Students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 have settled into the Bluewater School District’s newest facility, the new Georgian Bay Community School on Grey Road 7 in Meaford. It is the new state-of-the-art home of the former St. Vincent Euphrasia Elementary and Georgian Bay Secondary Schools.
Theirs is the task of transforming the building into a school in the full meaning of the word. During the official opening ceremonies on Thursday September 30, Director of Education Lori Wilder repeated a message she delivered four months earlier during the official closing of St Vincent School. “It is important to remember that bricks and mortar do not define a school community. It is ultimately the student and staff and local community who embody a school’s culture and history through the traditions they honour and the memories they create.”
The facility was financed through approximately $29.6 million from the Ministry of Education. The building has space for 1,033 students and a designated space for the EarlyON Child and Family Centre.
The features of the new facility were highlighted during guided tours, features that include light-emitting diode (LED) lighting; improvements to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), new construction technology and and transportation/manufacturing technology shops, a cafeteria with a stage, a library, a music room, a triple gymnasium, and a fitness room. At the rear of the facility is space for the future track and and sports field; and, in the footprint of the former St Vincent School, a green space, a second parking lot, and room for portables when needed.
September 30 was what Principal Kevin Wilson referred to as a reorganization day when class sizes were adjusted and four new classes were formed. “It was a bit of a challenge to find room,” he said, “but we did. We’re full… but you don’t see any portables out there yet.
“We are looking to hire 5.5 permanent teachers because of the projected increase in enrollment.”
Bluewater District School Board Chair, Jane Thomson, extended thanks to the key players in the approval, design, and construction of the new facility. “Thank you to the Ministry of Education for supporting this significant investment in the Meaford community;” she said, “to MPP Bill Walker for his ongoing advocacy and support; our administrative and school staff for their years of hard work; members of the build team for bringing the design to life; and of course, our students, parents, guardians, and families, who have contributed in numerous ways since the proposal for a new school was first introduced.
“There is so much to look forward to as St. Vincent-Euphrasia Elementary School and Georgian Bay Community School students, staff, and families join together to create a new history and sense of community in this remarkable new facility.”
MPP Walker described the new school as a spectacular facility. “I can only imagine the excitement the staff and students felt the first day in their brand new facility, just a few weeks ago,” he said. “This project is more than an investment in bricks and mortar. Much more importantly, our government is investing in the future of our children by giving them a modern and accessible school.”
MPP Walker was joined by Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff, Meaford Mayor Barb Clumpus, Town of The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever, Director of Education Lori Wilder, Superintendent of Education Keith Lefebvre, Bluewater District School Board Chair Jane Thomson, local school board Trustee Fran Morgan, School Council Chairs Sarah Milne and Tarren Gilchrist, Principal Kevin Wilson, Vice-Principals Julie Phillips and Danielle Carson and Student Senator Wren Marriott for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.