By Steven Sukkau
The gymnasium was filled to capacity last Friday as the village of Schanzenfeld and Garden Valley School Division celebrated the opening of Prairie Dale School.
"Today is a very exciting day," said Education Minister Nancy Allan. "This school is going to meet the needs of a growing community and it's going to be an incredible education facility for 450 students," and will leave a legacy in the community for many years to come.
Allan believes education is the great equalizer, regardless of background.
"If you have an education, you can do anything," she said. "And I know the students of this school are going to succeed."
The $19 million school is a product of Winkler and the surrounding communities' growth in the last 10 years, but that growth has also meant Garden Valley School Division has faced many challenges keeping up with the increasing student population. Along with a need for more teachers and portable classrooms, it has meant multiple building projects, including Emerado Centennial School, the Northlands Parkway Collegiate which held its sod turning last month, and now the official opening of Prairie Dale.
Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen applauded the division, saying it was extraordinary for a school division to be involved in three simultaneous building projects. But thanks to the hard work and determination of the school board, GVSD administration and parents and teachers, the school is now a reality, he said.
"Getting to this day has been a marathon, not a sprint," said Prairie Dale principal David Hoeppner. "But here we are... and we are very, very thankful."
He said they are blessed to be learning in a great facility, and in a community of wholesome values.
"Never, ever let the remarkable things of life become commonplace or familiar. Don't let the precious things be taken for granted," Hoeppner said. "This school is a miracle and it's a blessing and we remain thankful."
Representing general contractor WBS Construction, Harv Thiessen noted The 65,000 sq. ft. building is a state of the art, LEED (Leadership, Energy, Efficient Design) Gold facility built with sustainability in mind. The building features touchless water taps, low-flow toilets and automatic light switches that turn off when the room isn't in use. A video monitor in the lobby displays the building's total power and water usage in real time.
Located on an eight acres site just south of the existing Southwood School, Prairie Dale includes 15 classrooms, art, science and computer rooms, a multi-purpose room, library, resource, guidance, and life-skills rooms, a gymnasium and fitness room, music, home economics and industrial arts rooms and an administration area.