Construction of a new K-12 school in Rosthern officially got underway on Thursday, September 27 when Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe joined with school division and town officials to break ground on the $11.5 million project.
“It’s a great day to be in Rosthern,” said Moe, shrugging off chilly temperatures and a brisk autumn wind during an outdoor ceremony on the grounds of Rosthern High School where the new school will be built. “It’s particularly sweet for me, as MLA for this constituency of Rosthern-Shellbrook. We’re here not just to mark the start of construction on this brand new facility, but also to celebrate the start of new and exciting opportunities for students, staff and the community of Rosthern.”
The sod-turning ceremony, attended by about a hundred people, included a Grade 4 class which will be the first to enter the new school as freshmen; and a Grade 10 class that will be the first to graduate from the new school in 2021. It also featured a presentation by a Grade 1 class. Felix Thomas began the ceremony with a Treaty 6 acknowledgement speech.
The new school will replace Rosthern Elementary School, built in 1968; and Rosthern High School, built in 1961. Both those aging buildings had serious structural issues, noted Moe.
“I remember two years ago when then-Education Minister Don Morgan and I toured the schools,” said Moe. “It was a rainy day. They had pots out catching the dripping rainwater in the corridors and classrooms. In the elementary school the floors were warped and some of the walls had water coming through.
“When we came through the high school they had just put up the beams in the hallway to hold up the roof.
“It was a great display of the need for replacement of these facilities.”
Moe said the school division and community deserves credit for many years of advocacy on behalf of the students. That strong grassroots support helped him, as an elected representative, get the message across at the Cabinet level.
“That’s my job,” he said. “To represent you to the best of my ability.
“Our continued investment into Saskatchewan’s schools will directly and positively impact the future success of our students. Our government is pleased to contribute to this new facility that will benefit the entire community of Rosthern for years to come. We strongly believe students deserve a great place to learn and a school that excites them and fills them with pride.”
The new school, designed by Group 2 Architecture and built by Graham Construction, has a capacity of about 450 students and is set to open in the fall of 2020. It will house a 30-space licensed childcare centre, practical and applied arts space, full-size gym and common areas, a new resource centre and new administration offices. Rosthern High School students Mary Maguire, Andy Stewart and Jeda Hancock were among the students who contributed feedback to the architects of the new school. They told the crowd it was rewarding to see their suggestions incoproated into the school design.
Rosthern Mayor Dennis Helmuth said the new school will accommodate a growing student population.
“That’s a good problem to have,” said Helmuth. “This is a huge project and it’s going to be an outstanding facility.
“Productive, creative communities need productive, creative schools, and vice-versa. The two go hand-in-hand. We’re working together on behalf of our children and our future. We want to give our students a fantastic educational experience, and in return, they will grow up and go out in the world and pay back into their own communities. Together we will all be in a better place.”
Helmuth kick-started the school-naming process by suggesting it be called “The Rosthern Centre for Curiosity and Growth.”
“Curiosity is inherent in all kids,” said Helmuth. “It leads to knowledge and awareness. Let’s foster and encourage that curiosity and instill a life-long love of learning that will lead to a better future for all.”
PSSD Board Chair Sam Dyck said the school division shares the excitement of students, staff and the community.
“This investment in education by the provincial government is much appreciated,” said Dyck. “The new school brings two existing schools together and will be the hub for the community, providing opportunities for adult and student learning. It will be a welcoming place for all who walk through the front doors, and we’re eagerly looking forward to the official opening in the fall of 2020.”
Rosthern High School Principal Mitch Luiten, who will assume the duties of Principal in the new school when it opens, said he’s impressed with the design of the new school, and is excited to see it taking shape over the next couple years.
“It’s kind of like the start of a new era,” he said. “It means a lot to the students and staff, and the community as a whole.”
Since 2007, the Government of Saskatchewan has committed approximately $1.6 billion toward 67 major school capital projects and numerous smaller projects.