Press Releases


MONTREAL, JANUARY 26, 2007- Five Montreal-area school boards - three French and two English - embarked upon a unique collaborative activity aimed at increasing public confidence in neighbourhood public schools. The English Montreal School Board (EMSB), the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSMB) and the Commission scolaire Pointe-de-l'Île (CSPI), participated in the first Public School Education Week in January.

Under the theme Following in Their Footsteps, the campaign encourages prominent graduates to return to visit their neighbourhood schools to talk to students about the role public school education played in leading them to their present-day success. These individuals now serve as outstanding role models, as do many other prominent Québecers having or having had a link with area public schools or vocational centres.


The EMSB formally kicked off its programming by showcasing the very unique reverse integration program at the Mackay Centre School in N.D.G. This program allows a limited number of children from pre-kindergarten to Grade 5 the opportunity to attend Mackay Centre School for one year where they learn alongside the physically disabled and deaf children. Canadian rock star Jonas was part of the reverse integration process 17 years ago and on January 15 he was welcomed back by his former teacher Debra Colton, staff and students. Jonas was also a member of what is now the EMSB Chorale. Jonas, a rock phenomenon whose hit records and riveting stage presence have attracted standing room only crowds throughout his Suite Life Canadian concert tour, which concludes Feb. 23 at the Bell Centre, expanded his international profile with the completion of a feature-length DVD in December 2005. Entitled Jonas Live as We Roll, it achieved platinum status almost immediately. In 2004 he opened up the last leg of a Van Halen North American tour. He records under the Deja Musique label. Mackay Centre School Principal Jacques Monfette gave Jonas a brief tour of the building, including his old classroom and a spot called the snakepit where students were permitted to write their names on the wall. Jonas found his signature and provided a new one next to it. Mr. Monfette later showed a brief slide show featuring pictures of Jonas as a 10 year old. One of Jonas' former classmates, Charlie Sivuarapi, was on hand to greet him. Students asked some very interesting questions and thanked their special guests by doing a performance to one of his songs.


At Roslyn Elementary School in Westmount, Mayor Karin Marks spoke to Grade 6 students who were totally captivated by what she had to say about the world of municipal politics and her years at that school. Students presented her with some Chinese artwork for City Hall.


John Caboto Elementary School in Ahuntsic had visits from guitarist and adjunct lecturer at Plattsburgh State Michael Fratino, commercial real estate executive Angelo Pasto and Marzia Michielli, director of the EMSB's Rosemount Technology Centre. Mr. Pasto's company, Pastoslan and Associates, have offices in Montreal and Toronto. They own and manage commercial properties in Montreal, Laval, Brossard, Quebec City and are presently in the process of constructing three multi-unit condominium buildings in Old Montreal and one in Little Italy. He has been teaching Finance and Entrepreneurship at Vanier College and at Champlain College for the last 10 years. The colleges liked the fact that he had working experience that he could share with his students.


Dunrae Gardens Elementary School in TMR welcomed back former student Andrea Courey to talk about her life as an entrepreneur. In 1997 she launched her own company called "Grandma Emily's Granola," which manufactures 100 percent natural granola cereals, bars and crunches, as well as healthy snacks. But Ms. Courey was not there just to talk about her success. Instead she wanted to engage the students in a marketing workshop. She divided them into groups and gave them samples of "Grandma Emily's Granola" products, and asked them to analyze the products and come up with ideas on how to sell them. In May, the school expects to host famous graduate Angelo Esposito. He is a star forward for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Quebec Remparts and may be the very first choice in the June National Hockey League entry draft.


Ernie Butler, CJAD radio host and owner of The Comedy Nest, was back at St. Monica Elementary School in N.D.G. He grew up around the corner at the Benny Farm apartment complex and also attended Marymount Academy. His sister once taught at St. Monica. Mr. Butler noted that he graduated friom McGill University with the intention of becoming a teacher. Instead, he turned to entertainment and the world of comedy. He prepared some exercises for the students to do, one of which had them making captions for comics. Mr. Butler even told a few jokes aimed at elementary students. "Where do cool mouse live?' he asked. The answer: "A mouse pad."


Sinclair Laird Elementary School in Park Extension received a number of alumni visitors during Public School Education Week, including chartered accountant Tom Giannoukakis, CTV Montreal television lineup editor Helen Michailidis newspaper publisher George Guzmas, Royal Vale School Vice Principal Suzy Douranos, nurse Effie Rahaniotis and attorney Voula Neofotistos, attorney of McMillan Binch Mendelson. Mr. Giannoukakis, class of 1982, is now a chartered accountant and senior manager at PriceWaterHouseCoopers. He shared his school memories with the attentive young audience noting how in kindergarten he didn't know a word of English and later graduated with perfect English. Ms. Michailidis explained that she writes what the anchors read, and her job requires putting a newscast together to fit in one hour and choosing the order of the stories in the newscast. She gave the students three stories and asked them which one they would pick as the lead story. Mr. Guzmas, class of 1976, is the publisher of three papers: Park Extension News, The Chomedey News, and The North Shore News. Although he graduated around 30 years ago, he still remembered the names of his teachers. He had a couple of surprises for the students of his old school by announcing that the best student from each level will get his/her photo in the Park Extension newspaper, and will receive two movie tickets to Cinema Guzzo.


Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary School in Montreal West devoted an entire morning to an alumni day. After an assembly with all of the students, the alumni were then assigned to visit different classrooms. The impressive list of ex-grads who came to the school included actor Conrad Pla, Montreal General Hospital Trauma Unit clinical nurse Louise Fullerton, retired principal Betsy Kremmel, engineer and teacher Melissa Macdonald, former Canadian Olympic wrestler Doug Yeats, Canadian badminton and squash players Katherine and Michael Meredith, water colour artist, children's dress designer, furniture restorer/interior decorator, and landscape designer Jane Prince Water, naturopath Kadeja Lefebvre, social worker Ruth Weber, McGill student and top Canadian ranked squash player Ben Marien, CEGEP student and Dawson College basketball player Louis Marien, Concordia University radio personality Hannah Lusthaus, theatre student Annie Crowley, mechanic Matthew Murray, community volunteer Brian Thicke, author Katherine O'Neil, drama student Sebastien Jacek-Coté and retired girl guide leader Joan Wahl. Global Television broadcast live from the school that morning. The students had many interesting questions. They were particularly interested in Mr. Pla's career, which include a starring role on Global TV's Regenesis and experience in such movies as 16 Blocks with Bruce Willis.


Domenic Fazioli, reporter for Global TV, returned to General Vanier Elementary School, St. Léonard, which he attended 25 years ago. A month earlier he had taped a public service announcement there for the EMSB which was aired on Global in January to promote registration week. Mr. Fazioli explained to the students his role as a crime reporter and answered many questions.


Roberto Del Papa, Community Relations Officer for Montreal Police Station 1 returned to Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Léonard and spoke about his career in law enforcement.


Tourism professional Maureen Kelahear and school commissioner Luciano D'iorio were back at Edward Murphy Elementary School in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Ms. Kelahear is also a present-day school mom and volunteer. Mr. D'Iorio caught the imagination of the students with his presentation about life as a businessman and a commissioner.


Community activist Glen Cambridge and author/McGill professor Beverly Patwell returned to St. Gabriel Elementary School in Point St. Charles. They spoke to the students about their experiences, dreams, successes, failures and the fact that hard work is the key to success! The two advocated the importance of friends, teachers and good role models. Ms. Patwell is presently president of Patwell Consulting and has just published a book called Triple Impact Coaching. Mr. Cambridge is vice-president of a successful advertising called Anderson DDB.


Michael Vathilakis, a lawyer and Harvard graduate, came back to Gardenview Elementary School. Presently the general counsel to Convergia and legal counsel to Future Electronics, Mr. Vathilakis expressed how exciting it was for him to be back at the school he graduated from in 1984 Most of all, he told the students to enjoy their time with one another, "Those friends you make in elementary school are real friends forever," he said. "You will meet a lot of people, yet every memory I have from school is a memory with my friends. Those friends will know you and remember you when you meet them later on the road."


John Parisella, former chief of staff to the Premier of Quebec, president, BCP Consultants and special communications advisor to the president of Concordia University, returned to St. Brendan Elementary School in Rosemount. He was also a teacher with the former Montreal Catholic School Commission. Joining Mr. Parisella at the school was his friend, one-time teaching colleague and present-day EMSB commissioner Rocco Barbieri, who also attended St. Brendan. "All of my life I went to public school," Mr. Parisella said."I believe public school represents more of the real world. It is a much better reflection of what you are going to experience in life.


Seeta Ramdas, public relations officer for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and special effects makeup artist, inspired the students at Coronation Elementary School in Côte des Neiges. This Trinidadian born Canadian is a graduate in clinical psychology from McGill University and has gone on to complete studies in fitness and nutrition. During her university years as an anatomy and physiology student, she developed a hobby of creating models of human organs. This launched her into a part-time career as a special effects make-up artist earning her credits on several sci-fi and horror films as well as numerous magazine and TV contracts. "My most memorable time at Coronation was my gym teacher, Mr. Czsillag," she recalled. "He taught sports, fitness and folk dancing and had us do a show every year that featured folk dances from around the world. He also had us square-dancing on Saturday mornings on a CBC kids show called Tween Set. Coronation had a wonderful summer program in storytelling and writing and theatre which helped me to break out of my shy "fresh immigrant" shell.


CBC TV News at Six commentator Mariana Simeone returned to St. Dorothy Elementary School in St. Michel, where she first attended school as an immigrant from Italy 40 years ago. She noted that she did not even speak English when she arrived, but during that first year she picked up the language thanks to her teachers and new friends. She went on to attend nearby John F. Kennedy High School. Ms. Simeone showed a video depicting a day in the life of the CBC newsroom and answered questions. She then gave a small group of students an opportunity to film a CBC newsbreak commercial which aired a few days later. Two other former students were recognized: Sandra Andre, a 1995 grad who is doing an internship there in early childhood education and Maria Perrozzi, who today teaches at the school.


Dr Phil Gold first entered Bancroft Elementary School on the Plateau 65 years ago. He has gone on to become one of Canada's most prominent physicians. After obtaining his primary and secondary schooling, Dr. Gold went on to McGill University, where he obtained four degrees. He obtained his BSc in Honors Physiology in 1957 and then went on to receive MDCM and MSc degrees in physiology in 1961 for a thesis on erythropoietin based on summer research. His graduation from medical school was accompanied by the Wood Gold Medal for First Place High Aggregate Standing in the Final Year, the J. Francis Williams Scholarship in Medicine and Clinical Medicine, the Women's Pavilion Prize in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Prize of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec in Pathology and Medicine. His early research led to the discovery and definition of the Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA), the blood test most frequently used in the diagnosis and management of patients with cancer. He has served as chairman of the Department of Medicine at McGill, physician-in-chief at the Montreal General Hospital and executive director of the Clinical Research Centre of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). Dr. Gold is a companion of the Order of Canada and the Order of Quebec and the recipient of numerous international honours. He told the students about his present-day work as an immunologist and an allergist and of the wonderful memories he has of the school, especially the enormous amount of time he spent studying in the library. "My first language was Yiddish," he said. "I learned English here at Bancroft."


Marymount Academy in N.D.G. devoted an entire day for students to meet with successful alumni, who included Montreal Impact soccer team captain Mauro Biello, real state agent Dominique Lamport, Champlain College International Baccalaureat Coordinator Dr. Steve Hreha, Queen's University Professor Dr. Gabby Ciccarelli, Youth World 2002 Day (in Toronto) organizer Paul Kilbertus, clinical nurse Luisa Francescangeli and teaching student Chantal Lewis. Mr. Biello was the keynote speaker. He attended St. Monica Elementary School and began playing for the N.D.G. Soccer Association at a young age. He graduated from Marymount in 1989 and remembers being exempt from final exams so he could represent Canada in the Junior World Cup.


CTV News reporter and Carlyle alumnus Tarah Schwartz returned to her alma mater to report on Carlyle Elementary Schook's latest project. Carlyle Cycle 3, Year 2 students worked on a podcast which was inaugurated that week. This project, initiated by Media Advisor Andrew Myers and Resource Teacher Phyllis Esar was a huge success with the students. A podcast is an online radio show. Websurfers are able to download the show to their computer and even to their iPod. Such initiatives help students develop oral and media literacy skills in line with Quebec's education reform. Schwartz, herself a newbie to podcasting, learned all about the new technology from Carlyle students. She had the opportunity to interview students and teachers in the computer lab while they worked vigorously on their next podcast. The next podcast is set to include topics varying from "What the world would be like without colors" to the latest innovations in the automotive industry. All Cycle 3 students then had the opportunity to ask Schwartz questions about her job and what being a reporter and anchorwoman entails. To listen to the podcast, log on to


EMSB Commissioner Angela Mancini returned to her old high school, Vincent Massey Collegiate, Rosemount, which she now represents as part of her constituency.


Dr. Kosar Khwaja, trauma surgeon and critical care specialist at Montreal General Hospital of the MUHC, visited his old elementary school, Nesbitt, in Rosemount. Dr. Khwaja played an important role during the Dawson College shooting crisis. He is also a graduate of the EMSB's Royal West Academy.


As part of Library Week, the EMSB hosted the formal launch of a book called Memories of Snowdon in the 50s. It was fittingly held in the library of Royal Vale School. The book makes frequent mentions of the school's original location in Snowdon. Author Bill Conrod, a retired college administrator who has been in education since 1963, was on hand at the launch. He presented a copy of the book to Royal Vale Librarian Elizabeth Segelstein. Conrad grew up with his twin, Scott (a former Montreal and Laval public school administrator) and their sister, Anne (Usher) on Earnscliffe Aveue, right across from MacDonald Park. He attended Royal Vale from kindergarten through Grade 3. "

Video footage from some of the visits can be viewed here.

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