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Anthem-singing, bottled water up for debate at Catholic school board

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Canada's national anthem and bottled water are on the agenda for the Toronto Catholic District School Board meeting Thursday.

Trustees will consider a motion put forward by Angela Kennedy that proposes that students should be required to sing the national anthem a cappella – without background music.

In her motion, Ms. Kennedy raises concerns that students have been noticed not singing the anthem at "public gatherings such as graduations, heritage celebrations and school blessings or anniversaries."

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She says the common practice in schools each morning is that educators play a CD over the announcement system, and students to listen rather than sing along.

But taking away the music may make some students uncomfortable, according to Trustee Sal Piccininni.

"Some people are shy about singing out loud," he said.

The board will also consider whether to amend a policy banning bottled water on school property. The TCDSB became the first major board to approve such a policy in April of last year, when it was introduced by Trustee Maria Rizzo.

The ban was meant to come into full effect this fall, but some trustees have raised concerns that bottled water is needed at sporting events, or in schools where the fountains have low water pressure.

Ms. Rizzo said she supported the ban as a matter of environmental and social justice. She compared bottling water to bottling air.

"It comes out of our taps and it's free," she said.

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Mr. Piccinnini, who supported the ban last year, said he felt a "softer" approach was needed. He said he supported taking bottled water out of vending machines, but that banning them on school property went too far.

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Education reporter

Kate Hammer started her journalism career in New York, chasing crime and breaking news for The New York Times. She came to the Globe and Mail in 2008 to do much of the same and ended up investigating allegations of animal cruelty and mismanagement at the Toronto Humane Society. More

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