September 14, 2018 6:43 pm
Updated: September 14, 2018 6:52 pm

New Lethbridge west-side school helping to alleviate enrolment pressure

School District No. 51 officially opened its newest school on Friday. As Matt Battochio reports, the opening of Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School is seen as the first step in helping the district tackle the enrolment pressure it is experiencing.

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Hundreds of students, faculty and dignitaries gathered at Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School on Friday to help officially open Lethbridge’s newest school. It was a moment the province’s education minister sees as a positive mark in the city.

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“It’s an indication of the economic strength and the strength of the community here in the City of Lethbridge and a sense of optimism here and hope for the future,” David Eggen said. “People are having kids, they’re settling in and helping build the city.”

The $23.9-million school is 6,524 square metres, with an opening capacity of 750 students. Its presence in West Lethbridge fills a void in the area.

“It alleviated an extreme pressure we had at G.S. Lakie Middle School,” School District No. 51 Associate Supt. Christine Lee said. “West Lethbridge has been exploding in enrolment—in particular at the middle school level. “

Even with the new facility, School District 51 says the area is still seeing enrolment concerns at the high school and elementary levels. Coalbanks Elementary School, which opened last year, is already over capacity.

“We have a dire need for a new school in West Lethbridge,” Lee said. “Another elementary [kindergarten] to Grade 5. So we’re hoping that down the road, we will see an announcement recognizing that we do need another school.”

But Friday belonged to Fairbairn Middle School, named for the senator who has been an advocate for literacy, with the belief that it improves quality of life. The school staff want to make sure their students know who Fairbarin is.

READ MORE: 61 Alberta schools still not complying with GSA rules: education minister

“I think we should all know where we came from, especially for a person whose values are so core to most Canadians,” Fairbairn Middle School principal Bill Bartlett said. “I think that’s a great lesson to share to all of our kids, whatever their background.”

In honour of the school’s opening, the Senate provided its flag from Parliament Hill to be flown in front of the facility.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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