The students set to attend a new Oshawa school in 2014 will have a big, inspiring name to live up to.
After 30 names were suggested for a new south central Oshawa public school in October, Durham District School Board trustees approved the name Clara Hughes Public School last week, a suggestion by Grade 5 teacher Chris Brown.
“The real measure of a champion isn’t how much they have achieved so far, but how hungry they are to achieve even more,” Mr. Brown told the students at a ceremony celebrating the new name on Monday.
Ms. Hughes, the six-time Canadian Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating, is the only athlete in history to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games. She’s currently involved in a number of charities and speaks out on her own challenges with mental health.
“Clara, I promise you, we are a school that will make you proud,” Grade 8 student Emma Steele said to the Olympian, who attended Monday’s ceremony.
Students from three former Oshawa elementary schools, Harmony, Ritson and Duke of Edinburgh public schools, are currently attending classes at the former Donevan Collegiate as a new school is being built. The new Clara Hughes PS will open its doors in September 2014 where Duke used to sit, on Taylor Avenue near Wilson Road.
Ms. Hughes was thrilled with the honour of having the school named after her, and recalled receiving the e-mail that asked for her permission.
“Does anybody have to be asked if they’re going to accept that honour?” she laughed.
She spoke of the importance of dreaming big, and said that students can do anything they want to do, as long as they’re supported and believed in. Ms. Hughes herself needed that community support growing up because her parents didn’t drive and were unable to drive her to play sports.
“It was the support of my community that allowed me as a young person to be an athlete,” she said.
When she showed her medals to the students, she explained each has a story attached to it, and awards don’t mean much unless they have meaning.
“I just want to say, don’t ever give up on yourself,” she said.
Grade 8 student Miranda Hill said meeting Ms. Hughes was “amazing.”
She said not only did the athlete manage to win all of those Olympic medals, but also she also overcame depression.
“To meet her was such an inspiration,” she said.
The students gave Ms. Hughes a school jersey, and principal Sue Simeson said she hopes she can return for the school’s official opening.