Greater Essex County District School board

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 www.publicboard.ca)

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.

 

“Student Pix” on exhibit at Gibson Gallery through June 3

 

The Gibson Art Gallery has hung young photographers’ work on its walls for the 13th time.

The annual Student Pix exhibit features the work of both primary and secondary school students from within the Greater Essex County District School Board.

Professional photographers and artists judge the photos and assign winners.  Winners are broken into categories according to grade level and photographic medium.

“It’s an exhibit the public looks forward to,” said Bonnie Deslippe, the gallery’s administrator.  “People like to see what these kids have created.”

Deslippe noted that this year is an interesting one, since one of the “Best in Show” awards was granted to a grade schooler.  Addison Slater, a Kingsville Public School student, won for her digitally-enhanced image.  Normally, she said, the winner comes from the senior division, which includes grades 9-12.

This year, around 250 photos were submitted.  Of them, 37 winners were announced:

 

PRIMARY – Black and White

Kate Winney

Sebastien Allison

Ava Soucie

 

PRIMARY – Colour

Kate Winney

Sebastien Allison

Ava Soucie

 

PRIMARY – Digitally Enhanced

Sebastien Allison

Dale Richardson explores the 13th annual Student Pix exhibit at the Gibson Art Gallery in Amherstburg. The exhibit will run through June 3. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

JUNIOR – Black and White

Isabelle Soucie

Elliana O’Neill

Brianna Gignac

 

JUNIOR – Colour

Meredith Reynolds

Claire Bolton

Isabelle Soucie

 

JUNIOR – Digitally Enhanced

Minji Kim

Claire Stockwell

Claire Bolton

 

INTERMEDIATE – Black and White

Marin Van Wagner

Parker Mosey

Julia Balkwill

 

JUNIOR – Colour

Nefertari Powell

Mila Vasquez

Grace Rivett

 

JUNIOR – Digitally Enhanced

Aleksandra Milic

Morgan Churchill

Ava Claridge

 

SENIOR – Black and White

Ashley Injic

Julia Sanders

Dilinaer Aiyireti

 

SENIOR – Colour

Sydney Cremasco

Chyenne Wilson

Celina Duguay

Sommer Franz

 

SENIOR – Digitally Enhanced

Mariffe Boycott

Kevin Baker

Joslyn Gagnier

 

BEST IN SHOW – Black and White

Alyssa Ferrera

 

BEST IN SHOW – Colour

Sommer Franz

 

BEST IN SHOW – Digitally Enhanced

Addison Slater

 

The exhibit will continue hanging until June 3, when a closing reception will be held from 2-4 p.m.  The students will be formally presented with their awards at 3 p.m.

The Gibson Art Gallery is open from Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Local volunteer recognized as a “Champion for Education”

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Darrie-Ann Richard has been volunteering at Anderdon Public School for about nine years and that has led her to winning an award.

Richard was one of ten people or groups recognized by the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) as a “Champion for Education” during the public board’s April 17 meeting.

“I’m very overwhelmed,” said Richard. “I received an e-mail (notifying her that she was a recipient) three weeks ago.”

Awards were accompanied by certificates with reasoning of why the “Champions for Education” were nominated. They were read aloud at the board meeting by GECDSB public relations officer Scott Scantlebury.

Darrie-Ann Richard was one of the “Champions for Education” that were recognized last Tuesday night by the Greater Essex County District School Board. From left: director of education Erin Kelly, board chair Kim McKinley, Richard and board vice-chair and Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Ron LeClair.

“Darrie-Ann has a profound appreciation for literature and the arts, both of which she has helped spread throughout the Anderdon Public School community,” Scantlebury read. “She’s the parent of two students, an Anderdon graduate and a current Mustang. But a perceptive youngster has discerned her secret identity. She is the Book Fairy.”

Richard was described as “an enthusiastic co-ordinator of the school’s annual book fair” for over nine years. She has also served as a guest reader in classrooms and has staged school events as birthday parties for Dr. Seuss.

Richard joked the staff at Anderdon is “sneaky” and that if she had known they were going to nominate her, she wouldn’t have let them. Much of the staff attended the board meeting in support of Richard.

“I just like being at the school with the kids,” she said. “It’s nice being part of the community.”

Darrie-Ann Richard is surrounded by her family as well as Anderdon Public School staff and students after being recognized as a “Champion for Education” April 17.

The staff allows her to be around the students and work with the kids, she said. Richard also helps with the school plays, as Anderdon is staging “Willy Wonka Jr.” May 2-4.

“The staff is outstanding,” said Richard. “It’s a special place. They are a very supportive bunch. To have them all here was a little bit overwhelming. They made me feel welcome from the very first day.”

Richard added her husband travels for his job and she uses her time helping the students at Anderdon Public School. She noted she enjoys being involved with literacy and the arts at the Middle Side Road elementary school.

“It’s fun to be a part of it,” she said.

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.

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.