Red Deer’s Notre Dame High School officially celebrated its 20th birthday on Thursday with a bevy of outdoor student activities.
The party, which was abruptly curtailed by a hail storm, unofficially marked the end of an era for some of the teenagers.
About 500 students from the school will be transferred to the new St. Joseph’s High School when Red Deer’s second Catholic secondary facility opens this fall in Timberlands.
Notre Dame Principal Rose McQuay said students who are entering Grade 12 in September will be able to choose whether they want to graduate in the familiar environment of Notre Dame, or become the first graduating class at St. Joseph’s.
But younger Catholic secondary students won’t have this choice. They will be divided up between the two schools, according to where they live in the city.
Notre Dame has been at full capacity since McQuay came to the school three years ago. It currently has a population of 1,685 Grade 10-12 students, which will shrink to closer to 1,200 for the 2017-18 school year.
Adam Guthrie, president of Notre Dame’s student council, said it’s hard to predict how many now Grade 11 students will choose to go to St. Joseph’s in the fall. “It will probably depend on where their friends go …”
Guthrie, who’s graduating in June, loved his own time at Notre Dame, saying “I can’t imagine going to a different school.”
On Thursday he helped take down equipment for the inflatable bungee run, bumper balls game, giant Jenga, tug-o-war, an inflatable dual slide and obstacle course. Before the school party was cut short by bad weather, hundreds of students enjoyed music, a hot dog barbecue, birthday cake and activities.
Notre Dame first opened in September 2006 with state-of-the-art features and badly needed classrooms. Catholic secondary students in Red Deer had previously been at the smaller, older Camille J. Lerouge school, which has since been renovated and now offers K to 9 classes.
McQuay said Notre Dame was built in a choice spot — near the public division’s Hunting Hills High School and the city’s Collicutt Centre — so that some of the recreational amenities can be shared. Notre Dame students use the Collicutt Centre’s field house and rink.
Demands for a Catholic education have since grown with Red Deer’s population. And McQuay believes Notre Dame has been committed to giving students complete learning opportunities, delivered within context of Catholic teachings.