A NOBLE GESTURE:
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.
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.