PES includes First Nations in opening ceremony

Students at Ponoka Elementary School (PES) had a chance to say farewell to their now old school just before the start of their spring break.

Cultural Treat - Students at Ponoka Elementary School received a cultural treat during the official move to their new school Thursday

Cultural Treat - Students at Ponoka Elementary School received a cultural treat during the official move to their new school Thursday

Students at Ponoka Elementary School (PES) had a chance to say farewell to their now old school just before the start of their spring break.

A farewell ceremony was held in the pink building gym Thursday, March 26 with many dignitaries including two retired principals and teachers in attendance. It was also marked with a First Nations grand entry and dance.

Principal Lois Spate said the day was to mark the end of an era for PES but to also celebrate the start of a new time with the opening of the new school. Including First Nations was an important part of that. “They are very much a part of our school.”

“For our entire school community, the day was about paying tribute to the history of PES, while also celebrating the future. A day of hope for the future, interwoven with good memories of the past,” added Spate.

She is excited to move into the new school as there are new opportunities for learning. The building is equipped to prepare students for their transition to Ponoka Secondary Campus and to work under the new Inspiring Education curriculum.

“There is a sense of nostalgia with it being the last day of being “the pink” and “the brick,” said Spate, referring to the two buildings they used to occupy up to now. “But there is also lots of excitement and anticipation as we are finally in one newly modernized building.”

She says students will be part of smaller learning communities within the school broken up into grades. Teachers and students will be able to collaborate more together on bigger projects.

“When they’re talking about literacy and numeracy, we’re poised for that,” said Spate.

Students, teachers and dancers then walked to the new school for a special ceremony.

First Nations elder Joey Deschamps, said the collaboration between Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) and Cree nations is valued. “We’re honoured that they accept our children and that the drum got included.”

Past principals George MacKenzie and Lyle Boman were in attendance as well as MLA Rod Fox and WCPS superintendent of schools Larry Jacobs.