Hamilton high school celebrates 100 years
Cathedral High School opened in 1912
By Julia Chapman
CBC News (Sept 28, 2012)
Mickey Bellavia walked the halls of Cathedral High School as a student in the mid-70s.
Today, Bellavia is one of the many alumni still kicking around the school. She is now head secretary and is helping the students prep for a phenomenal milestone - the school's 100th anniversary.
“They all bleed blue [the school's colour], just like I do,” she said of the students and alumni.
School principal Sara Cannon said a team of alumni has been planning a weekend of events for over a year. The festivities start Friday afternoon.
“We have so many staff and alumni who act to give back,” she said.
Opening in 1912, Cathedral was the first of seven high schools incorporated into the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
The school was formerly divided into two properties, a boys school and a girls school that opened in 1954. The two schools amalgamated in 1995 for the opening of Cathedral High School's current location at 30 Wentworth St. N., near King Street East.
The boys’ school now houses Cathedral's alternative and adult education programs. The girls school was renovated and turned into a retirement home.
“Cathedral always had a very good reputation,” Bellavia said. “Students came from all around.”
Bellavia began her student career in 1973 and graduated in 1977. She's been staff at Cathedral for the past 13 years.
Cathedral's energy is infectious. Bellavia worked with two of her former teachers who only retired recently. Principal Cannon is an alumnus herself.
“I was really influenced greatly by my teachers,” she said.
Cannon has fond memories of her grade 13 math class and being treated with so much respect from her teachers. Cannon went on to become a math teacher after graduating from McMaster University.
She said she was honoured when she received the offer to become principal at Cathedral three years ago.
Academics aside, Cannon said the school has always had strong extra-curriculars - student council, arts programs and sport.
“We've got some great athletes, both past and present,” Bellavia said. That includes former NHL player and Toronto Maple Leaf head coach Pat Quinn and Melissa Tancredi, local soccer superstar.
“The whole world saw Melissa leading on the field,” Cannon said of Tancredi's performance at the London 2012 Olympic games. “We are so proud of her.”
Cannon said Tancredi plans to attend events Saturday, along with her sister who is now a teacher at Cathedral.
Cathedral has also seen students go on to work for the United Nations and in health care, education and law.
“We have a Facebook reunion page with comments coming from all over the world,” she said.
Cannon said the school's diversity is also a major strong point, sourcing students mostly from its inner city neighborhood. The school has a lasting impact on the community.
“With 100 years, generations have come through these doors,” Cannon said.
Thirty-nine years after she started as a student, Bellavia is still proud of her high school alma mater.
“Even though it's an inner city school, it's the best school,” she said proudly.
The reunion kicks off by honoring the Cathedral Gael's football legacy with two games Friday afternoon. The junior team plays at 1 p.m. and the seniors at 3 p.m at McMaster University.
A wine and cheese social for current and past staff starts at 7 p.m. Friday. School tours of all three properties, will showcase special items like costumes of past theatre performances. A special mass takes place Saturday at 5 p.m.Visit - The Buzz Board