Thursday, 16 February 2017

John Grant High School students create wonderful mural project on lockers and walls

Marie Francis, a teacher at John Grant High School in Côte Saint-Luc, says she wanted to get rid of the depressing “prison gray” walls in the building and instead  brighten up the school hallways and  do so in a creative way.

John Grant is a high school in the EMSB that targets students who have academic struggles or who have mild to severe intellectual impairments. It focuses on getting some students a Pre-Work Ministry Certification, instead of a high school diploma.

Ms. Francis assigned 21 of her students to create a mural along the lockers and walls of the hallway on the third floor of John Grant. Her student teacher, Sinthia Cousineau, took charge of this project and worked alongside artist Marcio Melo.

The John Grant mural project was carried out February 13 to 15.  Students were eager to work on this for three days and it built up their will to learn about the theme, aboriginal culture and art.

Part of the mural at John Grant High School (Photo credit: Eleni Giannakas)

Sara, a student partaking in this project, says, “My favourite part was brainstorming. This art and creativity comes out of our hearts.” She was very happy to talk about the project, showing me her favorite sections of the mural. Selena, Allison, and Maurine are students of Ms. Francis and are also working on the mural project. They all agree that they love it and they wish it could continue. All three girls liked different aspects of this mural such as painting, drawing, and designing.

Allison partaking in the mural production (Photo credit: Eleni Giannakas)

Mr. Melo, an architect by profession,  took part in this project. This added to the 170 murals he’s already done around Quebec. He moved from Brazil to Montreal to start his career and to follow his passion of art. “This projects allows everyone to collaborate and share space with each other,” he said. “The students can express themselves as they are in the present moment.”

The 21 students created beautiful murals across lockers and walls on the third floor. This will be a three-year production, as they will continue across the whole corridor to brighten up the lives of the students and their environment. They hope this will become a trend in schools so that everyone has a chance to express themselves creatively.

 “This mural project has a community collective impact,” says Ms. Cousineau, who despite only have been student teaching at John Grant for a few months has developed a close connection with her students and enjoys what they’re doing together.

Ms. Cousineau  jumped at the opportunity to do this mural and guided it towards Canadian aboriginal cultures. Ms. Francis agrees that this project is indeed wonderful for everyone.

Sinthia Cousineau, Marie Francis, and Marcio Melo (Photo credit: Eleni Giannakas)

You can view the mural in process video made by Sinthia Cousineau here:

Or visit her website:

Visit Marcio Melo's website:

Monday, 13 February 2017

Schools are open today, despite heavy snow

All five island boards have agreed to stay open today despite the heavy snowfall. It looks like the snow is finished and it is expected to be -4C this afternoon. The bus companies stated that there will probably be many delays,  but it is safe to roll out the buses. 

We are asking parents for patience. Children's safety is our priority, 

Toutes nos écoles et nos  centres  sont  ouverts   aujourd hui.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Reverse Integration Spots Available at Mackay Centre School

The EMSB and the Mackay Centre School in NDG are continuing a joint venture, begun in 1973, in which a limited number of children in pre-kindergarten through Grade 6 are given an opportunity to attend for one year. Reverse Integration students follow the regular curriculum and learn alongside students with physical disabilities at Mackay.

The program boasts small class sizes, smart boards in each classroom, weekly swimming and computer classes, as well as the opportunity to learn and/or play alongside children who use sign language, voice synthesizers, and adapted equipment for recreation and mobility.

If you are interested in having your child/children attend the reverse integration program for a year please complete and submit two copies of the application either by mail or fax (514 485-7254) postmarked by February 13, 2017. Please note that children with special needs or IEP’s are not eligible to apply. Additional application forms are available at your school office or on the Mackay Centre School website.

Please take the opportunity to learn more about our school and reverse integration program by visiting Children eligible to attend the reverse integration program will be invited for a two-day visit in March.  At this time, applicants will be screened and selected based on individual class needs.  Parents will be invited to attend an information meeting on the first day of their child’s visit.  A tour of the school and the classrooms will be organized at that time. 

I interviewed the children that have participated in this year’s reverse integration program at Mackay, and it’s all great feedback. For example, young Ethan (who’s 9 years old), found out about this program from a friend, and knew that this is what he wanted to do. He enjoyed his visits to the Mackay Centre and became a great role model for his classmates.

Ethan and his classmate Charlotte (who has a sister in pre-kindergarten), who’s also an RI student, get involved in their classes and encourage their peers to interact with them and their teachers. They both are very smart and kind kids. Ethan and Charlotte are only in grade 3 but they love to help out their many friends in any way they can.

Ethan and Charlotte, Grade 3. (Photo: Eleni Giannakas)

Autumn, in grade 4, is always eager for work. She has many friends throughout the school and when she’s done her work, she has fun helping her classmates and friends with their work. She’s great at explaining things in different ways to help the others understand what they’re trying to accomplish.

Autumn, Grade 4. (Photo: Eleni Giannakas)

Jaqueline, in grade 6, is the older sister of Ethan. She’s also in the reverse integration program and is having a blast. She’s well adjusted and loves the curriculum. Her favourite class is gym and she has a lot of friends in the school. Her classmate, Asher, told me all about how happy he was that there’s no bullying in the school. He said that everyone gets along great and says, “it’s very inclusive.”

Jaqueline and Asher, Grade 6. (Photo: Eleni Giannakas)

I also talked to some teachers who thought the program was good. Pansy, a pre-kindergarten teacher, says that the RI students “See the other children as friends and regular kids.” She loves that these reverse integration children are able to communicate and go back to their schools with a greet message about what they’ve learnt.

Simon, Simone, Ruby, Ethan, Charlotte, Autumn, Asher, and Jaqueline are great kids in the reverse integration program at the Mackay Centre School. They’re just a few examples of what our community can do if we are open and are willing to learn about equality amongst everyone, disabled or not.

For more information about the reverse integration program at the Mackay Centre School, you can contact Patrizia Ciccarelli (the principle) at (514)482-0001 extension 1600 or Denise Maroun, the vice-principle, at (514)482-0001 extension 1602.

Reverse Integration spots are still available!

Monday, 8 February 2016

When the score didn't matter: Marymount Adult Education Centre's unique hockey day

By Gregory Caltabanis

Samuel Moskovitch Arena in Côte Saint-Luc  was the venue and hockey was on the agenda,  but what transpired on the ice was an afterthought to the whole spectacle.

A few hundred special needs students from Marymount Adult Education Centre and John Grant High School made their way to the arena to take in their first ever hockey game. “We also have students from over 75 countries learning French or English who have never seen a game. It’s part of our job to have them share the culture,” said Jacques Monfette, the principal of Marymount Adult Education Centre.
A great time was had by all.

For Monfette, watching the students engaged in the action is like no other feeling. “If you associate Montreal with one thing, it’s hockey, he said.  “We provide them with this and I always get a kick of seeing their reactions once the game begins or once they see the speed of the puck in person.”

This year it was a special needs student named Carlo who kicked off the event with the traditional opening puck drop. Carlo was at the Philip E. Layton School for the Blind and has been at Marymount Adult Centre since September. He and his friends relished the opportunity to participate in this year’s Hockey Day. Once the game kicked off, the arena was buzzing with excitement. For the first few minutes of the game, most students were on their feet cheering on the teams. If you didn’t know any better, one would think we were taking in a Montreal Canadiens game at the Bell Centre.

However, Marymount’s second Annual Hockey Day would not have been possible without the help of Hockey WithoutBorders, who provided the teams for the game. “I told  the organizer Scott Berish that I needed two teams and he came through for us,” said Monfette.

Hockey Without Borders is a non-profit organization which looks to promoting health and activity to youth.   For Berish it was all about showing everyone a good time. “I really hope they had fun because it’s just an amazing event,” he said. “For me, on the other hand, it’s more of a humbling experience.

Over the past 10 years, Berish has conducted skating clinics for the blind and continues to give back to the community.  He particularly enjoys Marymount’s Annual Hockey Day as it gives the special needs students the possibility to do something they would have otherwise not had the chance to do. “They are vulnerable in a way that we all are and we get to provide them with this amazing day,” he says. “They just love hockey and we do it to connect and share the experience with them.”

Myron Weekes, a teacher at Marymount Adult Centre, shares a similar sentiment to Berish. “I’m happy to see them go to a hockey game as it’s an opportunity that they don’t always have due to facilities and whatnot. It’s really a great inspiration and serves as an example to the rest of the community,” he said.

Hockey Without Borders’ ambassador  Ron Perowne was also in attendance and helped with the puck drop. “I was encouraged when I saw the crowd,” said Perowne. “It’s truly inspiring. “

It was coincidentally Perowne’s birthday. He  would go on to say that seeing the students’ reaction to the game was “the best birthday present I could have ever asked for.”

Monfette also touched upon the importance of his school’s hockey day. “It’s a binding experience for our Marymount community,” he said. “The teachers and students have been excited all week. All I want is for everyone to go home and to tell people on Monday how proud they were to attend our Hockey Day.”

This was the second Annual Marymount Cup and it appears to be staying for years to come. “We typically bring the students apple picking or to Cabane à Sucre but this event has become an annual thing for sure,” said Monfette. looking ahead to the future.

When it was all said and done and the students boarded the buses back to their respective schools, no one even mentioned the score of the game. The fact of the matter was that, quite frankly, it didn’t matter. What truly mattered was seeing countless students revel in their first ever hockey game.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Royal Vale’s Hockey Program Distinguishes Them From the Rest

By: Gregory Caltabanis

When walking into Royal Vale School in NDG  you would not be wrong by thinking that its not much different from the other elementary schools in the area. The staff is helpful, the teachers are conducting their lessons and the students are going about their business. After taking a deeper look into the school, however, it becomes apparent that their hockey program sets them apart from the rest.

Over a decade ago, Royal Vale physical education teacher Norman Katz created a hockey program with the goal of promoting health and activity. These programs are typically found in high schools therefore it was unique initiative, said Katz.
Norman Katz and some students.
But how did it come to be? According to Katz, it all started when his colleagues at nearby Lower Canada College, a school renown for its impressive athletics programs, asked him if hed like to put a team together from Royal Vale to compete in a league. Katz would accept the proposition and made elementary school history in the 2011-2012 season when Royal Vale finished in third place and qualified for the playoffs for the first time.

Katz did admit that starting this program from scratch was a bit overwhelming at first. I told them I didnt know if I can do this," he said.  "I needed an arena. We simply didn't have the infrastructure,

Determined to see this idea out,  Katz eventually succeeded in creating  the program, despite the fact no public elementary school had something similar. Being a public school kid all my life Ive always believed that kids should have the same opportunities," he said. "The fact that they can do things that anyone can is important to me."

The philosophy of the program is a simple one. Whether you are a male or a female, you can play on the team if you are good enough. Our captain of the team is a female,"  Katz said. The first two goals of the program were scored by a girl, Danielle Shemie,

While he acknowledges its not easy for girls to play with their male counterparts for a number of reasons, Katz says he is happy the school welcomes them to play. It takes a strong character because you have to be okay with being around the guys," he said. "You want to be a part of the team. Im proud of every girl who has come through our program."

Katz recalled some of his fondest moments since the inception of the program. We participate in a tournament at Lower Canada College every year with teams from all across Canada coming," he notes. "When they come here, they ask themselves who we are but now they know who Royal Vale is because of our program,"

Recently Royal Vale and Rapid Hockey Development have decided to work in collaboration together to offer students the opportunity to hone their hockey skills in a unique concentration program. For Katz, the introduction of this program will only continue to promote a hockey spirit at the school but he did express one concern. Fundamentally I didn't want the kids to pay any additional money to pay for this program," he said. " here is a cost involved to participate but there are also positive spin offs,  

At the moment, it costs $1,375 to sign up for Rapid Hockey Development, which includes 72 hours of on-ice training among other things. There are some kids in my program who are on it and are getting more training,|" he said. "Ideally, you think we can be a better team due to this program. s

This relationship with Rapid Hockey Development has helped Royal Vale foster one with Concordia University.

One of the coaches at Rapid Hockey Development knew Marc-André Element, the coach of the hockey team at Concordia and asked if some of our students could go see a game, recalled Katz. 

Plans call for  Royal Vale students to  attend a hockey game at Concordia University on February 12 Im hoping about 100 students could make the game, but it will depend on the parents, said an enthusiastic Katz.

Elaborating on Royal Vales growing relationship with Concordia, Katz went on to say that its something he welcomes. I think like in anything it has potential to lead to other things," he said. "The connection with an elementary school and a university is an interesting one. Many of these kids may even end up going to Concordia in the future. Concordia has sent a number of athletes to their Jump Rope for Heart Day while a number of Royal Vale students attended a womens hockey game last year."

While not even Katz can predict where his program will go in the future, one things clear: When it comes to elementary school athletics, Royal Vale is doing things right and represents a model for others to follow.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016


The English Montreal School Board is pleased with news that agreements in principle have been reached between its unions and the Quebec government and that the ban on extra-curricular activities will be lifted.

While these agreements still must come to votes in the weeks ahead, EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini said she welcomes a return to normalcy.

“I commend all parties for coming together,” said Ms. Mancini. “As the parent of a high school student, I know what a hardship it was not to have those extra-curricular activities in place. We value the work done by all of our employees and know that all parties concerned are delighted we can get back our regular routines of athletic competitions, field trips, school plays and many other activities.”

Ms. Mancini said she will be part of meetings next week with the Quebec English School Boards Association and the Comité patronal de négociation pour les commissions scolaires anglophones (CPCNA) to hear the summary points of the agreements reached with each unionized group.  “Once information and details become available, we will have more to say on the subject,” she said.  

Peter Sutherland, president of the Montreal Teachers Association, issued this statement: “As you are probably aware, we have reached agreements in principle with the government on both sectorial and inter-sectorial issues. We will be having a special general meeting in a couple of weeks in order to ratify the agreement by vote. You will receive detailed information about both agreements before then. In the meantime, we are suspending all actions related to our negotiations, including the 32-hour workweek and boycotting of extra-curricular activities. Put simply, those extra-curricular activities can resume.”

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
(514) 483-7200, ext. 7243

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Bernard Praw wins EMSB by-election in Côte Saint-Luc-Hampstead

Bernard Praw  captured the English Montreal School Board by-election for commissioner in Côte Saint-Luc-Hampstead on Sunday, December 13.

Mr. Praw obtained 328 votes (44.63 percent) compared to 230 for Michele Cohen (31.29 percent) and 177 for Charlotte Smoley (24.08 percent).

Mr. Praw, who previously served as a commissioner for St. Laurent for more than 20 years, fills the seat left vacant following the passing of Syd Wise in November.

There were 736 votes, representing an 8.01 percent turnout.
Bernard Praw