Ground was broken for St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds on Tuesday morning.
The school will be the first Catholic school built in Blackfalds and will house students from Kindergarten to Grade 9.
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) board trustees, several delegates, students, teachers and members of the community gathered at the new location on the east side of Blackfalds to kick off construction of the educational facility.
RDCRS Board Chair Guy Pelletier greeted all present and stated the school is named after patron Saint Gregory the Great, a musician and leader.
“Education is really the key to the development of a healthy, productive, just society and if we do it well, if we get it right, it does have the power to change lives,” he said. “The education journey for many of our young and eager Blackfalds students will start here, within the walls of St. Gregory the Great Catholic School.”
He added the school will provide an inclusive and loving environment, allowing each student to reach their full potential.
“This building we are launching today will be the direct home of many adventures and learning over the coming years,” said Pelletier. “Education truly is the most important thing we can offer our young people.”
Town of Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol said she was excited about the beginning of another new school in Blackfalds.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for this school knowing that over 1,000 of our Blackfalds’ residents are under the age of five,” she said. “These are all buildings that are so desperately needed.”
Stol added the school will help improve community cohesiveness, between young and old, as the facility will be used not only for education, but also as a community hub.
“The Catholic school trustees have been working really hard on this,” she said. “They always came to Blackfalds to talk to administration, to talk to myself and I really appreciate their efforts in working together with our community.”
Red Deer-North MLA Kim Schreiner brought greetings on behalf of the provincial government. She noted it was important to acknowledge the land where the group was gathered and where the school will stand is in Treaty 6 territory.
“It is appropriate that we are celebrating the building of a centre of learning today because Alberta’s Indigenous people had a spiritual and practical relationship to the land that has created a rich heritage for our learning and our life as a community,” she said. “Creating welcoming, caring, respectful, faith learning environments is a priority with our government.
“I am honoured to join as we celebrate the importantance of education in our community. Breaking ground is symbolic of the exciting things happening here in Blackfalds. St. Gregory the Great will be more than just a place to learn. This school will be a gathering place for friends, neighbours and an important asset for local community groups.”
RDCRS Superintendent Paul Mason said the occasion was special as the groundbreaking marked the building of the first Catholic school in the town.
“I am particularly excited that students from this community will be the main beneficiaries for many years to come,” he said. “The school will be a showcase of innovation, ingenuity and creativity. It’s the first step in a journey for Blackfalds and RDCRS.”
St. Gregory the Great Catholic School is being constructed at the end of Cottonwood Drive, in the east side of Blackfalds, right next to the Wolf Creek Public Schools new school. St. Gregory will house 350 students in the beginning with a capacity of 600.
Up until now, students from Blackfalds who want to participate in the Catholic school system have been bused into Red Deer to attend school.
The RDCRS facility is expected to be completed and opened by September 2017.