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Une nouvelle école

École Citadelle students start year in new school

A big, bright library. Shiny new home economics and science labs. And microwaves you can use without tripping the breakers.

Sturgeon County students enjoyed these and many other amenities Sept. 1 as they started the first day of classes at the new École Citadelle building in Legal. Built next to the Legal School, this $11.5-million K-9 school has been in the works since October 2020, and currently has about 105 students.

Principal Lisa Magera, who was one of École Citadelle’s first students when it opened in 1991, said it was exciting to see this place become a “real school” after so many years without a dedicated school building to call home.

“The excitement of the students this morning was so refreshing,” she said.

Bigger, brighter, better

The school’s old home (the nearly century-old brick convent building attached to the Centralta Community Centre down the street) had a lot of issues, Magera explained — there was no gym, science lab, or home economics room, and the breakers tripped whenever you had more than two microwaves on.

“It was always a running joke that even the students knew where the breaker panel was,” Magera said.

The new school features elementary and junior-high wings to either side of the front office, gym, and library. The library features English and French books and is about 40 per cent bigger than the old one, Magera said. The gym is a bit larger as well, and has a curtain so it can be divided in two.

Unlike the old site, where classes were split between two floors and a basement, everything in the new school is at ground level for accessibility, Magera said. Large windows in almost every wall make the school exceptionally well lit.

“We’re in a classroom with no lights on right now and it’s still beautiful,” Magera said.

The school has a home economics lab which will also serve as a community kitchen, Magera said. The science lab has fume hoods and chemical-resistant tables for experiments. The preschool has a heated floor — an improvement from the cold basement it used to occupy — and the hockey academy has a dedicated equipment room. Some classrooms have garage-style doors so students can spill out into the common areas, which double as lunch rooms.

“The kids are really excited about not having to eat in the classroom this year,” Magera said, and to have more opportunities to meet friends at lunch.

Grade 7 student Lolie Bijou said the new school building is much brighter and less gloomy than the old one, which had mice that once ate her friend’s birthday cupcakes.

“The fire alarms, every time we cooked food, they would go off, so we’d have to go to [another] school even if it was raining. Totally sucked,” she said.

Bijou said she likes the look of the school’s new kitchen, and appreciated the school’s reliable Internet.

Science teacher Ainsley Hartzell said the new science lab will give students more hands-on experience with science, and let her do more chemistry demonstrations.

Crews were still putting finishing touches (such as signs) on the school last week. Magera said window blinds, the playground, solar panels, and logos for the gym floorare also still to come, as is the school’s sensory room, which is currently stuffed with plastic crates used during the move-in. The school plans to hold a grand opening later this fall.

Visit for more on the new school.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: 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.
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