Racette celebrates re-opening with Premier Redford
Dignitaries, students and staff gathered at the newly modernized Racette Junior High School on Sept. 4, to kick-off the 2013-14 school year with a celebration that included Premier Alison Redford as a special guest.
“Today is a great day,” said St. Paul Education Regional Division chair Maureen Miller, as she spoke in front of the crowd in the school’s gymnasium. “This project is the final phase of a large vision, coined the St. Paul Solution.”
Local politicians began working toward updating, modernizing, and building schools in St. Paul about 10 years ago. The modernization of Racette will conclude the province’s $51 million investment into the St. Paul Solution, which included three major modernization projects and two brand new schools.
Schools that were modernized include Racette, St. Paul Elementary Community School, and St. Paul Regional High School. A brand new Glen Avon School was opened in 2008, while a new École du Sommet opened its doors in February of 2011.
Miller described the completion of the St. Paul Solution as a “gift that has been given” to the community, and was brought about through understanding and collaboration.
“This wouldn’t be possible without you, Mr. Danyluk,” said Miller, as she looked at former PC MLA Ray Danyluk, who sat in the front row at the opening ceremony. Danyluk was the MLA of the Lac La Biche-St. Paul constituency when work toward the St. Paul Solution began.
Although the day was one of celebration, Miller said it was also important to recognize the unforeseen events that have happened, specifically the tragedy that occurred last October, when a van drove through a window, into a lower-level classroom, killing one student and seriously injuring two others.
On the morning of Oct. 25, 2012, Miller recalled receiving a call on her cell phone, the caller identified herself as “Alison” and stated that she was there for support and asked if there was anything she could do to help, following the tragic incident.
That caller ended up being Redford, much to Miller’s surprise.
“I did feel (her) honest concern,” said Miller, adding, “You have not let us down.”
Miller also pointed out that when funding for a new Glen Avon School was announced in May of 2005, the first phase of the St. Paul Solution, then Premier Ralph Klein came to St. Paul for the official sod turning. This made it even more fitting that Redford attended the Racette grand opening last week, as the St. Paul Solution is now complete.
Redford also spoke to those in attendance, noting that the grand re-opening was a great way to celebrate the beginning of a new school year. She explained that it was important to remember what a school truly means to a community.
She also noted that it was important to recognize the many different communities that make up a school, along with pointing out the importance of offering students access to technology, so they can achieve their hopes and dreams.
“It’s exciting to be here today,” said Redford.
She too acknowledged that many events have taken place that weren’t expected, and recognized the grand re-opening as “a time of remembrance,” adding, it is important for communities to pull together, which is what St. Paul has done.
Although the ceremony was held in honour of the modernization of Racette and completion of the St. Paul Solution, “It’s about the people in the buildings,” said Redford.
Following the formal presentations, Redford said the re-opening was “A great day for celebration.”
She explained that the province is committed to looking to the future, and the completion of the St. Paul Solution is a prime example of how looking ahead 10 years pays off.
The province is dedicated to “building infrastructure for the future,” and is aware of the above average growth being experienced in the province this year. She said it’s important that the province doesn’t shortchange infrastructure and added that the flooding in southern Alberta, and its associated costs, will not impact future school building projects.
“We’ll keep building Alberta,” said Redford.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony was Racette School Principal Susan Kotowich-Dubrule.
She described the re-opening as “our new beginning,” and welcomed Bishop Paul Terrio, of the Diocese of St. Paul, to the stage to offer a blessing on the school.
“It’s a very beautiful day,” said Terrio, adding, “May this school always be a home of truth.”
Minister of Infrastructure Wayne Drysdale was also in St. Paul last week, and took part in a demonstration in the Racette shop class with Redford, following the re-opening ceremony. Drysdale and Redford each took their turn to cut a piece of wood on one of the school’s saws.
As Miller wrapped up her speech to the audience, she offered some simple words that were sure to echo in the minds of many, saying, “Welcome home Racette, welcome home.”
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