Holy Angels graduation "bittersweet" as Sydney school sets to close
Graduating from high school is a defining moment in the lives of many students, but when you are a member of the final female grad class at a high school that's about to shut its doors forever, emotions can be mixed.
"It's really terrible for the Grade 10 and 11s because they won't be able to have the finishing experience at Holy Angels," says 2011 graduate, Cora Parago. "While I am really proud of myself, and all the other Grade 12s, it's bittersweet."
Sydney's Holy Angels High School, the region's only all-girl public high school, will close its doors and end an educational era that dates back more than 125 years later this week.
Less than one-third of the school's population is graduating, and the other 200 students must transfer to one of five other schools in the area.
Vice-principal Janine MacAulay says it's a very difficult time for all those involved, especially for those students who are writing exams.
"Obviously the students are trying to stay focused on exams, but…the school has been boxed up," says MacAulay.
Not only students are packing up and moving out. Fourteen teachers in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board have been laid off, including Holy Angels teacher, Becky MacNeil.
"It's pretty sad," she says. "It is kind of a double whammy for me; the closing of the school and not knowing what September will bring."
.Holy Angels teachers and students have organized protests and signed petitions, hoping to fight to keep the school open, but in the end, the decision to close the school was irreversible.
Neither the school board nor the province is willing to lease or buy the school from a convent, which owns the property but has decided to put it up for sale.
A group of parents who helped to organize the protests say there will never be another school like it.
"We are losing a school of excellence, we are losing history, and we are losing a school that girls actually loved to go to every day," says parent Sally LeBlanc.
While many consider the school's closure a loss, it is a gain for some high schools in the area where dwindling enrollments have left plenty of room for students who will have their first taste of co-ed education in the fall.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Randy MacDonald