May 10, 2016 4:09 pm
Updated: May 10, 2016 7:21 pm

‘We’re going to stay strong’: Calgary schools rally to help Fort McMurray students

WATCH ABOVE: Dozens of young Fort McMurray evacuees are coping with new schools, on top of everything else, as they begin classes in Calgary this week. But as Mia Sosiak reports, they’re getting lots of support.

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The wildfire in Fort McMurray has thrown many lives into chaos, including students from the area.

The province has said Grade 12 students from Fort McMurray won’t have to write their diploma exams, and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) is also doing what it can to help. Two hundred Fort McMurray students have already registered with the CBE, and that number continues to climb.

About 40 of them attended an orientation session Tuesday at University School in the northwest community of University Heights, ahead of their classes beginning Wednesday.

Local students are also stepping up to help their northern neighbours: at Sam Livingston School, they’ve organized a bottle drive. The call went out on Friday, and by Monday morning every hall in the school was full of bottles. All proceeds will go to the Red Cross.

That support means a lot to those affected; Lisa Miller is principal at St. Martha School in Fort McMurray. She got emotional talking about the fact that her school is still standing, but four staff members lost their homes.

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“For those people that lost everything, there’s plenty of room in my home if they need somewhere to stay, when we go back to being the strong community that we began,” she said, fighting back tears.

Miller likened her school community to a big family, and said they will get through this.

“We are strong, and we are resilient, and for all those people that stayed behind to work, their dedication is unparalleled by anything I’ve ever witnessed in my life. Their love of our community is exceptional,” she said. “All of us that had just minutes to leave, we left with what counts. We left with our families, and materials won’t matter. We will rebuild.”

The Edmonton Public School Board and Edmonton Catholic School Board (780-944-2000 or 780-944-2001) are also welcoming students from Fort McMurray into their systems.

Elk Island Public SchoolsElk Island Catholic Schools, and St. Paul Education Regional Division are also taking in Fort McMurray students.

With files from Mia Sosiak

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