School Division provides look inside St. Kateri Tekakwitha Academy

A resident looks at some of the details about Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools’ St. Kateri Tekakwitha Academy during an open house Thursday. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe
with files from Lucie Roy

Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools (GSACRD) held an open house Thursday to move a little further along with plans for St. Kateri Tekakwitha Academy, their new K-6 school to be built in the Westwinds Development off 100 Street in Morinville.

The new school, scheduled to open in 2019, has the capacity for 350 students and will be a more open concept than the Division’s other Morinville schools.

GSACRD Board Chair Serena Shaw said the Board is excited with the progress. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s great to get to this point where we can actually go out to the community and get feedback on boundaries and the programming, and for people to see the building and understand a bit about St. Kateri and the significance to the community,” Shaw said.

St. Kateri Tekawitha lived from 1656-1680, was canonized to sainthood in 2012, and was the first First Nations to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Tekawitha moved from the American colonies to Canada to work with the sick and elderly for the Jesuits near Montreal.

One of the purposes of the Thursday open house for the school that will carry her name was to get some sense of boundaries and programming for the new school.

Those discussions will take into account input from parents, students, staff and the broader community; provide for sustainable enrolment across the division, and minimize disruption to students while providing choice for families.

Boundaries as well as potential school programming will be under review until May of 2018 when the Division will report back to the public.

The Division will be looking for a principal in the sprint of 2018 with registration to commence next fall.

A sod turning ceremony will take place in the spring.

Shaw said one of the highlights of the school the Board is excited about is the flexible space. “This school is set up with a pod configuration,” Shaw said, noting different areas will be for different grade groups: pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, Grades 1 to 3, and Grades 4 to 6. “Each of those have a number of classrooms and flexible areas. Some walls are able to open up. Some have garage doors. Within each pod will have cubbies or lockers and gender-neutral washrooms that are floor to ceiling enclosed. Within the pods, we have teacher stations and an area for teachers within the grade configuration to go and collaborate. It really lends itself to a collaborative process.”

With a gymnasium that will be open to the public for programming, Shaw said it was important to have the school’s design be such that the community can access parts of the school without having to pass through class areas of the school.

Shaw said the pods of the school will carry names reflective of parts of St. Kateri Tekawitha’s life.

An online survey is available for the public at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SKTPhaseI will be active until Dec. 14.

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