New school in Frog Lake to alleviate overcrowding, focus on improving services

Chief Greg Desjarlais, Kevin Murchie of Indigenous Services, Tina Warawa, representative of MP Shannon Stubbs, Richard Isaac, principal architect Manasc Isaac, and construction company reps, Nation elders, and council members break ground of the new school site attached to the Frog Lake Band Office. 

Frog Lake students will soon have a new home.

Frog Lake Chief and Council, students, Education board members, architects, and representatives from Krawford Construction and Indigenous Services Canada were all on hand on Sept. 6 for the sod turning for the new school to be built attached to the New Horizons Centre and Frog Lake Band office.

With the blessing of the land complete, construction will begin soon, with the $13 million school to be complete by early 2021.

“Education is where we need to go,” said Chief Greg Desjarlais.

“We are very resilient people, and we have to look at alternative ways to survive in education and competing for those top jobs. That’s where I would kind of direct my young people to go, like what I shared today, to reach for those jobs on the top of the trees and to really have a vision and a plan for themselves.”

Frog Lake Chief Greg Desjarlais at the sod turning for the new school in Frog Lake.

Lynn Stanley, Director of Education for the Frog Lake Education Authority, and Mary Jane Quinney, Superintendent of Schools for the Authority, worked in tandem to add more services to the existing Frog Lake school.

However, once they were approved for a list of different services, including mental health, physical health, work experience, they realized they didn’t have enough space to hold those services.

“Our school is overcrowded already. Every year we’re applying for different types of funds from the province to bring our kids up to parity for services. And as we’re getting those services we’re running out of space to put those services in,” said Stanley.

“Our kids should have access to the exact same infrastructure, the same educational services, mental health because I look at how a lot of our kids have the intellectual ability, but sometimes it’s more about mental wellness services that are needed.”

Kevin Murchie, Indigenous Services Canada, speaks at the sod turning.

The school will be designed as a 21st Century learning school similar in concept to the new school construction in Kehewin, said principal architect Richard Isaac, Manasc Isaac.

The central portion of the school, the creation room as its been dubbed, is in the shape of a turtle with the classrooms surrounding it.

The school is designed as an open-concept with sliding walls leading to space which would be considered a corridor.

There is also a focus for the school to use alternative energy sources.

“They were really concerned about energy usage and environmental buildings, so the first part of that is to cut down the amount of energy use. And the best way to do that is to not allow the energy to escape the building in the first place…

“Then, we’ll try and find things like photovoltaic to supply energy that’s not on the grid. But ultimately, you still have to use gas for heat and electricity,” said Isaac.

A federal government grant has been applied to make up for the short fall in Career Training Study spaces.

SAIT and University Blue Quills will be developing programs for those spaces.