The Trojan community wants Moira Secondary School to stay open.
On Monday, 100 students, teachers and parents from both Moira and Quinte Secondary Schools packed the final public meeting on the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board’s accommodation review process that could see a series of closures and consolidations.
The Moira family kept relatively quiet for months leading up to a new recommendation that now calls for students to move to Quinte in the fall of 2018 while the board seeks Ministry of Education approval/funding for a new build in the City’s east end.
The preferred option in the initial report recommended the closure of Quinte with students being moved to both Centennial Secondary and Moira, while the board sought Ministry funding for a new build at the Moira site.
Sharon Cooke a Moira Accommodation Review Committee member took issue with the latest recommendation saying she was caught by surprise as the Moira community did not speak at the public meetings because ‘the only thing to say was, we agree with the original recommendation.’
“We did not argue with anyone presenting different opinions or rationale,” she said. “But now we are at the 11th hour with a different opinion on the table and now we need to be heard. Had the final recommendation been on the table, these people would have come out to the meetings.”
Moira Grade 11 student Sneha and soon to be 2017/2018 school council president told the crowd how the future of the Destinations, Foundations and International Baccalaureate programs, only available at Moira, would be impacted if the school closes.
“This experience allowed me to grow as a person and allowed for seamless transitions such as the vital launch from Grade 8 to 9,” said Sneha. “This program gets students recognized on an international scale and the coordination of it will be very difficult if transitions are to occur. With the lack of stability and fluidity in an already vigorous program that many students will be partway through completing it’s likely students will transfer to Nicholson to complete their IB diploma, risking the survival of this program in our school board.”
Mohawk head of student council Sierra Brant Heffernan also spoke to the importance of keeping Moira open, calling the school a cultural leader in Indigenous awareness and respect.
“It wasn’t always this pretty,” the third generation Moira student informed. “When my mom went here she was relegated along with all the other students from Tyendinaga to Indian Hall, a row of lockers designated for Indigenous students. There were no special native classes, Mohawk classes, festivals. Nothing to distinguish Moira from any other secondary school. That is not the way things are today. Moira is a leader.”
Of the 128 Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte students within the board, 114 attend Moira explained Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Education Committee member Josh Hill.
Hill, once a Moira graduate, now acts as an advocate for students within the Tyendinaga learning community.
He said there is a real concern from students and from members of the committee that some of the students may go ‘wherever.’
Kathryn Brown, a concerned parent, told the board how since the news broke of Moira’s potential closing there has been chatter on social media about Mohawk students moving to Napanee District Secondary School or St.Theresa Catholic Secondary School as they are closer in vicinity. She said it’s estimated that the board could lose almost $2 million in funding if the students move in those directions. She also pointed to how their Moira Secondary School Facebook group has generated a petition with 600 signatures against closing.
Janeen Ferriss, head of guidance at Moira for the last decade, implored the board to to seek funding to develop three Grades 7–12 schools. She said the schools would help ease the transition into high school and enhance their secondary school experience.
The final report is due June 19.