General News

Tony Pontes Public School celebrates official opening

October 18, 2018   ·   0 Comments

Written By JOSHUA SANTOS

Cheerful students and school board representatives braced the rain for the official opening of Tony Pontes Public School on Monday, Oct. 15.

About 400 students will now attend the school, located at 12872 Kennedy Rd. It is named after Pontes who spent 39 years with the Peel District School Board.

“It’s a great honour. I was thrilled when the board announced it, said Tony Pontes, former director of education for the Peel District School Board. “Really, I would never have imagined it. I’m so proud the board chose to name this school in particular, a, because I spent a lot of my career in Caledon and so this is situated in Caledon and I also believe in the year-round balanced calendar school. I was double pleased that this was in Caledon and a year-round school.”

Pontes was a math and woodworking teacher in 1978 at the former J.A. Turner Secondary School. He held various teacher and vice-principal roles and was the principal of Chinguacousy Secondary School and Mayfield Secondary School. He also spent time as a superintendent at different institutions.

“I was a student at Peel and for me I didn’t want to simply stop being part of the board. I recognize I am no longer the director of education and I want to be respectful of that but I love being connected with kids and with staff and parents and communities,” said Pontes.

A year-round balance calendar school spreads the holidays and breaks throughout the year instead of using them all in the summer. Students only have one full month off.

“It also allows parents to take their children on vacations at different times of the year and it also spreads out the learning over 11 months rather than the normal 10 months,” said Pontes.

The school was built after Southfields Village Public School reached its capacity. It had 900 students enrolled at one point. Tony Pontes Public School is now the third balanced calendar elementary school in the Peel District School Board. The other two are Roberta Bondar Public School and Ray Lawson Public School in Brampton.

“What we requested from the government was a school of 850 because we know at some point this school is going to be at 800+. There probably will come a time shortly when we’ll either need to put portables here or actually put on an addition (wing). That’s how large this community is.”

The school was initially set to open at the end of July but was delayed because of construction. Some students had to begin the year at Countryside Village Public School in Brampton for the interim until they were transferred over.

“We were already sending students to James Grieve Public School. It was absolutely critical that we open up a second school and this school is already at 400. By the summer it will probably be at 500 and it’s going to be crowded at some point,” said Pontes.

Sumit Chopra was one of the parents at the celebration. His two daughters, Ananya, Grade 7, and Alya, senior kindergarten will attend Tony Pontes Public School.

“We are all excited, especially my kids. They woke up at 6 o’clock in the morning because they were really excited to be here on the first day and see the opening ceremony of the school,” said Chopra.

He wasn’t given a tour of the facility yet but was told it will happen in a couple of weeks as staff finishing setting up for parents.

Chopra said his children were attending countryside. There were space constraints for his children.

“They couldn’t call their school their own independent school. Now they have their own school, they have more spaces to work, a place to play and they have their own gym and they’ll contribute more to their class,” said Chopra.

Chopra likes the idea of a balanced calendar school saying it should be offered at other Peel Region schools as well.

“As parents, we are really happy with this curriculum because in the summer, they only get a one month break and not a two months break. Usually the kids get bored during the 60-day summer vacation. This is balanced throughout the year. This is what most of parents are super happy about, said Chopra.

“I know many people are willing a buy in this neighbourhood only to get this school admission. I’m in real estate and I help people buy and sell. Most of the clients ask if there are only homes available in Caledon because they want this particular school for their kids. This school’s curriculum is in demand. In my opinion, any new school opening should follow this curriculum.”

He said the school may be full in the next couple of years and thinks there might need to be another one that opens as the population continues to grow.

         

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