Students, staff happily settling into new school

Peggy Revell

It’s been nothing but “oohs and aahs!” from those who have walked through the doors of the new Mine Centre School since it opened less than three months ago.
“We’ve had a lot of people coming in for tours, just stopping by the office,” noted principal Leslie Barr Kellar.
“We’re really proud of our school,” said teacher Rebecca MacLean.
“We’ve only been in it since the end of October but it feels like home already,” she added.
One of the best parts of settling in was being able to unpack and make the space their own, MacLean said.
“We were the first ones in here, and we get to put our stamp on what essentially is a new building.
“It’s a new beginning,” she enthused.
While it was bittersweet to see the old school being torn down, longtime secretary and librarian Theresa Love agreed the new building is a “new beginning.”
“Everything is so bright, open, new—and the kids love it,” she remarked.
“That’s the best part, that the kids are excited.”
With 88 students, the school has been bustling as the new facilities have been put into use.
The kitchen is in use every day for nutrition and hot lunch programs, noted Barr Kellar, while students in the alternative programs also use it for their learning.
The first Christmas Concert also went over well, she added, and they’re looking forward to having parents come out for the upcoming Family Literacy Day there.
One of the features of the old school were student-painted murals of the different clans that are part of local First Nations’ culture.
While these couldn’t be physically moved over, the front foyer of the new school has a large picture featuring photos of these murals.
Eventually on the same wall, there will be a quilt, with each piece bearing the signatures of past and present staff and students.
By far, however, the favourite feature of the new school is the gymnasium.
“It’s just bigger and better,” said Grade 8 student Josh Calder.
Grade 7 student Tanisha Boshkaykin said the bigger gym means they can fit more students into it, as well as play more games—especially volleyball, which is her favourite sport.
“It’s bigger, it looks nice,” echoed fellow Grade 7 student Shanti Jim, saying the whole school “looks amazing” and that she especially likes that it has a lot of windows compared to the old one.
“The gym is wonderful—the kids are just really quite enjoying it,” Barr Kellar said about the full-sized gymnasium at the new school, which includes more ceiling space and a full-court size which students can train on for volleyball.
“Volleyball has definitely been a passion here for a long, long time,” she noted. “So it puts them on an equal playing field.”
While the interior of the school has been completed, there’s still landscaping and work to be finished on the rest of the grounds.
Barr Kellar said they’re currently working on a campus plan to see where outdoor components—such as the baseball field, soccer pitch, and playground equipment—will be going.
“A lot of our ideas have been taken back to the architect that built this building, and he’ll come up with a couple of different scenarios and we’ll review them again,” she explained, though noting what happens depends on cost and budget.
There’s school council representation as part of this planning, as well.
The big move over from the old school took a whole long weekend. Teachers and staff spent the P.A. Day on Oct. 21, along with the following two days, setting the new school up so it was ready to go on the 24th.
“For the most part we were even functional that first day,” recalled Barr Kellar, noting it took the teamwork of teachers, support staff, and caretaking staff—and even a committee of casual custodians from other schools—coming in to help make the move in the one weekend.
Members of the community always are welcome to drop in and see the school, she said, adding it’s available for community use.
“It’s a wonderful facility for the kids,” lauded Barr Kellar. “The things that we have available to us.
“And really, the opportunities are limitless when I think about what could go on now that we have the facilities to support them,” she remarked.