(Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board)
Jeff Mahoney, from the Hamilton Spectator, comments in today's publication, “It's a High School built, (in the words of one former principal)...out of mud and dreams.!” The first high school on Hamilton Mountain, Hill Park stamped a kind of seal of 'arrival' on a rapidly burgeoning community, only recently urbanized at that time. And only partially, this once agricultural tableland, one foot in a penny loafer...the other still in a billy boot.
“Hill Park literally changed everyone who filed through its doors ~ teachers, principals, students, parents. Not just because it was new. Not just because it was the Mountain's educational bridgehead. But mostly because it glowed with leadership and lived ideas. The school breathed vision, an ambitious, value-filled vision, embodied in actual practice. It was Ernie Hutton's vision...the first principal of this New School.
“Hill Park was to have been THE model High School for future generations. And for a time, it was! There were articles about it in the national media, such as Saturday Night magazine. It was hailed as an exciting step forward in pedagogy...a departure from the rigid conformity of the past...a beacon for the whole country! Now, after 59 years, Hill Park Secondary School is closing.
“What could never be boarded up, however, are the energies that inspired it. The value-lit energies that radiated originally from the aforementioned, Ernie Hutton, and radiate still from those who stood on board with his vision over the decades...one school that would be innovative, academic, collegial, vocational and technical together. So every child in a family, regardless of their abilities, could learn in the same space.
“His mantra was that, ‘High School should be a second home to every student, providing the help each needs. We are all capable beyond the bounds of human thought...when we have clear goals and have the support and love we need to reach them.’
And Jeff Mahoney questions, “Why do we hear that now? The LOVE we need? Now, it seems it's the 'money available'...schools closing, programs cut. Save money? Why not shut all the schools, leaving the kids wandering in the wilderness, uninformed?”
I reveal the foregoing situation from personal interest. A couple years after Hill Park opened on East 16th Street, a friend, Marilyn (also from Brantford) and I were assigned by the Board of Education for the City of Hamilton to begin our teaching careers. Excited, we came to Hamilton on the Friday prior to Labour Day weekend to be advised of our schools and location...It was Linden Park Elementary School at 4 Vickers Road on the Mountain...how wonderful for us to be placed together! With directions, we drove to this new area under development...but unable to find ‘our school’. Telephoning the Board Office, we were advised, “Yes, there is no school there yet...will be built over the next year...all classes are being currently placed at Hill Park Secondary School and in the basement of Linden Park Church.” Our location was the Church. My class with 42 students was a mix of Grades 2 and 3; Marilyn had a Grade 4 class. Any staff meetings we had with our principal, Bill Sledd, were held diagonally across the road at Hill Park.
Since I had no car...and had already arranged to board at a home on Kipling Road in Westdale, it was necessary for me to set my alarm at 6 AM...have a quick breakfast...a 3 or 4 block walk to the nearest bus stop to take me downtown...then transfer to a Mountain bus to somewhere on Fennel Avenue. From there, had a longish walk to Linden Park School. These were experiencing years that taught me much about coping with circumstances beyond my control. Weekends, Marilyn and I drove home, then returning Sunday to our respective jobs. One Friday evening, en route along Hwys 2 & 53, a news flash on her radio told us of Hurricane Hazel...as it inflicted much damage and destruction in the Toronto areas, especially along the Credit River and points west. Of interest, also in relation to “Hazel”, yesterday I took a Senior friend from my place of residence to the Hair Salon. Vicky told me of her sister who lost her home/cottage in Bronte (West Oakville) because of Hurricane Hazel's horrific wallop...the home just disappeared off the bank...and GONE with all its contents into Lake Ontario.
Of Interest: I comment here that, resulting from valuable teaching techniques learned and direction from Bill Sledd (one of the best school principals one could ever have), I became a ‘Practice Teacher’ for the Hamilton Teachers’ College for many years…whereby students (would-be-teachers) were sent to observe and teach for a week in an ideal classroom. Wow! This kept me ‘on my toes’.
Words of Wisdom
(Lessons learned…and to be learned)
Setbacks are bumps in the road...they are not the end of the road.
Your life is a result of your decisions...not conditions!
Choice is a Beautiful Thing!
Make what you see...amazing!
(Sign in a computer shop in Mississauga)
Merle Baird-Kerr...written June 11, 2014
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