Several members of the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien (CSDCEO), parents, staff members and students from Grades 7 to 9 gathered in the school gymnasium of École secondaire catholique régionale de Hawkesbury (ESCRH) on April 4, to attend a special presentation as part of World Autism Awareness Day.

Among the guests were Sergine Rachelle Bouchard, school counsellor; Eugénie Congi, director of education and secretary; Chantale-Christine Gratton, superintendent of education; Father Pierre Domerson, pastor of the pastoral unit Soleil- Levant; Natalie Dubé, student services coordinator and secretary of Regroupement Autisme Prescott-Russell; and Martine Parisien, parent and singer.

Father Domerson opened the ceremony by sharing a touching and inspiring testimony. A member of his family, being on the autism spectrum, was a key figure in his life. From him, he draws two important lessons: to do nothing by halves and to do simple things.

On behalf of the CSDCEO, Bouchard and Congi delivered speeches reminding us of the value of each child and of being at the service of students. In short, you have to know how to value differences and celebrate them in a climate of inclusion and fairness.

Lisa Brunette and Manon Lavigne, teachers in the ASD class at the pavilion, as well as Sofia Lahaie, secondary vice-principal, shared key information to explain autism. Martine Parisien then brilliantly interpreted the song Tout l’temps by 2Frères et Le monde de Benjamin.

For the past few weeks, the organizing committee has set up various awareness and fundraising campaigns to support Regroupement Autisme Prescott-Russell. On behalf of the Kodiaks, a check for $750 was presented to Dubé, secretary of the organization.

The public then headed outside for the raising of the flag. In turn, students came to hoist the official flag. To close it all, the organizing committee offered a cake to all the students before they returned to class.

The ESCRH would like to thank everyone involved in organizing this celebration. The school also highlighted the spectators, who were so attentive and respectful.