Blessed Trinity students travel to the Dominican Republic

By Sarah Mojeski

On March 6th, eight students from Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School went on the trip of a lifetime to the “bateyes” of the Dominican Republic. Abby Antidormi, Lauren Ciccone, Paige Evans, Ashley Giovannini, Megan Giovannini, Emma Holloway, Julia Kozlowski, and Megan Latanik went with the Dominican-Canadian Community Development Group (DCCD), to visit the community that Blessed Trinity has been supporting for 15 years. They stayed in the Dominican for ten days, travelling to different bateyes and visiting the locals.

The Dominican bateyes are poor communities situated around sugarcane plantations. The workers are usually Haitian refugees who cannot find fair employment due to their lack of documentation. They are forced to work in the sugarcane fields to support their families, making only 200 pesos a day; about $5 Canadian. This wage is for a 12-hour day of hard physical labour in the sugarcane fields and is still not enough to feed an entire family.

On their trip, the girls visited three bateyes, the first being Arroyo Indio. Here, the houses are made of cement, wood, and sheets of corrugated metal that easily fall during hurricane season. The streets are overrun with black sewage water and garbage.

On their first day, the girls went to two funerals, one for a man who died the night before and another for a child. While this set a sombre mood for the trip and enlightened the girls about the batey living conditions, the sense of community was also inspiring. “Everyone dropped what they were doing to pay their respects to the individual,” said Emma Holloway about the tight-knit culture. “It was a celebration of the person’s life.”

The girls also visited the school in Arroyo Indio, a small rectangular building with wired windows and luckily, a concrete floor. The students range from kindergarten to third grade and are all taught in the same room by the same teacher, who works without a paycheque because the government stopped funding the school. Children in grades four to twelve must walk twelve kilometres every day to get to the nearest high school. The DCCD uses some of its funding to pay for students to attend university and then come back and help the community by teaching or providing healthcare.

The next batey the girls visited was Las Pahas. Here, there are no concrete floors, except in the houses with DCCD funding. The streets are filled with garbage and there are no lights, making it pitch black at night.

The girls stayed in different homes with different families and visited the community leader, Elvio Henderson, where they ate. “They didn’t have very much, but they were willing to give all they had,” Emma recalled. “They were very generous and always very welcoming.”

The final batey was Cambeleche, a ten-minute drive through the sugar cane fields from Las Pahas. The girls participated in a shopping activity where they had to purchase food for a family of five with only 200 pesos. They quickly found that was not enough money to feed an entire family, a struggle the community has to face every day.

In a community where people have to fight daily for food, water, money, and education, the trip was truly an enlightening experience. When looking back on what she learned, Emma said, “We really take things for granted. Now that I’ve come back to Canada, I realize that things like water are so precious. It was an amazing experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life and I’m really looking forward to going back one day.” Blessed Trinity will continue to work for change alongside the DCCD, inspiring the call for social justice in students.

Top row from left to right: Antonio Mueses, Paige Evans, Daniel Mazur, Emma Holloway, Lauren Ciccone, Megan Giovannini, Julia Kozlowski, Abby Antidormi, Megan Latanik, Clarabel. Middle row: Joseph Laureano, Quinn de Vries, Meredith Eudovic, Juan Rivas, Alicia Morgan, Arley Morgan, Massiel Peguero. Bottom row: Ashley Giovannini, Audra Morgan, Anysa Morgan, Amaya Eudovic, Indira Eudovic, Rosemary and Francesca.

BT Rugby Team goes to New Zealand

By: Vivian Soden

On March 8th, fourteen boys from the Blessed Trinity rugby team traveled to New Zealand for twelve days to play against Te Aroha and Mount Ruskill High School, in Auckland on the North Island. Blessed Trinity was proudly victorious during their time in New Zealand, winning two games against the “Kiwis.” After speaking to Mr. Antonelli, coach of two years, there seemed to be something more pronounced and influential for the boys who had this grand opportunity.

Antonelli stressed the importance of camaraderie and sportsmanship during this tournament. “This is what really resonated with not only myself but with a lot of the members of the team, many of whom had never left Ontario. That’s an experience you’re never going to get again.”

As Antonelli explained, “It wasn’t about winning or losing the game.” Clearly, the connections between the players and coach was a powerful experience for all involved.

BT at the 13th Annual Golden Horseshoe Music Festival

By: Curtis Hagan

Blessed Trinity CSS’s concert band attended the Golden Horseshoe Music Festival, on February 21st. With their renditions of Allan Gilliland’s The Sea of Marmora, Percy Aldridge Grainger’s Ye Banks and Braes O’ Bonnie Doon and Samuel R. Hazo’s Drums of the Saamis, the band, under the direction of Angela Maccaroni, achieved a ranking of silver-plus.

The Golden Horseshoe Music Festival is a competitive and educational event run under MusicFest Canada. Ensembles ranging from Orchestras to Jazz Combos are graded on their playing from bronze to gold, and then participate in a clinical assessment. Clinicians not only help fix mistakes that the group may have made throughout the performance, but also introduce ways for these aspiring musicians to advance their skills.

Clinician, Dr. Peter Stolz of the University of Toronto, commended on their performance, specifically the highlighted soloists and stunning percussive sections. Due to Blessed Trinity’s success at the festival, they received an invitation to MusicFest Canada’s national competition at the University of Toronto in May. As they do plan to attend, the band prepares themselves for new sounds, new faces and new places.

The BT Choir at Kaleid Vocal Festival

By: Sebastian Hogg

The Blessed Trinity Choir was invited to take part in a particularly unique choir festival event called “Kaleid,” in Kitchener. The educational and collaborative event was a gathering of over 300 vocalists, alongside guest performers, composers and conductors to help learn and develop their repertoire. Additionally, the event was brought to a triumphant climax, with a concert featuring a combined choir of over three hundred singers alongside guest artists like Essie Wuord, Allison Girvan and the Carazon Youth Choir, all the way from Nelson, BC.

After a great performance by the BT Jazz Choir at the Ontario Vocal Jazz fest in Brampton, the choir took part in a full twelve-hour day of singing with many different workshop activities. They worked extensively on three songs in the mass choir repertoire – which included an arrangement of Power of the Heart, a Peter Gabriel cover of a Lou Reed song and Joiku – a celebratory piece written entirely in a language inspired by Sami “Joik.” These songs were also prepared by all other participating choirs in order to prepare for the day’s final concert event. After a full day of rehearsal and preparation, the group put on the show for a local audience. It was truly a memorable experience for all involved!

Freedom to Read Week

By: Alexandra Ianiri

In all of Canada, Freedom to Read Week runs from the first week of February to the last week of March. This annual event focuses on censorship issues in Canada and encourages Canadians to think about their intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Freedomtoread.ca).

On February 25 to March 3, Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School’s librarian, Ms. Kinzel, created awareness throughout the whole school for Freedom to Read Week by making daily announcements and hosting a school-wide contest. Students were encouraged to listen to announcements for clues and important facts regarding banned books and censorship issues.

Ms. Kinzel, librarian at Blessed Trinity said, “I think it is important to support and keep students aware of Freedom to Read Week. We are so fortunate to have this liberty. Keeping students involved and educated in the work and research that all authors, writers and publishers do in order to educate and inspire us is important. My job as a librarian is to help make all information accessible. Our freedom of expression is vital and we need to protect it.”