Years of lobbying, letter-writing and media interviews appear to have finally paid off for parents in Langdon.
On Nov. 1, the provincial government announced funding for 25 education projects throughout Alberta, including the design of a new junior/senior high school in the hamlet.
It was an emotional piece of news for Langdon Community Association chair Chrissy Craig, who has been fighting to bring a high school to the community for years. While the funding – the amount of which was not revealed – is only for the school’s design, she said it is an important step.
“We’ve put so much work and effort into this,” she said. “What was so emotional about it was that we have fought for this school in a positive, well-meaning way, and were rewarded with some of the funding. There were no fights, comparing or ugly means – it was the way politics should be done.”
With a population of about 5,000, Langdon is one of the largest communities in Alberta without a high school, according to Rocky View Schools (RVS) trustee Patty Sproule. Bringing a high school to the hamlet was the top priority in the district’s 2018-21 capital plan.
“We’ve been waiting a long time and we need this school so badly,” she said. “We need a number of schools very badly, but to get started on this one is a huge win. The people of Langdon have worked really hard to get Langdon on the provincial map. They’ve written thousands of letters – literally – and went up to Edmonton to sit in on the legislature, to make sure the government knew they were there.”
Langdon currently has two schools – Sarah Thompson Elementary School for students in kindergarten to Grade 5, and Langdon School, which serves students from kindergarten to Grade 9. For grades 10 through 12, students are bussed to Chestermere High School, roughly 13 kilometres away.
Due to the recent growth of the two communities – both Langdon and Chestermere have doubled in population in the last dozen years – Chestermere High School is now operating at 95 per cent capacity, with 936 students enrolled for 2019-20, according to Sproule.
Craig said a high school in Langdon would relieve some of that pressure.
“They teach those kids very well there, but it is so crowded,” she said. “Classes creep up every year to 40, 50 kids. They’re meeting in hallways, lunch rooms and teacher’s lounges, to the point where they have mirrors on the wall so they can see kids around the corners.”
The location of the new school in Langdon is already determined, according to Craig – a 40-acre plot of land is already serviced behind the Buy-Low Foods on Railway Avenue West.
“It’s a fantastic location because it’s very central,” she said. “Right now, it looks like it’s on the edge of town, but there’s a huge development going up just south of it. Once that is built, it will be central in town. The way it’s centered, everyone should be able to walk to it.”
While the government has not yet promised money for the facility’s construction, Sproule said the build can start as soon as funding is confirmed and the design is approved by the Ministry of Education.
“It takes 12 to 18 months for the design to be done and approved,” she said. “Assuming we are to receive funding for the build sometime during that period, or at the end of the 18 months, there would be another two-plus years needed to build it.”
Craig said she hopes her daughter – currently a Grade-6 student at Langdon School – can be among the first local students to be enrolled at the new school.
“She’s in the grade that would be affected the most if they had to go to Chestermere High School, because they would jump up that population,” she said. “Hopefully, if everything goes as planned, my daughter will be [at the new school] for her Grade-10 year.”