By Lucie Roy
Morinville – Teachers, staff, parents and friends were present Monday morning for the first day of school for Morinville Public Elementary School (MPES) students in their new modular classrooms located on the École Georges P. Vanier School grounds. Entranceway walls were adorned with handmade posters welcoming the students to their new school.
The morning greeting and opening was led with a word from Principal Wayne Rufiange. “This is the Year of the Dragon, which begins today on Jan.23rd and the school is opening today, “ Rufiange told students and staff members who beamed in their new red t-shirts with a dragon design on them. MPES chose the dragon as their mascot and it is featured on school t-shirts as well as represented by dragon figures in the classroom. “The dragon is the symbol signifying success and happiness.” Students received individualized passports with their pictures on it and mementos pertaining to the Year of the Dragon.
Donna Hunter, who was instrumental in the movement to create another form of education in Morinville besides the community’s four Catholic schools, was present for the first day in the new school. She presented flowers and a welcome balloon, accepted on behalf of the school by Administrative Assistant Joan Tolsma.
The students seemed excited to find where they would be sitting, where their “stuff’ would be. The new classroom, new coat rooms, new interactive whiteboards and just getting settled in had the children smiling.
The move is the student’s third this school year. Teacher Jenn McCoy spoke of the various locations the Grades 1-4 have moved since September of 2011. “They started off in the Community Cultural Centre and were there for six weeks, then at the Sturgeon School Division Central Office, where they occupied the boardroom and conference room, and today in the portables,” she said.
The modular classrooms are attached to École Georges P. Vanier School. There is a hallway connection between the two schools and shared facilities. MPES students received their first walk through Monday morning, conducted by Principal Rufiange, who explained to students where the new MPES administration desk was located, where the washroom facility was and how to get there. The students were also introduced to the Vanier administration office.
MPES have a separate door entrance to their facility with lots of room for boots, shoes and coats. The two classrooms will accommodate Grades 1 and 2 and Grades 3 and 4 split classrooms, made up of approximately 30 students. The total number enrolled in the Morinville Public Elementary School is 87 students, including Headstart, the Preschool Enrichment Program (PEP) and Kindergarten students, all of whom are located upstairs at the Parish Hall.
There is still some work to be done in the new school rooms. They are waiting for a window, and the walk through area is to be finished with a drop ceiling to be installed. Additionally, a living room-themed area with chairs and a coffee table (to be used as a waiting area) has yet to be completed. The administration area and principals’ office needs additional work to be completed. The classroom and student areas were made the priority in order to have them ready to go as soon as possible.