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 needed!  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).

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. School Council is pleased to announce that Kristen Lewis and Lisa Calarco-Hajjar have agreed to coordinate next year - THANK YOU!

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)!

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Breakfast: To mark the last day before Lent, School Council served up more than 650 delicious pancakes to students and staff. A big thank you to our awesome batter mixing and pancake flipping teams comprised of parent volunteers. Special thanks to Christine Matheson and Ms. Lavigne for leading this event.

Parent Info Night 2019:  Thanks to everyone who attended our information session about Cyber Safety in April - we learned a great deal about how to keep our kids safe on the internet! Much appreciation to our guest speakers (S/Sgt Guri Dhanoa and Susheel Gupta), childcare providers, and parent volunteers for making the night a great success! Click here for more information about preventing scams and frauds, child sexual exploitation, cyberbullying, and other helpful websites about internet safety.

Staff Appreciation Lunch:  Thank you to everyone who contributed potluck items for last week's staff appreciation lunch! The staff very much enjoyed the variety of delicious lunch options. A special thank you to Lisa Hajjar for organizing the event on behalf of Council as well as Mandy Adlard and Kim Pinsonneault for helping.

News & Upcoming Events

School Council Meeting: Our next gathering will be held Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 at 6:30pm-8:00pm in the Learning Commons | It's our last meeting of the year. Come join us as we tie up a few last minute details and give our farewells to outgoing council members and thank them for all their hard work over the years.

Annual Family BBQ: Friday, June 21, 2019 | 5:00-7:30pm | St. Gemma Catholic School property (1760 McMaster Avenue) *RAIN OR SHINE*. 


To celebrate another successful school year, School Council would be very pleased if you could join us for some food and fun at our Annual Family BBQ. Feel free to invite your extended family and friends - don’t forget to bring a folding chair!

Hot Food:

***You MUST pre-order your hot dogs and burgers in advance – the deadline is Thursday, June 13, 2019*** M&M’s Towngate will be serving beef hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, and gluten-free burgers. Please use our online hotlunch system to choose menu items. Please note – we are currently working to resolve technical issues with PayPal/online credit card payment. Deliver cash or cheque (made out to “St. Gemma Catholic School Council”) to the school office in an envelope addressed to “Dawn – St. Gemma BBQ”. Please include either printed remittance form from the online site OR clearly mark with your child’s name and grade. Pick up your purchased food vouchers at the BBQ entrance from 5-7pm (no refunds).

Volunteer Call-out:

***We need help before, during, and after the BBQ*** Many hands make light work. Please consider volunteering for at least one shift (60-75min) Parents/guardians, staff, and students are invited to sign up for volunteering at the BBQ here (including anyone looking to complete a few more hours of community service activities as part of their diploma requirements). 

Free Entertainment:

Jump in a bouncy castle, play corn hole, listen to live music, race in an obstacle course, watch a dance performance, take a selfie at the photo booth, get your face painted, and visit Brad the Balloon Guy. Lawn game competitions will be held every 15 minutes.

Community Outreach:

Meet firefighters from Station 35 (check out a real fire truck) and learn more about recycling from the city of Ottawa. We’ve also invited some very special guests.

Games of Chance:

Try your luck at Lollipop-a-Polooza ($1/try), Poke-a-Dot ($2/try), and Treasure Chest ($3/try). There are lots of BIG PRIZES, including remote control vehicles, rollerskates, VR headsets, drone, scooter, and tablets.


Due to popular demand, we will be raffling off a number of themed gift baskets ($1/ticket).

Play Structure Renewal Project:

This is your chance to tell us what you envision for St. Gemma’s school grounds - fill out our survey,  draw out your ideas, or come up with a 3D design - we welcome your input!

Bottle & Can Drive:

***We are collecting empty beer, wine, & spirit containers (i.e. aluminum, glass and plastic)***  Help out the environment and save yourself the hassle of organizing/returning recyclables!

Refreshment Stand:

School Council will be selling water/coke/diet coke/gingerale/juiceboxes ($1 each), ripple chips/cheezies ($1 each), and bottles filled with candy/treats ($3 each).

Frozen Treats:

Merry Derry will be selling soft-serve ice cream ($4 each, cone or cup, vanilla or chocolate, includes sprinkles) and vegan popsicles ($2 each) from their food truck. All products are 100% nut-free and 10% of their profits are donated to St. Gemma.

***All proceeds from the BBQ will go towards building a new play structure for the school***

Have questions?

Contact one of the BBQ organizers: Michelle O’Brien (email or text 613-282-8270).!

Volunteers Needed

Vulnerable Sector Check: 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.

St. Gemma Play Structure Renewal Project

UPDATE:  Please be advised that the school’s play structure did not pass inspection this spring. As such, St. Gemma's play structure is currently off-limits. Don’t fret though! We were anticipating this - so far (with your help), School Council has raised ~$11,000 in capital funds. For the remaining amount (~$54,000), Council will be making every effort to enlist sponsors and apply for grants (for example, $10,000 from the City of Ottawa and $7,500 from the School Board). Our hope is to move forward to plan, design and build a new outdoor play area for our children in the near future. The St. Gemma Play Structure Renewal Committee therefore invites all parents, staff and students to give us feedback. Please take a few minutes to give us your opinion on what YOU would like this space to become. We ask that you complete the play structure online survey no later than June 21st, 2019 (just 10 short questions). Thank you in advance!

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:

May 21, 2019 Council Minutes

April 11, 2019 Council Minutes

No meeting was held in March

February 20, 2019 Council Minutes

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.