It has been just over a month now since the staff and students from JPPS Elementary School left their long-time home on Van Horne Avenue and relocated to beautifully renovated premises at what is now known as the JPPS-Bialik campus on Kildare Road and Marc Chagall in Côte Saint-Luc. In fact, the slogan they use is “The Campus of Tomorrow.”
As the city councillor for District 2, where the campus is situated, I was delighted to accept an invitation to tour the facility in the company of Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. We were warmly greeted at the front door by a team of students who shook our hands and introduced themselves. In fact the same thing occurred at every class we stepped into, even at the Kindergarten level.
Work began last summer to renovate the building, which has always housed Bialik High School. It was nicely done, carefully separating the Kindergarten to Grade 6 students with the Grade 7 to 11 level. The fully updated and modernized JPPS Elementary School is now firmly rooted in the Bialik building, complete with a newly renovated library, state-of-the-art classrooms, new furniture including bicycle and standing desks, enhanced technology, a new fenced–in playground area, two gyms, and the Lederman Foundation Synagogue. The elementary and high schools have separate start, finish and recess times. There is an idea paint whiteboard in each class (that means you can write on the walls and it comes off).
“At JPPS, we are preparing a new generation of innovative Jewish thinkers who will have the creativity, insight, knowledge and empathy to make a positive difference in the world,” said Principal Marnie Stein, who gave us the tour along with Head of School Maureen Baron and communications director Shelley Paris. “Every day our students discover, uncover and explore the world around them with the guidance of our dedicated and talented faculty. While we pride ourselves on academic excellence, we are equally invested in our students’ developing a strong moral character and a dedication to derech eretz (ethical living). We believe that school can be much more than simply a place of academic enrichment. It can be the place where learning memories are made, friendships are cultivated, self-esteem can blossom and where future leaders are encouraged to question and think divergently.”
JPPS will hold a couple of Open Houses to showcase their new digs: Thursday, April 14 ( 7 pm to 9 pm) and Friday, April 15 ( 9 am to 11 am). -
On April 14 the Lederman Foundation Synagogue will receive a new Torah. The Israeli Sofer who wrote the Torah has been in town all week. During this time, he has been working with all of the students on a grade-by-grade basis, teaching them about the tradition of Torah calligraphy. I had a chance to see him in action.
While there is now increased traffic in the area due to the influx of more students, JPPS-Bialik staff are keeping order as they have been in recent years. The police due perform spot checks and on one recent day they gave out a slew of tickets for parking infractions.
I saw many familiar faces among staff and they are all so pleased to be in Côte Saint-Luc, none more than a resident of Merrimac Road who has the quickest walk to work she ever dreamed of.