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Lowe Doors Closed

by Elaine Weeks with Erika Muscat, lowe_big.jpg
photos Elaine Weeks

The legend is over, but the memo-ries will live on. W.D. Lowe Sec-ondary School (originally Walkerville Technical School), located on Giles Boulevard at Parent, closed in June after 78 years of providing area students with a solid foundation in both trades and academics.

Lowe had such a province-wide reputation for excellence, a Lowe grad had an edge over any other school graduate applying for a job in the trades in Ontario.

Their academic performance was also phenomenal. When Lowe's first Grade 13 class wrote the Ontario Departmentals in 1966, it received the highest average of all secondary schools in Windsor.

The school had 25 shops, including three for cars. Sports wise, the school produced many champions. John Murray was one particular star coach of the 1940's and 1950's who led the students to a host of championships in basketball and football.

For most of its early years an all-male school, Lowe went co-ed in 1974 when students from nearby Patterson High were transferred there prior to its demolition. In later years, the school's student body included many new immigrants to the City of Windsor.

In the 1960's, enrollment was over 1600 students, but by the end of the 1990's, it had dwindled considerably and it looked like the school's days were numbered.

Lowe was granted a one-year reprieve from closing in 1999 thanks to the tireless efforts of motivated student leaders and much of the school population, who campaigned successfully to keep the school open. By the year 2000, the writing was on the black board however, and despite renewed efforts by students and parents to save the school, the battle was lost.

An emotional closing ceremony, held on June 10th of this year, saw about 700 people assembled on the front lawn of the school to listen to former and current students and staff, bid their farewells. Sue Zanin, Superintendent of the Windsor-Essex County Board of Education, remarked that despite the sad occasion, the ceremony was "a celebration of Trojan spirit and Trojan pride." 

Roy Battagello, former star athlete and Lowe principal from 1975 to 1993, spoke of his earliest memory of the school. "I have a close, earthly connection to Lowe," said Battagello with a smile. "I remember as a child my mother dragging me kicking and screaming to Lowe to pick dandelion leaves from the front lawn to have for dinner that night." 

On a more serious note, he opined on the closing of the school. "Everywhere in the world except in Ontario, students, after completing Grade Six, move on to the secondary level. If this were true here, I think this would have left Lowe open."

According to a spokesperson from the school board, Lowe will continue to serve as an Adult Education Centre until November of this year. The Windsor and Essex County Board of Education have no intention of demolishing the school at this juncture and are examining reuse options for the school.




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