School Notes: new Morinville school name and advice to Eggen

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New school dubbed Four Winds

Morinville’s newest public school will be named after a force of nature instead of a person.

Sturgeon Public School Division trustees decided last week that their new Morinville junior high school would be named Four Winds Public School.

The 600 student grades 5-9 school was first announced in 2014. Originally slated to be built by the Ray McDonald Sports Centre, planning for it ground to a halt in early 2016 due to numerous problems with that site. After interventions by Mayor Lisa Holmes and Education Minister David Eggen, the school was moved to its current home on Grandin Drive north of the CN railway tracks and west of East Boundary Road.

The board held a contest asking residents to suggest influential people to name the school after, and got about 40 suggestions, said Misty Featherley, chair of the board’s advocacy committee (which is overseeing the naming process) and Morinville ward trustee.

Because they liked so many of the suggestions, the committee decided to name about five specific parts of the school (such as the learning commons or amphitheatre) after the suggested people instead of naming the whole school after just one person, Featherley said. The committee will pick two names from the submissions and let the school’s staff and students pick the rest.

For the school as a whole, the committee wanted a name that was not a person but incorporated the school’s themes of inclusiveness, environmental stewardship and Indigenous connections, Featherley said. They settled on Four Winds.

“Four is a very important number to the Indigenous people,” she said, as it refers to the four directions, four elements and four quadrants of the medicine wheel. The name also reflects how the school’s students, like the wind, come from all over.

Featherley said the committee considered a Cree name, but the elders from Alexander they consulted wanted something that was about more than just Indigenous culture. The committee does plan to have the word “Welcome” written in English, French, Cree and possibly other languages in the front lobby.

Featherley said the school was set to open Sept. 2019.

Cayanga advises Eggen

A Lorne Akins Gator says he hopes David Eggen will put more emphasis on mental health in Alberta’s schools after the two of them spent the weekend debating the future of education.

Grade 9 Lorne Akins student Declan Cayanga was one of 32 youths who met with Education Minister David Eggen in Edmonton from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 for the first meeting of the Minister’s Youth Council.

Eggen formed the council earlier this year to get advice on education policy.

Cayanga said the meeting covered a broad range of topics, including mental health, sex-ed, the School Act, and racism. Council members brainstormed in groups and as a whole, and spoke directly with Eggen and Alberta Education bureaucrats. They also toured the Alberta Legislature.

Cayanga said he hoped Eggen heard the council’s call for more mental health education in schools in the form of a specific curriculum on it.

“We need more education on it, and it needs to be normalized and talked about every day, just like we talk about physical health.”

While he was not yet sure if Eggen would act on the council’s advice, he said Eggen and the government officials were very engaged in the council’s conversations and took many notes.

“I felt like we were being acknowledged.”

While it was sometimes a bit dull, Cayanga said he enjoyed this policy debate.

“We all know it’s going to make a change. We’re just trying to make education better for everybody.”

Cayanga said the council would next meet in May, where it would likely discuss curriculum reform.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.