New First Nation school opens

Community

PICTOU LANDING — Students and staff are realizing their dream for a new Pictou Landing First Nation School.

They began occupying their new Pre-Primary to Grade 8 facility on February 11.

“We’re very pleased,” said principal Irene Endicott as she marveled at how the completed school mirrors what they hoped it would look and function like after deciding to locate it on lower ground nearer the open water. A ballfield previously was located there.

She discussed the school while listening to Grade 3 student Ocean Johnson read to her.

“They asked the kids what they wanted,”

Irene Endicott, PLFN school principal

“We have a library now — that’s what you asked,” Endicott said to Johnson.

“And we have a bigger gym, and the floor is softer if you fall and get hurt,” Johnson replied.

They were sitting together in the reading commons that’s hard to miss as visitors enter the building through the main entrance.

“This is my happy place, where I get to hear kids read,” Endicott said.

Just a few steps from there, the occupants can access a variety of options that include a library and digital media room that remain unfinished. They can also walk into a spacious gym where pre-schoolers and volunteers gathered for play time.

There was no library at the former school, nor a cafeteria. “It’s big and comfortable,” Johnson said, regarding the cafeteria. “Before, we had to eat in our classrooms.”

Students gathered at one of the windows along the bright, circular exterior wall and were amazed at the eagles and hawks roosted and flying near the mouth of the creek on the First Nation’s west end.

The snow was deep where an outdoor play area will be completed this spring.

“They asked the kids what they wanted,” Endicott said.

Terry Donovan was the school’s project manager. “He’s a former educator, so he gets it,” Endicott said.

Early childhood education director Pam Francis is especially proud of the padded seating areas where students can read together.

The building was designed to be state-of-the-art to support modern teaching methods and apply activity and project-based learning and teaching methods. Conventional school desks are conspicuously absent.

It features spaces that can function for both school and community use. However, the school has three main pods and several entrances. The early childhood section is at the front of the school facing the main road. Behind it are the elementary and middle school areas. There will be separate day care, school and community entries.

The first day of school was considered a soft opening, with a grand opening scheduled for the spring.