A delegation from Red Deer Catholic Schools introduced four new portable to be built in Summer 2017.

A delegation from Red Deer Catholic Schools introduced four new portable to be built in Summer 2017.

Catholic school division announces Sylvan Lake expansion

A delegate from the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) was at Ecole Our Lady of the Rosary (OLR) on March 7.

A delegate from the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) was at Ecole Our Lady of the Rosary (OLR) on March 7 to announce the addition of four new portables which will expand the services of the Pre-K to Grade 2 school to also include Grade 3 students.

“The four new portables coming in will begin building in the summer and will be opening in September,” Sylvan Lake/ Rocky Mountain House Trustee Liam McNiff said. “That will allow us to keep the Grade 3 students here within the school. This will conform to our plan, which was originally to have Pre-K to Grade 3 here.”

The expansion of OLR will bump the total number of students at OLR to around 400-450 students, which the new portables will easily accommodate.

“There will be about 400-450 students here at that time,” McNiff said. “Our numbers are up again this year and registration at this point for next year is similar to last year. We are expecting an increase.”

The change will also affect Ecole Mother Teresa School, which will be altered to a Grade 4-9 school, allowing young students to more easily transition to the larger school at an older age.

“It’s really nice to have the Grade 3’s here,” McNiff said. “It’s a natural place to stay for them, rather than going up to, as they say, the big school which can be very intimidating for them, even for Grade 4’s. It can be a big change for these students and they may feel more comfortable here.”

According to McNiff, the change is also welcomed by parents of OLR students.

“It’s a wonderful school and the parents are very pleased that their Grade 3’s can stay here,” McNiff said. “It has been a constant concern for them for many years with their kids going up to the big school.”

The change is also a welcome change to the staff at OLR.

“It’s really good for the staff and I think they’ll be more comfortable having them here,” McNiff said. “The staff really bond with these students and leaving after Grade 2 is a bit of an anomaly.”

Superintendent Paul Mason, who was also present at Monday’s presentation was pleased to see the growth of Sylvan Lake and Our Lady of the Rosary.

“It’s an exciting time in Sylvan Lake and it’s an exciting time for Catholic education with so much growth in this community,” he said. “New students are coming to our schools all the time.”

Mason outlined these portables are the beginning of the expansion of the Catholic school system in Sylvan Lake.

“Our future plans are the initial edition of the four portables,” he said. “Following that, there will be another edition of four portables as Sylvan Lake continues to grow. We anticipate that happening within the next 24 months. Further down the road, we hope to be adding a whole new K-5 school in the community of Sylvan Lake.”

Mason recognized that funding new schools takes cooperation with multiple parties.

“With any large capital project like this, it’s important we work with our local community, our Board of Education, our trustees; as well as local MLA’s and the Department of Education infrastructure,” he said. “It’s very much a collaborative effort that takes quite a bit of time to pull together but when we can build a new facility or add to new facility it’s an exciting time.”

Mason was pleased that OLR was able to maintain their current Grade 2 students next year as they return for Grade 3.

“It’s terrific that we can keep a school community together longer,” he said. “They can continue to grow and learn together. It adds so much more to the family that is OLR.”

McNiff thanked everyone who was present for this announcement.

“We have a wonderful school council here that works really hard,” he said. “Kudos go to them and the board who has worked really hard to have this happen here.”

He added the plans are for another K-5 school to be built in Sylvan Lake within the next 5-10 years.