St. Benedict Overview
St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School
A Healthy School at the Heart of the Community
For over 50 years, St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School has remained steadfast in providing a faith based Catholic education in Cambridge. The commitment to high academic standards as well as physical, spiritual and emotional well-being extends not only to the students of St. Benedict but to the greater community in Cambridge. This philosophy has given way to a comprehensive school based approach that recognizes that healthy schools support a healthy community.
To that end, the aim of St. Benedict’s “Heart of the Community Project” has been to create an outdoor healthy active living centre for families of all ages. The multi-generational approach is intended to provide positive role modeling for youth and create a welcoming, safe and inclusive environment for all, while building community through recreation. Community partnerships have been key to the success. In the past three years, the school, along with its partners, Waterloo Region Public Health, Idea Exchange, Waterloo Catholic Schools Foundation, Active Cambridge, other local supporters and parent champions, have been successful in a variety of initiatives and projects. Collectively they secured $20,000 from the Ministry of Education Physical Activity in Secondary School Grant in 2014, followed by winning one of the $100,000 Grand Prizes in the AVIVA Community Fund Contest in 2015. St. Benedict and partners then received a $300,000 grant from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation Children and Youth Capital Grants Program in 2015 to support Phase 2 bringing the total scope of the project to date to $465,000.
Phase 1 of the project included installation of a new scoreboard and outdoor fitness equipment. Installation of Phase 2 of the project is nearing completion and guided by an extensive community consultation process, includes an outdoor basketball court, a covered pavilion, climbing equipment for youth ages 5 -12, saucer swings, a story time area adjacent to the library, chess/checker tables, natural seating, landscaping and more.
In addition to the “Heart of the Community Project”, St Benedict C.S.S. pursued the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association (OPHEA) Healthy Schools Certification. This certification looks to recognize and celebrate school communities for promoting and enhancing the health of students, staff and the broader community. Initiatives such as the AVIVA launch, RBC Sports Day in Canada event, school wide step challenge, student focus groups, and the Hero of Play contest are an indication to the commitment SBCSS has for the health and wellness of its community. Only 107 schools across Ontario were recognized with a healthy school certification. SBCSS was one of the 54 schools awarded a gold rating and the only school within the region to earn such a designation.
Significant to the Healthy Schools Certification success, was St. Benedict’s participation in the Hero of Play contest. This event brought to Canadian students in partnership with Canadian Tire and Canada’s Olympic Team, recognized students and staff, who are active daily, inspire others to live a healthy, active lifestyle and who embody the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. St. Benedict C.S.S. was one of only two schools across Ontario to have won this grand prize of a visit from an Olympian to the school.
Focusing on invaluable partnerships and being at the forefront of innovative practices, SBCSS continues to promote a culture where health and wellness thrive. Recognizing that students have untapped expertise which can improve meaning and authenticity within the educational experience, has taken SBCSS in a new direction for their healthy school vision. The SBCSS healthy school team has heard from more than 250 student voices through; 4 student focus groups, 3 staff focus groups, and a collaborative Think Tank Day involving students, parents, staff and community members. Through the engagement of student voice SBCSS will continue to shape the future of a healthy school striving to achieve the vision of “Our Catholic Schools: Heart of the Community – Success for each, a place for all”.