CSPA Representative:  Michelle O’Brien

  • Parish Representative:  Kim Pinsonneault

  • Members at Large:  Susheel Gupta, Lindsay Spires, Kristen Lewis, Makayla Munnings, and Renée Marshall

We're on social media!  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and reminders about upcoming events/activities.

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Helping hearts

and hands are always need

ed!  If you would like to offer suggestions, volunteer for an event, or get involved in other ways, please come to our next School Council meeting or contact us by email:  

Further details regarding the work of School Councils can be found in Ontario Regulation 612/00 under the Education Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.2.

Expenses incurred on behalf of the St. Gemma Catholic School Council may be reimbursed using the following template: Expense Report (submit completed form and receipts to the Treasurer within 14 days).

Vulnerable Sector Check: Beginning September 2018, the majority of volunteers working with students at St. Gemma must complete a vulnerable sector check. This includes parents and guardians taking part in field trips, those working with students in schools, and those volunteering at school council events where they may be in isolation with students even for a brief period of time (eg. meeting in a small area to distribute food/beverages).  Anyone over 18 who wishes to take part in a volunteer opportunity in the school must complete a Level 3 Vulnerable Sector Check.  You can complete the required steps in-person (details can be found here) or online (details can be found here).  To get the fee waived for this process (so long as it is not a same-day record check), you can get a letter from the school. If interested, please contact the office and one will be sent home for you.  Once completed, give the school a copy of your criminal record check so they can create a volunteer database for St. Gemma.

Volunteers Needed

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Breakfast: Do you have ~1.5 hours to mix, cook and serve pancakes on the morning of Tuesday, March 5, 2019?  We need lots of volunteers, griddles and flippers!  If you can help, please email Christine at

Lunch & Popcorn Program Coordinator:  We are looking for a responsible and caring individual (or two) to run the Lunch & Popcorn Program for the 2019-20 school year.  This program provides meals (currently a rotation of pita sandwiches, pizza, and hotdogs) and popcorn snacks once a week (generally on Fridays, or Thursdays if there’s a PD Day) to over 250 students and staff. It is a VITAL source of revenue for School Council, supporting extra-curricular activities for students and a variety of community-building events.  Training may commence as soon as April 1, 2019. A full description of the position is posted here – if you have any further questions, please contact us:

Parent Involvement Committee: Remember the great workshop (and free pizza dinner) we hosted last year entitled “Helping Your Child Succeed with Technology”?  Well, this year we’re going to focus on cyber safety – we are seeking help to organize a big parent/guardian engagement event this spring. We’ll be having a planning meeting in March – let us know if you can volunteer some time and energy:

BBQ Committee: Are you interested in joining the committee that plans our biggest social event of the year?  We’ve already booked the food and ice cream vendors, inflatables, and balloon artist - but there’s much more to do and we need your help!  The committee will kick off work with a planning meeting in March – please send us an email:

Events & Projects Supported by School Council

No-Fuss Fundraiser 2018-19:

We are pleased to report that $2,325 was raised for our main fundraiser of the year!!!   Thanks for your generosity - your donations will make a big difference at the school!

Lunch & Popcorn Program:

Students and staff who are registered to the program receive a main course (rotation of pita sandwiches, pizza or hotdogs) and popcorn. We wish to give a HUGE thank you to Dawn Eady-Dowdall and all her helpers for running this important program each week. 

Monster Mash:

Students and staff wore their Halloween costumes, danced to some spoooooky music, and participated in lots of fun games and activities.  Many thanks to everyone who organized, set up, and ran the event.

Family Movie Night :

We had a great turn-out to watch Paddington 2 - it was quite the pizza-popcorn-pajama party!  Thanks for coming and remember: “If you look for the good in people, you will find it.”

Plant Sale:

Thanks for supporting the St. Gemma Play Structure Renewal Project - $1,568.04 profit was collected.  We hope you all enjoyed your new poinsettias and succulents!

Christmas Craft Night:

Another lovely community event, making crafts, decorating cookies, and listening to St. Gemma’s Glee Club perform!  Thank you so much for your kind donations of socks, toothpaste, soap, etc. for our friends at Centre 507. See our article in the VISTAS community newspaper (Vol. 38 No. 1 January 2019, page 7).

Bottle & Can Drive:

This recycling initiative generated $611.50 for St. Gemma’s Play Structure Renewal Project.  Much appreciation to everyone who donated and volunteered!

Hockey Game at TD Place:

What a fantastic afternoon - St. Gemma families and friends enjoyed celebrating the Ottawa 67’s 5-3 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs and skating on the ice afterwards! Thanks to all who were able to make it out on such a cold day - $854.08 was generated for St. Gemma’s Play Structure Renewal Project!

Chilli Cook-off: Our participation in the Canterbury Community Association’s inaugural Family Fun Frost Fest went off without a hitch!  A fun time was had by all who enjoyed some hot chili on a snowy day.  Thanks to our wonderful sponsors and kind volunteers, $426.54 was raised for the St. Gemma Play Structure Renewal Project.

Family Skate Night: A big thank you to all of the families and friends who made it out for our annual family skate night. We estimate about 150 people enjoyed the skating party (based on the number of hot chocolates and timbits served)!

News & Upcoming Events 

St. Gemma Catholic School Council has a new logo - look for it in all our future communication materials:

School Council Meeting: *Please note there will be no council meeting in March.* Our next gathering will be held Tuesday, April 9, 2019 | 6:30-8:00pm | Learning Commons | Please join us to receive information and give your input regarding upcoming activities/events hosted by school council.  Presentations will be given by the principal, teacher and support staff, and other council representatives.

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Breakfast: Tuesday, March 5, 2019 | We continue our tradition of marking the beginning of Lent.  Students and staff will be served two pancakes by parent volunteers upon their arrival to school.  It will also be a PYJAMA DAY! *If you have a child with dietary restrictions, you are welcome to send an alternate meal in.*

Movie Night: Friday, April 26, 2019 | 6:15-8:30 pm | St. Gemma School | Due to popular demand, we will be hosting another movie event.  Stay tuned for more details to come!

Year-End Family BBQ: Friday, June 21, 2019 | 6:00-8:00pm | St. Gemma School grounds | To help us plan THE BEST BBQ EVER, we invite you to provide feedback regarding last year’s event by participating in our online Family BBQ 2018 survey. Thanks in advance!

St. Gemma Play Structure Renewal Project

Outdoor play is essential to a child's physical, mental and social development.  Although the school’s playground equipment has served our students and the community at large for many years, it will need to be replaced soon (at a cost of ~$65,000).  With your help, School Council has raised $10,522.52 in capital funds to purchase and install a new play structure (thank you for your support!!!). We expect to receive grants from the school board and city, totalling another $17,500. For the remaining amount (~$37,000), we are organizing additional fundraising events, applying for grants from other sources, and working at gaining sponsorships.  Help us by volunteering your time and skills, making a donation, and telling others in the community about our efforts. Together, we can build a great outdoor space for our kids to play!

FundScrip Campaign: Raise money for a new school play structure simply by purchasing gift cards for your everyday shopping or a special holiday (i.e. groceries, gas, gifts, household items, restaurants, etc.).  For instance, when you purchase a $100 grocery gift card, you receive the $100 gift card in the mail, but in addition, a percentage is donated to St. Gemma’s Play Structure fundraising campaign (e.g. 3% from a $100 Loblaws, Metro or Food Basics gift certificate = $3).  A list of participating Ontario retailers can be found hereTo sign up online, visit and enter the invitation code: U64RLY.  This campaign will run for the entire 2018-19 school year – please tell your family, friends and colleagues about it!  ***PLEASE NOTE:  To get a better return (i.e. no transaction fees), School Council encourages payment by way of an electronic funds transfer or online bill payment (as opposed to using a credit card)***

Council Meetings

The School Council meets on the second Tuesday of every month in St. Gemma’s Learning Commons.  Meetings begin promptly at 6:30pm – adjournment is at 8 pm.

What types of things do we talk about?

      organizing extra-curricular activities for students, staff, and families;

      providing advice and comments to the principal, the board, and the province (e.g. school budget priorities, policy review and development); and

      building partnerships with our parishes and community at large.

A record of past discussions and decisions can be found in approved minutes from each meeting:

January 15, 2019 Council Minutes

December 11, 2018 Council Minutes

November 13, 2018 Council Minutes

October 9, 2018 Council Minutes

September 18, 2018 Council Minutes

You do not need to be a member to attend - all parents/guardians are welcome – kids too!  We know that childcare and busy family schedules are sometimes a barrier to attending Council meetings. With that in mind, we encourage you to bring your school-age children, along with their homework, reading, colouring or another activity. Younger children will need to be cared for by the parent/guardian during the meeting, as there will be no formal childcare person to look after them.  

Who benefits when you participate in School Council?

      Children - Research shows that children perform better when parents are engaged in education both at home and at school.  Parent involvement builds a stronger foundation for children to grow and thrive and boosts student achievement.

      Schools - Administrators, teachers, and support staff need our support.  While addressing issues that are important to educators, parents, and guardians, School Council strives to create a positive and caring atmosphere in the school.  Everyone has the same opportunity to suggest changes at the school and have a voice in the activities and programs that have a direct effect on the education of our children, as well as their well-being.

      Communities - Becoming involved with the school allows you to make connections with other parents, church representatives, and community leaders - we all share a common goal of student achievement and well-being.

      You - Volunteering allows you to contribute your skills and knowledge for the benefit of many, as well as gain a broader perspective.   Participation in School Council is also a great way to gain leadership experience, learn from others, and make lifelong friends.

Other ways to get involved in your child’s education

The Ottawa Catholic School Board Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) is a provincially mandated committee made up of parents, a trustee, OCSB employee(s), a principal and the Director of Education. The purpose of PIC is to support, encourage and enhance parent engagement at the school board level in order to improve student achievement and well-being.  Learn more at the OCSB PIC webpage.

The Catholic School Parents’ Association (CSPA) is a volunteer group representing the parents in our school board. We are a resource for school councils and the parent community for information on local and provincial education issues.  We provide updates on education in Ottawa & Ontario and share great tips, resources and information to help parents support their children in school. All parents are welcome and encouraged to join our e-mail list, follow us on Twitter, or attend CSPA monthly meetings. Visit the CSPA website to learn more about CSPA and the work we do to support parents and their children in our schools.