Construction begins for new Francophone high school in Kingston

A number of representatives from area French language school boards were joined by Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson and those from the Frontenac Cultural Centre to break ground for the construction of Kingston’s newest Francophone high school on Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2021. L-R: Sylvie Mekoulou, Principal of École secondaire catholique Marie-Rivier, Michel Charron, CECCE School Counselor, Jason Dupuis, CECCE Superintendent of Education, Marie-Noël St-Cyr, Executive Director of the Frontenac Cultural Centre, Bryan Paterson, Mayor of Kingston, Rachel Laforest, CEPEO School Counselor, Jean Lord, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Frontenac Cultural Centre, Amine H. Aïdouni, CEPEO Superintendent of Education and Sylvain Morel, Principal of École secondaire publique Mille-Îles. Image provided by CEPEO.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held today, Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2021, at the corner of Wheathill and Demers Streets near the RioCan Centre. The new building under constructing will house École secondaire publique Mille-Îles, École secondaire catholique Marie-Rivier, a child care center, an Early ON child and family center, and the Frontenac Cultural Centre.

Funding from the Ontario government has made this construction possible. In total, $39 million has been invested to provide “a new, quality learning environment for the students of Kingston, as well as new child care rooms,” the province said in December 2020, when the construction was approved, noting that the project is part of the province’s capital investment program to “support students with better learning spaces.”

According to a press release from Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEPEO) on Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2021, this funding is in response to an important need of the region’s growing francophone community, which has been advocating for many years for the improvement of existing school structures.

“Our government is more committed than ever to ensuring that Canadians have access to the highest standards of French-language education,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “With our $39 million investment, we will be able to provide a quality French-language learning environment that will meet the needs of local families and provide children with a solid foundation for future success. “

The ceremony was broadcast online and included Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, CEPEO President Denis M. Chartrand, CECCE President Johanne Lacombe and Jean Lord, President of the Frontenac Cultural Centre. The event was hosted by CEPEO Director of Education, Sylvie C. R. Tremblay and CECCE Director of Education Marc Bertrand.

CEPEO President Chartrand and Trustee Rachel Laforest thanked the Ministry of Education for providing this necessary funding.

“This groundbreaking is a significant milestone,” the pair said. “Not only in the construction of a unique building, but also in the realization of an innovative collaborative concept that will benefit Kingston’s Francophone school and cultural communities. The construction of this school is a reflection of a united francophone community and is concrete proof that the citizen’s voice has been heard.”

Johanne Lacombe, president of the CECCE, and Michel Charron, CECCE school counsellor, agree. “Francophone families in the region, as well as the entire Kingston community, can rejoice at the start of this construction project, which will bring together, under the same roof, an Early ON child and family center, a childcare center, and the Frontenac Cultural Centre. This complex will become a place where knowledge and culture will be built on a solid foundation, helping to meet the needs of the community and making it vibrant under one roof,” they said in a statement.

Marc Bertrand, the CECCE’s Director of Education shared his feelings of pride at the symbolic groundbreaking.

“This highly anticipated step officially marks the beginning of construction of two new schools, including the new École secondaire catholique Marie-Rivier,” he said. “Once this project is completed, the students of Marie-Rivier will be able to witness a true transformation in their daily lives, as they will be able to flourish in a modern and inspiring environment. Rest assured that the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est will continue to be wholeheartedly involved in this project until its completion and beyond.”

CEPEO said the building will welcome its first students from grades 7 to 12 in 2023.

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