Blackfalds will soon be home to it’s very own fully-funded high school.
Wolf Creek Public Schools Superintendent Jayson Lovell, Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr and Blackfalds Mayor Richard Pool were all present for a ceremony at Iron Ridge Intermediate announcing the new 850 student school, which has been on the WCPS capital plan for the past five years.
“Today’s announcement is a tremendous next step toward a new high school for the community of Blackfalds,” said Pam Hansen, WCPS Board Chair. “We want to sincerely thank all the partners involved, including the Town of Blackfalds and Alberta Education and Alberta Infrastructure for recognizing this need, and making this new school a priority.”
Blackfalds students, without a high school in the own community, are currently being bused to Lacombe Composite High School in Lacombe.
“It was so overdue for Blackfalds, so it is very exciting for them to have the students stay in their community and not have to be bused into other communities,” Hansen said.
Hansen said the government has shown they plan to move forward with this project given the previous design funding and now the announced construction funding.
“I think that everything is ready to go and I don’t foresee it taking long to get it started,” Hansen said.
Orr said the new school with bring a state-of-the-art facility to Blackfalds with “Career and Technology Studies (CTS) programs, performing arts, and recreational activities”
“With the opening of their first high school, I am pleased that Blackfalds students will now be able to complete their education in their own community instead of commuting to Lacombe just to attend high school,” he said.
Hansen added the town of Blackfalds has been an important partner through this process.
“Today is an important milestone for the Town of Blackfalds,” said Richard Poole, Mayor of Blackfalds. “We appreciate the continued support that has been provided by Wolf Creek Public Schools in making this need a reality.
“We also acknowledge and appreciate the foresight our Ministry of Education has provided by investing, not only in infrastructure but more importantly, in the positive and progressive future for new generations of Albertans.”
Hansen said facilities at the new school will be done in consultation with the public.
Lovell said the program will be broad-based and encompass a variety of interest.
“Trades-based programs are really important in our smaller communities and let we recognize the opportunity to understand programs and initiatives that might be innovative, moving towards future-based pathways for students. Traditional programs like fine arts is another opportunity to focus on that,” Lovell said.
He added there may be capital funds coming from the Town of Blackfalds to help augment programming at the school.
“They have been anticipating this project and have been planning for a number of years to enhance it. That is a wonderful scenario for us,” he said.
Lovell said the new school will help alleviate pressure at Lacombe Composite High School.
“Currently we are running at 85 to 87 per cent at LCHS. We project this project to be completed within a three-year window and when we look at the numbers in Lacombe, that will be closer to 95 to 100 per cent capacity. The ability to move that school down in population will give us more options in the city of Lacombe,” he said.
The new Blackfalds high school will be located near Iron Ridge junior campus.
Lovell added that with the project going forward, their capital plan now includes a Blackfalds Elementary modernization to replace Iron Ridge Elementary Campus.