2015 was a very difficult year for our family. We experienced serious illness, loss of a loved one, and discovered that our son was being bullied at school. We tried to get support and even though the teacher was great, we did not feel supported by the principal.
It was in May, already late for switching schools, we had missed all the open houses and kindergarten registration for our daughter.
Having a child being bullied is one of the most stressful events in a parent’s life. I remember praying a lot every night for a solution and one day the idea of switching to a Catholic school came to me. I’m Brazilian and I attended a Catholic school all my life, but being an immigrant to Canada and not being married to a Catholic, I hadn’t considered this possibility before.
I remembered going to a Christmas Mass at Immaculate Conception a few years ago and looking over at the little blue school. In my memory, it was a warm and welcoming community at the church. Even though there are two Catholic schools much closer to our neighbourhood, ICS was my first choice.
I checked the ICS website and made a phone call, hoping to book an appointment with the principal. The person who answered the phone was so friendly and efficient, she asked right away which grades I was interested in, confirmed that there were spots, and asked me to come by and get the documentation. Best first impression possible!
It was all meant to be. We went to visit the school and to meet the principal with our children . We were all so impressed by the way Miss Foran talked to every student who passed by, addressing them by name and mentioning their siblings! It was such a diversity of backgrounds in a happy atmosphere that it reinforced this was the right choice.
ICS made arrangements for our son to come over and meet his future classmates during a class. We also attended a meeting for new families and were so surprised by the parents talking about opportunities for volunteering at the school, not as a chore to raise funds, but as a fun way to make new friends.
On the first school day in September, Miss Foran greeted our son by name and had already memorized all our names. Being a new student in the Grade Four class, his teacher made sure the transition was an easy one.
At first, we were worried about being able to put in all the volunteer hours as we both work full time, but it soon became clear how manageable it is when people are accommodating and willing to have you around not for the extra pair of hands, but for the spirit of community building. We have spent some of our most rewarding moments volunteering for the events at ICS and have passed our mandatory minimum hours with great pleasure.
Being in a faith based school has so many advantages! The kids come home talking about how their class has prayed for someone’s relative who is sick or has passed away. We can all celebrate Christmas and Easter fully and faithfully. Father Paul is wonderful with the kids, preaching the sermon at their level of understanding. The school mass, with the kids serving and reading, always makes me emotional.
It took a sad event to give us this wonderful gift, but we feel so blessed for being a part of ICS. The best hidden secret of our little blue school is the amazing parents! In 16 years in Canada, I had not met such a wonderful, welcoming, supportive and involved group of people who really work hard to make this school the best environment for all the ICS community.
What does ICS mean to our family in 3 words? Best decision ever!