Numerous dignitaries were on hand for the official grand opening of Red Deer’s newest public school on Friday.
The ribbon was cut at Don Campbell Elementary School on Irving Crescent, which opened its doors to 358 Kindergarten to Grade 5 students on August 31.
Friday’s event was attended by Education Minister David Eggen, Red Deer MLAs Kim Schreiner and Barb Miller, Mayor Tara Veer, Red Deer Public Schools Board Chair Bev Manning, Superintendent Stu Henry, Principal Cam Pizzey and many members of the late Don Campbell’s family, among others.
The event featured video presentations, including one on Don Campbell himself, and songs by a student choir which pumped up the hundreds in attendance with lots of positive energy.
Eggen says Don Campbell Elementary School is one of 53 the Alberta government has opened this fall, with another slate of schools set to open in January.
“It’s part of the largest, not just school build in the history of the province, but the largest infrastructure build too," he said.
Having a community centre component to the school is part of The City of Red Deer's new philosophy on developing stronger neighbourhoods according to Mayor Tara Veer.
“The City used to provide community centres for every subdivision. But because those community centres became cost prohibitive, for many, many years when the City was building new subdivisions, there wasn’t community centres,” said Veer. “That’s created a gap in the community in terms of building neighbourhood life and community associations, so we now have a new philosophy. Whenever we have an opportunity to partner with organizations such as Red Deer Public Schools, then we build community space in order to help build neighbourhood life.”
“We’ve got some shared space with the City of Red Deer, we’ve got a community room, community washrooms, community gymnasium, so we can really maximize the use of this building,” Henry added. “But the school itself is just gorgeous, the beautiful fine arts room, the music room in the middle hub of the school, there’s a wide open learning space in the middle that really acts as the learning hub for the school. Many of the classrooms have garage doors between them so we can open up those rooms and create larger classrooms and flexible spaces for learning.”
Manning says the District’s next big capital priorities include a new middle school in the southeast or northeast of Red Deer.
“We're going to keep an eye on enrolment, you know we weren’t expecting the increase we had this past year, so that was a good thing. I agree with the Minister, it shows a sign of a healthy community and you know we’re growing and we’re looking forward to what comes next," Manning said.
Jan Ludwig is a Grade 2 teacher at Don Campbell Elementary School and the eldest daughter of Don and Millie Campbell. She says her father was a great motivator.
“He was really able to lead through example but also by motivating and building energy and bringing people along,” said Ludwig. “He was very humble, I don’t think he chose to put himself in the limelight, as much as he chose to really empower kids, families and staff and working as a team, pulling them altogether.”
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