High school neighbours
Life by high school not that bad, says locals
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 06:00 am
So what’s it like to live next to a high school? Not so bad, say those who do.
A group of Erin Ridge residents recently raised concerns at city council about a proposal to move École Alexandre-Taché into Eldorado Park. Last fall, Canterra president Murray Brown told the Gazette he opposed having a high school on his land in Kingswood because teenagers “don’t make for great neighbours.”
How valid are these points? The Gazette decided to poll residents who live next to Paul Kane, Bellerose and St. Albert Catholic High School to find out.
None of the residents reached by the Gazette reported any issues with drug use, theft, noise or vandalism by students.
Parking is a problem by Paul Kane during the school term, says Don Andrich, a 71-year-old who has lived across from the school for about 20 years. “This street when school starts is full of parked cars from the school,” he says, which often leads to littering, as students will eat lunch in their cars and dump their trash out the window. “I can always find garbage in front of my house.”
Still, he emphasized, these troublemakers were the minority, and did not represent the majority of the student population.
Jessica Schultz, 24, has lived a few doors down from Andrich for two years. She says she hasn’t noticed much littering from the school (no more than what you get in a typical park), but has seen a lot of car traffic. “There are cars covering the entire street.”
Vi Teichroew, a retiree who lives across from St. Albert Catholic, says she sees brief bursts of traffic when the buses come and go, and occasionally hears announcements from the school’s PA system. “I don’t mind that at all,” she says. “It gives a little bit of life (to the place).”
Rob Keohan’s home backs onto Bellerose Composite. “Once in a while you have kids coming in here (the school parking lot) and they’ll spin their cars around in the winter,” he says, but he otherwise doesn’t get much grief from the school.
Major events like the annual Bikeathon can fill his street with cars, Keohan says, but it’s usually residents that take up most of the space.
His neighbour, Francine Chase, says her initial worries about noise from the school haven’t panned out. “It’s quiet all summer, there’s no students there, and it’s quiet in the evening,” she says. “They go to school the same time we go to work.”
St. Albert Catholic doesn’t get a lot of complaints about student behaviour from neighbours, says St. Albert Catholic co-principal Cathy Rasmussen, but follows up on every one it gets. “The kids are pretty respectful.”
The school does create traffic, she continues, so staff supervise student drivers each day to make sure they obey traffic rules. Anyone who doesn’t is dealt with by staff.
Communication is the best way to address local concerns, says co-principal Garret Doll.
Doll says he regularly talks with locals to check for troublesome students, and encourages police to follow up on complaints. “We want our students to know they need to be responsible neighbours.” They also sent flyers to all their neighbours advising them about their 24-hour hockey marathon, one they made sure to shut down before 8 p.m.
École Alexandre-Taché is right next to St. Albert Catholic, Doll notes, and hardly any of its students drive to school. “Almost all of them bus,” he says. “I’ll be very surprised if (principal Marcel Ouellette) says there are more than five students that drive.”
Still, he and Schultz said Alexandre-Taché should be designed with plenty of parking to accommodate future drivers.
Many St. Albert Catholic students are active volunteers, Doll continues, shovelling local driveways and working at the Youville. “There’s benefits to it,” he says, of living next to a high school.
Chase says living next to Bellerose helps her son, who attends it, save money on lunch. “I don’t have to worry about getting him to and from school.”
Keohan finds that his high-school neighbour makes his home more, not less, secure, as it’s always lit and often patrolled by a security van.
Schultz says Erin Ridge residents should keep an open mind when it comes to high schools. “We’ve all been high-school kids,” she says, a statement echoed by Chase. “Just give them a chance and be open to the opportunity, because it’s not all bad.”