By Greg Murphy
Students, staff and school board members are excited to finally see the construction of the new Harmony Public School.
At a ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday, public school students, staff and members of the Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board witnessed a handful of youngsters struggle to push a gold-coloured shovel into the earth of their sports field. The symbolic gesture signified the construction of their new school is finally underway.
Louise Gunning, the school’s principal, said everyone at the school couldn’t be more excited the project has finally come into fruition.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to finally see this happen. We are lucky to be in a location where our number of students will be growing every day, and more children will be able to enjoy the new facility,” said Gunning.
In the past few years, the Ministry of Education has asked school boards to submit business proposals outlining what their school needs to improve learning environments for students. In June 2012, the HPEDSB submitted their business proposal.
Kerry Donnell, communications officer for the HPEDSB, said Harmony Public School is currently over capacity and a population growth is expected for the local area. In January, the HPEDSB received approval from the Ministry of Education for the construction of a new school and was given $11.6 million to help with the project.
Donnell said the project will be something to remember for the students.
“Every day, they’ll see the progress being made. It truly will be memorable for them as they grow up. They’ll look back as adults and say, ‘we saw the new Harmony school taking shape, literally,'” she said.
Dave Patterson, vice-chair of the HPEDSB, said he was happy to see the project get under way. However, he acknowledged the process wasn’t always an easy one.
“The reality is nothing is like CSI on TV. There are challenges and that’s where you rely on the commitment that goes above and beyond what the dollars pay for,” said Patterson.
The new school is expected to open in September, 2014 with a capacity for 590 students, and will be the board’s third new school, next to schools in Tweed and Stirling.