Morinville Public makes it official
School to hold grand opening today with snow, speeches, cake
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 06:00 am
There will be cake and snow forts aplenty today as Morinville’s first secular school celebrates its grand opening.
Morinville Public Elementary School holds its grand opening this Wednesday, Feb. 6. The event marks the school’s sixth month in operation in its new building – the former home of Georges P. Vanier School.
About 350 staffers, students and parents will gather for a day of cake and fun activities, such as a snow-sculpting event, said principal Wayne Rufiange.
“I expect there might be a couple of dragons out there,” he said, referring to the school’s mascot.
Morinville Mayor Paul Krauskopf and Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson will also be in attendance.
It’s been a long, strange journey for the school. Started in 2011 in response to demands for non-Catholic education in Morinville, the school started out in the Community Cultural Centre, hopped to the Sturgeon School Division office after a month and shuffled into portables attached to Vanier after another two months. Some students were also housed at the town’s parish hall.
The constant moves were tough on students, said Rayann Menard, who has a son and daughter in Morinville Public.
“Children, especially young children, need stability,” she said.
Facilities were tight, she continued, and lacked basics such as a library and a gym.
“Things that people really take for granted, like running water, were things we didn’t have,” she said, referring to the portables.
Last June, Johnson transferred ownership of Vanier to the Sturgeon School Division. Vanier’s students went to Notre Dame Elementary, while Morinville Public’s moved into Vanier.
Notre Dame grew by six portables last summer as a result. The school plans to hold a rededication ceremony for the site this spring, reported Catholic board superintendent David Keohane.
It was a rough time for the community, Krauskopf said, but everyone seems to have accepted it now.
“Not everybody is a Christian,” he said, and people need to have options on where to send their kids to school.
Eva Scrimshaw, who has two daughters in Morinville Public, says neither she nor her many friends in the Catholic school district have any problem with this new arrangement.
“The community is filled with different kinds of ethnic and religious backgrounds,” she said. “Now, there are two choices. You don’t have to send your kid to the Catholic school. You can send them to the public school.”
There are now about 278 students at Morinville Public, Rufiange said, and they’re expecting 350 next year.
“It’s certainly nice to have everyone under one roof,” he said.
The start of the year was tough, Rufiange said, as they got about 100 new enrolments a week before classes started.
“We had to hire a couple new teachers just in that first week,” he said.
School officials hope to expand its intramural program in years ahead, Rufiange said, and to eventually offer junior high classes. They might run into a space crunch, though – the school will be at capacity in two years at current growth rates, he projected.
Menard praised the school for its excellent staff and use of the Reggio approach to learning (a strategy that emphasizes student-directed learning over lectures).
“My son was struggling in GSACRD (the Catholic division),” she said. “Now, in Morinville Public Elementary, he’s more than caught up. He’s doing fantastic.”
Scrimshaw said the future looks bright for the school.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a junior high (in the school) by the time she hits Grade 7,” she said, referring to her older daughter.
The grand opening ceremony starts at 1 p.m. Visit www.morinvillepublic.ca for details.