Senator Riley ready to welcome Catholic students
Education: West wing will be used by Notre Dame students
By: John Barlow
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 10:18 am
Space will be at a premium, but staff at Senator Riley School in High River is prepared to welcome some new students.
Once school starts this week students at Senator Riley School will be sharing the playground with some unexpected visitors as high school students from Notre Dame Collegiate move in for a few months.
After the June 20 flood representatives from Foothills School Division (FSD) and Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools met to not only assess the damage, but to also discuss the potential of shared space if one or more of the High River schools were damaged.
Ironically, FSD associated superintendent Drew Chipman said they assumed the Foothills schools would be in worse shape, but once the water receded it was clear CRCS’s two High River schools, Notre Dame Collegiate and Holy Spirit Academy, were devastated.
Chipman said there was no hesitation in making arrangements to accommodate the Catholic students at Senator Riley.
“We have absolutely a great relationship and we met the day after the flood to talk about how we can help each other out,” said Chipman. “This has solidified that relationship and I cannot say enough about the great attitudes of our staffs.”
Five classrooms in Senator Riley’s west wing will be made available to accommodate the students from Notre Dame Collegiate. As a result, some Senator Riley students will be using alternative space in the school and four portables. About 50 Grade 11 and 12 Notre Dame students will actually be in the school another 250 students will use 12 portables when they arrive at Senator Riley.
Chipman said they are not ideal conditions, but it is workable for the short-term. Notre Dame Collegiate is expected to be reopened in early 2014.
“The time constraints we are working under are tough,” said Chipman. “The timelines the (portable) suppliers have been working under are tough. They have done a lot of work in a short period of time. We have to roll with the punches and be back up and running.
“Things are not going to look the same, but the kids will get a great education.”
Although space will be tight and students and staff will have to make sacrifices, Senator Riley vice-principal Shelly Zorn said in the aftermath of the flood, these are little inconveniences and everyone will adapt.
“This experience has changed my life,” said Zorn, who is still not back in her High River home. “I was bawling my eyes out when I was throwing out my wedding and baby pictures, but this has made me think about what is really important in life.
“We have a really great team here (at Senator Riley) and we will nurture these children who have been through so much. I know this town will be back, it won’t be the same, but it will be back.”
In fact, after what everyone went through with the flood, Zorn said the staff at Senator Riley is looking at this year as an opportunity. She said their goal is to give the students a feeling of normalcy and make the space as comfortable as they can for the Foothills students and Catholics.
“We are forging ahead and this will be a year like no other,” she said. “We will help the kids deal with any stress they have.”
The Catholic students move into Senator Riley on Sept. 9, but the portables for the Foothills students are not yet ready. As a result, temporary classrooms will be set up in the library and stage.
About 320 students are expected to attend Senator Riley and CRCS is estimating 300 Notre Dame students will be housed at the school and in portables.