Two Montreal schools to welcome QAA students next fall

Anthony Abbondanza
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News of Queen of Angels Academy expected closure in June has parents searching for schools for their daughters

Nearly 200 people were present during last Thursday evening’s information session at Sacred Heart School of Montreal, where head of school Shawn O’ Donnell said all are guaranteed a spot.

Two Montreal-area schools have opened their doors to 186 students in search of private schools following the announcement that Queen of Angels Academy (QAA) is to close on June 30.

All-girl private high schools Sacred Heart School of Montreal and Villa Maria have been working closely with QAA administrators of the Dorval school to facilitate the transition ever since the latter sent out letters on Jan. 23 to all schools under the Quebec Association of Independent Schools (QAIS) umbrella.

Sacred Heart will automatically accept QAA students without the mandatory entrance test requirement and has already waived the application fee.

“We’re in a very unique position. We could respond immediately because of how our school is structured. We have space for virtually all of their students next year,” said Head of School of the Sacred Heart School of Montreal, Shawn O'Donnell.

“And knowing we have so many similarities, we were able to say to anybody who wanted to come here that they’d be accepted automatically because our admission requirements are virtually the same as [Queen of Angel’s].”

O’ Donnell welcomed nearly 200 people for an information session last Thursday to demonstrate at great lengths the education students receive at the English Catholic girls’ school.

“We were adamant with our team that we would not add pressure to these parents. So it was really about no fee, no test, and no barriers to entry…I really think our community has reached out to them,” said O’Donnell.

According to the head of school, more than 100 parents have already expressed interest in Sacred Heart, which currently has an enrolment of 200 students.

Meanwhile, Villa Maria is considering opening a fifth Grade 7 class as well as accepting students for all other levels except for grade 10.

“We’re still looking at the numbers. It’s in constant evolution,” said Carole Gelinas, the school’s communication’s coordinator. “We have our own waiting list as well to deal with.”

The school made contact with QAA last week after evaluating how many spaces can be made available for next fall.

“We’re looking to give as much support as possible to QAA parents,” said Gelinas.

There are 1320 students enrolled at Villa Maria.

Pina Pinozotto is among many parents considering both Villa Maria and Sacred Heart as viable options for their daughters.

She was also among the many blindsided by QAA’s sudden and unexpected announcement.

Before heading out to a scheduled parent's committee meeting on Jan. 23, where Pinizotto said she was expecting a fee increase and not a frantic search to find another school for her 14-year-old daughter Sarah, she received a very shocking email from school administrators. 

"Not the best way to find out by an email," she told the Chronicle last week. "Quickly after, everything went viral. Needless to say, the girls were shocked."

"It's like something's being ripped away from you," she added.

Queen of Angels Academy officials cited declining enrolment, finances for the school’s demise. With a meagre enrolment of 186 students, a far cry from the more than 500 students that walked the brown halls of the academy in 2006-07, administrators have had to substantially increase tuition over the years.

Founded in 1888, QAA moved to its current Dorval location in 1959 when the Congregation of the Sisters of Sainte Anne (SSA) bought the Royal Montreal golf clubhouse. The academy subsequently purchased the building and grounds from the SSA in 2007.

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Organizations: Angels Academy, Quebec Association of Independent Schools, Sacred Heart School of Montreal and Villa Maria Dorval school Sisters of Sainte Anne

Geographic location: Montreal, Villa Maria

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