- by Mathea Treslan

My name is Mathea Treslan and I am a grade 10 student and a member of student council at Owen Sound District Secondary School. I recently had the chance to read Josh Blair's letter concerning the current state and atmosphere at OSDSS. Although Josh eloquently expressed his feelings on what he considers to be a very negative situation, I feel compelled to defend my school's identity. This is our school now, and I believe that our community will benefit from hearing an alternate, more positive point of view.
    Admittedly, the amalgamation of the former West Hill and OSCVI high schools presented us with a slew of unique challenges. On September 9th, many students were sent to school in a new building and felt as though they had lost an important part of their identity. I sympathize with these students and I am proud of how far we've come. Slowly but surely, we have been able to band together as a school with a sense of unity. Since our very first day, teachers and staff have offered support and have been sensitive of every students' apprehension of the transition. Together we voted on a new mascot and our halls gradually took on our chosen silver and purple hues.
    After the many strong emotional responses towards Josh's article, I began to wonder if most of the population feels this negatively about our school community. Specifically, Josh mentioned that "the new teachers coming in to teach classes are even noticing the change in atmosphere here at OSDSS". I was lucky enough to be able to talk with a few of our new teachers who have recently come from other schools in the board. They were able to offer a unique and neutral perspective on things here at OSDSS.
    Mr. Dubeau, a science teacher who came from Chesley in March of 2017, has been able to find the silver lining in this difficult situation. "Schools are a reflection of the people in them," he said when asked about the atmosphere these past couple of months. "I get that there are challenges, and amalgamations present unique ones. It would be really nice if people could see this as the best of both worlds. Whether we're in OSCVI's old building or here in this one, the teachers will be just as effective and the students just as awesome."
    In addition, I spoke with Beatrice Fowler Campbell, a student who transferred to OSDSS this year from St. Mary's. Beatrice had some positive things to say about the general feeling of being a student at this school. "As someone who didn't go to either school last year, you honestly can't tell that it's two schools merged. When you look around in the caf, you just see groups of people hanging out together." This really goes to show how the amalgamation has brought new groups of friends together and even
reunited old ones. I know that personally, my new peers from OSCVI have become some of my most valuable friends.
    As one united OSDSS, we've seen our cheerleading team place second at Nationals, cheered on our extremely successful girls' rugby team and run a profitable Inside Ride for childhood cancer, (which was traditionally a collaborative fundraiser between our two former schools). Evidently, the students and staff of OSDSS already have plenty to be proud of after only a few months of working together.
    At the end of the day, this school year has been about change and having the resilience to undergo it. Not everything we see as constant will remain so, nor will the amalgamation of our schools be the last drastic change in our lives. However, superficial changes cannot erase the aspects of school life that we'll look back on once we've graduated. Our spirit, positive relationships, culture, and history rests with us: the people. This speaks true for any community. Life really is what you make of it, and I sincerely hope that we can learn to make the very best out of our lives here at OSDSS.


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