New community school in Rosthern ready to take on upcoming year

Premier and Rosthern-Shellbrook MLA Scott Moe speaks at the grand opening of Rosthern Community School on Aug. 25, 2020. (Government of Saskatchewan/Submitted)

Hundreds of students in Rosthern and surrounding areas will soon be able to set foot in their new school.

Saskatchewan government representatives and members of the Prairie Spirit School Division held a grand opening for Rosthern Community School on Tuesday morning.

The Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 facility is designed for 400 students. The province provided $26.5 million for the project, which replaces the town’s separate elementary and high schools built in the 1960s.

“As we tour this new school, you’ll see an environment that is conducive to education—lively colours, open spaces and lots of natural light. What may not be as apparent is of equal, perhaps greater value. There are finger and nose prints on the outside of these windows from students excited to get to the inside and start their learning,” said Sam Dyck, board chair for Prairie Spirit School Division.

“It is our hope as a board that all students will develop positive relationships, learn to solve problems and build a sense of belonging. And when they graduate, they will pivot and make their mark in a world without limits.”

According to a news release, the school provides not just educational benefits, but community benefits. It contains classrooms equipped with new technology, an arts and cultural space that allows for smudging, a resource centre and outdoor learning spaces.

The school also has two gyms and a common area for community events. Its child care facility has room for 30 kids.

“This school is a reflection of its community,” said Principal Mitch Luiten, adding that community members provided input on what they wanted the school to look like.

“The plan evolved to include design elements that represented local fields, rivers, forests and rail lines. They incorporated the natural light with beam elements from the old schools and they created graduated spaces that students really asked for in a K-12 school.”

The new Rosthern Community School is designed for 400 students; however, it can fit 500 by adding relocatable classrooms. (Government of Saskatchewan/Submitted)

Premier Scott Moe, who’s also the Rosthern-Shellbrook MLA, said he’s been advocating for the new school for years.

He said the province is investing $7.5 billion in infrastructure over the next two years. More than $135 million of a $2 billion economic stimulus package will go towards four new schools, two major renovations and other maintenance projects.

“While this is nowhere near what we would call a typical grand opening of a school in this province, I am very thrilled to be here,” said Moe.

“The school opening will undoubtedly be very different this year, as well.”

The school year was originally slated to begin Sept. 1 across the province, but has been delayed until Sept. 8 to allow staff to prepare for reopening in the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the division’s back-to-school guidelines, masks will be mandatory for students Grades 4 to 12 and encouraged for Kindergarten to Grade 3.

Staff members will also be expected to wear masks when physical distancing isn’t possible.

In its most recent letter to families on Monday, the school division said it will be implementing a “soft start” for the first week. Two groups of students will alternate days from Sept. 8 to 11.

“This new centre gives children an opportunity to get to know their school and to get to know their teachers and to grow throughout their school years all in one facility, in one community, which is quite a unique experience,” said Moe.

Rosthern Mayor Dennis Helmuth, Saskatchewan School Boards Association President Shawn Davidson and Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gord Wyant also attended the grand opening.

Rosthern has a population of nearly 1,700 people, according to the 2016 census, and is located about 76 km southwest of Prince Albert.