Director General's Report to Council for March 2023

by Cindy Finn, Director General, LBPSB

Once March break happens and classes resume, the pace of the school year picks up considerably. We can definitely sense that spring is in the air even if the weather is not yet cooperating. Hopefully milder days filled with sunshine are just around the corner!

There was a lot of metaphorical sunshine throughout the Lester B Pearson school board this month. In my report, I will highlight some examples of this sunnier side to life in our community.

On Sunday March 19th, the time-honoured tradition of Lester B. Pearson’s participation in the St. Patrick’s Day parade returned. I must admit that as Director General of our school board and a person of Irish heritage, it was a special moment for me to take part in this event. This year the parade was back in full force with decorated floats and marching bands who entertained the crowds of smiling people lining the streets of downtown Montreal. Despite the blustery weather and cold wind, the students of Terry Fox Elementary warmed our hearts by representing our school board in fine fashion. The Terry Fox school band, under the leadership of their music teacher Corey Craigmyle and Principal Doug Stewart, played an assortment of songs as we sailed down St. Catherine Street. It was a historic moment for our school board as it was the first time we had elementary students perform in the parade. Everyone who turned out was a superstar! The icing on the cake was being recognized with an award by the United Irish Societies for Best Amateur float in the parade. A very big thank you is owed to our Equipment Services team for building, decorating and driving the float, to our Communications and Community Development team for organizing it all and capturing the magic of the day in pictures. And of course, thank you to the Terry Fox students and parents for stepping up in a big way to showcase our sense of community spirit.

Words of appreciation are also due to our Educational Services team and elementary schools for reviving another Lester B. tradition – Math Olympics! Not only was it a return of this event that had been on hiatus the last couple of years, it was also the 20th anniversary of Math Olympics at Lester B. Pearson. On the evening of March 21st, grade 6 students from various elementary schools gathered at PCHS to calculate and problem solve their way through a slew of math problems. Winning teams came from Westpark, Clearpoint, and Children’s World Academy. Congratulations to all of our math whizzes out there!

I began my report talking about the weather and all the good things that spring brings. One last bit of good news coming Lakeside Academy’s way is as a winner of the Cool your School contest. This initiative, sponsored by the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and the National Bank, promotes sustainable development by encouraging schools to think of projects that focus on composting, recycling, energy savings, or use of biodegradable products. The winning entry submitted by Lakeside reflects a desire to transform their outdoor spaces to aid with stress reduction and environmental sustainability. The grant money will be used to improve their school grounds in Lachine by planting additional trees, creating a flower garden to help with pollination for the beehive the school already has on site, and planting a vegetable garden. Not only will the additional trees and plants help green the environment, the honey and vegetables produced in house will also be used by Lakeside students in their cooking classes.

Lakeside is on an environmental roll; they are truly keen to be green! Earlier this year, Lakeside was also one of our schools chosen for a climate change grant from the Quebec government. Under the supervision of their science teacher, students at Lakeside are pairing up with students from the McGill University Bioresource program to use solar panels as a way to capture energy and use it to charge cell phones. Congratulations to Lakeside students and staff for being such leaders in sustainable development!

I wish everyone a happy start to spring, and for those in our community currently observing Ramadan, I wish you joy and peace. Ramadan Kareem.