Officials from across British Columbia made their way to Elkford’s Rocky Mountain Elementary School Friday morning to celebrate the completed restoration of the school.
Among the guest speakers were Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, Southeast Kootenay Board of Education Chair Frank Lento and Mayor of Elkford Dean McKerracher.
The ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official re-opening of the school, which was closed for several months after a power outage and electrical surge caused fires within the school’s heating and cooling systems, resulting in extensive damage throughout.
“I came and did my best to try to get it back together as quick as possible and I feel like we’re finally here,” Rocky Mountain Elementary Principal Dean Chandler said. “It takes everybody to get a project like this done so fast.”
After the fire destroyed a large portion of the school in June, the community, with support from the Ministry of Education, banded together replacing the flooring, the ceilings, wall coverings, furniture, equipment as well as all other contents.
The Ministry of Education provided a total of $4 million dollars, with another $15,000 worth of books being donated to the school through the Indigo Adopt a School contest.
During his address to the community, Bennett thanked the parents, teachers and students for working diligently to win the Indigo campaign.
“The parents and the teachers and the students are the ones that deserve all the credit,” he said. “It’s really the people that make me like coming to Elkford as much as I do.”
Bennett also commended McKerracher for his efforts.
“If something is going on in Elkford, he’s [McKerracher] going to know about it and he’s going to make sure it gets done right.”
It was with support from the District of Elkford that the students were able to continue on with their education while the school was undergoing construction.
McKerracher said he was honoured to be able to step forward and offer an alternative facility for three Rocky Mountain Elementary School classes.
“One of my commitments and my councils commitments to this community is kindergarten to Grade 12 and doing anything and everything we can to maintain it,” McKerracher said, adding, “Without the school, we wouldn’t have a town.”
The students were also commended for their patience through the process.
“After the fire damage, the students showed us the definition of this word [patience],” Elkford Trustee Curtis Helgesen noted. “The students rolled with the punches and were resilient through the whole process.”
School District 5 (SD5) Board Chair Frank Lento reiterated Helgesen’s sentiments, stating, “Boys and girls…each and every one of you is important and you have a special gift to bring to our society.”
The children’s efforts were also commended during a special video presentation. The 236-student body that makes up Rocky Mountain Elementary cheered and clapped as they watched their classmates, teachers and principal’s images flash across the gymnasium school wall.
“Does everybody like seeing themselves in the pictures?” Bennett joked.
The slideshow presentation truly captured the spirit of the small, yet passionate Elkford school.