Fr. Kris Schmidt makes regular visits with the students at Grandin School.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

Fr. Kris Schmidt makes regular visits with the students at Grandin School.

November 3, 2014
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

For 100 years, Grandin School has been fostering the education of the whole child, integrating intellectual, spiritual, physical and social development.

The Catholic school, which opened its doors in 1914, is located in downtown Edmonton, at 9844-110 St., just three blocks north of the Alberta Legislature.

The oldest Catholic school still in operation in the city, it will be the first school to celebrate its centennial, said principal Lorraine Press.

The school's major centennial celebration is set for June 5, 2015. The event will include a Mass, student activities and a formal event open to the public.

"I think we had a large crowd, about 2,000 people, who came out for the 75th anniversary, so I imagine it will be twice that number this time," said Press.

Parent volunteers have been scanning 100 years' worth of photos for a display. Seniors who went to the school as long ago as the 1920s are being interviewed about their school experiences, and their stories will be shared.

Mural Mosaic is also set to assist in the celebration. Every person involved will paint a small tile, and then those individual tiles will be placed in a specific order to create a larger painting.

"The large mural will be on the wall outside of the school facing the LRT station. It tells many stories within the story, and it will be unveiled June 5, 2015. No one but the artist and I know what it will look like," said Press.

Today, Grandin serves about 300 students in kindergarten to Grade 6. It also offers 100 Voices, a multicultural early learning program designed for pre-kindergarten children.

The school's mission, in the spirit of its namesake, Bishop Vital Grandin, is committed to encouraging the growth and life-long learning of its students.

CONSIDERED FOR SAINTHOOD

The cause for the canonization of Grandin has long been under consideration. He served as the first bishop of St. Albert from 1871 until his death in 1902, 12 years before the school that bears his name opened.

Educators work to provide the school's students with the skills and values to succeed in a changing world. They help them become creative and analytical thinkers who are resourceful, responsible and confident.

The school supports the family and meaningful involvement of parents in their children's education. Through reflection, planning and action, they work in the best interest of students' learning. Students participate in daily prayer.

LANGUAGE PROGRAMS

The school motto is Languages Come to Life at Grandin, which fits with the French immersion and Spanish bilingual programs offered there.

"The fact that we have the two language programs is wonderful because it infuses our soul with a lot of culture," said Grade 6 teacher Gloria Antipan.

"The fact that we're a Catholic school not only infuses us with the faith, but having a lot of Latin-American students here is beneficial too," Antipan said. "Sometimes the faith is expressed differently in other cultures, so we get to see those expressions of Catholic faith from around the world at this school."

DIFFERENT CULTURES

She looks forward to Grandin Day, which will be a part of the centennial celebration that shows an appreciation of the different cultures at the school.

"We will have French dancers, aboriginal dancers, Latin musicians and speakers," said Antipan.

University students have been gathering stories from former students, some of whom are now live in seniors' homes.

"We have seniors calling us, telling us they came to this school," said Antipan.

"We actually had a gentleman visit at the beginning of the year, and he attended this school a very long time ago, and he was looking forward to coming to our celebration."

Elena Schneider is a Grade 6 student in the Spanish bilingual program, which has been offered at the school since 2001.

"I don't come from a Spanish background, but since coming here in Grade 1, I've learned a lot of Spanish," Elena said.

The school has many activities and programs, she said. Those include a cross-country running club, family barbecues, bake sales, Christmas concert, and lunch hour activities such as Zumba, yoga, robotics and junior choir.

The school also has a music program with a strings orchestra for Grades 4-6.

Elena is active in the social justice club. She's looking forward to the school's 100th anniversary celebration.

SEEKING STORIES

"They have been asking around for stories, and anyone with stories can share it with the school," Elena said.

The Grandin Centennial Committee is looking for submissions to create an electronic memory book filled with stories and pictures from past students and teachers.

An archival photo shows a class at Gradin School in 1919.

An archival photo shows a class at Gradin School in 1919.

"It's a really old school. I had a family member that went to this school and now she's in university," Elena said.

The students and staff of Grandin School celebrate their faith in a variety of rich and varied school and church celebrations. The school has strong partnerships with St. Joseph's Basilica and St. Joachim Parish, with frequent visits from the parish priests.

The school's first faith development day took place Oct. 17. Students gathered in the school gymnasium where Father Kris Schmidt, associate pastor at the basilica, read a story and led the students in prayer and fun, faith-based activities. Schmidt visits the school about twice a month.

"We made things what we were thankful for. We made pretzels and sang songs," said Ida Bruno, a Grade 6 student in the French immersion program.

LANGUAGES

"The more languages you know, the better it is. If you want to learn more romance languages, it's easier to learn because you already know so many. I can speak three languages – Italian, English and French," Ida said.

The school is showing concern for the elderly. The students are working this year with Meals on Wheels to provide handmade birthday cards for their clients. Students create birthday, Valentine's and Easter cards, as well as general cards to let the person know the student is thinking of him or her.