New ground broken with unique school
Education: Ceremony held for K-9 facility along 32 Street
Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018 06:00 am
Snow shovels probably would have worked better, but the excitement of building a new school in Okotoks’ northwest warmed the feelings of participants during the groundbreaking on Feb. 6.
“The new K-9 school is welcomed by many - family, children and certainly by Foothills School Division and the town,” said division chairman Larry Albrecht. “This is going to provide our students with excellent academic programming and a variety of option courses that will really enhance learning.”
Approximately 25 people attended the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new $23 million public school on a brisk, windy afternoon at its location next to 32 Street across from Holy Trinity Academy. The school is scheduled to open in September 2019, with a capacity of 700 students and potential build-out for 900 students. Albrecht said the new school complements the environment as well as emphasizing athletics and arts.
“The school is designed with lots of natural lighting, creative spaces and a three-stage gymnasium which will provide lots of opportunity for our students,” he said.
Albrecht praised the prior Foothills School Division board for working with the Town of Okotoks to get the school site. There had been a previous proposal to build a high school in the Aldersyde area and convert the present Foothills Composite to a K-9 school in the future. None of the present Foothills division trustees were involved in the 32 St. K-9 school proposal.
Okotoks Deputy Mayor Tanya Thorn said she believed it is the first time the Town has ever purchased land for a school.
“The partnership we have with Foothills School Division, and Christ the Redeemer School Division as well, is key to making sure the youth of our community is served,” Thorn said. “The great thing I like about this school is the connection to the environment... Allowing our kids in this community and the surrounding area to thrive and have that joy in academics and come to a space they feel safe in and feel involved in.”
The students have already been involved.
George El-Mehallawy, project manager with Alberta Infrastructure, was part of field trips to the site with Westmount and Heritage Heights school students, who were invited to provide their input.
“It was the first time we had students contribute and have open workshops and give us their feedback on what they would like to see in the new school,” El-Mehallawy said. “We were all amazed at how creative the students were with coming up with great ideas like open spaces, open libraries. We incorporated as much of it as we can.”
Of course, one of the things the students want is to have the school completed as soon as possible. There’s no going to the division to ask for an extension on their school assignment.
Not to worry, said Jeff Watt of Graham Construction - the school will be ready for students by the summer of 2019.
“We expect to be finished the project by July 1 (2019),” Watt said. “It’s a very unique project. Lots of lovely collaboration spaces, nice spaces for the students to learn in. A lot nicer than the school I went to.”
The division is forming a naming committee for the school and will begin preliminary talks among division administration for changes to school attendance boundaries soon.
Drew Chipman, assistant superintendent of corporate services, said thorough public consultation will be held before final attendance boundaries are established.
New boundaries will be in place in the spring of 2019.