The community comes to LHS, LHS comes to the community

Photo Cecily Osborne.
Photo Cecily Osborne.

Good things are growing at Leaside High School, literally and metaphorically. The garden circle at the front of the school is getting a revamp; the visual arts program is expanding in a myriad of creative ways and the best news is the Leaside community is in the picture.

The plot in front of the school’s main doors was, for at least a half century, grass, flagpole and nothing more. In the late ’90s there were efforts to create a garden there. But it was 2018 when real change was in the offing. Principal Barb Nixon explains that “the TDSB carved out a segment of the circle for accessible parking, reconfiguring the space and leaving behind some asphalt and a lot of soil.” Teachers Mimoza Stermasi and Cecily Osborne, staff advisors for the LHS Eco Club, saw this as an opportunity for a sustainable garden.

“There were no outdoor school clubs so planning, creating and caring for a pollinator zone connects students to nature, helping them learn an appreciation for the environment,” says Osborne. And, according to Stermasi, “students get involved from early spring to late autumn.” The one hiccup was the summer: two long, fertile months of flowering and ripening when no one was there to care for the garden.

Enter a fresh idea and the Leaside community. With the pro bono help of Anna Crombie, former LHS student and local landscape architect, who has mapped out a new design, and the school club, plus local enthusiasts keen to help plant and more importantly water and weed the garden during the dog days of summer, the traffic circle will soon be a beautiful thing. In fact, on May 24th at 4 p.m. there will be a big planting push, and all are welcome to come by to help out. Avid green thumb Leasiders, feel free to bring along your favourite perennial clippings to donate.

LHS at Leaside United Church

LUC was able to renovate the auditorium to include a properly lit gallery that can “display art but can also be used for a variety of purposes.” Photo Murray Fenner.
LUC was able to renovate the auditorium to include a properly lit gallery that can “display art but can also be used for a variety of purposes.” Photo Murray Fenner.

The visual arts department at LHS is also taking off in good ways. Leaside United Church’s (LUC) Graham Lute read about teacher Stephanie Marshall’s art program in the February 2024 issue of Leaside Life and reached out to see if she wanted to display student pieces in the new church art gallery space. Lute explains that after a generous donation from the Jean Bruce Foundation, named after a parishioner who had a passion for art, LUC was able to renovate the auditorium to include a properly lit gallery that can “display art but can also be used for a variety of purposes.” And so LHS will be at LUC on May 23rd from 6 to 9 p.m. All are welcome.

Marshall explains that it will be called “Hello – Goodbye” since there will be art from the Grade 9s up to the graduating Grade 12s. Attendees will be able to purchase refreshments and admire the students’ work, which includes mixed media, sculpture, oil, acrylic and water colour paintings, textiles such as “the quilt” and images from teacher Lisa Rubenzahl’s photography class. There will also be live music.

There is so much happening at LHS. But don’t take my word for it; seize these opportunities to see, hear and feel for yourself.

About Mitch Bubulj 12 Articles
Mitch is a born and raised Leasider. He worked for many years in South East Asia but ended up back in South Leaside where he raised his family. A member of the North York Community Preservation Panel and a retired English and Social Science teacher, Mitch has a passion for neighbourhood, history and a good story.