Western Secondary School

Pumpkinfest continues to be a smashing success



By Christian Bouchard


Large crowds flocked to Western Secondary School for the annual Pumpkinfest over the weekend.

Shoppers were able to browse the school and stop at 113 different booths selling crafts, ranging from soaps, hand crafted wood, knitted toques and much more.

Samantha Thomas, a teacher at the school has been coordinating the event for 23 years and is proud of how many students take pride in the event.

“How many visitors come back, former students and teachers on this weekend amazes me,” said Thomas. “They even come to volunteer. We have students in the parking lot directing traffic in the rain who are already graduated. They always come back to help.”

Alexander Helebich poses with his artwork at the Pumpkinfest craft show this past weekend. Helebich was one of 113 vendors at the craft show throughout the weekend.

Also volunteering were current students as they helped with various tasks throughout the weekend such as setting up tables for vendors, baking and running their booth.

In addition to receiving community hours, students also benefit as proceeds help pay for things such as field trips, guess speakers and other things that aren’t part of the regular course.

“We want to go above and beyond and this helps pay for it,” added Thomas. “Normally students would have to pay a big part, but thanks to this event they now only have to pay about $5.”

Alexander Helebich, owner of Edge of the Woods was one of the 113 vendors throughout the weekend. He said the Pumpkinfest is one of the best festivals he attends every year.

“It’s my second year and it’s one of the most well-known events in the area. It’s local and everyone is so friendly,” said Helebich.

According to Thomas, vendors traveled from as far as Toronto to take part in the event.

“I hear vendors say all the time how this is the best ran craft show, but it’s because of all the help,” said Thomas.




Western Secondary School students raise money for Terry Fox Run


By Ron Giofu


The staff and students at Western Secondary School headed outside last week to raise money for the Terry Fox Foundation.

Western Secondary held its own Terry Fox Run/Walk last Friday afternoon and had close to 200 students take part. The event was organized by the physical education leadership class at Western, which is taught by Maureen Weissenboeck.

“Every student who wanted to participate had to pay $2,” Weissenboeck explained.

Some students went around and collected pledges and the school had a goal of $600.

“We’ve done (a Terry Fox Run/Walk) every year since 2000,” said Weissenboeck. “We’ve raised over $14,000 in 13 years.”

Staff and students at Western Secondary School held their Terry Fox Run/Walk last Friday outside the County Road 8 school. Students walked around the property with participating students having to pay at least $2 in order to participate in the annual event, which has been held every year since 2005.

Cancer has touched Western Secondary School, Weissenboeck continued, as a student died a few years ago from the same type of cancer that Terry Fox had. They honour her memory at the Terry Fox Run/Walk as well as the memories of other family members.

“This is a national initiative that we are trying to take part in,” she said.

The students enjoyed the event, she added, but they also have to learn about Terry Fox as it is part of the physical education curriculum.

Weissenboeck added that the physical education leadership class is planning more events for the students, including a Grade 9 Day and a dodge ball tournament to encourage students who are not currently in physical education classes to be active.

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.


Western Secondary School celebrates Class of 2018


By Julianna Bonnett


Western Secondary School held their 2018 graduation with tons of awards part of this year’s ceremony.

The graduation, which was held last Thursday night at the school, saw 39 students graduate from this year’s class winning bursaries, technical awards, academic awards and special awards.

This year’s award, consist of many, but the Amanda Lassaline award that was handed out came with a standing ovation from the crowd.

Western Secondary School graduates proceed into the auditorium during their June 28 graduation ceremony.

“Our daughter had to overcome a lot of obstacles, just like all of you. This award is going to the person that has shown the most dedication and drive and the person that has not given up,” said Ron Lassaline. The award was given to graduate Tony Wiebe for his undeniable courage and strength throughout his high school years.

Principal Angela Safranyos thanked the graduating students and staff for all their hard work the past few years but she had one last thank you before the night ended.

“Tonight is a night of memories but it’s also a night of farewells, we cannot thank the staff and students enough for all their remarkable achievements, but we must thank Mr. (Brent) Webster, who is leaving us.”

Western Secondary School students are led into their graduation by a bagpiper.

Safranyos rewarded Webster with a farewell speech and a memorable jersey to keep.

Webster shortly thanked the graduates and staff for everything.

“Thank you all for the amazing journey,” said Webster.

People with disabilities given “A Night to Shine” at their own prom



By Ron Giofu


Over 100 people with intellectual disabilities were given an opportunity to “shine” in the spotlight of their very own prom last Friday night.

The Gathering Church, located in south Windsor, held “A Night to Shine” prom for those with disabilities with the event taking place at Western Secondary School. Patty Leno, public relations co-ordinator for The Gathering Church and wife of Pastor Garth Leno, said it is an event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation with over 500 churches around the world holding similar “A Night to Shine” events.

It was the second time The Gathering held one, the first also being at Western Secondary School last year.

Leno stated the point of the event is to show the people with disabilities that “God loves them” as well as their parents, buddies and the community in general. She indicated that some didn’t get a chance to go to a prom while in school.

he Gathering Church held its second “A Night to Shine” prom event for those with intellectual disabilities last Friday night. It was held at Western Secondary School. Adam Hoehne and Jazzy Ankamah walk down the red carpet during the event.

“It’s an amazing night,” said Leno. “They are the stars, they are the kings and queens all night. It’s about recognizing people with special needs and giving them the opportunity to shine.”

The buddies were volunteers who ensured the attendees had a good time. Leno said people supported by Community Living agencies in the region were invited as well as those from Christian Horizons and other agencies who support people with intellectual disabilities. Staff at Western Secondary also helped with planning and invitations with Leno pointing out that some came from as far as Chatham to attend.

Two buddies even came from Toronto, Leno added.

Chantelle Bubnic performs karaoke during “A Night to Shine.”

“They came last year and they wanted to be part of it again,” she said.

“A Night to Shine” was originally scheduled to be in February but was postponed, and later cancelled, due to a snowstorm. The Gathering was able to regroup and bring it back this year but Leno said they will have to take a look at whether they can hold it again next year, noting they lost a lot of perishable items and man-hours when the event was originally cancelled.

“We have to re-assess after this year,” she said. “Certainly, it’s a very worthwhile event. We’d like to be part of it as much as we can.”

Tiffany Todd and Matthew Leung were two of the over 100 guests that attended the “A Night to Shine” prom.

The Gathering was the only church in Canada to host “A Night to Shine” last year and was only one of two in Canada this year, with the other being in Vancouver.

Nicole and Rachel Mantha came to the event and Nicole said Rachel was geared up to go to her prom.

“She’s been waiting all day for this,” said Nicole. “She’s been so excited. We’ve waited a long time for this day.”

Duncan Phelps danced with his date Hailey Nickelson as part of the evening’s enjoyment.

A “crowning ceremony” was held at the conclusion of “A Night to Shine” where all the participants were crowned king and queen of the prom.

“It’s awesome,” said Phelps. “I love how they changed the high school into a magical wonderland.”

Local dignitaries were also on hand to help cheer the prom-goers on with Essex-Windsor EMS and St. Clair College represented, as well as the Town of Amherstburg. Representing the latter were Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, police chief Tim Berthiaume, Sgt. Matt Capel-Cure and Const. Kim Rathbone.

For more photos from the March 23 event, please check out our Facebook album.