Coalbanks Elementary School hosts official grand opening Friday morning

By Garrett Simmons

Lethbridge School District No. 51

Communications Officer

It was a grand day Friday at Coalbanks Elementary School.

Dignitaries from The Government of Alberta, City of Lethbridge and Lethbridge School District No. 51 gathered Friday for the official grand opening of the school. The morning’s festivities included an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and the presentation of the official Government of Alberta bronze plaque.

“As a government, one of the biggest, most important things we can do is make sure these schools are built on time and on budget,” said Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West, who serves as the NDP government’s Minister of Environment and Parks and the Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office.

Phillips called Coalbanks a “fabulous new facility,” as she congratulated everyone who helped bring the project to its conclusion.

“This new school is more than just a shiny new school – it is a state-of-the-art facility. I want to thank all of the partners that have come together to bring this new school to life.”

District Board Chairman Mich Forster also congratulated the Family Centre, who share space in the school to serve families on the westside. He also praised the previous Progressive Conservative government for getting the project started and the current NDP government for ensuring the school was built right, and for continuing to provide funding to support students in the classroom.

He lauded The City of Lethbridge for the city’s work in helping select the right location for the school, developing the parks areas which surround Coalbanks and providing financial support to enlarge the gym.

Forster also remarked on the efforts of the District’s retiring associate superintendent of Business Affairs, Don Lussier, who played a crucial role in seeing the Coalbanks project to completion. Coalbanks is the third new school constructed in the District under Lussier’s watch, including Chinook High School and G.S. Lakie Middle School, as Lussier has also overseen modernizations at Gilbert Paterson and Wilson middle schools.

Mayor Chris Spearman also highlighted the school’s gym and surrounding park spaces.

“The City of Lethbridge has more park land per capita than any other city in Canada,” said Spearman, who stressed the importance of having attractive, useful parks near schools.

He pointed out Coalbanks students have a very unique opportunity as the 2017/2108 school year gets underway.

“There are kids going back to school across the city, but you’re coming back to a new school, and that’s a special feeling.”

Principal Joey Gentile spoke about the fact Coalbanks is a very energy-efficient building, home to a number of unique programs, such as the Spanish Bilingual Program and the Arabic Language and Islamic Culture Elective course.

Gentile also highlighted the school’s two main goals – a focus on literacy and problem-based learning.

However, as with any school, it is the students who make the school complete, according to Forster, who urged the youngsters who fill the hall at Coalbanks every day to make it their own.

“This is your school. You are the first students to attend this school. I would ask you to be really proud of it and to look after it. It’s a beautiful school, and we want to keep it that way. Make Coalbanks the best school it can be.”

Date posted: Sept. 8, 2107

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