South Peace News
Better late than never.
Northern Lakes College celebrated the grand opening of the new High Prairie campus Aug. 16, almost two years after the project was completed.
Board chair Barry Sharkawi, of High Prairie, says the modern campus meets the needs for the future.
“The skills and knowledge that students will gain through programs accessed at the High Prairie campus will prepare them for future careers and support growth in their communities,” says Sharkawi, who became the board chair on April 6, 2022.
“As the new board chair, I want Northern Lakes College to be ‘top of mind’ for our region’s high school graduates when they consider an educational institution that is focused on careers in agriculture, trades and health services.”
He encourages residents to choose Northern Lakes for further training.
“Northern Lakes should be the natural next step in our region’s educational opportunities,” Sharkawi says.
“I am championing the growth of Northern Lakes College.
“Northern Lakes College has been successful for many years in our region and I expect it will be here for decades.”
The college celebrated 50 years in 2020.
Funding of $21.6 million was provided by the provincial government for the $24 million as the college contributed $2.4 million.
More than 100 people gathered for the grand opening of the campus on Highway 2 at 42 St. on the east side of town.
The campus features the first culinary arts program and cafeteria in the college network.
Health services, academic programs and trades training have been enhanced at the campus that accommodates 225 students.
The whole building is a teaching lab and features 33 individual learning suites, 12 classrooms and a health programs lab with space to accommodate up to eight beds.
One of the key new features is exposed or open walls for electrical and geothermal components in some areas that are used as a teaching tool.
The two-storey 33,000-square-foot building also has three labs for carpentry, mechanics, welding and metalwork.
College president Glenn Mitchell says the new campus is a great service in the community to celebrate.
“This is an exciting day for the High Prairie region and the college,” says Mitchell, who became president Sept. 1, 2020.
“We are excited about the future of the college.”
He notes the new campus enhances educational opportunities for local people.
“This facility, in concert with our supported distance learning delivery model, ensures access to both appropriate learning and support services for students,” Mitchell says.
“Our SDL model allows students from High Prairie and the surrounding area to connect virtually with students across the province and become a learning cohort.
“That means students can continue to live right here in their own community while getting a post-secondary education that will allow them to further their education, improve their employment opportunities and enhance their quality of life.”
Former board chair Daniel Vandermeulen says the new campus was a 10-year project that was initiated by former board chair Archie Cunningham, who served in the role from 2010-2014.
He also noted the efforts of former vice-chair Ray Stern and former president Ann Everatt to build a new campus.
Vandermeulen, who because chair in 2014, also acknowledged Big Lakes County former reeve Ken Matthews and Town of High Prairie former mayor Linda Cox for their perseverance to push government to fund the project.
Town of High Prairie Deputy Mayor Waikle thanked the college for serving the region for so many years.
“The Town of High Prairie is proud to be home to this beautiful new campus and forward-thinking organization,” says Waikle who spoke in place of Mayor Brian Panasiuk, employed at the college as director of student recruitment.
Big Lakes County Reeve Robert Nygaard says the new campus will inspire local students to continue their education in their home community.
“The addition of this state-of-the-art” campus will more than prepare future generations of students in Big Lakes County for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”
He thanked president Mitchell and the college for the great achievement of a new modern campus.
“We are inspired by your leadership and vision for our community,” Nygaard says.
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn congratulated the college for the new campus.
“It is always a gain for the community when projects like these are completed as they are here today,” Rehn says.
“I am sure these new facilities will add greatly to the Northern Lakes College experience, which will no doubt, serve our region well.
“I am hopeful to see its amazing results into the future.”
The Net Zero Ready building was constructed with sustainable materials, including a high-performance envelope and high-efficiency windows.
Swaths of natural light and geothermal heating and cooling cuts heat and cooling costs.
Natural wood decor, plenty of natural light, open space and room to grow are incorporated into the building.
The campus is also handicapped-accessible and also includes special attention to female students and First Nations communities.