Westmount High School is congratulating graduate Kamala Harris on her historic achievement becoming America’s vice president-elect.
The school pride was on full display as students and staff celebrated the victory Monday morning holding up signs and notes of congratulations.
“It’s a surreal feeling that our public school in Quebec managed to bring out a vice-president into this world,” student council co-president Aaron Itovitch said.
Harris became the first Black and first South Asian woman elected vice-president of the United States on Saturday, a victory that holds a special meaning for her former schoolmates and current students at the Montreal high school she graduated from almost 40 years ago.
Harris, 56, lived briefly in the city and graduated from Westmount High School in 1981.
The vice president-elect hasn’t spoken much about her time in the city, briefly touching on it in her memoir, The Truths we Hold: An American Journey.
She described arriving in the city as a 12-year-old in the mid-1970s when her Indian-born mother Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer researcher, took a job at McGill University.
For months, the school has been bubbling with anticipation for the final result.
Guidance councillor Karen Allen says Harris is a role model for many of the students in the school.
“It’s somebody who experienced what they experienced. That person walked these hallways and is now actually in the White House,” Allen said.
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She says this is the perfect opportunity to inspire young students in difficult times.
“Everything is possible so if there are passions and dreams they can pursue them and know that it is possible,” Allen said. “It reinforces that feeling.”
Harris’s numerous accomplishments have already motivated Itovitch, a Grade 10 student.
“It’s amazing — this means that we aren’t limited. We can do whatever we put our minds to,” he said.
“It’s a great, inspirational feeling.”
Quebec politicians were also quick to laud her local connection after news of a Biden-Harris victory broke on Saturday morning.
“I also congratulate the Vice-President-elect, Ms. Kamala Harris, who spent part of her youth in Montreal,” Premier François Legault wrote on Twitter.
“We hope to see you soon. You will always be welcome in Quebec.”
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Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante echoed the sentiment in a tweet of her own.
“The wait was worth it,” she wrote. “You made history today by breaking another glass ceiling.”
Officials from the English Montreal School Board say a formal invitation will be sent to the future vice-president to visit her old stomping grounds.
“It’s certainly something we would welcome. The students would be absolutely thrilled and the staff as well,” EMSB chair Joe Ortona said.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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