Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Bonnyville on Thursday for the official ribbon cutting and grand opening of Bonnyville Centralized High School. Also in attendance for the celebration were MLA Dave Hanson, Mayor of the Town of Bonnyville, Elisa Brosseau, Reeve of the Municipal District of Bonnyville, Barry Kalinski, and numerous Town councilors and Board Trustees, as well as the first-ever BCHS Principal, Ernie Islay.
Bringing greetings on behalf of Premier Jason Kenney and the Infrastructure Minister, Nicholas Milliken, LaGrange officially welcomed students, staff, and the community to the newly modernized BCHS. “It is such a thrill for me to be here with Dave Hanson, he is a great advocate for this community and his constituency,” Minister LaGrange said, inciting a round of enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
“An incredible amount of hard work went into the modernization of this facility and everyone who took part in this project can take pride,” said LaGrange. “Everyone in this community can be proud, because this school represents a reinvestment in our childrens’ futures.
We are not only here to celebrate the modernization of Bonnyville’s High School, we are here to celebrate quality education and the role that it plays in preparing our children to be thoughtful, respectful, responsible and productive members of society. – Ariana LaGrange, Alberta Education Minister
“A modernized high school ensures that the students in Bonnyville have a safe and caring learning environment that will cultivate a life-long love for learning,” said LaGrange. “This modernized facility will support excellence in teaching for hundreds of students and families for years to come.” The Minister added hopes for the school to continue to be a gathering place for friends and neighbours, “an important asset for community groups.”
The school underwent a modernization project, which began in 2019, and saw students enter the halls for the first time in 2021 for a regular school year. The project modernized the common areas, updated classrooms, and added a large gymnasium, suitable for all types of sports and room for spectators. The exterior of the building was also updated and solar paneling was added to reduce energy costs. The general layout of the school has changed, with the main doors and office moving from the north side of the building to the east. The school features a large, bright entranceway with a large open concept eating and common area. Other additions and updates include a learning commons, cosmetology lab, a weight room, a chemistry lab, food lab and a workshop. The former gym was turned into a drama room with ideas to build into a full theatre.
As we gather for the grand opening of this building, we honour the past of BCHS and its history in this community. We celebrate the present BCHS and what it means to everybody and we set high expectations as we look forward to the next decades of this building. – Mark Centazzo, Principal Bonnyville Centralized High School.
Student Council President, Lexi Gamble spoke about the impact the modernization project has on the students. “Thanks to our new school, our sports teams and our programs have a home, like our Santa’s Elves and Fair Trade Market Coffee House and even the beautiful grad we had last year.” Gamble added that many memories will be made in the new halls and “we are excited for the future generations of students who will benefit from the school. It’s truly exciting to see all of the opportunities the new school has to offer us.”
We are more than appreciative for our new building and would like to thank everyone who was involved in the process of putting together such an incredible new school. We love being able to be in a building that represents us and to be able to have all of the events that we’ve missed out on. – Lexi Gamble, Student Council President
“Maintaining the tradition of [BCHS] being a hub of the community was important to us,” said Northern Lights Public Schools Board Chair, Karen Packard. Not only do the new updates increase the opportunities for the students, she explained, “but it also opens up possibilities for what can be done with our community partners.” Packard also thanked MLA Dave Hanson, “I appreciate the time you took to listen to our concerns, to check-in on the project and to support the division in the project.”
I would like to thank our community, the students and staff for their cooperation and support during the construction process. There were many challenges during the pandemic and it took everyone working together to ensure our students were able to continue their studies. – Karen Packard, Northern Lights Public Schools Board of Trustees Chair.
MLA Hanson said the project was on his desk since he was first elected to the Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul constituency in 2019, “this has been a long time coming. But man is it ever worthwhile, it’s a beautiful building.”