The meeting began at 1:00 p.m. with students from both schools present, as well as the history and civics students from Madawaska Valley District High School.
Bringing new ideas to the table were Forest Poff-Smith, president of the students activities council at MVDHS. Principal David Bishop of MVDHS was also present, bringing a separate idea to council.
Poff-Smith stood on behalf of the students activities council at MVDHS before classmates and council members during the meeting on October 15, to present an idea that would bring the classroom outdoors.
Poff-Smith is proposing a community garden outside of the high school library doors, where students can go to work on school work, or even classes can be held outside.
“This complex will potentially be outside of the library allowing students to utilize our newly acquired Wi-Fi, wireless internet,” Poff-Smith said. “It will be a space for students to work outdoors during class time, or eat lunch outdoors, it will allow teachers to bring their classes into a more innovative and unique environment.”
The garden will also provide educational experiences for the high school biology classes, or the elementary schools.
The Madawaska Valley Horticultural Society has shown interest in the project, which means that they have partners within the community.
Research is still underway with the students looking into similar projects at nearby schools.
“We are looking at this project as an opportunity not only to enhance the MV [Madawaska Valley] community, but also to become more involved with the community as a whole,” Poff-Smith said. “These facilities would be open for the high school to give back to the community.”
The students activities council has been working hard, and putting their brains together for ways to fundraise for this project.
The school is also accepting donations from anyone who is willing to help with the building of a structure on the school grounds.
Poff-Smith continued to say that this project is still in its early stages, with much planning yet to be completed, and the students are still requiring approval from the school board’s planning department as well as building inspectors.
“The more people you can get together, a project like this will definitely happen,” Mayor David Shulist said.
The students are also looking in to hiring planners to see how much the project will cost, before bringing it forward to the school board.
“In northern Ontario community gardens are very popular, and what you may want to do is contact a number of municipalities in the northwest in particular. There are a number of funding bodies out there that will help pay for this,” CAO Bryan Brown said.
“If there is anyway council can help out, and get involved it will be our pleasure,” Shulist said.
FACILITY SHARING AGREEMENT
Principal of MVDHS, David Bishop, stepped forward with the idea of a facility sharing agreement.
“I have heard numerous times since I have come to this school last June or late last May, that the school is the center of the community, and quite clearly that is the case in a lot of instances,” Bishop said. “The school is booked frequently by community groups in the daytime, or in the evenings.”
With this in mind Bishop is proposing the opening of a discussion concerning the possibility of a facility sharing agreement.
“If they go to book that on their own right now there is a cost involved. What we are talking about is having an agreement that would wipe out that cost,” Bishop said.
Bishop is hoping that the town can use the schools facilities whenever they want, or need, and the school can do likewise.
This idea breaks the barriers on sharing the services that are available to the high school, as well as the other available community centres.
“I don’t have the authority to approve an agreement of this type of course, but if we can work together and figure out what your needs are, and what our needs might be, then those are things we would then take to the school board and make a presentation,” Bishop said.
Bishop was hoping that by bringing it to the table he would be able to see if there was an interest in the idea, and if so, they could discuss the next steps that need to be taken in order to make this happen.
“There has been a lot of talk in the community of doing something like that, it could be a shared facility for sure,” Shulist said.
Story continues in the Ocotber 17, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.