After many years of planning and two more of construction, a much-needed 2,000-student public high school and recreation centre will open next fall in southwest Edmonton’s Heritage Valley area.
Dr. Anne Anderson School and Community Centre is located at 11810 35 Avenue SW, just off James Mowatt Trail in the Desrochers neighbourhood.
The school will have 90 classrooms and five designated Career and Technology Studies (CTS) spaces, including two labs, a culinary arts kitchen, foods and health care learning spaces.
The school also has specific arts classrooms, a dance studio, a 191-metre running track above perimeter of the gym, and an external amphitheatre that can be used as an outdoor classroom or performance space.
Dr. Anne Anderson School has been built to accommodate about 2,000 students, but there is room for an addition that would increase capacity to approximately 2,500 students — something the Edmonton Public School Board predicts will be needed in less than five years from now.
Southwest Edmonton has grown by leaps and bounds the past two decades, as new neighbourhoods drew young families to the suburbs — in turn, putting pressure on the school system.
When announcing the high school in 2017, the board said in less than five years, the overcrowding issue plaguing some of Edmonton’s elementary and junior highs would spread to the city’s high schools if more space wasn’t opened up.
The EPBS said as of September 2020, there were approximately 1,400 high-school aged students living in the Heritage Valley area — but projects that number will grow to 2,400 by 2025-26.
For the 2021-22 school year, Dr. Anne Anderson School will offer Grades 10 and 11, with Grade 12 expected to be added the following school year.
All neighbourhoods in the Heritage Valley area, as well as the rural land located south of the city proper that has been annexed in recent years, will be designated to Dr. Anne Anderson School.
Edmonton Public Schools said these neighborhoods were previously designated to Harry Ainlay School, which is over capacity and located on 111 Street and 43 Avenue — some 14 kilometres north of the new high school.
“When Dr. Anne Anderson School opens this September, students in south Edmonton will have an opportunity to attend school closer to home,” EPSB trustee Nathan Ip said in a statement.
The Heritage Valley school will have a similar capacity to the next-closest high school — Lillian Osborne in the Terwillegar area, which this year has nearly 2,000 students (up from 1,400 in 2017) — but fewer than the other southwest Edmonton public high school — Harry Ainlay School, which had nearly 2,850 students enrolled in 2020-21. Edmonton Catholic Schools also has two senior high schools in the same areas as those public schools.
Dr. Anne Anderson will draw students from the following feeder schools: Dr. Lila Fahlman (K-9) in Allard, Donald R. Getty (K-9) and Garth Worthington (K-9) in Chappelle, Johnny Bright (K-9) in Rutherford, and Roberta McAdams (K-6) in Blackmud Creek.
The high school will have an open attendance area boundary so students living outside the attendance area can enroll if there’s space. If demand is too high, outside students will be chosen through random selection.
The provincial government funded $68.5 million of the high school, where construction began in February 2019, and EPSB said the project is ahead of schedule and tracking under budget.
In addition to the high school, the 221,000-square-foot building will house a community centre/multi-use space, which the City of Edmonton contributed $5.5 million toward.
The Dr. Anne Anderson Community Centre will have a gymnasium, running track, fitness equipment, spin bikes, studios and registered City of Edmonton recreation and art programming.
“Thanks to our collaboration with the City of Edmonton, we have been able to efficiently deliver an innovative space that will serve the Heritage Valley area,” Ip said.
The high school is named after author and teacher Dr. Anne Anderson, who worked to preserve the Cree language and promoted Métis heritage in Alberta.
“From the tree-like beams to the Indigenous grasses planted outside, Dr. Anderson’s legacy is fundamental to the building’s design,” EPSB said.
The EPSB said the school’s design also embraces 21st century learning, with communal gathering spaces, modern furniture and flexible workspaces that allow for collaboration and bright, natural light.
The building also has 678 solar modules installed on it, which the EPSB said will generate 278,000 kilowatt hours of energy in an average year.
The high school will be led by principal Dr. Lisa Wright, who has worked for Edmonton Public Schools for more than 20 years, and was most recently the principal at McNally High School.
When it opens, the school will have a faculty of about 65 staff members.
This is the division’s first new high school since 2009, when Lillian Osborne School opened.
Below: More photos of Dr. Anne Anderson School and Community Centre.