The Elk Island Catholic Schools hosted an information session Thursday evening at St. John Paul II Catholic School in regards to the new Catholic school that is set to be built and opened by September of 2018.


The new high school, named after the modern day St. André Bessette - the first Canadian-born male to be named a saint - is set to be built behind the Dow Centennial Center, with hopes to connect to the community through partnerships with the Shell Theatre as well as other areas of the community.


St. André Bessette school will replace the role of high school from St. John Paul II, which will become a middle school for the community.


Currently there are four site concept plans for the school which will be subject to discussion and alterations based on public feedback before the construction is set to start.


The plans were created after a community engagement process was set up asking parents what they would like to see in the school in relation to school programs, aesthetics of the facility as well as possible partnerships within the community - especially with the the near proximity to the Dow Centennial Center, when it isn't fully utilized along with the school facilities.


Given the location of the new school, by the DCC and, now, the new RCMP building, the City of Fort Saskatchewan took 2 months to study the flow of traffic in order to decide what was the best plan in order to prevent traffic congestion in the area. They looked at ideas considering better access to the highway as well as the school in different directions. There will be many changes to the area once the new school opens.


The choice of name strongly connects the school to the community of Fort Saskatchewan, as EICS superintendant Michael Hauptman states that the board learned that St. André Bessette has relatives living in the community.


Hauptman also explains that since St. André Bessette was also strongly into the trades, he hopes that the new school will allow room to provide trade options to students, such as carpentry, welding, and others that the community deems valuable to the community.