|Conseil scolaire Viamonde trustee Derrick Fournier announces construction of a new Welland school on Friday, March 27, 2015. The school will replace Confederation secondary and Champlain elementary schools. Maryanne Firth/Welland Tribune/QMI Agency|
What do you get when you cross a Jaguar with a Shark?
The answer will be revealed within the next three years as their habitats are combined in Welland.
Conseil scolaire Viamonde announced Friday that Confederation secondary school and Champlain elementary school will merge together in a new facility to be built in the coming years.
The Ministry of Education has awarded the French public board nearly $11 million to construct a new school to house both the Jaguars and the Sharks.
The facility, for students in junior kindergarten to Grade 12, will be built on the existing Confederation grounds on Tanguay Ave. in Welland.
Construction will take place beside the existing school, which will remain open while the build takes place. The aging building will be demolished when the project is complete.
"For our students and the community, this is an opportunity to have a new school that will meet the needs of the area," said board trustee Derrick Fournier, a Confederation graduate.
The high school, built in 1966, and elementary school, built in 1954, are two of the oldest facilities owned by the board. Champlain, on Afton Ave., was converted to a French-language school in 1981.
Now that the funding announcement has been made, the next step is to begin planning and creating the detailed design for the facility, said Claire Fournier, the board's director of communications.
A date has not yet been set for construction to begin, as it will vary depending on the coming planning process, she added.
It is expected to take 14 to 16 months to build the school, with an opening anticipated in the next two to three years.
The new school will house 350 students, but will be built to easily accommodate expansions if needed. Confederation and Champlain have a current combined enrolment of about 250 students.
"It will be state of the art," Francoeur said of the new building, which will be constructed with environmental efficiencies in mind.
This is the second school in the board that will have combined high school and elementary school students. Welland's new facility will be loosely modelled after the existing school in Pickering, but designed specifically to meet local needs, Francoeur said.
"It has been successful and very well received by the community," Fournier said of ecole Ronald-Marion, which is in its second year of operation.
While the two groups of students will be under one roof, elementary and high school grades will be housed in different wings of the building, Fournier said.
"They'll be separated, but will benefit from the use of each other's facilities." There will be opportunities moving forward, he said, for students, staff and the public to provide input on the project.
"For the francophone community, it's something that's very needed and deserved," Confederation principal Benoit Dussault said of the new facility.
"We've been waiting for this news for a few months and we're thrilled," he said, while adding the school will "bring new energy to the community."
Students from both schools came together in the Confederation auditorium for the announcement Friday and were later treated to special performance by French-Canadian pop group Raffy.