Lester B. Pearson high school holds its final public goodbye.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 3rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Revision:  We have been advised that ward 4 trustee Richelle Papin was at the Saturday afternoon event at Lester B. Pearson high school.  We didn’t see her but have been told she was there.

There is a strange feeling when you are in a room with a lot of people who know that a place that was once a large part of their lives is going to be brought to an end – their high school is being closed. The trustees they elected to office decided there was no point in keeping the school open.

LBP crest + 1st and last

At the podium on the right are current principal Loraine Fedurco and founding principal David Katz.

The Lester B. Pearson high school was holding it last public event.

During a Saturday afternoon event the schools’ first principal David Katz and its last Loraine Fedurco were on the stage convincing the large audience that it would not be forgotten.

No one knows what the long term prospects are for the building. In the immediate future the school will be used by the Catholic School Board for a short term. It will be awhile before it is declared surplus. When that decision is made the property can be sold.

Creating the Lester B. Pearson high school involved not just the school administration but the city as well.

There was space that was defined as community space and for a period of time there was community programing in place.

Designed as an Open classroom concept at a time when that was being done in Ontario high schools Pearson reverted to the standard classroom approach.

The school took on not only the name of the former Prime Minister but much of the spirit Pearson brought to his public service, quiet, with a public service orientation, was reflected in the school program.

LBP close audience

It was a quiet audience – not a word about the why and how their school was closed – just appreciation for the time they spent in classrooms

During the three hour event there wasn’t a word of anger or disappointment heard about the decision to close the school. The school board trustee who represented the school didn’t attend; she did vote not to close the school. A school board trustee, the chair of the board who attended Pearson high school did vote to close it, did attend – she was in the choir.

David Katz LBP principal

David Katz, the founding principal.

David Katz, the founding principal told the audience that the school didn’t have a football team. “That was a deliberate decision made when the school was founded in 1976.

The high school had numerous sporting successes. Known as the Pearson Patriots, the school won a Halton title in men’s hockey in 2006. The men’s basketball team has had success with back to back Halton titles in 1992 and 1993, three repetitive Halton titles from 2005–2007 and one in 1988, with three Peel-GHAC championships and subsequent appearances at the OFSAA provincial championship tournament in 1988, 1993, 2006 and 2007.

The rugby team had OFSAA appearances numerous times for both senior girls and boys. In 2009 the Junior Boys Basketball Team won the Halton Boys Regional Basketball Championship. In 2011, the Senior Girls soccer team won the Halton Girls Championship and placed third at the 2011 OFSAA Championships. The Junior Girls Volleyball also won their championship in the same year. Also the Sr. Boys Rugby Team went to OFSAA for a 2nd year in a row and getting their first OFSAA win in a friendly match. In 2012, the Senior Boys Basketball, Senior Boys Volleyball, and Varsity Boys Rugby won championships in their respective sports.

In 2002 the men’s baseball team won Pearson’s only OFSAA triple A championship at Skydome in Toronto.

With the opening of Dr. Frank Hayden high school to the north in 2013 Pearson’s population dropped to 300+ students. The elementary schools that fed Pearson were re-directed to the new high school which meant the end for Pearson. Starved of students the school had to be closed.

Blackwell +

On the right, school board Superintendent Terri Blackwell chats with parents. Scot Lambert is on the far left.

Founded in 1976, the school is named after former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. It was one of the first “Action” High Schools in the province; a concept that didn’t take. Pearson was intended to be open concept – that too didn’t hold.

The school wasn’t big enough to have an auditorium or a cafeteria – it did have a Cafetorium

The school also had a triple sized gymnasium, with one intended for community use.

There was a self-contained community nursery.

There was a horseback riding club, a Tai Chi club and a social justice group.

Pearson was a high school built for a bungalow community in a Burlington that was expanding north of the Queen Elizabeth highway that bisects the city.

Grad with dredlocks

The graduates went off in their different directions to be who they wanted to be.

It was always intended to be a small high school – a much larger high school was a 15 minute walk to the west which is where the former Pearson students will attend in the fall of 2018.

Much of what teachers did at Pearson was experimental, new ideas and a different approach to integrating school and community.

The school was a brave, bold innovative idea that the decision makers gave up on.

Looking over the year book

Looking over the year book – is that us?

Mom showing her class

Mom showing her husband and children her graduating class picture.

What it did have was a strong school spirit, something that still exists. There are parents that believe the fight to keep the school open is not over yet – they are looking for a way to elect trustees that will make a different decision.

The school also produced graduates that have gone on to make consistent contributions to what is a fine community.

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1 comment to Lester B. Pearson high school holds its final public goodbye.

  • Lori

    Trustee Papin was in attendance… but didn’t show much remorse (if any) that the school was closing. She may have voted against the closure, but she certainly didn’t try very hard to fight for the school . I suspect we will see the impact of that choice in the fall election. But despite all of that the event was a lovely tribute to a fabulous school that will be missed.

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