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Each year the OCDSB recognizes the valuable contributions of community members, parents, and businesses through the OCDSB Community Recognition Awards. This is a valued opportunity for us to connect with our community and show appreciation for the significant and important work volunteers throughout the community do in support of our students!

There are 6 different award categories, including the Chair’s Award, Community Award, Community Partnership Award, Excellence in Equity Community Award, Distinguished School Council Service Award and Volunteer of the Year Award. In the following pages, we are pleased to be able to share with you our Community Recognition Award Nominees for the 2020-2021 school year.

Mohamed Abul Basher

Community Volunteer, Queen Mary Street Public School & IILP

Mohamed Abul Basher has been volunteering with the OCDSB since January of 1998. His hard work and commitment over so many years is greatly appreciated by the many students, families, and staff he has given his time to support! He is always eager to help, and works enthusiastically alongside those who are ready to learn. Mohamed plays a very important role in the OCDSB’s International Languages Program (IILP), where he encourages enrolment into Bengali classes, assists with communication, and helps motivate families and students as they embark on learning a new language. His expertise, dedication towards student learning, and care for families enrolling in the IILP is appreciated throughout the District!

Karen Bridge

Volunteer, Ottawa-Carleton Virtual Secondary School (OCV), Ridgemont High School

Karen Bridge is a caring and dependable volunteer who dedicates her time to elementary, secondary, and OCV schools within the OCDSB. While she is currently volunteering with English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at OCV Secondary, she has spent the past 5 years supporting ESL and ELD classes at Ridgemont High School, Charles H. Hulse Public School, and Queen Elizabeth Public School. She is patient, kind and knowledgeable, and often spends up to 4 days per week volunteering at schools! Karen shows compassionate support for some of the most vulnerable students, and is described as reliable, dedicated, kind, and a pleasure to work with!

Dr. Aliaa Dakroury

School Council Co-Chair, OCV Secondary School

Dr. Aliaa Dakroury has been a dedicated volunteer with the OCDSB since 2001. Her willingness to lend a hand and serve the community in whatever way she can is exemplary, and she always puts students' interests at the heart of her work. As School Council Co-Chair at the OCV Secondary School, she has played a crucial role in bringing together a parent-guided team that works hard to ensure student success. She facilitates excellent communication between educators and parents, shares creative ideas to improve online learning, and advocates passionately for students. Aliaa is committed to inclusion and diversity, and her ideas promote wellbeing and success for students, families, and the wider community. She listens attentively to the needs and concerns of staff, helping them to feel empowered and excited to improve their school. Those who work and volunteer alongside Aliaa are grateful for her organizational skills, work ethic, and big heart!

Gabrielle Fayant-Lewis

Volunteer, Administration, Emergency Response & the TRC's Call to Action #66

Gabrielle is a strong leader who shows exemplary support to Indigenous youth within the community. Over the years Gabrielle has won a number of awards, including the OCDSB’s Community Award in 2020! Among many other contributions, Gabrielle has offered language classes, healing rituals, and elder support in order to empower Indigenous youth and help improve community wellbeing. Recently, Gabrielle also launched a market for groceries and other essential items, ensuring all were culturally appropriate and easy for the community to access. Gabrielle is exceptional at promoting wellness for youth and securing their cultural education!

Julia Gent

Volunteer, Lisgar Collegiate Institute

Julia Gent is a grade 12 student who has demonstrated remarkable innovation, community support, and environmental stewardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. After seeing many people in Ottawa using primarily disposable face masks, she began sewing reusable versions to provide a more sustainable option. Once she perfected her design on family and friends, she officially launched her social enterprise, the Ottawa Mask Project. Julia has since sold over 350 masks, donated masks and groceries in the community, provided masks to OCDSB students, and donated funds to CHEO, the Ottawa Heart Institute, the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund, the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre, and HighJinx on Kent St. Julia’s entrepreneurial spirit has helped many organizations and community members, and her next goal is to support the Asian community in Ottawa, to help fight against the recent rise in anti-Asian racism.

Lois Kapitaniuk

School Council Member, Devonshire Community School

Lois Kapitaniuk has been described as “the backbone” of fundraising initiatives at Devonshire Community Public School, ever since her children began attending in 2013. She is also known for the creative and delicious cookies she bakes for movie nights and bake sales, always matching her creations to the theme of the event! When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Lois believed activities should be shifted rather than cancelled: instead of hosting the annual gingerbread fundraiser in the gym, she created individual ginger-house packages for each student to take home (after an isolation period). She has also dedicated herself to this year’s grade 6 class, ensuring funds are raised for unique memorabilia and a year-end ceremony. Her efforts over the years have allowed Devonshire Community Public School students to access dance and music workshops, the Scientists in Schools program, buses for school trips, and more! In the words of her school community, “Thank you Lois, for all you have done for Devonshire students...there is no one else like you, and we will miss you dearly!”

Mais Kiryakos

Voting Member and Assistant Treasurer, School Council, Alta Vista Public School

For more than seven years, Mais Kiryakos has led school council fundraisers that have engaged dozens of volunteers and significantly enriched the school environment! Her quiet determination and professional experience as co-owner of a Byward Market boutique has translated into many new opportunities and successes for Alta Vista Public School. She not only organizes the Scholastic Book Fair; she has helped sales increase annually over the past five years, and also collects items for the spring fair’s silent auction, coordinates used sports-equipment fundraisers, oversees the sale of spirit wear, and serves as Assistant Treasurer on school council. One year, she even came in every Friday (her day off!) to serve pizza and train a new generation of pizza lunch volunteers! Mais has always remained positive and committed to volunteerism, and her dedication, humour and generosity of spirit truly demonstrate the impact school souncils can have on public education.

Carolyn Kropp

Parent Council Co-Chair, Pleasant Park School

Carolyn Kropp has been involved with the parent council at Pleasant Park Public School for 16 years, and has also been a member of the Vincent Massey Public School and Hillcrest High School Councils. She always jumps in wherever necessary, whether it’s raising funds to replace the junior play structure, volunteering in classes, chaperoning field trips, helping with pizza and book sales, or supporting one of the school’s many plays. Carolyn is now completing her 5th year as co-chair of Parent Council, where she has always strived for inclusivity. She was a founding member of Mámawi Together, which grew out of an Indigenous awareness initiative at Pleasant Park and led to the instalment of a permanent school art display celebrating Indigenous culture. Carolyn’s commitment to the school, neighbourhood and broader community is exemplified in her lasting legacy as a volunteer!

Diane Lagace

Parent Council, Pleasant Park Public School

Diane is a longstanding member of the Pleasant Park Public School Parent Council, and has been a strong supporter of many school initiatives and fundraisers over the years. She continuously brings new ideas to the table and provides thoughtful suggestions to support and improve the work of the Council! For the past two years she has filled the role of Pizza Fundraiser Coordinator and has managed student yearbook sales, and for the past five years she has been the primary organizer of the Book Fair Fundraiser. A testament to her kindness, Diane even suggested sharing half the money raised from the book fair with the Parent Council at their sister school, in order to support their students and programs as well! Diane is also a passionate advocate for school social events, and whenever the school needs a volunteer she is always one of the first to step forward!

Seema Lamba

Volunteer Representative, Advisory Committee on Equity

Seema Lamba’s contributions to the OCDSB’s Advisory Committee for Equity (ACE), and in her role as ACE Representative on the Committee of the Whole (COW), are important, intelligent, and essential to the work of the OCDSB. She has offered skilled analysis and intelligent review on many key policies in development, and her work will undoubtedly have long-standing benefits for OCDSB students, families, and staff. Her contributions have been essential in helping to achieve the outcomes of the OCDSB's Indigenous, Equity And Human Rights Roadmap, and her expertise continues to have an incredible impact within the District!

David Mackie

Past Chair, School Council, Rockcliffe Park Public School

David Mackie has made many contributions to Rockcliffe Park Public School over the years, always bringing his infectious enthusiasm and positive attitude along to each volunteer opportunity. He has filled many School Council roles, including Ottawa-Carleton Assembly of School Councils (OCASC) Rep, Chair, Past Chair, and Field Maintenance Rep, and has acted as Book Donation Team Lead and Accounting Team Lead for the school’s Book Fair. In addition, David is a champion of inclusion, diversity and equity in all school initiatives and will do whatever it takes to strengthen the school community. He doesn’t just show up; he contributes ideas, insight and humour, and takes special care to ensure teachers feel appreciated and students know how special they are! David has encouraged remarkable resilience on Council and in the school community in this challenging year, and all at Rockcliffe Park Public School are grateful for his support!

Sara Parkes

Parent Council Co-Chair, Bayview Public School

In this difficult year, Sara Parkes has truly stepped up in support of students, teachers, and parents. She recently assumed a school council leadership role, and has been instrumental in leading new initiatives to keep parents connected and engaged. She has gone far beyond what was expected in such challenging times, which can be seen in the time, effort, collaboration, and research she dedicated towards establishing a school community Facebook page. Sara has also engaged several surrounding schools to jointly share resources and create positive parent experiences, with a focus on social justice, equality and inclusion. Sara has done her utmost to ensure that all students and parents can have as “normal” an experience as possible at Bayview Public School, despite the ongoing changes the year has brought!

Kahmaria Pingue

Parents for Diversity, OCDSB Advisory Committee on Equity

Kahmaria Pingue is a dedicated volunteer who works diligently to ensure all students, staff members, and families can feel heard and represented in their schools. She serves thoughtfully and compassionately on Parents for Diversity, a collective of parents committed to achieving inclusive and non-discriminatory learning environments that allow children to fulfill their true potential. She also brings her strong equity-oriented commitments to the OCDSB's Advisory Committee on Equity (ACE), sharing insight, expertise and experiences with vulnerability and a collaborative spirit. Those who work alongside Kahmaria are glad to be able to honour her long-standing efforts and actions to support racialised students and families within the OCDSB!

Julie Rancourt

Core French Program Volunteer, OCV Central-West Elementary Virtual Campus

As a volunteer in Core French classrooms at OCV Central West, Julie Rancourt has played an important role in helping students believe that learning French is a goal they can achieve! Julie builds a special connection with each student, and her kindness, positive attitude, and ability to see and praise efforts in a motivational way have had a tremendous impact. The students now see themselves as confident learners of a new language! Julie has actively worked on improving both her own skills and the classroom materials, meeting with board literacy coaches, discussing students’ needs, attending literacy workshops, conducting her own research, and more. Julie even created grammar resources she felt could be helpful for the students, encouraging teachers to share them with colleagues, and searched diligently for online library books to meet one her group's reading wishes. Julie is a wonderful volunteer who has given students the confidence and ability to see all they are capable of achieving!

Jacquie Samuels

Volunteer, OCV Schools

Jacquie Samuels is a volunteer superstar who has undertaken three immense responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, she is the creator and administrator of a parent-run Facebook group for OCV students and families, where she has spent countless hours compiling, reviewing and sharing information from official sources. Second, she launched the Ottawa Reading Buddy group, which pairs younger readers with secondary students and therapy dogs to read virtually together. Third, she is also responsible for a fun Facebook group that allows local OCDSB children to play Minecraft Education together! Jacquie has dedicated so much time and energy to supporting students this year, all while balancing her own work and her own children's online learning, and families across the District are grateful!

Robert Weir

ELD Volunteer, Pinecrest Public School

Robert Weir has been volunteering in English Language Development (ELD) classes at Pinecrest Public School for many years, regularly committing three mornings each week to the classroom. He has helped lead small guided reading groups and has provided individualized support in math, and often helps out with special events as well! Robert has also offered his support to numerous exciting field trips, whether they are at museums, outdoor education centres, or other engaging destinations. This year, Robert has continued to volunteer every week by leading virtual reading groups on Google Meet! Whether in the classroom or virtually, his dedicated support is invaluable and allows for more teacher-student time in differentiated small groups, in order to meet students' diverse needs. Robert is a genuinely caring and encouraging volunteer, and has had a tremendously positive impact on student learning and well-being for some of Pinecrest Public School’s most vulnerable students!