Aug 31, 2012- 11:24 AM
Holy Cross to pay tribute to closed schools
That doesn't mean he isn't sad that his old school, St. Christopher Catholic Elementary School, closed its doors for the last time in June. Students at St. Chrisopher, along with their peers at St. Theresa and Corpus Christi Elementary Schools, will now be attending Holy Cross.
“I'm kind of sad, because a whole bunch of my cousins went there,” Hill said. “I went there since senior kindergarten. So yeah, I'm kind of sad that we're leaving it.”
At the same time, he said he's looking forward to taking advantage of the new features of the school — especially the gym — as well as getting to know his new classmates.
Louise Franklin, principal of the 406-student, junior kindergarten to Grade 6 school, said the past isn't being forgotten as the new school opens.
Last spring, students at St. Christopher, St. Theresa and Corpus Christi Elementary Schools collected rocks from their respective schoolyards. The rocks were then blessed by Father Patrick Hutton from St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church.
On Sept. 14, as part of Holy Cross' opening mass, the students will scatter the rocks in their new schoolyard.
The crucifixes from the old schools will also find a home at Holy Cross, and a parent is incorporating school T-shirts from St. Christopher, St. Theresa and Corpus Christi into an arts and crafts project which will eventually be displayed at the school.
It's been a long road just to get to this point.
The decision to close the schools and build Holy Cross was made after an accommodation review in the South End area.
As well, students enrolled at Corpus Christi as of this past school year were given the choice of attending either Holy Cross or St. Francis Catholic Elementary School. All new students who would have previously attended Corpus Christi will be sent to St. Francis.
Because so many of the former Corpus Christi students opted to attend Holy Cross, Franklin said the school has had to convert its daycare space into classrooms.
She said she expects the number of students at the school to gradually drop as the years go by, because more students will be sent to St. Francis instead.
Partly due to construction delays, Holy Cross is also opening a year later than originally planned. Construction on the building was actually completed in March, but the school board decided to move the students into the school this September instead.
“That way everybody moves in at the same time, and everybody feels that they're belonging at the same time,” Franklin said.
The school, which is located on the same property as St. Benedict Catholic Elementary School, teaches both French Immersion and English students, she said. Although it isn't offering daycare right now, it will provide after-school care to about a quarter of its students.
It features a gym, separate play areas for kindergarten and older students, smart boards in every classroom, large windows and an energy-efficient design, Franklin said.
Being so close to St. Benedict is a definite advantage, she said, as Holy Cross students will be able to take advantage of the high school's amenities. When they reach Grade 7, they'll be able to attend St. Benedict themselves.
As a tip of the hat to the fact that they're on the same campus as St. Benedict, Holy Cross' sports teams will be known as the Holy Cross Cubs. St. Benedict's teams are known as the St. Benedict Bears.
The school's 36 staff have been extremely busy with getting the building ready over the past few weeks, the principal said.
“But there's a good feel in the building right now,” Franklin said. “The energy's high, and teachers are excited. So, the only thing missing right now are the students.”
To make sure the students aren't strangers when they begin classes Sept. 4, there's already been a lot of effort to introduce them.
Last winter, Grade 1-3 students at all three schools got together for a day of outdoor recreation, science and team-building activities. Grade 4-6 students met up for a similar day at Fielding Park.
There was also a Valentine's Day dance for students and parents at all three schools, and once Holy Cross was completed in March, they were given tours.
Grade 6 French Immersion student Louie Leriche said he can't wait to begin classes at Holy Cross. He said he loves pretty much everything about the school, from the gym to the water-bottle refill stations to the new smartboards in every classroom.
“I love it mostly because it's new,” the 11-year-old said. “My old school was old. This school is much bigger.”
Although he's moving to a new school, Leriche will have the same teacher as he did last year. Grade 5 and 6 French Immersion teacher Monique Blais-Callaway moved along with Leriche from St. Theresa the new school.
“I definitely think it's going to be a great school,” she said. “We have a lot of people coming together who are very enthusiastic and very committed to making this whole new school work.”
Blais-Callaway said her favourite feature of Holy Cross is the microphone and speaker system in every classroom, ensuring all her students can hear what she's saying.
“We wear a small microphone around our neck,” she said.
“We also have a portable microphone students can use when they're answering questions or up in front. It's especially good for the ones that are very shy and quiet. They have their little microphone and they can be rock stars up there.”