A NOBLE GES­TURE:

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Front Page - BY CRAIG AL­BRECHT PALLISER SCHOOL DI­VI­SION

Don Zech (at left), a for­mer stu­dent and ad­min­is­tra­tor at Noble Cen­tral School, is greeted by cur­rent prin­ci­pal Greg Rolling­son be­fore the cel­e­bra­tion of the the grand re­open­ing cel­e­bra­tion for the mod­ern­ized school.

There was plenty to crow about at the grand re­open­ing cel­e­bra­tion for Noble Cen­tral School.

It was no ac­ci­dent, how­ever, that the bricks and mor­tar of the $8-mil­lion mod­ern­iza­tion project took a back­seat to all those who make a school much more than just a build­ing.

Open­ing up a mod­ern­ized school is a re­ward­ing process as the ben­e­fits of the trans­for­ma­tion be­come ev­i­dent, said Dave Driscoll, Su­per­in­ten­dent of Palliser Re­gional Schools. That doesn’t come with­out some sac­ri­fice, he noted, as Noble Cen­tral School staff and stu­dents had to work in a con­struc­tion zone for al­most two years.

“So be­tween the staff and the stu­dents, thank you very much for your great pa­tience and your un­der­stand­ing on how long it takes to make an older build­ing into a newer build­ing,” said Driscoll, who also ex­pressed thanks for the par­ents who had to hear about the in­con­ve­niences of ren­o­va­tions on a daily ba­sis.

The project, which fo­cused on in­creased ac­ces­si­bil­ity for those with mo­bil­ity is­sues, was com­pleted in phases with stu­dents moved from one wing to an­other to al­low for un­in­ter­rupted con­struc­tion.

The cel­e­bra­tion – with stu­dents and staff joined by par­ents, com­mu­nity part­ners and var­i­ous dig­ni­taries – was held in the gym­na­sium. Prin­ci­pal Greg Rolling­son pointed out that two years ago, half of the school was shut down and a hand­ful of tem­po­rary class­rooms were built in that same space.

“It was loud when it was quiet. It was hot in here. What made it worth com­ing here ev­ery day was the stu­dents of Noble Cen­tral School,” he said. “My good­ness, this build­ing is now a place where the stu­dents, who are amaz­ing here, have a build­ing that matches.”

Palliser Board Chair Robert Strauss thanked the en­tire com­mu­nity for its on­go­ing sup­port of the school. He sin­gled out one in­di­vid­ual, how­ever, for his role.

Don Zech was a stu­dent at Noble Cen­tral School from 1950-1962 and would later serve as vice-prin­ci­pal or prin­ci­pal at the school from 1979 to 1989.

Zech went on to work at Cen­tral Of­fice and then served as a Palliser trustee from 2011-2017, in­clud­ing Board chair from 2004-2013. He was also in­stru­men­tal in the mod­ern­iza­tion project be­ing moved to the top of Palliser’s pri­or­ity list, added Strauss.

“Would you all please join me in ac­knowl­edg­ing Don, who has ded­i­cated his en­tire life to the field of ed­u­ca­tion and to this com­mu­nity. Thank you Don,” he said.

Sev­eral for­mer prin­ci­pals and stu­dents of Noble Cen­tral School took time af­ter the cer­e­mony to check out the many im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing a new learn­ing com­mons, gath­er­ing spa­ces, in­creased nat­u­ral light and flex­i­ble learn­ing spa­ces. The school has an en­rol­ment of al­most 250 stu­dents in early learn­ing through Grade 12.

Maria Fitz­patrick, Mem­ber of the Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly for Leth­bridge East, brought greet­ings on be­half of the province. She said the school rep­re­sents one of the most im­por­tant in­vest­ments we can make in our chil­dren’s fu­ture.

“This mod­ern­ized school will be a won­der­ful place for stu­dents to learn and for teach­ers to teach,” said Fitz­patrick, who later toured the school with Rolling­son act­ing as guide. “This school will con­tinue to serve you well in the heart of this com­mu­nity.”

Driscoll thanked the province for its sup­port of the school. He noted it’s vi­tal to en­sure ru­ral Al­berta is not for­got­ten.

“It’s where we learn, it’s where we grow. It’s where we make our friends, it’s where we gather. It’s where we watch our stu­dents play mu­sic, sing in the choir, and where we go to watch sport­ing events,” said the su­per­in­ten­dent. “It’s where the com­mu­nity is, and with­out the sup­port of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment our schools are not go­ing to be in good enough shape to have these events take place.”

It’s ex­pected a con­trac­tor will soon be an­nounced to head up con­struc­tion of a re­place­ment for Huntsville School, which was built in 1941. A con­struc­tion bud­get of up to $7 mil­lion has been ap­proved for a new school in Iron Springs.

At the top of Palliser’s pri­or­ity wish­list go­ing for­ward is a new high school in Coal­dale. Fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive com­mu­nity en­gage­ment process, a pro­posal was re­cently sub­mit­ted to the province.

Fund­ing ap­proval for cap­i­tal projects is usu­ally an­nounced in March.

Photo credit

Palliser Schools photo

MLA Maria Fitz­patrick (from left to right), Palliser Re­gional Schools Board Chair Robert Strauss, and Trustee Kris­tine Cassie un­veil a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque at the grand re­open­ing cel­e­bra­tion for the mod­ern­ized Noble Cen­tral School.

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