General Amherst High School welcomes area Grade 8 students

By Jonathan Martin

Grade 8 students have toured General Amherst High School, hoping to figure out what the next four years of their lives might look like.

The estimated 100 or so students gathered in the school’s gymnasium last week, where faculty, current students and distinguished alumni lauded what they believe GAHS has to offer.

Student council prime minister Dani Leroux speaks to a gym full of prospective Grade 9 students.

Student council prime minister Dani Leroux speaks to a gym full of prospective Grade 9 students. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

Notably absent, however, was 1987 GAHS alumnus David Musyj. Today, Musyj is president and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital. According to Amherst’s guidance head Chere Tulett, Musyj had to cancel his appearance because he was “dealing with lots of media.”

Windsor Regional Hospital is facing a $10 million lawsuit based on allegations of unfairness in its proposed acute care facility’s building site selection process.

The lawsuit was made public Jan. 6, hours before Amherst’s open house began.

Despite Musyj’s absence, GAHS principal Hazel Keefner was pleased with the way the night played out.

“We usually have a really good turnout,” she said. “I think most families from our feeder schools came. We also got some families from other boards.”

She said the 100 or so visitors usually translate into 150 or so enrolments, though the numbers tend to fluctuate.

“As a general trend, enrolment has been declining,” said Keefner. “But that’s not unique to General Amherst. That’s a trend in general.”

The Greater Essex County District School Board’s board of trustees approved several motions designed to address the growing number of empty desks in October. The plans include the closure of Harrow District High School and the construction of a new dual-campus high school, which will house both GAHS and Western Secondary School.

Student council prime minister Dani Leroux speaks to a gym full of prospective Grade 9 students. (Photo by Michael Thompson)

Student council prime minister Dani Leroux speaks to a gym full of prospective Grade 9 students. (Photo by Michael Thompson)

September’s enrolment numbers are uncertain, since prospective students are not expected to submit their enrolment packages until February.

Keefner said she will treat next year’s Grade 9’s the same regardless of how many or how few they turn out to be.

“Every year I speak with the Grade 8’s when they come in grade nine,” she said. “I make a practice of asking them what they like about high school.”

Grade 12 student Danielle Leroux said what she loves about GAHS is the same now as it was when she first started.

“When you walk through those doors you’re not a jock, you’re not a geek, you’re not a popular, you’re not a band kid,” she said. “Here, at this school, you’re an Amherst student and a Bulldog.”

Leroux is Amherst’s student council prime minister. She joined the club in Grade 9 and has kept at it throughout all four years.

“Student council at Amherst focuses greatly on everyone benefiting from all activities,” said Leroux. “It has provided me with some of my best experiences ever.”

Aly Cauchi, 13, is getting ready to graduate from Anderdon Public School. So far, she has looked at Walkerville Collegiate and GAHS as potential settings for the next chapter of her academic story.

Of the two schools, Amherst seems to best match what she envisions, largely because of what Leroux said to the visitors in the gym.

“I like the programs and I like the clubs,” she said. “There’s a lot of variety in the types of clubs offered.”

Because of her interest in performance art, Cauchi originally was sure Walkerville would end up being her choice.

“At first, when I saw (Amherst), I wasn’t too sure (it would be the right fit),” she said. “But then I came in and I met the people and it was a good experience.”

Now, GAHS is at the top of her list. Despite how far off September is, she’s excited to start.

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