The new Holy Spirit School has been handed over and the atmosphere is charged by the excitement of staff members arriving early to set up shop.

Cochrane's newest school opens on Sept. 6, initially as a K to 6 with the end goal of becoming a K to 9.

Principal Kim Welte says enrolment has climbed since the end of the 2021-22 school year at its previous location on 1 St. E.

"We ended our year with 260 and we're at 315 right now, and we're getting phone calls every day," says Welte.

She says the community is growing and recently the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) accepted a large number of children of Ukrainian families who have come to Canada, including those in the Cochrane area.

Everything is new in the CCSD school, located in the Fireside community. It incorporates the newest technology, like LOFT to replace SMART boards.

"The technology piece is quite exciting because all of the teachers will have LOFT TVs, which replace the old SMART boards. They're quite easy and interactive for kids, so it will be pretty exciting."

There are two adjoining science labs, full food lab, a matrix space for robotics and coding, an art room complete with a kiln, and there's a dedicated music room with all new instruments. There's also an area for a future shop for when older grade levels are added to the school.

Something students will be thrilled about is a brand new inclusive playground. They thoroughly enjoyed the playground at the old school.

"That was one of the things at the old Holy Spirit they were most sad about leaving because we did have a beautiful playground and a little butterfly garden over there. When you asked the kids what they'd miss the most, it was always that."

Besides being state-of-art, the new school has given them staff and students room to move and grow with features they could only dream of before. Welte recalls how the old front office had built-in desks and with the spread of their arms, they could touch both walls. 

Earlier in her career, Welte was assistant principal when the school district opened a new school in Tuscany. She's thrilled to be involved with the launch of another new school.

"It's a blessing and a privilege to open a new school as a principal. It's a great opportunity and the influence that we have on the kids. All the new ideas the teachers are bringing are coming together."

The opening also coincides with the launch of the new mathematics and English language arts and literature curriculum of Alberta Education.

The opening is on Sept. 6 starting at 8 a.m. and will last about 20 minutes. Besides school officials, Father Dennis Vavrek from St. Mary's Parish will be participating. Students will be part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Families of students will have the first opportunity to tour the school. One will be held for the general public shortly afterward on a date currently being determined.

The staff received approval for occupancy last week, and today the building is scheduled to be turned over to the school district.

Holy Spirit logoA new logo for the school was designed earlier this year in consultation with representatives of the Stoney Nakoda Nation.