Last graduating class leaves Holy Angels

June 29, 2011

Greg McNeil   SYDNEY — A guest speaker inspired, scholarships were granted and diplomas received.
Holy Angels High School, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, Sydney Academy, Notre Dame, Cape Breton   With just one exception, the 2011 graduation ceremony for Holy Angels High School was like others held this week around Cape Breton Island.

The difference is that Tuesday’s ceremony was the last one in the 126-year history of the all-girls school.

It was a fact not lost on the school’s graduates, those who spoke during the ceremony and the last principal in the proud history of the school.

However, a conscious effort was made to focus on the graduates’ future and not the end of their school.

“The girls are graduating and that is what it should be about,” said Theresa MacKenzie, the school principal, following the ceremony.

“We kind of dealt with it first. We have come to accept it. We’ve had several months.”

The school’s end began last year when the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame — which had been leasing the school building to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board — announced they intended to sell the property.

Numerous supporters vocalized the importance of the school’s unique education experience and investigated options to save it. However, all were unsuccessful.

Senator Jane Cordy, guest speaker for the graduation ceremony, addressed those efforts when she told the graduates how impressed she was to see them stand up for their school when its future was put into jeopardy.

“You many not have received the outcome you wanted,” said Cordy, a 1968 graduate of Holy Angels.

“But you made sure your (united) voice was heard loud and clear,” Cordy said.

With the end unavoidable, the 74 members of the last graduating class took the opportunity to look back on their years at Holy Angels and to express a sense of excitement about new adventures ahead.

However, some found it difficult to forget others who will never enjoy the same moment.

“It is kind of bittersweet because we are the last graduating class and we are graduating but other grades don’t get to graduate from this school,” said Brittany MacAulay.

Making the most of their special day was the plan for others.

“This is the day we’ve all been waiting for,” said Brittney Melnick. “It is graduation and as much as we want everyone else to graduate from Holy Angels we have to appreciate the day for what it is because we are finally graduating.”

The majority of Grade 10 and 11 students that attended Holy Angels this year are expected to attend Sydney Academy next year. Others will find new homes at schools across Cape Breton.

“It is really unfortunate series of events,” said Alexandra Morrison.

“I have friends in Grades 10 and 11 who now have to go to other schools and they are so disappointed. I really hope they get through it and find their own communities at their new school.”

gmcneil@cbpost.com

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