October 25, 2010
Larry Kowalczyk

Larry Kowalczyk

GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON – Three new faces will sit around the table in the new look seven-member Edmonton Catholic School Board.

Larry Kowalczyk, Laura Thibert and John Acheson will join returning trustees Debbie Engel, Becky Kallal, Cindy Olsen and Marilyn Bergstra in guiding the fortunes of the district's nearly 34,000 students.

Thibert and Acheson won their spots by upsetting incumbents Kara Pelech and Rudy Arcilla in the Oct. 18 civic election.

But Acheson, who will represent the central city, said those upsets did not indicate dissatisfaction with the board but rather a desire to look ahead.

Laura Thibert

Laura Thibert

He intends to push the board to ask the Catholic community to discuss the changing nature of Catholic schools in "a culture where tacit atheism prevails."

The home-school-parish partnership on which Catholic schools are based is much different than it was 20 or 30 years ago due to stresses on all three "partners," he said. "We can't assume we've got this nice tight little partnership in place."

Acheson is clear about at least one thing: "The status quo is not going to be good enough."

Thibert said she also has a positive and future-oriented outlook on Catholic schools. Her children are aged 12, 10, 8 and eight months. "They're the future," she said.

She ran a low-budget campaign in the southeast area and made her mark by talking directly to voters.

"Talking to people makes a huge impact," she said of the election where she nipped Pelech 2,404 votes to 2,274 with Danny Kinal a close third.

John Acheson

John Acheson

Thibert spent four years as school council president at Blessed Kateri School. "I'm an advocate of children coming out of the Catholic school system as a whole child."

Kowalczyk beat two other candidates in north central Edmonton and was helped by a strong campaign team and knowing many people from 28 years working in the schools.

"We worked our buns off in that area," he said.

Kolwalczyk says the mixture of experience and new blood on the incoming board will be a good thing.

His immediate desire is to get the controversy over casino fundraising settled. "I would like to get back to where the government pays for education in the province without us having to run casinos."

Students today were raised on technology. "We have to teach them to see this technology through a Catholic eye, a Catholic vision," he said.