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MONTREAL, JUNE 18, 2002— Ainsworth Dyer, Martin Luther King Jr. and Terry Fox were honoured posthumously on Tuesday, June 18 when the English Montreal School Board’s (EMSB) LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent unveiled the first phase of its Wall of Honour and Sacred Garden. The ceremony took place at the school’s junior campus.

Dyer, the young Canadian soldier who was killed while serving in Afghanistan recently, attended LaurenHill and prior to that Parkdale Elementary. His mother, Agatha Dawkins, was on hand for the ceremony.

The program coincided with this year’s implementation of new Spiritual Care and Guidance Service at public school boards in Quebec. Bill 118 officially abolished the confessional status of public schools, but essentially preserved the status quo of choice between religion and moral education classes for elementary and junior high school students. EMSB spiritual community animators have initiated many new events during the year. Catherine Cherry, who fulfils this role at LaurenHill along with Gladys Batten, emphasizes that the Ministry of Education decided to ensure that spiritual community animators become knowledgeable and proficient, providing them with a series of insightful and experiential courses. After taking a course on pluralism at Concordia University, Ms. Cherry decided to initiate an inter-faith project by turning the school’s unused garden into a Sacred Garden, and to establish a Wall of Honour. Funds were also obtained from the McConnell Family Foundation to help beautify the area.

"The Sacred Garden expresses the richness of LaurenHill Academy," says Ms. Cherry. "It is a multi-cultural, multi-faith, Canadian, Picnic Garden in the area outside the Agora and off the cafeteria. In one section we planted flowers and shrubs representative of each area of the world. In another section we planted most of the provincial flowers around a maple tree. In this space we also included plants and shrubs to represent the major world religions. It is sacred because it is a place where we can revere nature and each other, relax, and come away refreshed. The students enjoy the benches and picnic tables, which they themselves painted and stained. Two teachers have already used the space for class presentations."

Ms. Cherry says staff and students engaged in many discussions and several votes to choose for the Wall of Honour - individuals whom they felt contributed to the betterment of humanity. "We want this Wall of Honour to be a spiritual witness of empowerment and goodness," she said. "That is, it should be a source of hope and strength that states implicitly that you too can make a difference!"

Phase II will include a similar ceremony for a Wall of Honour across the street at LaurenHill Senior Campus next year. Ms. Cherry wishes to thank Principal Angeline Roumeliotis and Vice-Principal Don Houston.

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213