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MONTREAL, NOVEMBER 11, 2008- The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) distributed  38 cash scholarships of $500 each on   October 30   to students from the graduating class of 2008 at a ceremony  held at the St. Pius X Facility in Ahuntsic. 

These scholarships were funded from the proceeds of the fourth EMSB Scholarship Golf Tournament held in June, 2007. Beneficiaries from the tournament, which took place this past June, will be chosen at the end of the current academic year.

Scholarships were awarded to high school students who are continuing their studies in a post-secondary educational program.

“High school students work hard and strive towards success, so that they could build a better future for themselves and for their world,” said EMSB Chair Angela Mancini. “They accomplish it through studying hard and getting high marks in class; by getting involved in student government or a wide variety of extra curricular activities; by taking an active role in their community and become selfless volunteers or highly regarded role models; and especially, there are those students who have had difficult situations and circumstances thrust upon them that many think are impossible to overcome and are told ‘you can’t do it,’ but through courage and perseverance say ‘I can do it’ and ‘nothing is impossible.’”

“This evening is our way of saying ‘congratulations’ for all you have done,” added EMSB Deputy Director General Mario Tirelli. “However, congratulations also goes out to your parents, teachers and administrators, who through their unending support, have guided you on your way to success both inside and outside the classroom.”

The scholarships  were divided into two categories:

Category I scholarships were presented to students who have demonstrated a high academic achievement as well as involvement in school life activities such as leadership, volunteerism, student council, school sports, representing the school in different events. The recipients were:   Alice Wood and Shaadman Mohammad,  F.A.C.E downtown;  Veronica Verardo,  High School of Montreal Adult Centre, the Plateau;  Marilyn Hoang, James Lyng High School, St. Henri;  Ka Ho Wan, James Lyng Adult Centre, St. Henri;  Tieu Linh Hoang, John F. Kennedy,  St. Michel;  Ayesha Vording  and Nicholas Destounis,  LaurenHill Academy, St. Laurent; Riccardo Caimano and Teresa Prioriello, Laurier Macdonald High School, St. Léonard;  Veronica Simeone  and Sabrina Taraborelli, Lester B. Pearson High School, Montreal North;  Sharna Dey, Marymount Academy, N.D.G.;  Megan Smith,  MIND, the Plateau;  Anitha Selvarajah and   Nigar Sultana Hossain,  Rosemount High School;  Flavia Papini Royal Vale, N.D.G.;  Kathleen Perry-Theriault  and Natasha Salter,  Royal West Academy, Montreal West;  Nan Du,  St. Laurent Adult Centre;  Monica De Luc, Vincent Massey Collegiate, Rosemount; and Jonathan Compagnon, Westmount High School.

Category II scholarships were awarded to students who have persevered in the face of overwhelming odds and personal difficulties. The recipients were: Andrew Rabey, James Lyng Adult Centre;  Dool Nath Chowdhury,  James Lyng High School; Despina Doukas, LaurenHill Academy;  Samantha Goffredo and Luigi Ausilio, Lester B. Pearson High School;  Sara Muntasar,  Marymount Academy; Nalou Chalifoux-Reis,  MIND;  Jillian Hill,  Options II High School, Ville Émard;  Nadera Nawabi, Rosemount High School;  Emilia Benevento,  Royal Vale School;   Michael D’Urso and Sarah Zia, Royal West Academy;  Sibusisiwe Sibanda,  St. Laurent Adult Center; Gift Samuel Tshuna , Westmount High School;  and John McCluskey and Sabastiano Maratta, Vincent Massey Collegiate.

McCluskey, who was featured in the recently released debut edition of the EMSB produced Inspirations newspaper, has autism. Last June he graduated from  Vincent Massey Collegiate, an elite high school which require entrance exams.  His passionate speech, “On the Ethical Treatment of People with Autism,” tied for first place in the Secondary V division of the 2008  EMSB Public Speaking Competition. He went on to represent the EMSB at the Montreal Rotary Club finals.

McCluskey, 17, says his speech was more than just a school assignment, but also an opportunity to compete.  He saw a greater purpose in writing his speech. “With my gift, I will be the voice for those people with autism without voices,” he declared. “When I say that people with autism don’t have voices, I’m not referring to people with autism who can’t speak. Whether young autistic students can speak or not, their needs and rights are ignored. They have no voice. Autism is a trait that sticks out in the crowd. My goal is to make sure that people don’t only see me as being autistic, but that they see that I’m a real person.”  

McCluskey stresses that he experiences the same emotions and enjoys the same hobbies as any teenager would. In his speech, he said that people with autism are bullied and abused because they are not seen as real people.  He was quick to point out, though, that he was not bullied, nor did he experience any abuse at Vincent Massey Collegiate. “I was never bullied in school,” he remarked. “The students and teachers treated me with the respect I deserved.”

This year, McCluskey is continuing his studies at Marianopolis College in Pure and Applied Sciences. He hopes to become an architect or a theoretical physicist.

Another student who was present at the ceremony was Gift Samuel Tshuma, a graduate of Westmount High School. Tshuma has been living with muscular dystrophy since birth, and is wheelchair bound, with limited mobility of his upper body. However, that has not stopped him from having an active student life at Westmount High School.

Tshuma was involved in the school’s leadership and music programs, and sang at many school-wide events. A talented public speaker, he often spoke to other disabled students at the Mackay Centre’s satellite school about the importance of perseverance, and spoke to Grade7 students at Westmount about his disability, and became an inspiration and role model to his fellow students.

“I was really honoured and glad to receive this scholarship,” said  Tshuma “It shows that all the hard work that I put in during the past five years paid off,. I am also thankful to those who helped me become the student that I am, including my mother, brother, friends and the teachers at Westmount High School, who gave me the encouragement that I needed.”

Tshuma is currently attending Dawson College, and plans to study law at McGill University, in order to pursue a career as an attorney specializing in immigration law.

The next EMSB Golf Scholarship Tournament will take place on Monday, June 29 at Club de Golf St-Raphaël.


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