Sarah Cassoff is in Grade 11 at Lindsay Place High School. She started at the school in Grade 7, and after five years there, she is almost sad to graduate.
“It’s a small school, so everyone knows each other, everyone gets along with everyone,” 16-year-old Sarah said. “It’s really good. The teachers are good, the administration is good. I have never heard anything bad happen here.”
The future of her beloved school is now uncertain. The Lester B. Pearson School Board is studying the future of Lindsay Place, along with several other Montreal high schools, including nearby St. Thomas High School and Beurling Academy in Verdun. It’s all part of the board’s commitment to its Major School Change plan.
The board has made it clear schools with low enrollment can’t continue with the status quo. Lindsay Place currently has 400 students, while it has the capacity for 1,300.
One option the board is considering is moving St. Thomas to Lindsay Place, partly because the school is in good physical shape.
While the future of the school won’t affect Sarah directly, she worries about younger kids.
“You are with everyone you know, you have created those bonds and then new people are going to come in and ruin those bonds,” she said.
Lindsay Place principal Kerry Payette says there is no doubt people are feeling unsettled but she realizes changes are needed.
“We recognize we need to populate our school,” she said.
She says teachers have been holding regular discussions with the students about what is going on.
“It’s appropriate dialogue in that life is about change and life is about uncertainty at times and how do we face that,” Payette said. “The students are so resilient and often the adults, we take our lead from them.”
The board held a town hall meeting at the school Wednesday night to hear from the school community.
Kim Ryan attended the meeting. Her 13-year-old son Zachary has special needs and he’s in Grade 7 at Lindsay Place. She said he became a changed person after starting there in September.
“Literally this child walked in that first day being scared and came out going ‘I got this,'” Ryan said.
She praises the school’s resources for kids like Zachary. She worries what could happen in a merger.
“How are we going to guarantee that these children — because they are not the cream of the crop, and they are not in the middle, but they need to have attention paid to them — how are they going to get what they need?” she said.
Briefs on the schools future need to be submitted by Nov. 15. It’s likely the board will make a final decision by January.