The Lester B. Pearson School Board voted unanimously to keep the Lakeside Academy open indefinitely. The board considered closing the school last December because of low enrollment but said they would make a final decision at a later date. The previous decision to keep the school in limbo was criticized as detrimental to its success by parents who advocated for the school to be saved.
A dedicated group of parents led by Jennifer Park, have worked towards improving student enrollment.
“It’s a big relief, honestly, you have no idea how many people came together to work to get this done,” said Park. “Allot of times, people feel that you can’t stand up and you can’t say what you really want and it amazed me that so many people came together and believed that we could do it.”
The movement began when Park alongside coun. Maja Vodanovic collected 11,582 signatures over 10 days for a petition to save Lakeside Academy.
“If Lachine loses an English high school and loses the English population we won’t be as lucky to know two languages anymore,” Vodanovic said. “It’s a loss, it’s a cultural loss.”
“We never thought ill of the Lester B. Pearson because in Quebec we’re having a problem with our English school boards and our enrollment in dwindling,” added Park.
Lakeside Academy has enrolled 85 new secondary students. It has capacity for over 1000 students but currently enrolls an estimated 400 students.
Plans have also been put forward to open up the school to a community learning centre as well as other organizations like the Boys and Girls Club to help fill the empty space.
“The whole issue of closure brought to light some amazing programs that happen at Lakeside and only at Lakeside,” Lester B. Pearson Chair Suanne Stein Day said. “Now they’re looking at a science concentration, a basketball concentration. Their looking at these possibilities, they’re getting the word out and people are responding positively.”