More than 800 elementary students in the Fort St. John community will be in schools with innovative learning spaces and reduced crowding, with the grand opening of a new school and groundbreaking ceremony for another.
“Students in the fast-growing Peace River North School District will have new, inspiring spaces in which to learn,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “With one school opening and another with shovels in the ground, parents can rest assured that their kids will be in comfortable, state-of-the-art learning environments.”
At an official groundbreaking ceremony for a new elementary school on 112th Avenue, Fleming was joined by students, parents, staff, community members, school district officials and other stakeholders. Announced in June 2018, the school will have 505 spaces for students in kindergarten to Grade 6.
“SD60 is extremely pleased to be starting construction on another new elementary school,” said Brenda Hooker, Peace River North School Board (SD60) secretary treasurer. “This project, with adequate, innovative spaces for our students, would not be going forward without the advocacy and support of so many people.”
Construction on the new elementary school is due to start in summer 2019. The school is scheduled to open its doors in fall 2021. The Province is investing $31.1 million in the project, and the Peace River North School District is contributing $300,000.
Earlier in the day, Fleming spoke to students, staff and guests at the grand opening of Margaret (Ma) Murray Community school (MMMCS). With 365 student spaces, the school has several unique features, including birch-bark details and interesting geometry, a roof structure with wooden ribs like a canoe, garage-style doors to allow easy movement between learning studios and an extra-large community-access gym with a retractable stage.
MMMCS provides space and services for the community, including child-care facilities, in its Neighbourhood Learning Centre.
The following partners contributed to the project:
- the Ministry of Education provided $22.1 million;
- the City of Fort St. John contributed $2.5 million for the gym expansion, which will be used by the community for everything from minor sports to adult recreation;
- BC Hydro gave $1.8 million to build and support the daycare centre;
- the Ministry of Children and Family Development provided a grant worth $500,000 to help equip the centre, including fencing and a playground; and
- the Peace River North School District provided $264,000.
“It is extremely gratifying to see the project go from an idea to a vision on an architect's drawing, to the stunning building we see before us,” said Doug Boyd, Peace River North School District assistant superintendent. “Margaret (Ma) Murray Community school is another example of partnerships in action that will benefit the district and local communities well into the future.”
Chief Marvin Yahey and drummers from the Blueberry River First Nation acknowledged the Dane-zaa traditional territory and blessed the new school. Chief Yahey is the youngest grandson of Bella Yahey, for whom the new school’s entrance is named. Bella Yahey was a lifelong learner and teacher, and the Bella Yahey Gathering Centre is the hub of the school — a place to gather, share and network.
The school is named after Margaret (Ma) Murray, who founded the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John in the 1940s. She received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian journalism. Murray’s granddaughter Margie Graham spoke at the celebration.
Since September 2017, the B.C. government has announced more than $708 million for school capital projects, including seismic upgrades, new and expanded schools, and land purchases for future schools.
For information about current major capital projects at B.C. schools, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/administration/capital/major-capitalprojects