River East Collegiate is making strides toward welcoming a new grade of students between its walls.
The school, located at 295 Sutton Ave., is set to add Grade 9 to its roster as the River East Transcona School Division seeks for all of its secondary schools to offer Grades 9 through 12 beginning this September. Of the division’s six high schools, only Miles Macdonell will not offer Grade 9, though the division hopes to make it consistent when there is space in the school.
River East recently held information meetings for families of Grade 8 students currently attending River East’s feeder schools of Chief Peguis Junior High, John Pritchard School, and Robert Andrews School, and is also sending representatives into the school to further discuss the changes.
"We are going there and meeting with the Grade 8 students, again, to talk about the transition and what it’s going to look like," said River East principal Jim Beveridge. "As well, we’ve arranged separate tours for all of the Grade 8 students, so we’ll be meeting with them, and they’ll be meeting with our student council and our student body."
Beveridge said a number of areas in the school will be renovated before September to help facilitate the changes smoothly.
"We’re remodelling the student services area, so there will be a new resource and counselling area. The old area will be classrooms," he said. "The current power mech (power mechanics) area will be renovated into a choral and band facility, so that’s another one of the big ones."
He estimates the school will need to add 15 to 20 teachers to serve the approximately 300 additional students expected to join the school’s ranks next year, but some may be familiar faces.
"There will be quite an influx of staff from the feeder schools that are losing their Grade 9s," he said.
Beveridge said parents have welcomed getting in line with other high schools in the city, while there has been a sprinkling of questions from parents wondering about the transition of moving their child into high school, in keeping with what parents would ask when a child was moving into Grade 10 at the school from Grade 9 at a feeder.
"The reaction was overwhelmingly positive — there were the usual types of questions about moving to a high school, what’s that going to look like programming-wise," he said. "This isn’t something new…it’s simply an opportunity because of numbers that we are able to accommodate it here at the school."