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Students, staff at St. Dorothy Elementary come together to cope with EMSB school closures

Click to play video 'Families still reeling after EMSB school closures announced' Families still reeling after EMSB school closures announced
WATCH: Hundreds of English speaking students in Montreal's Northeast will be heading to new schools next year. Global's Anne Leclair spoke to students for their reaction. – Jan 21, 2020

Tuesday was a tough day at school for students and staff members at St. Dorothy Elementary in St-Michel.

As many begin to digest the difficult news that their school will be closing, there’s also an effort emerging to focus on the positive. Still, hundreds of students, as well as dozens of teachers and administrators, will be forced out of their community school come the end of the year.

“It’s very emotional. There’s a sense of loss, of course,” said Denise Maroun, principal of St. Dorothy Elementary.

“Some of our parents’ parents went to school here so it’s been a cornerstone of this community, it’s been an English footprint in this community and that’s part of the loss.”

READ MORE: English Montreal School Board to close 3 east end schools

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The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) broke the news on Monday night. Three schools, including John Paul I Junior High School as well as General Vanier and St. Dorothy elementary schools, will soon be history.

An assembly was held at St. Dorothy first thing on Tuesday morning to inform students and soften the blow.

“The children are very, very smart,” said Maroun. “They all know that we don’t have all the answers yet and we will find out answers as we go along.”

Most of the students who attend of the northeast end school live nearby, within walking distance. The new school transportation plans aren’t yet finalized, but parents need not worry, according to the EMSB.

The plan, the board says, is to merge the 115 students from St-Dorothy into Our Lady of Pompei — an elementary school 1.9 kilometres away that currently houses 167 students.

Quebec’s education minister applauded the EMSB’s initiative and admitted he’s relieved that he didn’t have to step in to make the difficult decision this time around.

READ MORE: English Montreal School Board begins hearings on proposed mergers, closures for east-end schools

“It seems that St. Dorothy school was half empty so I think Mrs. [Marlene] Jennings has made the right decision,” said Jean-François Roberge.
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“It’s a tough decision and of course some parents will be sad.”

But less than 24 hours after the announcement, some students are starting to focus on the upside of changing schools.

“I’m actually pretty sad because I love this school, it’s pretty fun,” said Brandon, a Grade 2 student.

“But I’m gonna have new friends, new fun and new teachers and a new school, it’s so exciting.”

Maddox, another Grade 2 student, is already looking forward to the new digs.

“I felt okay [after hearing the news] because I can meet my new teachers, meet my new friends and have new activities to do,” he said.

The biggest concern for the current principal is whether families will agree with the forced merger.

“We may lose families,” Maroun said. “We’re hoping that all the families go over to Pompei with us.”

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