General Amherst High School

General Amherst High School hosting Terry Fox Run Sept. 27



By Ron Giofu


General Amherst High School is doing its part in the fight against cancer.

The public high school will be hosting a Terry Fox Run Sept. 27 at Wigle Park, next to the school. The event is being run by General Amherst’s fitness and leadership class.

Max Thompson, a member of the fitness and leadership class, said students will be collecting pledges with the aim of raising $6,000. The class also hopes to spread awareness about the Terry Fox Foundation and cancer research.

While the whole school will be participating next Thursday, local residents are invited to take part as well.

The general public is welcome to attend and donate towards General Amherst High School’s Terry Fox Run/Walk. It will be held Sept. 27 from 11:45-1 p.m. The poster was designed by student Max Thompson.

“Everyone is welcome to come,” said Thompson. “We want to spread awareness. We want to get as many people there as we can.”

All proceeds go directly to the Terry Fox Foundation and donations will be accepted in-person at the event or online at People can follow the progress towards the school’s goal by following General Amherst High School on Twitter at @GAHSBulldogs or at the school website, found through

The event is scheduled to run from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. and will kick off with talks from a cancer survivor. It is a walk/run with music and Thompson said it is not competitive.

“It’s going to be quite a big event,” he said.

For more information on Terry Fox, his 1980 “Marathon of Hope” and the Terry Fox Foundation, visit

General Amherst opens its doors early to Grade 9 students



By Ron Giofu


School is underway but Grade 9 students at General Amherst High School got a sneak peak at their new home last Wednesday morning.

The annual Grade 9 orientation day was held with students learning where their classes were, who their new teachers would be and even how to open their lockers. Principal Melissa DeBruyne said it was a way for the school’s newest students to be able to get from periods one to four properly and to get their books as well.

“It’s a big transition,” said DeBruyne.

Student parliament representatives and peer mentors were on hand to help the new Grade 9’s as well.

General Amherst teacher Jason McLean speaks to the new Grade 9 students during Grade 9 orientation last Wednesday morning.

“That makes it easier for (the Grade 9’s) to see the older kids helping,” said DeBruyne.

The Grade 9 students also got to meet the students in their classes as well as their teachers. The ability to find and open their lockers was something last year’s Grade 9’s said was important, DeBruyne added.

New General Amherst High School students participate in an activity to get to know each other during the Aug. 29 Grade 9 orientation day.

“We interviewed students from last year to ask what we can improve,” she said. “They had a lot of improvements for us to do this year, including their lockers.”

Jordan Wingerden, the new student prime minister, said the older students are “trying to pass along our wisdom” to the younger students.

“They can share stories of high school and teach them the do’s and don’ts,” said Wingerden. “We’re excited to make the Grade 9’s feel welcome.”

Physical education teacher Lisa Voakes meets some of her new students.

Cassidy Zelle, deputy junior prime minister, added that by learning who is also in their classes, the Grade 9 students will be able to get over their nervousness quicker.

“Instead of doing ice-breakers with random students, they are doing them with people in their classes,” she said.

There were also some games and activities for the new students to enjoy and help them get acclimated to their new school.

LeClair returning for another term, new high school a priority



By Ron Giofu


There will not be a race for public school board trustee in Amherstburg and LaSalle.

Ron LeClair was acclaimed as the Greater Essex County District School Board trustee and is happy to be able to return for another four years.

“Being acclaimed is something I wasn’t expecting,” said LeClair. “Now that it’s happened, I want to focus on the next four years.”

One of LeClair’s major focuses will be what happens on the Centennial Park site.

“From the perspective of the Town of Amherstburg, I want to see the completion of the new high school sooner rather than later,” said LeClair. “We put a lot of work and effort in identifying the site.”

LeClair said the first step was to provide the template and rooms required to the province. The next step will be to get some drawings of what the new school will look like.

Ron LeClair has been acclaimed for another four-year term as the trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle with the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“I hope to see some drawings soon,” LeClair stated.

Public input will also be coming, he added, into what the new school will look like.

“There will be some public opportunities moving forward,” said LeClair. “We always engage the public on large projects.”

LeClair indicated consultations will also include teachers as well as the general public.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to build something good for the community,” he said.

With the school to be built on the southern 15 acres of the Centennial Park site, LeClair said that it is in the “downtown area” and that many students will be able to walk to school. Road access is “suitable” and LeClair believes it will be “more traffic friendly” for the town as school-related traffic will be moved off of Sandwich St. S. where the current General Amherst High School is located.

“You are getting traffic off of the main road,” he said. “I think it will be a positive location.”

LeClair added that he is confident that proper entrances and exits will be constructed with the best interest of traffic flow in mind. The school will be built to accommodate 819 students and is tentatively scheduled to be ready for the 2020-21 school year.

“We will have some field sport space,” he stated, though it does not appear there will be a track at this point. As for what is done with the 12 acres of Centennial Park that the public board did not purchase, LeClair said that is up to the municipality.

“What the town does with the remaining portion is a municipal issue,” he said.

The new public high school in Amherstburg is not the only new build that LeClair is looking forward to. He noted he is also wanting to see the completion of the new Prince Andrew Public School in LaSalle. That new elementary school will be constructed on Judy Recker Dr., near the Vollmer Complex.

The Greater Essex County District School Board is building the new public high school on the southern 15 acres of Centennial Park (blue shaded area).
(Image courtesy of

LeClair touted the Greater Essex County District School Board’s math task force and he would like to see that continue.

“We’ve all been very supportive of that,” he said.

Supporting the trades and assisting robotics programs are initiatives LeClair would also like to pursue further.

“I’ve seen the success those programs have had with students,” he said.

Building on academic and financial successes are also priorities, with LeClair noting that the public board is close to eliminating its outstanding debt.

“I’m looking forward to working with the community to make Amherstburg a great place to live and attend school,” he said.


General Amherst likely to field combined senior and junior team this season



By Ron Giofu


When the General Amherst Bulldogs take the field for the 2018 WECSSAA football season, they will likely be a mix of both senior and junior players.

John Rudak, who is coach of the senior Bulldogs, said he likely will have to combine both teams in order to put a team on the field this season. The juniors could be their own team as in previous seasons but Rudak said that would take an influx of players to help bolster the depth on the senior team.

Rudak pegged the chances at a combined team at 95 per cent, as of last Thursday afternoon’s practice at Centennial Park.

“So far, we’ve had 35-36 players out for all four of our practices, which is good,” he said last Thursday. “The bulk of this team is going to be junior players. We’ve got a good group of Grade 9’s.”

As players put on the pads this week, Rudak said numbers could grow into the 40’s if some players show up that have indicated they might. He was hopeful of more players at the end of the last school year, but noted that they have decided to pursue other options.


The General Amherst Bulldogs football team hit the field for the first time this season last week as practice has started for the 2018 WECSSAA season.

“People were interested enough at the end of last year but they changed their minds over the summer,” said Rudak.

With a combined roster, Rudak said the Bulldogs will be stronger than they were last year when the senior team went 0-6. He said there were players who weren’t dedicated to the sport last year and that there weren’t enough players so that he could substitute in people who had the dedication.

Rudak said he has no problem putting a Grade 10 player in the game over a more senior player if the younger player is more committed.

“Last year, we had no depth,” said Rudak.

Rudak added that it is nice coaching junior players, as they have fewer commitments that take them away from football. He said playing football allows young people to have fun and be competitive.

“Just to be part of something is important,” he said.

The Bulldogs won’t be the only combined team in the WECSSAA league this season, he pointed out, adding that there are schools with double the enrolment who don’t have a football program.

“We’re going to try and keep this going as long as we can,” said Rudak.

Local coach to be inducted into Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame



By Ron Giofu


A coach who has led General Amherst High School basketball teams to numerous boys and girls championships is getting a significant honour himself.

Domenic Silvaggio will be inducted into the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame this fall. The news went public last week that Silvaggio will be part of the class of 2018.

Silvaggio got the word in late-June that he was likely to be inducted this year and the official word came last week. He will be inducted as part of the builder’s category.

“It was kind of nice to hear, that’s for sure,” he said.

Silvaggio added he was at a “loss for words” when the call came that he was a soon-to-be Hall of Famer.

“There’s been quite a few people asking me about it (in past years),” he said. “I said it’s something I have no control over. If it comes, it comes.”

Now that the honour has come, Silvaggio is sharing it with many of his peers. That includes many coaches within the elementary and the Amherstburg Basketball Club system especially those who were involved with both systems including Karl Wightman, Frank Palumbo, Vic DiNardo, Jim Belcher, Dale Prisley, John VandeBovenkamp, Tim Dodds, Amy Bondy and Brad Bondy.

Among those that helped him along the way have also included Ross Scott, Mike Nedin and Dave Scott.

“These guys were influential in getting me into coaching,” he said.

Nicole Rusenstrom was also thanked for her help with teams in recent years.

Special thanks was given to Greg Scott and Don Parks, who were recognized for their many years of coaching with Silvaggio. He also recognized his son Stephen, who both played and coached with him and now has his own basketball program at Kennedy.

“All the coaches should be sharing this with me as well,” he said.

General Amherst coach Dom Silvaggio (centre) goes over a play during a timeout of a Nov. 2017 game against Kennedy. Silvaggio’s accomplishments over his coaching career have landed him a spot in the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be in October.

Fundraisers for the local basketball programs have included Ross Scott, Parks, Greg Scott and Palumbo plus the many players and parents that helped out.

Parents have also been of great help over the years.

“They always had my back, driving the kids to all parts of Ontario,” he said.

The players were also thanked, with Silvaggio noting that none of the championship teams he has coached would have been possible without the hard work of the players. He recalled championship teams that would win a tournament on a Saturday and come home and want to practice on the Sunday.

“That’s the dedication and drive they had,” said Silvaggio. “Without that, you aren’t going to win anything.”

While the dedication of players and parents were pointed out, so too were the efforts of his fellow teachers and administrators as well.

“It makes my job a heck of a lot easier when you have that,” he said.

Silvaggio gave special thanks to his family, including wife Susan, son Stephen and daughter Kim. Kim also played for her father during her time at General Amherst.

“Without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to put in the time,” he said. “There were a lot of weekends away, that’s for sure.”

Among the accomplishments on Silvaggio’s resume include 26 WECSSAA/ECSSAA championships between boys and girls basketball teams. He has coached 13 SWOSSAA championship teams and the senior girls program he has overseen won ten consecutive medals at OFSAA at either the “AA” or “AAA” level, including five gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals at the provincial championship tournament.

Silvaggio’s teams have also won two gold medals and one silver at the senior boys Ontario District High School Championships and two golds in Division 2 at the Basketball Ontario Cup boys championship with the Amherstburg Basketball Club.

Silvaggio has won the most basketball OFSAA championships and medals as a coach in the Windsor/Essex area. His league and playoff win totals at the high school level top 600 and that number swells to 1,000 overall wins when tournaments are factored in.

The 2006 General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls team was selected as the top high school team of the year regardless of size by a committee of coaches and administrators from throughout Ontario.

In 2007, the senior girls won the Super 12 tournament which included the eventual OFSAA “AAAA” gold, silver and bronze medal winners as well as the OFSAA “AAA” gold, silver and bronze medal winners for that year. The Lady Gens won the “AA” gold that year.

From 2004-2013, the General Amherst senior girls basketball team had a record of 197-9 in WECSSAA, SWOSSAA and OFSAA league and playoff games. Silvaggio said most of those were at the Tier 1 level after WECSSAA started the tier system. Those teams had a 45-5 record in OFSAA play during that time span to go along with their ten straight medals.

Silvaggio was one of the founders and president for over 20 years of the Amherstburg Basketball Club. He said the Amherstburg Basketball Club was started to enhance and promote the game of basketball for the youth who lived in the Amherstburg area.

One of the teams Domenic Silvaggio (far right) coached to an OFSAA basketball championship were the 2011 General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls team (File photo – Special to the RTT)

“There were hundreds of children who played either house league or travel or both,” he said. “Many of the youth who were a part of this program probably would not have played basketball at the competitive and house league level if not for this club.”

Silvaggio believes he is one of only three high school basketball coaches to go into the Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be Oct. 19 at the Ciociaro Club.

Since the news went public, Silvaggio added he has been receiving many messages of congratulations.

“It’s nice,” he said. “It’s an honour but I’d like to share this with all of the other coaches.”

Other inductees into the Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame include Paul Carter (basketball), J. Paul Reddam (horse racing) and Don Marrin (wrestling) in the builder’s category; golfer Cheryll Damphouse, boxer Mary Spencer, hockey player Andy Delmore and basketball player Richard Shaw going in as part of the athletes category.

The Tecumseh Baseball Club and the 2011-15 University of Windsor Lancer women’s basketball team will be inducted under the club and team category.