Since the Government of Alberta approved funding for the design and construction of the Manning new school project, there has been a buzz of excitement from students, staff, and community members alike.
The enthusiasm for the new school took off when students and residents of Manning were asked for input on naming the new building, which will now be known as the Manning Aurora Composite School. Involvement from the community will continue, and their input on the school’s logo will be taken into consideration in the upcoming school year.
Feedback was gathered from current schools in Manning, the Peace River School Division staff and the project’s prime consultants, The Workun Garrick Partnership Architecture and Interior Design, finalized the design. The K-12 school will have space for 365 students and will cover a total area of 3767 square meters.
Moving the students into the new school will happen in two phases. Kindergarten to Grade 6 students are expected to start moving into their new classrooms in January or February of 2025, and once that is complete, the Manning Elementary School will be demolished to accommodate the new parking lot and further site work.
Demolition of the Paul Rowe Jr/Sr High School will start in July of 2025, and students in Grades 7-12 will then begin their 2025-2026 school year in the new school. The previous school site will then be cleaned up and turned over to the Town of Manning.
As for the building itself, it will be organized into two classroom wings separated by a large gathering space that provides access to all shared spaces within the school. Visually, the design is meant to feel comfortable and inviting to everyone who enters. Both the interior and exterior were designed to reflect the Town of Manning and the large forestry industry within the region.
Unique aspects that will be present within the school include wide hallways with break-out rooms, natural lighting, spaces that have flexible usage that meet modern educational program requirements, a double station gym, ancillary room for music and performing arts that opens to the gym for performances, as well as CTS program space.
The Prime Contractor on the project is Lear Construction of Calgary. Construction started in the middle of May 2023, with site security being set up and preparation being made to demolish the Annex building. To accommodate the construction, a main sewer line had to be relocated, which the Town of Manning is providing funding for. Some disruptions to local traffic along 3rd Street, west of the school, will be present in the coming weeks as water and sewer connections for the new school are being made.
Kim Matheson Lyseng will fulfill the role of principal of Manning Aurora Composite School, and she feels that the new school will be beneficial in more ways than one.
“I believe this school will create a wave of positive impacts for students, as well as the overall community,” said Matheson Lyseng. “There will be more teachers under one roof to offer cross grade programming, which will allow us to meet the needs of our students and broaden our overall support. School sports team will also thrive, as students will be able to join a team in earlier grades, and have closer proximity to the Rec Centre, which will provide more opportunities for them to partake in.”
The Peace River School Division is currently working with the Town of Manning on a Joint Use Agreement for the usage of the parking lot at the Manning Sports Centre Arena, as well as the usage of the town’s baseball diamonds, which are located at the recreation area south of the new school.
There are many reasons to be excited for the possibilities this new school holds, but for Kim Matheson Lyseng, her focus is on her students.
“I’m excited to have a K-12 school community that allows us to watch students progress through their entire educational careers,” said Matheson Lyseng. “We will have the privilege of being there for them from their first day of school, until their last, and I think that will be really special for a lot of people in the building.”