Two schools joining creates favorable reaction
September 3rd, 1997, marked the opening of a new, yet old, school in Port Saunders, Newfoundland. Due to changes made by the government under Term 17, the junior and senior high grades from the Pentecostal all-grade school, Ralph Harnum Memorial in Hawkes Bay, integrated with the Roman Catholic Roncalli High School to form one student body under a new inter-denominational school system. This school is called Roncalli Central High School.
The integration of the schools brought about many questions in both students' and teachers' minds as to how well the two schools could join together to form one unified school body.
Andrew R., a grade 12 student from Roncalli last year, was apprehensive about the change because he wanted things to stay the way they were. "I was not in favour of it", he said. "I felt uncomfortable because there were a lot of students and teachers that I was unfamiliar with."
But Andrew's attitude has changed, and he says he has become good friends with some of the Ralph Harnum students. Although he initially felt that there would be a big division between the two schools he now feels that everyone is getting along exceptionally well.
"I like just having one school because I have met new people and learned different things about them which I wouldn't have if the schools had stayed the way they were last year."
Not everyone was apprehensive about the integration of the schools. "I was happy with the news", said principal Mazie House.
Mrs. House felt that it was a wonderful opportunity for both schools. "Small schools have some wonderful advantages and qualities that they can offer their students. With all of our students at Roncalli however, we are still not large, but together we are stronger."
Everyone seems pleased with the changes and feels that it has brought only improvements, especially to extracurricular activities like sports.
"It's amazing how well two teams who were once strong rivals have joined together so well to form one team", noted teacher Aurele Beaupre who coaches both the senior boys and girls volleyball teams. Mr. Beaupre was quite impressed at how well the members of the teams seemed to get along and cheer for each other and the way they were catching the Roncalli spirit. "I really feel like a Dorset!"
Kristen B., a grade 11 student who attended Ralph Harnum Memorial last year, says that the integration meant a big change for everybody, but it was a change for the better. "Face the facts, it has happened. We have to take as much pride in our school as we possibly can. Then, with one focus as a student body we can make this the best school on the island, and fulfill our motto, Ut Unum Sint ... That all may be one."