Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 26, 2001
Wainwright school bounces back
Fire couldn't destroy commitment to Catholic Education
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
WAINWRIGHT — Blessed sacrament Catholic School is ready to bounce back after its building burned down in late September.
Classes are now scattered in different locations but efforts to bring them back together are nearing completion.
Archbishop Thomas Collins will be in Wainwright, Nov. 28 to bless the portables that will temporarily house all the classes of the school.
"This will surely enhance the dignity of what we are going through in light of the tragedy that we've gone through," Superintendent David Keohane, told the WCR.
"We will rise again, that is the spirit that keeps us going."
Neighbouring school districts donated 19 portables, which have already been placed in a parking lot adjacent to the town's old hockey rink.
"It was such a tremendous community effort as we received volunteers to repaint the portables with vibrant colours," said Keohane.
All these efforts are fueled by "the strong determination of the school community to move forward," Keohane said.
Replacement for the building is pegged at $8 million, but with furnishings and other facilities it could go as high as $12 million, according to Keohane.
Teachers claim that the tragedy brought about teachable moments in the classroom.
Principal Don Cameron said revamping some of the courses offered in the schools, especially for higher grades, is one major challenge the school is facing.
Cameron hopes that they will return to normal operation next September.
The school lost facilities like its industrial arts workshop, home economics facility, music room and science laboratory, among others.
Cameron appreciates the help they have received from the community. A francophone school is temporarily providing office space for the administration. The public library, the military base, the Communiplex and Wainwright High School provided spaces for classes.
The spirit in the school has hardly changed, said Cameron. "When I walked into one classroom, the feeling was the same. In fact it's almost even better."
The tragedy has allowed some students to mature and truly care about the school and Catholic education, said Cameron.
"When I speak to our graduating class this year, it's like speaking to students who have graduated from our school some years ago."
In spite of the fire, enrolment in the school did not drop. Opportunities for the students to move to another school existed, but they opted to stay and accepted the challenge of adjusting to a different environment.
Lisa McCluskey and Mairi Irene McCormack are both in Grade 9.
The biggest challenge for them is adjusting to a whole new schedule and getting to different classes in different places.
Mairi Irene was amazed at how the school was able to provide important equipment in two weeks time. "It was really great because the first day we were back, we had the computer room all set up and everything," she said.
Lisa believes that the school administration did a good job in bringing in portables for the interim facility. "The most challenging part is just getting used to being back to school and you have to learn in a different setting," she said.
"Teachers have to teach us in a different setting and come up with a whole new plan because all of their things were lost in the fire."
After the tragedy, school is pretty much the same for Lane Morey, Josh Miller and Sean Mills, all in Grade 11.
Sean said the building is the only difference. Even the sports program was not totally changed. "It did not change much, we just couldn't host games, so we have to go to other schools and play."
Josh had fun moving from one classroom to another for different classes. "It gives me a foretaste of college life."
Teacher aide Francine Sarrazin said she misses the togetherness in the school community with classes now held in different locations.
Louise Martineau, a teacher aide for 19 years, used to walk to school. Now she has to drive to get to the class she is assisting.
"We're a very close family and we enjoyed each other's company."
"It's difficult to get together now that we're on different locations," said Martineau.
What keeps them going are their faith and the love for Catholic education.
"We love the children and we love to help them get the best Catholic education," said Martineau.
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