Reality is setting in for students at Rideau high school. They learned on Tuesday that this term will be the last term for their 60-year-old school.

The pleas and the protests failed to sway the Ottawa Carleton District School Board to keep it open. 

When the bell rings for the final time at the end of this school year, the hallways will fall silent.

But today, there is music in the air, specifically karaoke over the noon hour.  Melanie Patenaude is in Grade 11; the student senator or rep for the school.  She has changed schools 11 times since kindergarten.  Gloucester will be her 12th move.

“For me, Rideau has been where I fit in the most,” she says, “and when I found out in September the possibility Rideau was closing, my heart was broken.  Now that I know for sure it is, my heart is broken even more.”

Rideau's population has dwindled over the years; it’s now less than half full.  Trustees with the Ottawa school board made a difficult decision on Tuesday to shutter the school and send the 415 students to Gloucester, which is also well below capacity.

But moving isn't easy, especially for students who have already moved a continent to be here. 

Leah Ntayeolikumungu came to Rideau high school a year and a half ago, after moving to Ottawa from Africa.

“When I came here, I had no friends; I couldn't speak the language,” she says, “so Rideau welcomed me and accepted my being.”

Rideau's principal Steve Spidell is in his fourth year at Rideau, his first as principal.  He knows the students well and is convinced it is that strength of spirit that is what will help ease this transition for them.

“They've dealt with transitions all their lives,” says Spidell, “whether they are students who came from Grade 8 to here, or moved from other parts of Canada, like the North to come here, as well as students who are refugees coming from all over the world. That shared experience of being new to a place is something that brings them together but gives me confidence for them moving forward as well.”

Now it's all about preparing them.  Gloucester students are on board.  Mumin Elmi is the Gloucester student senator, helping to set up meetings of transition teams from both schools.

“They're all welcome here at Gloucester and we would like for them to jump into our school,” he says.

Gloucester's principal Jennifer Perry is already trying to figure out how to re-create the spiritual lodge and smudge room currently in Rideau. 

“Really, we need direction from Indigenous community in terms of identifying where that space would be and what that space would be like,” she says, “Gloucester can be a home, too and a wonderful home.”

For some of the students, they just need to find out where that home is.

“What do I know about Gloucester?” Rideau student Winter Dagenais says in response to a reporter’s question, “Absolutely nothing, other than it's beside the splash pool,” she laughs.

There was talk of a possible name change for Gloucester High school but students we spoke with both at Gloucester and Rideau  didn't like that idea.   They said if there was a cost involved in changing the name, instead, spend the money on books and education.