General Amherst High School

Rotary Club hears from students that were sponsored for RYLA conference

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pair of General Amherst High School students attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) recently and told the local Rotary Club about their experiences.

Hallee Kejick and Madison Sulja, members of the Rotary-sponsored Interact Club at General Amherst, went to the RYLA conference last November at Schoolcraft Community College in Livonia, Michigan. The Grade 11 students were at the Amherstburg Rotary Club’s meeting last week to recount their experiences, something Sulja said they had a lot of.

“It was a really welcoming environment,” Kejick added, of the conference.

The two students said there were a number of team building exercises at the conference and attended lectures and presentations as well about professionalism and overcoming challenges.

Members of the Rotary Club of Amherstburg gather with General Amherst students Hallee Kejick and Madison Sulja after the two students made a presentation to the club. Kejick and Sulja are Grade 11 students and Interact Club members at General Amherst High School and travelled to a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) conference late last year.

“Overall, it was a really good experience,” said Kejick.

Kejick said that they both brought in applications to attend the RYLA conference and were accepted. They believed it helped improve their leadership skills and made them understand they can accomplish big things on their own.

“I wanted to learn something new,” said Sulja.

Sulja added they even learned about how to properly shake someone’s hand and what a person’s handshake says about them.

“It was life-changing,” Kejick said of the RYLA conference.

“I’ll never forget the experience,” Sulja added.

The Interact Club at General Amherst High School has roughly 10-15 students and undertakes projects both within the school and in the community. Some of the projects have included book drives and Coats for Kids collections. The club is open for students in Grades 9-12.

General Amherst students observe the “Hour of Code”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Students at General Amherst High School got some additional exposure to computer science thanks to a worldwide initiative.

The “Hour of Code” was held with numerous classes participating. Allison Campbell, a computer science teacher at General Amherst, said coding is a way to get a computer to “do what you want it to.” She said some of her Grade 11 and 12 students go to other classes to act as “experts” and help other teachers and students.

“It’s to introduce students to computer science and computer coding,” said Campbell. “It’s to expose them to another possible career path.”

General Amherst High School teacher Allison Campbell (foreground, right) works with a student during the recent “Hour of Code” that the local high school observed.

The school held it different periods throughout the day of a recent week. Campbell said General Amherst High School has been observing the “Hour of Code” for several years and it is making a difference. More and more students are taking computer science courses, she said.

“The goal of this week is to reach millions of students around the globe,” said Campbell.

Campbell explained that she is passionate about computer science and has also noticed that more students are pursuing it in college and university, “which is very exciting.”

According to the website www.hourofcode.com: “The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket science—anybody can learn the basics,” said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. “Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries.”

New public high school location revealed

By Ron Giofu

 

The location of the new public high school has finally been revealed.

The town will sell 15 acres of the southern portion of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board for $2,457,000 with the town putting the proceeds into a parkland reserve. The town will retain 12 acres on the northern end of the park.

The new 819-student high school will house both General Amherst High School students and Western Secondary School students with the estimated opening date being Sept. 2020.

“Amherstburg is getting a single location, dual high school that will be state of the art,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We’re ecstatic.”

Greater Essex County District School Board and town officials were pleased with the announcement that Centennial Park will house the new school to replace the current General Amherst and Western. From left: board chair Kim McKinley, CAO John Miceli, GECDSB director of education Erin Kelly, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Ron LeClair.

DiCarlo said the location is close to the downtown area and keeps students close to downtown businesses. It also enables many students to continue to walk to school, he noted.

The mayor called it “incredible” news and gave his thanks to the school board officials.

(UPDATE – As for the fate of the pool, tennis courts and baseball diamonds, DiCarlo told the RTT Wednesday afternoon: “All of these amenities are being considered in the context of the parks master plan and where they will be located.”)

Erin Kelly, director of education with the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the board has selected an architect and will be moving forward with the design process. She believed they would be able to combine the two schools and meet the needs of all the students.

Kelly said they will try and get a shovel in the ground as soon as possible.

“There’s a lot of decisions to be made,” she noted.

CAO John Miceli said the town is “really excited” because of the fact the new school will provide additional opportunities for the municipality. Additional community use could arise with the new school and programming could be developed for after-school hours.

The Ontario government has already put $24.3-million towards the new public high school. As for the current building, Miceli indicated the town has its eyes on it and the board has its ears open for those plans.

“It’s in a strategic location in the Town of Amherstburg,” said Miceli. “The board is willing to listen.”

The CAO added: “There’s more to come.”

Miceli also thanked the public board’s administration for working with the town to arrive at the agreement.

Ron LeClair, trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle, indicated there are opportunities for co-operative education that will be within walking distance for students.

“This is wonderful news for the board and the Town of Amherstburg,” he said. “This is a win-win for the board and the town.”

While admitting “I can’t wait to get a shovel in the ground,” LeClair also said they have to complete the design phase first.

Councillor Leo Meloche noted the importance of the school to the community, and said parents and students alike appreciate the effort. Councillor Diane Pouget also offered praise to the public board for working with the town.

“It’s a special spot for many of us,” she said.

Pouget added there is work being done that would eventually allow for over 1,700 building lots to be created in town, but Kelly noted they have to build based on the students they currently have. If an addition were needed in the future, the board could seek further funding from the province, she suggested.

Councillor Rick Fryer said the new school’s inclusion of skilled trades for students is important and called it “an excellent idea.”

The announcement to sell 15 of the 27 acres in Centennial Park to the public board was met with applause by those in attendance at Monday night’s meeting.

General Amherst donates $250 to EZE Riders

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

General Amherst student council asked their students to participate in a spirit day and donate just $2 for a local organization.

Teacher Keith Gale, who is a part of the EZE Riders of Mocha Temple Shriners approached student council to ask if they would consider his organization to be the recipient of a fundraiser which would be incorporated into a spirit day. Deputy Prime Minister Tate Levesque, said because the Shriners are known for their hats, a “hat day” fundraiser would be most fitting.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Levesque. “I’m glad that we also got the school involved and they all came around to help out, it’s good to donate and it’s good to get involved.”

General Amherst deputy prime minister Tate Levesque (right) and prime minister Linden Crain, and alongside teacher Keith Gale (left) presented a check for $250 to representatives from the EZE Riders Mocha Temple Shriners Jan. 9.

The Shriners were presented with a check for $250 Jan. 9. President of the EZE Riders of Mocha Temple Shriners, Tom Moffat, said their parade unit raises funds for 22 hospitals in North America who provide pediatric care “specializing in orthopedics, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate.”

“It’s truly an honor and a privilege,” said Moffat. “Anything given to the shrine goes directly to the hospitals, we don’t keep any of it. Everything you raised will go to the children’s hospitals. The closest one here is in Montreal. I visited that last year, it’s a wonderful facility.”

Moffat explained families are able to attend specific hospitals and the Shriners are able to pay for their family’s transportation and lodging while their child is in care.

For more information about the Shriners, visit https://www.facebook.com/EZE-Riders-546489362102037/ or https://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/shc

Mayor looks back on 2017, looks ahead to 2018

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The new year is upon us and there were positives and negatives from the year that has just ended, says the town’s mayor.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said that 2017 was a good one but it had its ups and downs as well.

“I think, overall, it was a good balance of successes and challenges,” said DiCarlo. “I think we’ve done well with the waterfront development acquisitions, we had the fibre (internet) announcement and I think the budget confirmed our financial restraint and investment.”

DiCarlo believes the town did a good job of walking the “fine line of paying down debt and increasing amenities that should keep people in town.”

Regarding the Belle Vue and Duffy’s property projects, DiCarlo said he has heard positive and negative responses from residents but acknowledged, “it’s impossible to keep everyone happy” and that council is trying to work for residents and address the needs of the community. He said many people want the Duffy’s property available for public use as soon as possible and “hopefully we can make progress on that” in 2018.

The town did make progress in 2017, the mayor stated.

“We’ve definitely moved forward again,” he said. “That’s my belief. At the end of the day, it always comes down to what the residents think. As long as we can maintain the balance of moving forward, which I think we did (in 2017), we’re in good shape.”

DiCarlo said 2018 could be “another year of challenges,” and the first one on the radar is the policing issue. The town will be hosting four public meetings later this month to discuss the proposal from Windsor police, one that forecasts a $567,000 annual savings to the town.

“That is obviously going to be a big decision we have to deal with,” said DiCarlo. “I’ve definitely heard from a broad demographic of residents on this particular issue. There are people on both sides and plenty of people in the middle waiting to hear what is said at the public meetings.”

The location of the new public high school by the Greater Essex County District School Board is expected at some point, and DiCarlo said that is good news. While noting that not everyone will be happy with the new location, he believes that the new public high school will be positive for the town.

“Everyone is asking where it is going and when it will be built,” said DiCarlo, adding that timelines suggest that the announcement could come soon.

Other development is tied to the school announcement, he suggested, and that more news could be revealed shortly after the location is revealed. While much of that development hasn’t been publicly revealed as of yet, the seniors hub development proposed for the former St. Bernard School appears to be one of them. The town and Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board are headed for arbitration over the building’s value as the town wants to acquire it.

DiCarlo said the town is committed to serving the senior population and that he is hopeful the dispute over the building can be resolved.

“We’re going to go through legal channels there to mediate some sort of solution,” he said.

Much of the plans for future development is hinged on one another, he said, and that “there are a lot of synergies to projects now.” He said fewer projects are done in isolation.

“I think that’s going to translate into success in the long run,” said DiCarlo.

The town remains focused on a hotel, he added, and that the rollout of the fibre internet should occur in 2018. The town will also continue to pay down debt and continue to invest in the community, with DiCarlo stating the goal of the latter being to do so with cash the town already has.

The mayor said there is some “misconception” as it pertains to the town’s debt, which has been brought down from $44 million to approximately $38 million over the last few years. While it has come down “millions,” DiCarlo said much of the debt is locked in and can’t be paid down faster than what it already is.

This year is an election year and DiCarlo said the town could be impacted if and when the current council achieves “lame duck” status.

“While we tackle everything we have to deal with, things have to be in the perspective of what happens with the election,” he said. “If we become a lame duck council, we’ll have to put the issues on hold and we would not be able to deal with them.”

The municipal election is Oct. 22 and the nomination period opens May 1 and ends July 27 at 2 p.m.