St. Francis of Assisi praised by all 0
Wednesday was an exciting day for St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, as students, staff and the community celebrated the official opening of the new building on Leeder Road.
Parents and staff both past and present mingled with VIPs and the 210-member student body to mark the occasion.
Following the official presentations, Bishop Michael Mulhall, the Bishop of Pembroke, blessed the school building, which was then followed with a ribbon cutting to mark the school open for business.
This was an exciting time for everyone. The community has been waiting since 2008 to walk through the doors since the project was launched to replace the older building.
Principal John Leitch said this is a great day for all of them, for this is the day they finally get to come together and bless the new 26,000-square-foot school.
“Here we are at last in a brand new building, and I say hallelujah!” he said.
Originally called Rivercrest School, in 1991 the original building was renamed St. Francis of Assisi.
Classes continued there until it was considered too run-down to fix up anymore, and so work and lobbying began on building a new school, the end result the community was celebrating this day.
“St. Francis of Assisi has been a unique school from the beginning, as its population was mostly comprised of military families,” Mr. Leitch said. This gave everyone who encountered it an appreciation of what the military does, and what their families go through as part of military life.
Bob Schreader, chairman of the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board, said this is a momentous occasion for all of them, and the end result of a lot of hard work by many people.
“This signifies a fundamental vision of the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board, which sees schools as both cutting edge and safe places to learn,” he said. Thanks to its modern design, the school also treads lightly on the environment, as it is energy efficient. This supports their vision to cherish the environment.
Mr. Schreader said as a faith- based system, they work hard to ensure the best quality education for all of their students, and to give them every opportunity to succeed. This is even starting at younger ages, as soon the school will have a day care centre on the premises, in partnership with the Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre.
Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet said he is just thrilled to be here for this event.
“This is very, very exciting for the Town of Petawawa,” he said. “I can’t think of a better project to meet the needs of our community than building a quality school.”
He said this was made possible by partnerships within the government and the community, something which is necessary these days to get such projects done. The fact everyone rallied around the school is a good indication of how people support it.
“Truly this is a school to believe in,” the mayor said.
Lt. Col. Chris Moyle, CFB Petawawa’s base commander, offered his congratulations as well, saying it was really touching and adds to the connection to the community through the school and the chapel on base.
“This school will make this a better community for all of us, and not just the military, but everyone,” he said.
Denis Chartrand, regional manager from the Ministry of Education, said the new school will help provide the environment for a good and well- rounded education.
“Education is not just learning reading, writing and math,” he said. “It is learning about being good citizens.”
Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant commended the co-operation, efforts and hard work of everyone which led to this day.
She said for those out there critical of Catholic education, this school is a symbol of hope, not just here but across Canada.
Petawawa Trustee David Howard said this has been a day long in coming, and based on what he’s been hearing from people who have checked the building out, it was well worth the wait.
“The overwhelming response has been ‘Wow,’” he said, which is the reaction to the new spaces and technologies which have been put into place.
“We’ve taken a major step to improving our learning environments,” he said, “And this school is a very worthy addition.”