Melissa DeBruyne

General Amherst High School celebrates its 96th annual graduation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A total of 162 students have now concluded their high school careers at General Amherst High School.

General Amherst held its 96th annual graduation ceremony last Thursday evening at the Libro Centre and while some students will return to high school for a fifth year, most are saying farewell as they start college, university or a new career.

Ron LeClair, Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle, congratulated the graduates as well as their families.

“You have an incredible support network,” LeClair told the graduates. “You didn’t get here alone.”

General Amherst valedictorian Aiden Bradwell delivers his address during the school’s 96th annual graduation June 28 at the Libro Centre.

LeClair, who is also vice chair of the GECDSB, encouraged the students to thank their parents, grandparents, family members and teachers for their support in getting them this far. He urged students to stay involved and “take advantage of the opportunities before you.” The opportunities are limitless, he said, restricted only by the graduates’ imaginations.

“Be a lifelong learner,” he added. “Be passionate about your future.”

Dr. Clara Howitt, superintendent of education, congratulated the Class of 2018 on their hard work, perseverance and commitment to learning. She said “our board has the most talented teachers in the province of Ontario” and that applies to General Amherst as well.

 

General Amherst graduates proceed into the commencement ceremony during the 96th annual commencement ceremony June 28.

Howitt thanked the teachers for their work in educating the graduates and also thanked the parents for their efforts. She even quoted actor Henry Winkler who said, “if you will it, it will be.”

Julie Wingerden, parent council chair at General Amherst, offered various words of wisdom for the graduates.

“I hope you guys take a few minutes and realize you worked hard to get here,” said Wingerden. “You need to take a few minutes and appreciate it.”

Wingerden challenged the graduates to map out their futures and make a plan on how they will achieve their goals. Among the words of encouragement Wingerden had were to “be grateful for the things you have, both good and bad” and that people are never too old to ask for advice from those around them.

Principal Melissa DeBruyne also offered her best wishes to the Class of 2018.

Superintendent of education Dr. Clara Howitt takes a picture as Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Ron LeClair delivers his remarks to the graduates at General Amherst’s commencement ceremony.

“Thank you to the teachers who guided the graduates these last four years,” said DeBruyne.

DeBruyne indicated there is more learning ahead and hoped the skills and knowledge obtained while the students were at General Amherst will serve them well.

“Your future is what you make of it,” said DeBruyne. “You never know where life will take you.”

Valedictorian Aiden Bradwell recalled the four-year experience at General Amherst and said “I’d like to congratulate all of us.”

“I have no doubt everyone at this school will be the best in everything that they try to do,” he said.

Bradwell believed they will always carry a piece of their high school experience and memories with them.

“I am going to miss these days at General Amherst High School,” he said.

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General Amherst honours top athletes at awards banquet

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The top athletes at General Amherst High School were honoured last week at the annual athletic awards banquet.

The banquet, held last Thursday evening at the Ciociaro Club, saw major sports awards handed out as well as awards in individual sports. Two of the big winners of the evening were Josh DiCarlo and Reese Jones, who were male and female athlete of the year respectively.

“I’m pretty excited,” said DiCarlo. “I knew I had a chance.”

DiCarlo acknowledged he is only in Grade 11 and said it was a bit of a surprise that he beat out the Grade 12 athletes.

“I worked hard for it and I’m glad I got it,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo, who played badminton, golf and hockey this past high school season, thanked his coaches and parents for getting him this far. Jones was also grateful, believing she had a chance at her award.

Jones thought it was be between her and teammate Brooklyn Prescott for the award, but Jones also thought Prescott had a chance at the top female student athlete award as well due to her intelligence.

“I was really excited,” said Jones, who played tennis, volleyball, badminton and slo-pitch this year. “I was hoping to win it.”

A full list of winners was as follows:

Josh DiCarlo and Reese Jones were named Top Male and Top Female Athletes of the Year.

TOP MALE ATHLETE – Josh DiCarlo.

TOP FEMALE ATHLETE – Reese Jones

TOP MALE STUDENT ATHLETE – Cole Zelle

TOP FEMALE STUDENT ATHLETE – Brooklyn Prescott

MOST DEDICATED AWARD – Payton Laing, Tyler Tofflemire

ATHLETE-PLUS AWARD – Tate Levesque, Linden Crain

SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD – Carly Renaud, Spencer Hawkins

SPIRIT AWARD – Matt Belanger

TOP JUNIOR MALE ATHLETES — Matteo Palumbo, Max Jones, Nathan Maxey, Ty Queen, Emmitt Rosati

TOP JUNIOR FEMALE ATHLETES — Danielle Brindley, Lexi Dodds, Abby Orchard, Allison Dufour, Emma MacVoy

General Amherst High School’s top athletes were honoured last Thursday night including major award winners. Top row, from left: Max Jones, Emmitt Rosati, Matt Belanger, Matteo Palumbo, Nathan Maxey, Lexi Dodds, Allison Dufour, Abby Orchard, Linden Crain. Bottom row (from left): Sebastian Hebert, Reese Jones, Brooklyn Prescott, Payton Laing, Carly Renaud, Josh DiCarlo, Tyler Tofflemire, Spencer Hawkins and Tate Levesque.

INDIVIDUAL SPORT AWARD

GOLF – Josh DiCarlo (Lowest Scoring Average)

CROSS COUNTRY – Tyler Rowles (Top Performer), Tyler Tofflemire (Award of Excellence)

TENNIS – Reese Jones (MVP), Matteo Palumbo (Most Dedicated

FOOTBALL – Levi Reaume (Offensive Player of the Year), Spencer Hawkins (Defensive Player of the Year), Bryce Dougan (Lineman of the Year), Matt Belanger (Most Dedicated Player)

GIRLS BASKETBALL – Lexi Dodds (MVP), Brooklyn Prescott (Most Dedicated)

BOYS BASKETBALL – Sebastian Hebert (MVP)

BOYS HOCKEY – Josh DiCarlo (Offensive MVP), Jorden Meyer (Defensive MVP)

GIRLS HOCKEY – Carly Renaud (MVP), Emily Pontini (Corey Meloche Memorial Award)

CURLING – Kylie Parent (Sportsmanship Award)

WRESTLING – Tate Levesque (MVP)

DANCE – Alyssa Jones (Most Dedicated)

GYMNASTICS – Mackenzie Bauer (MVP), Chelsey Deslippe (Rookie of the Year)

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL – Reese Jones, Bryanna France (Awards of Excellence)

GIRLS SLO-PITCH – Brooklyn Prescott (MVP), Alexis DiCarlo (Rookie of the Year)

BADMINTON – Josh DiCarlo (Top Male Player), Jaycie Stanek (Top Female Player)

GIRLS SOCCER – Breana Farias (Coaches Award), Jenna Fiala (MVP)

BOYS SOCCER – Kieron Sweet (Offensive MVP), Griffin Muzzin (Defensive MVP)

BOYS BASEBALL – Sebastian Hebert (MVP), Colton Taylor (Coaches Award)

TRACK AND FIELD – Sydney Doyle (Coaches Award), Tyler Tofflemire (Award of Excellence)

 

Principal Melissa DeBruyne spoke about how students and young people in general can learn from sports. Growing from adversity and difficult times can help young people as they go through life.

“It makes you a stronger person,” said DeBruyne.

Greg Scott, physical education department head, congratulated the Grade 12 players who are graduating and encouraged returning athletes such as the junior-aged players to seize the opportunities put before them.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on at General Amherst is providing opportunities,” said Scott.

General Amherst High School pleased with first “Pathways” meeting

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

General Amherst High School welcomed students and parents recently to learn about what “pathways” they can take during and after high school.

The public high school held its first “Pathways Night” where parents and students attended to hear what courses are available now, how they can apply for university or college, how to save and invest properly for post-secondary education, what co-operative education opportunities exist and what the hot jobs are right now.

Radha Patel, student recruitment officer with the University of Windsor, speaks to students and parents at General Amherst High School’s recent “Pathways Night.”

Representatives from the University of Windsor and St. Clair College attended as did representatives from the Bank of Montreal, Workforce Windsor-Essex and peer mentors from General Amherst.

General Amherst principal Melissa DeBruyne said the night was organized by the school’s parent council and the guidance department. She said the evening was the “perfect opportunity” to help students get on the pathway of their choice.

“We’re here to support any pathway that might be,” said DeBruyne.

Julie Wingerden, chair of the parent council, said it was a good chance for parents to get up to speed on what is out there. She noted that parents are busy but this was a night for everyone to get together and find out what current opportunities are and how the students can pursue them.

Approximately 50 people attended the event, something the school was happy with for a first year.

Chere Tulett, head of the guidance department at General Amherst, anticipated this will become an annual event.

Karen Davidson, branch manager at BMO Bank of Montreal in Amherstburg, speaks to parents and students about financial considerations students should plan for in high school and in preparation for university.

“This is a new venture we are wanting to try,” Tulett said. “We are reaching out to parents and students so they can experience all of the different pathways.”

Opportunities have changed over the years, Tulett explained, and the “Pathways Night” helped show both parents and students what is available now and how to go about following whichever direction the student would like. The financial component was well received as it can be stressful for parents and students alike to manage how to pay for post-secondary education.

The format of the evening saw parents and students assemble in the school library before venturing off to various classrooms where guest speakers helped educate and inform those who attended.

General Amherst, Amherstburg police square off in charity hockey game

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Bulldogs boys hockey team and the Amherstburg police hockey team squared off in a game during the holidays, but the big winners were Ontario Special Olympics.

The charity game saw the Bulldogs win on the scoreboard but no one seemed to care about the final result afterword as proceeds went to the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which in turn helps support Special Olympics.

Sgt. Mike Cox said it was the reintroduction of the charity game with General Amherst, noting that players who now play for the police team once played against them when they were in high school. He hoped it would be the first of two charity hockey games before the season is over.

The General Amherst Bulldogs and Amherstburg police hockey teams gather for a group photo following their charity hockey game for the Torch Run Dec. 22. The Torch Run helps support Ontario Special Olympics.

“I’m hoping to play the Admirals at the end of their season,” said Cox. “Hopefully it will be in June after they win a championship.”

The game against the Bulldogs featured several father/son combinations on the Amherstburg police team, including Don and Gage Brown, Chris and Luke Renaud as well as Joe and Kyle Shaw. Joe Shaw is usually an assistant coach with the Bulldogs while Kyle is a former OHL player. Another former OHL player, Zack Percy, also suited up for the police team.

General Amherst head coach Pat Garrett said his team had the opportunity to participate in the charity game and they seized it.

“Obviously, it’s a fantastic cause,” Garrett said of Ontario Special Olympics. “It’s a cause we all believe in.”

Garrett credited General Amherst principal Melissa DeBruyne for getting the game back on the Bulldogs’ schedule. DeBruyne, who played up for the police team, said she was glad to do it.

“It’s just about giving back to Special Olympics,” she said. “It was an opportunity to bring back a past tradition.”

The final day before the Christmas break for the school also saw a staff-student volleyball game and the staff prepare breakfast for the students.

“It’s about bringing the community in,” she said. “It’s the spirit of giving. It was a lot of fun.”

Sgt. Mike Cox drops the puck between General Amherst boys hockey team captain Josh DiCarlo (left) and principal Melissa DeBruyne, who suited up for the police team at the recent charity hockey game.

DeBruyne said the school received donations from Maria’s Restaurant, Meloche’s No Frills, Sobeys, parent council and teachers.

As for her playing for the police team, DeBruyne said she enjoys playing hockey whenever she gets a chance.

“I’ve got such a passion for hockey,” she said. “Every time I get on the ice, I love it.”

General Amherst opens its doors to prospective students at Grade 8 open house

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The buses were cancelled the day of General Amherst High School’s open house but the hallways were still busy later that night.

The school held its Grade 8 open house with the aim of showing prospective students what the school offers and why they should attend starting next September. The cancellation of buses earlier in the day had no negative impact on the event, stated principal Melissa DeBruyne.

“It’s a perfect night,” she said.

DeBruyne said those students who did attend classes during the day got help in their classes and that also paid dividends for the open house.

General Amherst teacher Jason McLean (right) talks to Grade 8 students and parents during the school’s recent Grade 8 open house.

“It was an opportunity for the kids to get extra help,” said DeBruyne. “The kids who came in for extra help also helped set up (for the Grade 8 open house). It couldn’t have been better, actually.”

DeBruyne believes there are several reasons that students should attend General Amherst. She touted the school’s location in the community, the proximity to stores and restaurants and the ability for students to walk to places for extra-curricular activities and co-op placements.

Another reason students should attend General Amherst, she added, came from alumni she hears from. DeBruyne said former students comment to her about how well they were prepared at Amherst for post-secondary education or the workplace.

“We also get a lot of students talking about our clubs,” she added.

The size of the school also plays a factor, DeBruyne believed.

Members of A-Team Robotics show what their robot can do during the Grade 8 open house at General Amherst High School.

“Because it’s a smaller school, everyone knows each other,” said DeBruyne. “We can connect to community events and we can walk to events.”

The Grade 8 open house is usually held in January, but DeBruyne explained they moved it up one month as they didn’t want to have it close to the exam break.

“It felt a little rushed after the Christmas holidays,” she said. “We wanted to do something different.”

Linden Crain, student parliament prime minister, said students should call General Amherst home for the next four years due to its easy access. He said the school is in town and parents can pick up their children easily. He also said it’s close to restaurants and businesses.

“You can connect with teachers because it’s a smaller school,” he added. “Every teacher is qualified in their subject area and the staff participates and has great spirit.”