As of this week, the last week of June 2011, the final school bell will ring and the doors will close at General Vanier Intermediate School in Cornwall.
Initially, classes began operating in 1965 at the Y.M.-Y.M.C.A. but it was in 1967 that the building on Cumberland Street opened its doors to secondary school students for the first time.
However, due to a decline in student enrolment, General Vanier (GV) is closing and its students will transfer to Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School (CCVS) in September of 2011 to finish their studies.
“There has been a steady decline (with enrolment). Not only in SD&G but across the province and in other school boards as well,” said Principal Robert Currier. CCVS will now be the home for grade 7-12 students of the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB). Currier expects nearly all of his 460 students to transfer to CCVS next fall.
For the past few months, Currier has been the principle for both schools, splitting his time at both locations. Currier has spent the last three years as GV principal and the previous three years as vice-principal. He will take over full-time at CCVS next year and expects the number of students to be around 1,250. Most of the teaching staff at GV will also transfer along with their students.
In 1962, the Collegiate Institute Board realized a need for a third secondary school in Cornwall. In 1964, the board selected the current 16-acre site. Construction began in March of 1966 and was completed in October of 1967.
The graduation ceremony of 2002 was an historic event for GV: it was the last graduating class of high school students as the school transitioned to an intermediate level for the 2002-03 academic year. Eight years later, the final graduation at GV was held on June 27, 2011: the grade 8 graduation.
As the doors close, leading to the General Vanier Vikings to cease to exist, Principal Currier expressed his thoughts and feelings:
“I can say a lot of things about GV. But a few things I am really proud of are that for 47 years, General Vanier Secondary School/Intermediate School has provided a quality education to thousands of students in Cornwall and area. While doing this, General Vanier has mirrored the diversity of Canada and the Cornwall community through our unique English, French and Mohawk heritage. In addition to serving its students, the General Vanier athletic facilities and the state of the art auditorium became centers for a multitude of important Cornwall community events.”
A call to GV alumni, staff and students
Although the school is now closed, there is one more opportunity for alumni, students, staff and supporters to celebrate the history of General Vanier.
On July 22, the school will be hosting a closing ceremony for the alumni (19 years-old and over), staff and supporters. The next day, a similar ceremony will be held for the students.
Activities included in the ceremonies include a breakfast, a tour of the school, athletic events, dance performances and a smudging ceremony. Anyone interested or seeking more information is welcome to contact the school at 613-933-5500 or send an email to email@example.com. You can also register at www.gvclosing.ucdsb.on.ca. “Calling all Vikings!”