St. Bernadette Catholic School in Ajax will not be holding a night Christmas concert because the teachers at the school do not want to work late.
Credits: Jack Boland/Toronto Sun /QMI Agency
St. Bernadette Catholic School has for the first time in years pulled the plug on its evening festive concert after teachers refused to give their time for the after-hours event, an exasperated parent told the Sun on Friday.
And when the school's principal tried to talk them into doing the nighttime show - a performance that for years has been a holiday favourite among parents - teachers threatened to launch a union grievance, said Stan, who did not want to give his real name because his daughter attends St. Bernadette C.S.
"They've always had a nighttime (Christmas) concert so parents could see their kids perform," he said. "But this is a teacher union thing. The teachers have decided they don't want the concert at night anymore."
Stan also expressed concern over St. Bernadette - a religious-based school - cancelling an event symbolizing the holiest of their holidays.
"This is a Catholic school. This is the home of Christmas."
School principal Mary Lou Laramee said staff expressed concern over trying to organize the night concert in what has turned out to be a busier-than-normal school year, and said they had come up with the "alternative" of holding four daytime concerts before school breaks for Christmas on December 23.
It is "not true," Laramee said, that it had become a union issue.
"We met to talk about the concert...(and) they wanted to do the day concerts," said Laramee. "Everybody is busy this year. It's a busy school. We've grown by 60 (kids) this year...I think the issue is they are putting hard work into the day concerts."
Laramee then rifled off a list of holiday events filling the school's "busy" schedule - including her own retirement party in December. She also acknowledged that when parents on the school's parent council were told of the "change of practice," they were "disappointed, but...supportive."
But the cancelling of a traditional concert is just symptomatic of other problems at the school, said Stan.
The school hasn't had a priest-led mass service since June 2010, he said. Mass at the school came to an abrupt halt, claimed Stan, after Bernadette's local parish priest, Father James Bussanich, found several discarded Communion wafers on the school's floor after a service.
Stan feels school administrators don't want to rock the boat by pressing Bussanich to continue to conduct mass services at the school.
Durham Catholic District School Board spokesman Tracy Barill confirmed that Bussanich hasn't scheduled mass for St. Bernadette C.S., nor has mass been scheduled for St. James C.S. and Mother Theresa C.S.