It was a day to celebrate in Kingston’s west end area as dignitaries, school board executives, staff, students and others gathered at the newly minted ‘double French’ high school.
The brand-new facility, which houses both École Secondaire Publique Mille-Îles and École secondaire catholique Marie-Rivier was officially inaugurated at a ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m happy for our students, our team, our French community. It’s a big day for us,” said Sylvie Mekoulou, principal at École secondaire catholique Marie-Rivier.
“It’s amazing to be here. It’s really the first time that we’ve had a facility that are of such high calibre and we really consider ourselves fortunate to be in these facilities,” added Thomas Rinshed, principal for École Secondaire Publique Mille-Îles.
For these two, combined schools, one with the Catholic school board and one with the public school board, this facility marks a massive upgrade.
The new building features three gyms, a variety of labs, communal space, plenty of outdoor space and more.
Though it’s just about weeks into its inaugural school year, the rave reviews are already pouring in.
“The three gyms that are here at the new school are just exceptional. The library is just phenomenal. It’s a really cool space where the kids can just hang out,” said Danielle Chatelain, superintendent for the Centre East Catholic School Council (CECC).
Rinshed added, “We not only have two schools under the same roof, but also a community centre, a child-care centre, an early-on centre as well.”
The upgrades are also allowing for academic advancements.
Mille-Iles is offering an international baccalaureate program, while the new lab spaces provide the right gear for Marie-Rivier’s STEM program.
However, the biggest benefit goes to Kingston’s francophone community.
“It really gives more importance to the French community in Kingston. It allows the families to have a new building, a new school,” Chatelain said.
Rinshed added that “it helps strengthen the francophone community but also have us known in the greater Kingston community as well.”
Though they’re under one roof, the schools will teach and participate in sports separately.