Wednesday, 2 August 2017

EMSB to make vacant school building available for refugees

MONTREAL, AUGUST 3, 2017 -   The English Montreal School Board has responded to an urgent request from the Centre intégré universitaire de santé  et de service sociaux (CIUSSS) du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, which is responsible for immigration resettlement on the island of Montreal.

On a daily basis, refugees are crossing the border into Canada from the United States and appropriate shelters are in serious shortage. The CIUSS and Ministry of Education have asked school boards if they can help.

The EMSB has responded to this urgent request by allowing a vacant school to be used as a shelter. The building, located on Henri Julien and Cremazie, will be donated temporarily to this cause for a period of up to one year as the EMSB's contribution to this crisis situation. Work will begin soon to prepare the building for its new occupants.

EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini noted that the Board is presently closed for the usual two week summer break, but many directors and staff are working to respond to this call for help.  "I am pleased that we that we will be able to assist," said  Ms. Mancini. "We all want to do our part to help families who need a roof over their heads. At present, the former St. Raphael School building is empty and not being used by our EMSB community.  So we are pleased to be able to allow the Red Cross to use it for the good of others."

Friday, 30 June 2017

Special Edition of the EMSB Update for June 30, 2017

EMSB BUDGET:  On June 28 the EMSB Council of Commissioners adopted a balanced budget for the 2017-18 school year.  The Council is pleased to highlight that, according to the Budgetary Rules, the EMSB has included in next year’s budget, the equivalent of 15 percent of  the adjusted June 30, 2016 accumulated surplus.  This will allow the board to benefit from an amount of approximately five ($5) million dollars in additional operating monies to support the educational projects in all EMSB schools and centres next year.  Over one-third of this surplus amount ($1.7 million) will be allocated directly to schools and centres to support local projects and initiatives.  Another $600,000 will be allocated via the service departments of the board for various educational initiatives in partnership with the schools and centres.  The Board will be determining the most appropriate and effective use of the non-allocated amount of $2 million at the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year to further support schools and centres in their educational missions.

LIBRARIAN RETIRES: Deborah Novack may be accustomed to turning pages in treasured texts, but the precious chapter she concluded June 2017 covers 29 significant years as a librarian at Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Leonard.  As a working mother of two daughters, one in medical school and the other a recent graduate of UBC, she empathizes with mothers juggling households and careers.

Deborah Novack
Ms. Novack credits her mother, a school librarian for telling her to take typing lessons in the 1970s in order to assume a summer job preparing the library for the fall term. Those were the days before personal computers, the Internet, social media and smart phones; therefore, touch typing proficiency was essential. When it came time for university, Novack applied for law and library science at McGill. She opted for library school because they accepted her first. “After a year of library studies, I was hooked,” recalls Novack. She attained a Master’s degree in Library Science from McGill University in 1981 and subsequently served as librarian in various elementary and high schools under La Commission Scolaire Jêrome Le-Royer (now part of the English Montreal School Board).  

“The tools are different today and students have a lot more ways to access information but the challenge is to teach them to do more research than simply turn to Google or Wikipedia,” she said, alluding to the importance of seeking truth, referring to multiple texts and respecting Intellectual Property. “They must be knowledgeable because it takes a critical eye to evaluate the material, not just copy and paste. The catch phrase today is alternate truth and it’s so easy to fall into it.” 

YA WRITERS CONTEST: The winners of YA Media’s YA Writers Contest were announced at a red carpet event on Sunday, June 25  at the Leonardo Da Vinci Center in St. Leonard. Students from the EMSB and the Lester B. Pearson School Board attended to celebrate their story-writing talents. YA Magazine’s YA Writers Contest invited students from Grades 1 to 11 sfrom the EMSB and LBPSB to submit handwritten, original, illustrated stories that were no longer than 12 pages, to Giancarlo Mirabelli, YA Magazine editor and teacher, and Carolyn Flower, published author and head of Entrerprises Global. Of the 1,000 entries submitted, 40 students from three grade categories at each school board were selected as finalists. These students were invited to attend the gala, walk the glamorous red carpet, and enjoy the award ceremony hosted by local comedian Guido Grasso. 

Winners from John Paul I Junior High School showcase their certificates.
Winners from the EMSB were: Sara Lijoi, Grade 4 (Dante School); Thomas Proctor, Grade 4 (Gardenview); Neve Leblanc, Grade 3 (Royal Vale); Sydney Schnurbach, Grade 4 (Merton); Jaime Kunin, Grade 4 (Merton); Clara Dilazzaro, Grade 6 (Leonardo Da Vinci); Gianna D'Amico, Grade 5; Liem Yiep, Grade 5 (Willingdon);  Sandro Lijoi, Grade 6 (Dante); Alyssa Guaragna, Grade 6 (East Hill); Jenny Gagne, (JFK); Cecile Castro, Grade 10 (John F. Kennedy); Erica Nudo, Grade 8 (John Paul I); Alexander Meleras, Grade 9 (Royal West Academy); Cosimo Nicita, Grade 7 (John Paul I). Stories were judged by Concordia students, journalism professionals and literary experts. The winningstories will be compiled in an e-book titled Ya! Storybook, which will be available worldwide on Amazon in November. Congratulations to these soon-to-be-published authors. See our photo album from the ceremony.

UNIVERSAL WASHROOM: An official ribbon cutting ceremony took place at Lester B. Pearson High School (LBPHS) of the EMSB in Montreal North on June 19 for  the inauguration of its universal washroom.

Celebrating the launch of the Universal Washroom.
Lester B. Pearson High School’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) student members worked in collaboration with Principal Joseph Vitantonio and Guidance Counsellor Natasha Krsteski to provide students with a washroom that is accessible to all.This unique new washroom is gender neutral and universally accessible. It includes two stalls, one of which is wheelchair accessible. It was important for the students to make this washroom as comfortable as possible. “School is our second home. Everyone should feel safe,” shared LBPHS student and GSA member Sonia. This thoughtfully planned washroom is also a place to learn and share. On the sink counter rests a rack of pamphlets that inform on relevant topics, from sexual orientation to contraception. A poster in one of the stalls sends a message about changing the way people are treated online, and encourages students to post positive messages.

The entrance door to the universal washroom is beautifully painted with stars and planets, thanks to art teacher Ms. Koranteng. A plaque hangs beside the door indicating the washroom is accessible to men, women, and has wheelchair access. This information is provided in Braille on the plaque. EMSB Regional Director Evelyn Alfonsi was thanked by Principal Vitantonio for providing the funding for the universal washroom.  EMSB Vice- Chair and Commissioner Sylvia Lo Bianco and Spiritual, Religious and Moral Education Consultant Frank Lofeodo were present for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Guests all enjoyed a reception to celebrate this important accomplishment.

Showcasing their new community garden.
WILLINGDON'S 375 PROJECT:  To mark Montreal’s 375th anniversary, Grade 6 students at Willingdon Elementary School in N.D.G., along with science specialist Dr. Kathleen Usher and Urban Planning student Myriam Fakhri, embarked on a project that spoke to the needs of the school and surrounding community. Called Design 375 and funded by Youth Fusion, students chose to install benches, bike racks, plant a community garden and trees as well as paint two murals with welcoming messages of peace and hope. Neighbours can now use the lovely benches to read or picnic under the shady canopy of the apple and birch trees. Students can arrive at school and enjoy the colourful mural as they stow their bicycle for the day, teachers can use the site as part of an outdoor classroom to read, draw, garden and enjoy, and parents can chat on the benches as they wait for their children at dismissal. Next year, the project will be expanded with the planting of native fruit bearing trees to help urban wildlife as well as the school’s colony of honey bees.  Principal Carmen Nicolas wishes   to thank Vice Principal Vito Guererro and the Grade 6 teachers for their help ensuring the project was completed by the end of the school year. 

Pierre Elliott Trudeau staff and students with Johnny the Robot.
ROBOCUP LAUNCH: The City of Montreal will host the 22nd Robocup International Competition and Symposium  one year from now, June 15 to 22, 2018. EMSB Science and Technology Consultant Sara Iatauro is the local organizing committee chair.The RoboCup Federation, a distinguished non-profit research and development organization, annually hosts an international event with intelligent and autonomous cutting-edge robots developed by students world-wide. This federation is backed by industries, professionals and researchers from 35 countries who pioneer innovative new autonomous robotic and AI technologies. The Canadian RoboCup delegation is pleased to have been awarded their bid to host this prestigious event at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. This further  supports Canada’s position as a leader in AI and reinforces the government mandate to advance scientific research and innovations. At  the RoboCup International 2018 Montreal Canada Launch, several schools and universities will be showcasing their robot prototypes three of which will be competing in the RoboCup International 2017 event in Nagoya, Japan this summer. The EMSB qualifying schools in their RoboCup Leagues are:  Merton Elementary, Rescue JUNIOR League; Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary, OnStage JUNIOR League; and Royal West Academy, Soccer JUNIOR League.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau will be participating this summer in Nagoya, Japan. See this press release on the launch.

O CANADA WINNER: Congratulations to John Caboto Academy in Ahuntsic, winners of the Breakfast TV Montreal O Canada contest. See this link.

Having some fun in St. Laurent.
TAKING THE PLUNGE: St. Laurent Adult Centre Principal Daniela Lattanzio took the plunge to implement the theatre program as an option course for Academic Students. The program director, Lina Maiorano,  is relentless in preparing her students in a step by step program of study towards building a professional performance.  Students attended class every day for three months and all took the responsibility of being each other’s understudy and carried their own main role with pride.
The students performed four short plays written by Lina Maiorano and the themes covered were: Anti-Bullying; education is the road to success; not being in a relationship is okay; and correcting bad behavior. The audience was in awe and shared their positive feedback with the cast. Lina enjoyed sharing her knowledge of theatre with her students and is forever gratified to Ms. Lattanzio and the EMSB for allowing her to share her expertise.

Two Laurier Macdonald  Secondary V students won the  Fonds 1804 Bursaries for school perseverance: Vanessa Marzano and Alissia Gomes,  seen above with Vice-Principal Miranda Serrecchia.

CONCERT TO BENEFIT CATS AT WAGAR:The Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC) will hold its annual benefit concert on Tuesday, August 22 (7:30 p.m.) at the Syd Wise Auditorium (5785 Parkhaven) of the Wagar Adult Education Centre. Featured performers will be the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (, conducted by Joseph Milo. Noted soprano  Fairouz Oudjida  will  also present a solo performance The selection of music will be light classical pieces around the theme of Dance. Funds raised will go towards the CSLCC’s Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program. The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) was founded in 2006 . This one of a kind orchestra is composed of 55 musicians: about 80 percent of its members are from 15 countries around the world, while the remaining 20 percent are natives of Montreal who successfully facilitated the integration of the newcomers. Tickets are only $12 each (tax included) and can be purchased now at the following locations: the main desk at the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library (5851 Cavendish Boulevard); the Côte Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre (5794 Parkhaven Avenue); and the Côte Saint-Luc Hospital for Animals (7930 Baily Road). Tickets can be purchased at the first two locations by credit and debit card or cash and cash only at the Animal Hospital.  You can also contact Mike Cohen at

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!