Aging Sherwood Park school needs replacing, principal says

Students, staff, parents and alumni celebrated a Sherwood Park school's 60th anniversary Thursday with a food truck festival, carnival games and mile races. 

Sherwood Heights Junior High, which opened on Sept. 12, 1959, is one of the community's oldest schools, and it shows.

The building has a poor ventilation system, worn and rupturing hot water lines and a tiny gym that's far smaller than Alberta Education design standards.

Students are used to playing sports in the small space, but when visiting volleyball teams compete in the gym, they often slam the ball into the ceiling.

"Certainly we hope to have something with a higher ceiling one day,"  Principal Paul Pallister said Thursday in an interview with CBC's Radio Active.

Kris Reid

Pallister and the school district hope the provincial government funds a full replacement. 

Modernizing the building, according to Elk Island Public Schools' latest three-year capital plan, would cost more than 75 per cent of the replacement cost.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish and Sherwood Park MLA Jordan Walker visited the school Monday.

"Our board chair is working hard with all of those people and Strathcona County to try to form partnerships to help us get a replacement school," Pallister said.

The Strathcona County Boys and Girls Club, seeking a new space of its own, has joined the school district's bid for a replacement building.

Darlene Radmanovich attended the anniversary celebration Thursday to watch her grandson participate in the Cougar Mile — an annual tradition dating back 30 years.

Radmanovich, 72, was among the 600 students who attended the school in its opening year. In 1959, she was a shy Grade 4 student who appreciated the kindness of her teacher.

She said she remembered spending time in portable classrooms, square dancing with her classmates and tobogganing on the hilly grounds. 

Sherwood Heights Junior High School

"It hasn't changed much," she said.

The trees, however, have grown tall since she was a girl.

Radmanovich said she supports replacing the school building.

"It needs an update," she said. "Why not?"