St. Anthony’s School celebrates 100 years

  • June 29, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - One hundred years on and St. Anthony’s Catholic School is still teaching girls like Hailey Moreno reading, spelling and arithmetic, plus getting them ready for first Communion. In the last weeks of her Grade 1 year, Moreno is more than happy the centenarian school is going strong in a brand new building.
“It’s my favourite, favourite school,” explained Moreno.

Moreno’s favourite, favourite Grade 1 teacher, Ed Garibay, said the great thing about the Junior Kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school is how well its integrated into the downtown west Toronto neighbourhood. Eighty-five per cent of the students come from Portuguese-speaking families, and parents appreciate how well the school passes on the language, culture and religious heritage of the old country. And for newcomers from South and Central America, teachers such as Garibay are fluent in Spanish and can keep lines of communication open to parents.

As real estate values rise (a fully detached house in the neighbourhood is typically worth more than $500,000) the immigrant families who traditionally make up St. Anthony’s parish on Bloor Street are beginning to be replaced by anglophone professionals moving back from the suburbs to homestead on one of Toronto’s urban frontiers.

For all the diverse students and families, St. Anthony’s offers an education with a strong connection to the parish, Garibay said. And the value of culture and heritage.

“You should see this place during World Cup,” Garibay said of the soccer championships that take place every four years.

St. Anthony’s killed two birds with one blessing June 13 by having Scalabrinian Father Santo Cigolini bless the new school building where students have been studying since April 2006. The clean, bright and airy new school at 130 Shanly St. is the fourth since the Loretto Sisters opened St. Anthony’s July 1, 1907, and it stands on the same corner where the sisters began teaching children of St. Peter’s and St. Cecilia parishes.

St. Anthony’s passed from the archdiocese of Toronto to the old Toronto Separate School Board in 1910. The original building was expanded in the 1930s, then completely replaced in 1954. Slides showing the April 2006 move from the 50-year-old Gladstone Avenue school drew lusty cheers from teachers and students during the 100th anniversary celebrations.

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