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Gift of Technology from the Basilian Fathers Ensures Students’ Access to Education

November 30, 2020

Sign in front of Ben Calf School reads Learning Together Safely at School and at Home, Blessings to All

A gift of technology from the Basilian Fathers has granted students at a Catholic elementary and junior high school in the Edmonton Catholic School Division access to education during the pandemic.

This year, parents and guardians were faced with choosing between sending their children to school during the pandemic or staying home and participating in the classroom virtually. In some cases, a lack of access to a device was a barrier to choosing online learning. Thanks to a gift of 30 Chromebooks, valued at $11,000, a lack of technology was no longer an obstacle for families at Ben Calf Robe St. Clare Catholic Elementary/Junior High School.

“Many of our families who chose online at home learning these past months for reasons of health and safety did not have an appropriate device for the children to engage with our Google Classrooms and Microsoft Teams. When I asked, ‘Would you need a Chromebook to help with your child’s learning, as our priest and his community have donated some for us?’, I could feel their sense of relief on the phone, that at least one next step along the way is coming with ease,” wrote Suzanne Szojka, principal of Ben Calf, a kindergarten to Grade 9 school that focuses on teaching First Nation children and Cree culture within the Catholic tradition.

The funds were provided by the Congregation of St. Basil’s General Council to the parishes of St. Alphonsus and St. Clare in Edmonton, Alberta to help the poor. Father Glenn McDonald, CSB serves as pastor of the parishes, which is associated with Ben Calf, and the Division Chaplain for the Edmonton Catholic School Division. He is also involved with the Braided Journeys program that connects him with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students. Through these roles, he was aware that many of the school’s families did not have access to a computer and without one had no way to connect to their classrooms virtually.

The Chromebooks were distributed to those in need at the beginning of the school year. The donation arrived in time because due to a rising number of positive cases of Covid-19 in the community and to comply with the province’s measures to prevent further spread of the virus, Ben Calf is moving towards online learning for a greater percentage of its student body.

This gift demonstrates the Basilians’ commitment to their charism of education and ensuring each child has access to education regardless of their financial background.

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