Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
October 15, 2001
High tech meets high faith
Lloydminister high school overcomes severe over-crowding
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
LLOYDMINISTER — A high-tech school facility on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, began operations in late August but celebrated its grand opening, Oct. 4.
Not only does the school have state of the art facilities but its 34 teachers and administrators are all involved in teaching Christian ethics, which is rarely seen in other schools.
Holy Rosary High School is home to 585 students, 57 per cent of whom are from Alberta and 43 per cent from Saskatchewan. Because of the geographical location of the city the school receives support from both governments while it follows a Saskatchewan curriculum.
The re-opening of Holy Rosary High coincided with the opening of St. Mary's Elementary School in Lloydminster.
"We have an excellent working relationship with the Department of Learning in Alberta," Saskatchewan Education Minister Jim Melenchuk told the WCR after the opening ceremony held at the high school gymnasium.
"As governments, we can cooperate in providing top quality education opportunities for the students of Lloydminster," Melenchuk added.
Alberta Learning Minister Lyle Oberg was represented by Dr. Mark Swanson, manager of field and services.
Lloydminster Catholic Schools Superintendent Doug Robertson said the project has been an incredible journey.
"We were in a position, a few years ago, of incredible over-crowding in the old facility," Robertson said.
Every available space in the old school was used for instruction. Band room was used for English class while the library was always booked for different classes. They had to schedule classes for as early as 7:45 a.m.
In the spring of 1999 funding for the new school was approved. Total cost of the project was $14 million with significant help from both governments.
The transition of the school from its old site is coupled by changes in its programs. The school reflected on how to enhance Catholic education.
To do this, they launched an advisory program, now called Student Teacher Advisory Relationship (STAR).
Principal Bill Tonita told the WCR, "in order for (the advisory program) to be successful at the high school level, it had to be connected to another program."
When the program was discussed with the teachers and staff, they said, "The natural choice is to do it along with Christian ethics."
"We're all responsible for the Christian formation of our students," said Tonita. "We're all in the same journey with our students and we need to be able to model that."
The Christian ethics class is treated "like a homeroom or a small family." The school is also organized into four extended families or colleges.
Students are proud and enthusiastic about their school, not only because of its facilities but also because of the level of collaboration that they are invited to participate in.
They wrote letters to the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan and made videotapes.
Katie Oracheski, Grade 12 and treasurer of the Students' Representative Council, said the project required a lot of dedication from the students.
"From the time we were in Grade 8 we knew we wanted a new school because we're so over-populated," the 17-year-old Oracheski said.
"Being crowded in the school we had to endure the pain of sharing lockers, but we knew we're getting a new school so that didn't matter," she added.
Along with three other students, Oracheski was involved in helping to design the new school. A committee of teachers travelled from one school to another and looked for possibilities for their own building.
Dave Cavanagh, 16, raves about the technology installed in the school. For example, they have a recording booth, where they can mix sound and broadcast a radio program. However, he also appreciates the homey atmosphere.
"It's got all the advantages of a big school but it's small enough that you can maintain the atmosphere of a small community.
Students' President Kelsey Weighill, 17, said that it's not really a big school. "It's big but everybody knows everybody and gets along. It's a happy place," she added.
When the students were consulted whether they would keep the same name of the school or change it, they opted for the former.
"The name was part of us, and it's not really the building we were in but the people who were in that makes the school family," Weighill said.
Fourteen new programs have been introduced to the school this year. They include a class on film and video/audio production, commercial cooking, ecology, theatre arts and photography.
Teachers are as happy as the students.
Lisa Marie Kreese has been teaching French and drama at the Holy Rosary for two years and she enjoys teaching because of the students and supportive colleagues, and the chance to nurture her faith.
"Teaching Christian ethics is important for me, because I can see God in what I am doing," Kreese said.
"When things happen in the world, like the recent tragedy in the U.S., we have a medium here to explain to the students and help them understand the situation from a Christian perspective," Kreese said.
Kim Lindvay graduated from this school in 1994. This year he is back as science teacher.
"It has given me a whole new perspective, because before I had some disagreement with the teachers, but now they are colleagues," Lindvay said.
At the Mass opening the school, Archbishop Thomas Collins commended efforts, talents, time and energy put into the construction of the building.
"This is a house of learning and skill but we need to transform this into a home of wisdom and love," Collins said.
"This house will primarily be transformed by the persons who are here," Collins challenged Holy Rosary.
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