Staff at Fort la Reine School in Portage la Prairie are finishing up final touches of preparation for the new school year that's just around the corner with an added Grade 7 class. The school will host the class for the first time as a result of regrouping students in our division to facilitate population growth in the city. Things will then expand in the fall of 2024 with Grade 8 added to their roster.

He says they have their teacher set in place for the new class.

"We hired a brand new teacher, Ms. Janelle Neyron," says Harkness. "She was a student teacher last year at La Verendrye School. She's got a lot of great ideas to work with our new Grade 7 students that were, formally, our Grade 6. It'll be very exciting to see what we can do with them this year."

Harkness says they still have a request before the province to move ahead and build a new gymnasium and turn their current one into classrooms, to make more room for expansion.

"We're waiting to hear on that, and that may or may not happen sooner or later, but we're very hopeful that that will come about," continues Harkness. " Our school is expanding for sure, and our numbers are increasing which is great to see."

He notes they had a couple of extra classrooms for their use, and they combined their K-4 and then their 5-7. 

"Then for the following year, it will be Grade 5-8," says Harkness. "We've, kind of, broken it up that way. As students increase, we do have room. Obviously, we want to keep an eye on that, though."

Fort la Reine SchoolFort la Reine School

Once Grade 8 is included next year, they'll be set to send students directly to high school instead of a middle school.

He outlines more changes.

"For Grade 7, they've got the same opportunities as other Grade 7 students have, which is Industrial Arts, Home Economics, Art, Band, and Guitars," adds Harkness. "So, there are some moving pieces there that we need to consider. Then, also, sports;  extracurricular activities, which is K-6. Before this, only Grade 6 curled.
But, now, our Grade 7s will have opportunities to play volleyball, basketball, badminton, curling, and then track and field."

He says a smart TV is added to the new class and 25 students will be there.

Harkness says their parents and school community have been very supportive of the expansion.

"They're very happy that their children stay for the additional two years. I know, being a former Yellowquill teacher, as well, that only being at a school for two years, you don't get to build the same relationships that you do as being in a school for your entire K-8 career. So, I think it will definitely benefit our students and our school community that way."

He adds he knows his staff will do a tremendous job navigating through the changes.


In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, PortageOnline encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the PortageOnline app.