LaurenHill Academy celebrates $1.9 million renovated pool complex
LaurenHill Academy celebrated its St. Laurent Junior Campus’s newly renovated swimming pool, locker rooms, and bathrooms on December 9 with an inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony. The EMSB allocated $1,914,007 for the combined projects, which saw a complete overhaul of each facility.
Swimming pool renovations began in June 2020. Six months later the pool was fitted with new concrete floors, ceramics, podiums, and a state-of-the-art filtration system. Renovations for the two attached gendered locker rooms began in June 2022. Upon completion in September 2022, they are now equipped with sparkling new red and grey-themed concrete floors, tiled walls, single-stall showers, blow dryers, storage lockers, sinks, and, single-stall toilets. Washroom facilities outside the pool area were given a facelift that complement the locker rooms.
The highly anticipated renovations are welcomed by staff and students who use the pool for gym activities, lunch-hour free swim, and weekly swim team practice. LaurenHill Physical Education teacher Julie Ramundo says getting students in the pool is not just about introducing them to new, fun ways of staying active, but it’s also about safety. “It’s water safety, the importance of understanding how water works,” Ms. Ramundo said. “Having that opportunity to put kids in a pool definitely sets [LaurenHill Academy] apart.”
Students with little to no experience in the water are taught the basics of swimming once a week throughout two months of swimming modules. Other in-pool physical education activities include innertube water polo, synchronized swimming, dragon boat paddling, and underwater hockey. Year-round, LaurenHill Academy swimming enthusiasts can get an extra half-hour in the water at lunchtime when the pool is opened up to students for free swim.
Experienced swimmers can join the swim team which meets for practice before school starts, Wednesdays at 8:00 a.m. The hour-long, weekly practices are coached by the school’s lifeguard and swimming teacher, Aleksander Korobochkin. Grade 8 student Emmanual Vlakos, 13, aspires to swim professionally when he gets older. He joined LaurenHill’s swim team last year for more practice time. “It’s better for me since I get to race more and I get to improve in the race when it actually counts,” Vlakos said.
Thirteen year-old Jayme Melnick is working towards becoming a lifeguard, but has to wait until she’s 15-years-old to take the next step towards certification. As an eighth grader, it’s her second year on the team. “I’m just doing swim team for fun and to fill those years until I can actually become a lifeguard,” Melnick said.
Vlakos and Melnick have been enjoying use of the newly renovated swimming pool since last year. They both agree it’s a huge improvement from the old facilities that were in dire need of updating. “The paint on the floor was ripping, the lockers were disgusting, the benches in the changing room were, like, on the floor. It was really bad,” Melnick said. The pool’s surface tiles were detaching and the mechanical filtration system was in poor condition but have since been replaced. Now, students also have new locker rooms to look forward to. With exclusive use of the pool, LaurenHill Academy students and staff are guaranteed safe and clean facilities for years to come.
EMSB Director General Nick Katalifos wishes to thank the Material Resources Department for all of its hard work on this project.
A special guest at the inauguration was Kiara Quieti, a former EMSB student-athlete who attended General Vanier Elementary before moving on to the Sport-études program at Lester B. Pearson High School in Montrea North to help fulfill her dreams of making the Canadian Senior Artistic Swimming Team. Kiara was a Sport-études student-athlete at Lester B. Pearson from 2014-2019. While balancing her school in the morning and training in the afternoons, Kiara was an Honour Roll Student throughout her five years at Pearson. Kiara graduated with Honours in 2019 and was the top Female Athlete of the Year in 2018 and 2019.
Kiara started her artistic swimming in 2011 at Montreal Synchro. She was a member of Team Quebec, which placed second at the 2019 Canada Games in Red Deer, Alberta. Kiara’s hard work and dedication led to her selection to the Canadian Senior National Team in 2020. Her role on the team is a flyer, the swimmer on top of the lifts who is lifted or thrown out of the water by her teammates into the air for the execution of daring manoeuvres and dives, flipping, somersaulting, plunging, or descending regally, down periscope. Her team won the World Champion title Team Event of the 2022 FINA Artistic Swimming World Series. Presently, Kiara trains six days a week as she continues to chase her dream of representing Canada at the 2023 Pan Am Games and qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics. She is also a five time Gold Medallist in the Fina Artistic Swimming World Series.
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About the English Montreal School Board
With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 77 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at www.emsb.qc.ca.