Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 1, 2003
Edmonton Catholic opens 4 new schools
Expansion is largest in school district's history
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
When school begins this week, Catholic students in four Edmonton communities will be walking into new, state-of-the-art-schools designed with their needs in mind.
They are Mother Teresa Elementary in the city centre, St. John Bosco Elementary in Lake District, Father Michael Troy in Meadows and Archbishop Joseph MacNeil Elementary/Junior High in Terwillegar.
This is the first time in its 115-year history that the Edmonton Catholic School Division opened four schools at one time. The last time it opened a school in Edmonton was in 1994 when Good Shepherd School opened in the west end.
"So you see how exciting this is because it's not everyday that you open a school and yet we opened four in one year," said division spokesperson Lori Nagy.
The four schools were built at a cost of $23 million in response to the growing number of Catholic families in Edmonton.
"The need (for Catholic schools) in all those communities has been there for quite a long time," Nagy said. "In many cases people had to bus their children out of their community to attend a Catholic school. For example, Archbishop Joseph MacNeil School is the first Catholic junior high for southwest Edmonton. And that's a huge area. So it was a very real need."
All schools were built with input from principals, teachers and parents, the WCR learned during an Aug. 26 tour.
Mother Teresa Elementary is an inviting, innovative and functional inner city facility that will welcome up to 275 students from K-6 when it opens on Sept. 2. The school was built at a cost of $4.6 million on the playing fields of St. Michael's School, which has been bulldozed. Most of the students will come from the nearby Sacred Heart Elementary School, which was closed in June.
The school's principal is Charlotte Player, principal at Sacred Heart for nine years. She proudly showed visitors the colourful classroom desks. Like the desks, classroom walls feature vivid colours.
The facility has six classrooms with a number of ancillary teaching spaces including a learning resource centre, learning studios, gym, a music/fine arts room, an arts and science room, and a family literacy centre.
A large kitchen will provide daily hot breakfasts, mid-morning snacks and hot lunches, noted Player. Two parents have been hired to prepare the breakfast. The hot lunch program will be run by the Edmonton City Centre Church Corp.
Other programs include a hockey program, one for health and hygiene, and a free dental clinic for children in need. The school will also have a food bank, clothing bank and full-time social worker.
When St. John Bosco opens, it will be the first Catholic elementary school to serve the northeast section of the Lake District. Built at a cost of $5.1 million, the facility had 350 students enrolled as of Aug. 20. Since it was built to handle only 300 students, four portables had to be added to house the overflow, explained principal Louise Ripley, who leads a staff of 22.
A cross, water, circle, stone and light will draw the visitor's attention as one enters the school's gathering area. The focal point of this circular reflection area is a waterfall made of Tyndall stone with a cross in the centre. Bordering the waterfall are two stained-glass works that show the stages in the life of St. John Bosco, the school's patron saint.
All of the classrooms face an open central core. This central core is made up of a music room and a large, brightly lit learning resource centre with a full computer lab, library and many other resources. The 13-classroom school also features a two-station gym that allows two phys ed classes to be held at the same time. A community kitchen and a meeting room for community use are also part of the school.
Father Michael Troy School, named after the popular Edmonton Spiritan priest and St. Joseph's High School teacher, coach, pastor and friend, is a Grade 7 to 9 school in the Meadows area of southeast Edmonton. The $6.7-million school has an initial enrollment of 310 students.
Father Michael Troy School will be the first Catholic school in the city with a student dress code. "Everybody has to wear navy or white on the upper body," said principal Helen Matsuba. "This is an equalizer for the students so that they are judged by who they are and not by what they are wearing."
The focal point of the junior high at 2321-37A Ave. is a central gathering area from which students can access the gymnasium, library, celebration centre and administration offices.
Father Michael Troy features 12 classrooms in the main facility as well as a food and fashion lab, a construction and design lab, and four computer areas.
Principal Matsuba noted the school has already formed partnerships with the Pilgrims Hospice, an organization that helps terminally ill patients, and the Holy Childhood Association, which helps poor children in the Third World.
Archbishop Joseph MacNeil School will be the first elementary/junior high Catholic school for southwest Edmonton. About 300 students will start at this school Sept. 2.
On Aug. 26 the school looked more like a war zone with construction crews working inside and out. But principal Dave Andrew insisted the school will open on time. "The school will open Sept. 2," he said. Some areas such as the gym, science labs and music room will be completed by November.
The $6.6 million school will open as a kindergarten to Grade 8 school with Grade 9 being added next year. It features 13 homerooms in the main facility with four portables added in two wings.
The school features three career and technology studies facilities for the various modules in food and fashion, science and technology and information processing.
Archbishop Joseph MacNeil School will also have a portable stage for concerts.