By Dianne Cornish , REVIEW STAFF
CELEBRATION: HWDSB Director of Education John Malloy and Trustee Karen Turkstra cut the ribbon to officially open WDHS’s new wing. Photo: Dianne Cornish, Review Staff.
Monday was a red-letter day for students and faculty at Waterdown District High School (WDHS) as they gathered in the school’s new gymnasium with community guests and dignitaries to celebrate the official opening of WDHS’s new wing.
Speaking to a capacity crowd, Flamborough school trustee Karen Turkstra and Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale MPP Ted McMeekin recalled what McMeekin referred to as “the long and winding road” followed by supporters of the project before the $23-million expansion got off the ground last year. Land to the east of the high school was expropriated to accommodate the addition, which has nearly doubled the size of the high school and added 39 new classrooms to accommodate 1,705 students.
The opening represents “the end of a long journey,” Turkstra said, noting that she feels like a Waterdown Warrior, the school’s official symbol, after seeing the newly expanded school that is “the home of quality education for youth in our community.”
Principal Michelle Visca offered more encouraging words, as did a roster of other guests, including Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s (HWDSB’s) executive director John Malloy, Allison Morrison, executive assistant to Ward 15 Councillor Judi Partridge, student parliament representatives Esai Bishop and Grant Brierley and WDHS history teachers Rob Flosman and Nathan Tidridge.
Visca commended the efforts of the Waterdown Education (WE) Group, an organization of local parents that lobbied hard to secure Ministry of Education funding for the addition. She also lauded the HWDSB for its support and thanked the project architect, John Grguric of Grguric Architects Inc. and the contractor, Tambro Construction Ltd.
“It’s all about new beginnings and positive messages,” Visca said, something which guests had just sampled as they sat spellbound while listening to the ‘ups and downs’ in the life of former WDHS football star, Kyle Williams, who had a promising football career at Bishop’s University before facing a diagnosis of testicular cancer. Introduced by his brother Drew – also a notable athlete and WDHS alum – Williams presented an emotion-charged speech about his cancer surgery and treatment and how he learned “what’s real and what’s not.” He spoke of the importance of strong family ties and left students and guests with a message of hope and a new perspective on what matters in life.
Students played a key role in the expansion celebrations, with Bishop serving as emcee, guests viewing a video about the school created by Jordan Davies and Matthew Fischer, and the WDHS dance team, vocal choir, band and musical performers making presentations. Students Steffani Lang and Alicia Churilla also introduced the Williams brothers.
Finally, students held the ribbon at the close of the celebration as Turkstra and Malloy shared cutting honours.
Festivities continue at the school, with community mentors visiting classes throughout the week and a community open house at the high school from 5 to 9 p.m., Friday (Oct. 26, 2012).
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