(Dan Rosenburg) David D’Aoust, the former director general of the Protestant Regional School Board of Chateauguay Valley in the late 1970s and ’80s before it changed its name to the New Frontiers School Board (of which he is now chairman) when confessional schools were abolished by the Education Ministry, had a pet name for Howard S. Billings High School: “I called it the crown jewel of the school board,” he recalls. “We had a lot of people with the same spirit.”
He refers to the school’s 50th Anniversary weekend of May 18-20 as “quite an event. It’s not just a party and a celebration, but also a chance to renew acquaintances. It’s a great opportunity to draw from the past and look to the future and see what’s changed.
“A lot of people were looking forward to the event, and the principal and his staff did a bang-up job of sending out the message that HSB is part of the community and especially for English-speaking Chateauguay. There are a lot of great teachers and excellent services here from the educational and athletics aspect.”
Current NFSB director general Rob Buttars agreed, adding that the HSB vision is to stay true to the model of tradition and success.” As proof, HSB ratings among Quebec high schools has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. “The teachers have worked hard and their approach has helped improve the students’ results,” he added, proudly.
Asked where HSB’s Grand March tradition came from, Buttars said that it “came about for a good reason. It allows the students to get together before they move on to the next chapter.” “The Grand March lets the kids express their pride,” D’Aoust interjected.
How has the school uniform policy been received now that it has been in force for several years? “It’s an issue that was initiated through the school’s governing board,” Buttars said. “It ties in with school tradition and it brings the kids together. It also levels the playing field as far as clothes are concerned. Most parents like the school uniforms. They provide a sense of pride and community.” “We at the board office are impressed by it,” D’Aoust observed.
Buttars said that there has been no flak from parents about services fees that were introduced a number of years ago. Although he realizes that there is currently a class action lawsuit about the fees before the courts, « We are not hearing any complaints about fees. We (the school board) need them to provide programs and pay for their cost.«
Although many Kahnawake students attend schools on the reserve, Buttars notes that there is still an important number of Natives attending HSB. « They (Kahnawake) built their own high school after some conflicts, but we have a significant Native population that has contributed to our school`s success,`Buttars points out. The kids (Natives and non-natives) get along a lot better now. It`s always a challenge to keep the kids focussed, but they all have the same rights,`he said.