Nesbitt's Centennial Gala!

From the oldest alumnus in 94-year-old Anne Leach to the next graduating class represented by the Grade 6 choir, throngs of current and former administrators, teachers, support staff and students represented the years in between and came together recently to raise their glasses and celebrate the centennial of Nesbitt Elementary School in Rosemount.

From its humble beginnings as Rosemount Public High School in 1911, Nesbitt has grown into a staple of the Rosemount community and the impact of the institution was on display through the generations of alumni who flocked home to rejoice in their former school’s celebration. There was music from an alumni band, cocktails, refreshments, three birthday cakes and a grand fireworks display. The evening was supported by a variety of sponsors and coordinated by an organizing committee consisting of staff and parents.

“When I came to this school it was known as Rosemount Public School and I am told today the reason the name was changed to Nesbitt was because Rosemount High School was built.,” said 94-year-old Anne Leach, the oldest alumnus in attendance who drove from Cornwall, Ontario to be a part of the celebration. “My mother registered me here in 1923 and I left in 1930 to attend Montreal High School in September, 1930. It’s a joy to be back after all these years.”

Celebrating along with Leach at the gala was a veritable who’s who of English Montreal School Board brass such as Director General Robert Stocker, Chairman Angela Mancini, Vice-Chairman Sylvia Lo Bianco and Commissioners Agostino Cannavino, Julien Feldman, James Kromida, and Rocco Barbieri. 

“Nesbitt is really an institution in itself,” said Mr.Cannavino, whose ward encompasses Nesbitt.  “One hundred years is a special milestone and something to really be proud about. I’m proud to be the commissioner, to represent the school as it celebrates this milestone. It’s an important institution for the community. Tonight is a commitment by everybody to demonstrate what Nesbitt means to them. Working with Nesbitt, I have met a lot of great people, great parents. The children are really keen and feel a part of the school and so do the alumni. People have returned tonight to celebrate this special event, it’s a big party and I’m really happy to be here.”

“I didn’t expect the emotion behind being here. It’s wonderful to meet old friends, staff, support staff, parents and even students. I can’t say it in words, but that is gratifying.” added Robert Kouri, Principal of Nesbitt School from 1967-1970. “There’s a history behind 100 years, the students, where they are now and what happened to them. Some of the students that left here became doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers and so on. The branches of Nesbitt are being watered every day because there’s so much history behind it.”

While the throngs of attendees spent much of the evening seeing old faces and reminiscing about the past, guests were entertained by the wonderful music of a band consisting of Nesbitt alumni as well as the Grade 6 choir, who wrote a song specifically for the gala. Following wine, cheese and a special Centennial cake which capped the indoor celebrations, guests flocked outside to watch the grand finale: a vivid fireworks display which was 100 years in the making.

For current members of the Nesbitt community and representatives from the EMSB, the celebration was the culmination of a year of festivities and yet another example of the effect a school has not just on its students, but its surrounding community.

“This is a wonderful celebration; we started planning this gala in September, and to make this a very special year, every month we had a different activity,” said present-day Principal Mary Theophilopoulos. “This gala was planned so we can honor our school, who for 100 years, has produced wonderful citizens and has provided excellent educational experiences to students, staff and administrators. It’s just amazing to walk in the gym and hear the speaking, reminiscing and seeing everybody walking down memory lane, it’s just wonderful. It’s a very special evening.”

“This is a school that has a lot of history and comes from a community that, over 100 years, has survived many changes,” added Ms. Mancini. “I think tonight is wonderful. Tonight is part of the spirit of the school; all the people who came had memories of the school, there’s an attachment to the school, to the community, to the families of this area, I think it’s absolutely wonderful.”