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Cloister: St. Joseph’s College School Art Installation for Nuit Blanche

On Oct. 1, 2011, the teachers and the students of St. Joseph's College School will be presenting Cloister as a part of Nuit Blanche events in Toronto from 7 pm until 7 am. St. Joseph's College School, pictured at right, was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph 156 years ago.

The idea for an art installation came from Paul Sabyan, an art teacher at St. Joseph's.  He thought most Torontonians, including the students, didn't know the story of the Sister of St. Joseph. The following teachers joined him in the project: Jennifer Ridgeway (Leadership and Guidance), Judy Pregelj (Teacher/Librarian), Anthony Reid (Drama), David Jager (Music) and Miriam Purtill (English).

The teachers joined because, according to Judy Pregelj, "we thought that this would be an exciting project to work on" and a worthwhile event for the students joining them. "The students have been working on the art work that will be included in the piece," said Ms. Pregelj. "They are also going to be a part of the videos in the piece. During Nuit Blanche, they will be running the show." Sisters Conrad Lauber, Teresa Sheehan, Terry Dalla, Cecilia Tallack and Rita Smith were interviewed for the video.

Ms. Pregelj explained that the title of the piece, Cloister, is meant to be ironic.  The Sister of St. Joseph did not lead a cloistered life but were an active part in the formation of the city of Toronto, building hospitals, high schools and elementary schools.

"My personal realization is that is a story that needs to be told," said Ms. Pregelj. "As a teacher of young women, I see that they need to learn that the city of Toronto was built by women who have a connection to the school. It is important to know that women can also be leaders and accomplish great things.  By learning the history, I hope it will inspire the students to continue their path of social justice, education and courage."

By Gisela Côté

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