Opening Nelson Mandela High School (NMHS) on September 6 will be the culmination of months of hard work and preparation by Principal Teresa Martin and her team. It will also be an exciting day for students and parents who have been waiting for a high school to serve Calgary’s far Northeast communities of Saddle Ridge, Martindale, Falconridge, Taradale, Castleridge and Coral Springs.
Over the last several months, school staff met with all 1,144 students who are registered to attend the new high school in the fall. Open houses have also been held to share information on registration, course options, extra-curricular activities and what can be expected when the school opens.
“Knowing each student is important to us. We want to understand how they learn and what inspires them as individuals,” says Martin.
As part of its Career and Technology Studies program, NMHS will offer some unique opportunities for students including the only aviation program in Alberta. There will also be a credentialed culinary program, pre-engineering and fashion design, just to name a few.
Although the school will open in September to Grade 10 and 11 students, construction to some parts of the facility will continue. The building of the gymnasium will begin in the fall and is expected to be completed for the fall of 2017. There will also be continued construction on a wing of classrooms that was added to the school design during construction. Not having a gym during the 2016-17 school year will not impact physical education or students’ athletic options. Students will use dedicated gym space at the Genesis Centre as well as the wellness floor and dance studio at the YMCA.
“Our athletics director was hired early because we knew that extra work was needed to coordinate between our school, the YMCA and the Genesis Centre. We will offer a robust athletics program along with excellent extra-curricular opportunities,” says Martin. “Having easy access to these state-of-the-art facilities will be wonderful for our students.”
Students at the new high school can also expect to see some differences in the school building compared to their current school. Changes to how and what students learn is reflected in the design of the new school. Learning will occur in a variety of spaces within NMHS. To create these spaces fewer lockers have been installed, which allows for wider hallways and larger classrooms. The traditional school library where students were expected to sit quietly has also been replaced with a modern Learning Commons that offers collaborative learning spaces and an innovative use of resources.
“Things have changed from what parents remember about high school,” said Martin. “We don’t see students relying solely on textbooks like they once did. Rather students will be able to access a variety of resources they need online from anywhere including our amazing learning commons, which will be a hub of idea creating and sharing, learning, studying and collaborating.”