General Amherst High School

General Amherst coaching legend Dave Scott passes away


General Amherst teaching and coaching legend Dave Scott has died.

News of Scott’s passing was learned Thursday. Scott spent approximately 43 years coaching at General Amherst.

Scott was also a student at Amherst, starting in 1959 and was a key component of the newly created football program, founded by Jack Wilson and George Pringle in 1961. Scott, the team’s quarterback, scored the football program’s first-ever touchdown.

The team went undefeated the next two years and General Amherst won the SWOSSAA “B” championship in 1963. Scott was the quarterback the first three years of the program and was named the school’s top male athlete in 1964, the first time that award had been given.

Scott was captain of both the football and basketball teams from 1959-64. In 1961, the junior basketball team won the ECSSA title and travelled to London for the WOSSAA championship, where they lost by one point in the final.

Dave Scott poses with his track team shortly after the team surprised him with a cake to celebration his 40 years of coaching. This photo was taken in 2012. (RTT File Photo).

After obtaining an honours in physical education, he returned to General Amherst in 1968 and started his teaching and coaching career. In his first year, he coached football, basketball and started the track and field team. He became health and physical education department head in 1971.

Scott coached the senior football team to ECSSAA championships in 1972 and 1974 and began junior football in 1980. From 1980-85, Amherst won five straight junior football ECSSA championships. In 1993, the senior team had a perfect 8-0 record with the junior team winning that year as well. The juniors also won in 1999.

After retiring from teaching in 2000, Scott returned to the sidelines in 2004 and resumed coaching track and field as well. His track and field coaching credentials are impressive as well, as he led the team to 19 straight ECSSAA championships from 1971-94 with the team also winning SWOSSAA the first 16 years of that streak as well. The team has also achieved significant success at the provincial level, winning 14 gold medals at OFSAA.

Not only did he help lead General Amherst to success on the track, he helped build the local track and football complex. In 1984, Scott formed a committee with Dave Bailey and Mike Nedin to study the feasibility of building a track and field/football complex. They worked with the town in creating Centennial Park, and received help from then-mayor Bill Gibb and administrator Tom Kilgallin in obtaining the government funding required.

On the basketball court, he coached at the senior level from 1968 until his retirement in 2000 and continued to coach juniors after his retirement. The senior boys ended a 28-year dry spell in 1975 by winning the ECSSA championship, a feat they also accomplished in 1978. Teams led by Scott also won WECSSAA “AA” and SWOSSAA “AA” titles in the late 1990’s. Scott also has an Ontario District High School championship in 1998.

Scott has also won a variety of awards during his career. He was a recipient of the Ontario Bicentennial Volunteer Award, given by then-Premier Bill Davis. He was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, won a Watson Hallock award for contributions to General Amherst, has been recognized by the town of Amherstburg, was awarded a WECSSAA plaque in 2000 for three decades of dedication to youth in track and field and won the Honourary Bulldog Award from General Amherst in 2009. Scott also won the Labatts Award from the Kinsmen Club of Windsor as their “Sports Person of the Year” June 6, 1983.

Scott also recalled the events he helped plan, from parades and hay rides to homecoming events and dances. He said the town would shut down in the early 1970’s for some of the homecoming parades that were held.

“It’s always been a great experience. I’ve never had a bad experience,” Scott said in a September 2016 interview with the River Town Times.

(NOTE: This story contains excerpts from a story the RTT published on Scott last year, when he was forced to step away from coaching due to his battle with ALS.)

New school year officially underway



By Jolene Perron


Buses, enrollment and education, oh my!

The 2017-18 school year has officially kicked off, and both of the school boards as well as Sharp Bus Lines are gearing up for what they plan to be another fantastic year.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth in French Immersion, especially at St. Joseph in River Canard, as well as in our International Baccalaureate programs (at Assumption and Cardinal Carter) and academy programs,” explained Stephen Fields, communications coordinator for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board. “In fact, we now have 457 students in our sports academies. The really nice thing about the growth in French Immersion at St. Joseph is that, as we add new grades for those students as they advance, they will be able to go directly into the Villanova French Immersion program after completing elementary school, which will help solidify the high school’s French program.”



Fields went on to say they have done some hiring in the elementary and secondary panels, as well as make additions to their occasional teachers list. Last spring they also announced the creation of a new construction academy at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Windsor, which will see 20 new students starting there in September. The goal is to help address a skills gap in local trades. Additionally, they are launching a new STREAM – Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics- Academy at Holy Names. They currently have about 65 students registered.

“At Villanova, we continue to build on the strengths of our very successful robotics team, which performed admirably in both national and international competitions last year,” said Fields. “We received some new funding to create an Apple Mac lab there, which really enhances our existing computer tech courses, where students are doing coding and building apps within the context of those courses. This will really provide a great foundation for these students as they move into post secondary education and eventually, related careers. This is also connected to the coding programs that are being integrated into our elementary curriculum at St. Joseph and Stella Maris.”

In the public school board, public relations officer Scott Scantlebury said after years of declining enrolment, they have finally stabilized, particularly at the secondary level. There has been some hiring of teachers over the past couple years, however, Scantlebury said they will have a better idea what their needs are for this year once they see enrolment numbers. As for major development, Scantlebury noted their new cloud-based learning program – Edsby.

“After piloting the system at a number of schools, this year parents at all schools in the Board will be able to sign up and have real-time communication with teachers and track their student’s academic achievement, attendance, etc.,” said Scantlebury. “It’s a great tool for parent engagement and involvement. As well we have expanded the access to the elementary literacy programs Lexia and Empower…we’ve seen, where it’s been used, positive impacts on kids’ reading levels, especially with students who were struggling with literacy. We also have changed the way we deliver English as a Second Language in elementary schools. Students will now receive the program at their home schools rather than at a central site, before graduating to their home school.”


Grade 9 orientation at General Amherst High School featured fun activities.

As for the location of the new school, Scantlebury said they have not finalized their plans. Their original projections, which he said they have discussed at the funding announcement for the opening, are still the same. Once the board has a site, a design and approval from the Ministry of Education, the construction will be tendered, which Scantlebury said takes about 14-16 months to build a school once work begins.

Not only are the school boards gearing up for the school year, but Sharp Bus Lines has been preparing as well and is asking a few things from students, parents and motorists.

“Students should arrive at their bus stops 10 minutes prior to pick up time,” said Crystal Williamson, regional manager for Sharp Bus Lines. “Wait at your designated stop in a safe spot, standing back from the curb or roadside yet visible to your bus driver, always remember to stay away from the danger zones outside of the bus, if required to cross watch for your driver to signal it’s safe to do so not before this and the crossing gate extended as well as the overheads and stop arm activated.”

Williamson said they are also asking motorists to keep in mind that school is back in session and asks them to slow down and be very cautious when approaching stopped school buses because “a child who may be running late for their stop could appear out of nowhere and cross the street.”

Over the summer, Williamson they have been preparing by taking all of the buses into the shop for the mechanics to go through, making sure the fleet of buses are safe for the students. The routes are checked for directional errors and timing, to ensure everyone arrives safely and in a timely fashion. Additionally, drivers come in to cover off refreshers and go over new routes.

“We love kids,” said Williamson. “Patience and kindness are the major things that we look for in our drivers.  Children have bad days just like adults so sometimes we need to cut them some slack.  We have hired/trained 8 new drivers over the summer and we are always looking for those special individuals to fill the seat.  As we always tell our drivers – they may be the first smile a child sees in the morning.  Make their day.”

So whether you’re a new or returning student, a parent, or even a fellow motorist, school is back in session and both the school boards, as well as Sharp Bus Lines hope everyone has a safe and happy 2017-18 school year.

Grade 9 students get a tour of General Amherst



By Jolene Perron


Orientation is a great way for Grade 9 students to experience their new high school, at a slower pace with friendly people willing to take the time to show them around before they are on their own.

“A lot of the kids are shy, but that’s high school,” explained student prime minister Linden Crain. “Grade 9’s who come to this school, at first they are going to be shy but I think that we have a warm environment so we’re trying to introduce them around the halls, if they have any questions or they’re scared about something, or they don’t know where their classes are, they are more than welcome to see our council.”

Jenna Fiala, General Amherst minister of athletics, shows a group of students around during grade nine orientation last Wednesday.

Jenna Fiala, General Amherst minister of athletics, shows a group of students around during Grade 9 orientation last Wednesday.

Crain added, he remembers when he started Grade 9 and how scary it was for him, but events like orientation helped to introduce him to the school and ease his nerves.

To help make the day a little more friendly and welcoming, instead of giving the touring groups numbers, they gave them NHL teams. The groups toured the school, took the students through to their classes, showed them where their lockers will be and how to use their locks and answered any questions the students had. They also played games and allowed them to interact with their fellow grade nine peers to ensure they made new friends and recognized friendly faces.

During Grade 9 orientation, students not only got to experience the school and learn about their classes, but they also played games and got to know fellow classmates.

During Grade 9 orientation, students not only got to experience the school and learn about their classes, but they also played games and got to know fellow classmates.

“I’m really excited,” said Jayda Delgatto, new Grade 9 student. “They made it really easy to find all of my classes and my locker, so I am excited. It’s been really fun so far, I really like it. It’s helped me to get to know people.”

Crain said this year, student council is planning on changing up a few things. They are hoping to get students more involved, introduce more spirit and have fun. Their main focus is homecoming and he hopes all of the students will get involved and help showcase their school spirit.

General Amherst High School welcomes new principal


By Jolene Perron


General Amherst High School will be kicking off the 2017-18 school year with a brand new principal, who’s goals include making connections with staff, students, parents and the community.

Melissa DeBruyne grew up in Tupperville and went to high school in Dresden. She has two children in elementary school, and loves playing sports, particularly hockey. She also has a passion for the outdoors.

“I have taught many different subjects, mainly science and biology,” said DeBruyne. “I started in education in 1996. I taught for 10 years in another board in London, and a year internationally in Ecuador.”

Melissa DeBruyne is the new principal at General Amherst, replacing Hazel Keefner, who retired in June. DeBruyne spent the last four years as the principal at Western Secondary School.

Melissa DeBruyne is the new principal at General Amherst, replacing Hazel Keefner, who retired in June. DeBruyne spent the last four years as the principal at Western Secondary School.

DeBruyne said she has been involved in special education for the last 10 years with the Greater Essex County District School Board. She started in administration in 2009 as the vice principal at Century High School in Windsor.

For the last four years, DeBruyne has been the principal at Western Secondary School.

“It is important to continue to help support all students wherever they are at, with the help of the General Amherst team of teachers and support staff,” explained DeBruyne.

She added, she values all of the pathways for students to achieve their greatest potential, may those pathways include OYAP, co-op, SHSM or community projects.

DeBruyne is excited about coming into a community school, which is so rich in history, academic and sports. She’s looking forward to getting involved in the activities around the school, including music, tech classes, sports and community projects.

General Amherst High School celebrates 95th annual graduation


By Ron Giofu


Approximately 160 students have bid farewell to General Amherst High School.

The public high school’s 95th commencement ceremony was held Thursday night at the Libro Centre. The students will be off to a wide variety of post-secondary education opportunities in the fall but reflected on their four years as General Amherst Bulldogs.

Valedictorian Ruben Tar told his fellow graduates “we did it!” and that four years of hard work paid off. He told his fellow graduates and the large crowd of parents, grandparents, guardians and siblings that it was 1,389 days since they entered General Amherst High School for the first time as students.

Valedictorian Ruben Tar gives a thumbs up during his address at the June 29 General Amherst graduation.

Valedictorian Ruben Tar gives a thumbs up during his address at the June 29 General Amherst graduation.

Those first days were awkward, he recalled, as they didn’t know where to go but they also enjoyed newfound freedoms.

Tar noted the growth they made over their four years of high school, sharing memories along the way of events both in and out of the classroom.

“It couldn’t have been the best four years of my life without the unforgettable memories with all of you,” said Tar.

It is “now time to move forward,” said Tar, noting that while many of the graduates will never cross paths again, their “Bulldog pride” will forever bind them together.

“Your hopes, dreams and goals are now attainable because of who you are,” said Tar. “It is up to you to overcome your fears and make your dreams a reality.”

Ashley Matlock not only graduated , but she also sang “O Canada” prior to the start of General Amherst’s graduation at the Libro Centre.

Ashley Matlock not only graduated , but she also sang “O Canada” prior to the start of General Amherst’s graduation at the Libro Centre.

Tar added he was proud of his fellow graduates and believed they have the strength and passion to lead others.

Principal Hazel Keefner, speaking at her final graduation before she retired, recalled the students being told that they would get out of high school what you put into it. Keefner encouraged the graduates to use the skills they learned during their four years at General Amherst and apply them going forward.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” said Keefner. “That advice is from our friend Dr. Seuss.”

Keefner said she was proud to have been the head of General Amherst during the graduates’ four years.

“It has truly been an honour being your principal and I wish you all the best,” Keefner told the class of 2017.

General Amherst principal Hazel Keefner addresses the graduates and their parents. Keefner has now retired.

General Amherst principal Hazel Keefner addresses the graduates and their parents in what was her final graduation before retirement.

Erin Kelly, director of education with the Greater Essex County District School Board, noted that Keefner was “graduating in a different way” and said she was a fine role model for the students.

The graduates were undergoing a “rite of passage,” said Kelly, adding thanks also goes to the families of the graduates for their support as well as the teachers who taught them.

“Be proud of where you have been and where you are going,” Kelly told the graduates.

Kelly also urged graduates to challenge ideas and to make the world a better place.

“Be kind to others,” Kelly added. “Kindness will always get you far.”