Province opens 15 new schools across Alberta

 There are 15 new facilities opening in 2012-2013 in seven different Alberta communities, including four new schools in Edmonton.

Three schools in the Edmonton area are public, while one is Catholic. Mother Margaret Mary High School is located in the city’s southwest, and all three public schools will accept children from kindergarten to Grade 9.

Michael Strembitsky School is in Summerside, in Edmonton’s southeast, Major General Griesbach is in Griesbach, a north-central neighbourhood, and Bessie Nichols School is in west Edmonton, in The Hamptons community.

On Monday, there was a tour of Bessie Nichols.

Pat Davidson, the principal of Bessie Nichols, says she’s incredibly excited about the new school.

“I think it’s a really important move for this particular community. As we know, it has one of the highest student populations in the city, and it was a much needed addition to this community,” she says.

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The Kindergarten to Grade 9 school can hold 850 students and already has almost 600 enrolled.

One of the main focuses is using technology as a tool for learning all through the grades. The school also uses “Share”; a program that allows students travelling to other parts of the world to access their learning and hand in assignments online.

According to the latest municipal census, there are around 9,400 people living in The Hamptons area. Of those, more than 2000 are under the age of 15.

“I have two young girls myself,” says Matt Jeneroux, MLA for Edmonton-South West.

“We’ve been around this community a fair bit, going to the playgrounds, and the school being the new hub of the community, it’s excellent knowing that we have these young kids and a brand new school in the community.”

He says constituents have told him education and schooling is a big priority for them.

“When I was out here door knocking at these homes, 9 out of 10 of the conversations wanted to talk about education,” he explains, “so knowing we had a brand new school coming… it was easy to reference, saying, in September a lot of the concerns around over-crowding are really going to be addressed here.”

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Over-crowding was something Kirk Jensen’s children experienced in their previous school. They moved to The Hampsons just a few days ago.

“It’s a very safe community… beautiful community,” he says. “Just vibrant! You can really feel the energy… that’s why we’re really excited about being a part of that.”

“Bessie Nichols here is an amazing facility,” he adds.

“I’ve actually met with the principal three or four times, talking about different ideas and goals that they had, and the leadership component, not just the academics, but the after school programs,” says Jensen.

He raves about his family’s experience so far, saying the school has “an amazing staff and group that will bring this to fruition. We’re really excited about that.”

His 7-year-old daughter Kira is also looking forward to September 4th – when she’ll begin classes at Bessie Nichols.

“What I like about this school is that it’s so big.”

“My favorite subject is art because you can use your mind and creativity,” she adds.

Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson says he knows schools were struggling with capacity issues, and education became a big priority during the provincial election.

“Alberta’s had a lot of growth pressures and there are many communities that have students that don’t have desks. So to be able to invest in that infrastructure was one of the main discussion items during the election.”

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For parents, that investment means the world.

“There’s a great saying that we like,” Jensen shares. “Children are letters of the future generations and I think this type of school will just make such great children, great adults and great community leaders. It’s very important to us, for our kids.”

With files from Erin Chalmers

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