Wednesday, October 6 will be a unique day for me because my roles as the head of communications and marketing for the English Montreal School Board and city councillor for Côte Saint-Luc will converge. There is a much anticipated public information meeting set to take place at 7:30 p.m. about the possibility of establishing a unique public high school in Côte Saint-Luc. It will take place at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall (5801 Cavendish Boulevard).
Momentum is building for this meeting and a large turnout is expected.
EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini notes while attention is being placed on the West End for October 6, she hopes that options and ideas for other parts of the Board’s territory will be explored at future meetings. Ms. Mancini appointed Commissioner Syd Wise as the chair of a special committee to look at possible focus schools.
“This meeting in Côte Saint-Luc will provide an opportunity for parents of future high school students in the West End to provide their input into what kind of secondary institution they would like to see,” Ms. Mancini remarked.
“Initial feedback has indicated there is interest in a school with a heritage–academic program, as well as interest in a school with a sports concentration program,” added Dr. Wise, himself a one-time principal of the former Wagar High School.
I am 1980 graduate of Wagar. At that time it was indeed considered populasr "local" school, with more than 1,000 students.
Wagar closed after the 2004-2005 academic year. Enrolment had dropped below 300. That building on Parkhaven Avenue, renamed the Giovanni Palatucci Facility, in memory of the Italian diplomat whose efforts saved the lives of more than 5,000 Jews, presently houses the Marymount Adult Education Centre, the John Grant special needs high school and the EMSB Book Processing Centre.
Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, who will speak at the October 6 meeting, has openly called for a public high school to be re-established in his city. He has appointed one member of his council, retired school teacher Allan J. Levine, to work as a liaison with the EMSB to see this through. The Town of Hampstead is also supporting this project and Councillor Bonnie Feigenbaum, who holds the community services and recreation portfolio, will be present on October 6. She is even interested in the proposed news school for one of her daughters.
“We believe that the West End community, notably residents of Côte Saint-Luc and Hampstead, will embrace this option,” said Dr. Wise.
Dr. Wise points out that the former Wagar facility is modern and spacious, featuring a double gymnasium, an auditorium, library, science labs, two large fields and tennis courts. Across the street is the Côte Saint-Luc outdoor pool and an indoor gymnasium. Construction will start soon on an $18 million multi-purpose centre attached to the gym which will contain two indoor pools, one for competitive swimming. Two blocks away is the Samuel Moskovitch hockey arena and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park, which has three baseball fields and a walking path,
The EMSB is calling upon parents of children presently in elementary schools – both public and private -- to attend this meeting and provide their thoughts of the type of high school they would like to see for their youngsters. The EMSB Long Range Planning Committee is expected to make recommendations next March for major school change.