Official groundbreaking brings first public high school a step closer to opening in Stittsville

(The official Ottawa-Carleton District School Board groundbreaking ceremony for the new Stittsville High School took place on November 18, 2021. On hand to mark the occasion were: (l to r) Councillor Glen Gower; Jenny Guth, Stittsville parent; Shawn Leham, Superintendent of Instruction; OCDSB Trustee Lynn Scott; and Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari. Photos: Stittsville Central)

Thursday, November 18, 2021 was an exciting day for Stittsville residents when the official ‘shovels in the ground’ took place at the new Stittsville High School in the Fernbank community. The school, under the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) umbrella, will open its doors in September 2023, accommodating students from grades 7 to 12 in stages. This school has been a long time coming – almost 20 years in fact.

On hand to mark the event and construction of the new high school already in progress were: Lynn Scott, OCDSB Trustee for West Carleton that encompasses March, Stittsville and Rideau-Goulbourn; Shawn Lehman, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board Superintendent of Instruction; Goldie Ghamari, MPP for Carleton; and, Glen Gower, City Councillor for Stittsville; and Stittsville resident and parent Jenny Guth.

Shawn Lehman, Superintendent of Instruction with the OCDSB, opened the ceremony with his comments, “…as you all know what we are creating here is much more than a building. It is a source of learning, creativity and innovation that supports and fosters critical thinking. It’s a place to unleash the potential of our students that live in this blossoming community”.

The approval for the new Stittsville High School came in 2018 from the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Education with $48 million earmarked for the project.

The most important issue I was hearing from the residents of Stittsville … was that they did not have a local public high school – an initiative worked on for 20 years. I was glad to see the funding approved and confirmed. I reached out to the Ministry to ensure that we could get this project going as quickly as possible. This is such an important day for the Stittsville community and this is just a testament of what our government is doing to support people in Stittsville,” stated MPP Goldie Ghamari.

The funding and confirmation to construct the school came from the Ontario Government in May 2019 with the start of construction beginning in April 2021. Currently, the exterior concrete panels are being put in place and the building is taking shape. By mid-winter 2022, the school will be enclosed and then interior and exterior work will continue throughout the year and into the spring of 2023.

OCDSB Trustee Lynn Scott has thought about this sod-turning ceremony since early last spring and she professed that she was tempted to come to the site and take a couple of selfies throwing sod in the air! “I can easily see a splendid landmark high school on this spot to welcome students in 2023. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the tremendous support of the many people in the Stittsville community going back more than 20 years, advocating to the school board, to our representatives at Queen’s Park, writing endless letters to a whole series of Ministers of Education, holding community meetings, doing surveys, and generally making their voices heard loud and clear on behalf of the ever-increasing numbers of Stittsville students who wanted and needed a high school in their own community,” Trustee Scott told the audience.

Councillor Gower reflected on the community and said, “I want to put this school in context of the community. We are in the Fernbank community and there is a master plan for this community to welcome 11,000 families, 11,000 homes to this community when it is fully built and there are 11 school sites that are part of the master plan. This is going to be an avenue of education along Cope Drive. This project is just so inspiring and so many people decided to live in this community because of the proximity to the schools and this public high school will be an anchor for the community“.

“Thanks for the honour of letting me speak today on behalf the many parents in Stittsville. So the countdown is on and I know that our community cannot wait for that very special day in September 2023 when the new Stittsville high school opens for our children,” said Jenny Guth.

The school will be open to Grades 7 to 9 in the first year, with an additional year added until a full complement of students is reached up to Grade 12. The school will allow for 1,353 classroom spaces for students in grades 7 to 12. It will have a quad gym, shops, music room, two student commons for Grade 7 and 8 and, as well, a new stage for a variety of performance types that opens to the quad gym and a general gathering area with some seating and is in closed proximity to the music and drama rooms. It will offer an English with Core French program, an Early French Immersion program, and a Middle French Immersion program for grade 7 and 8 students. It will also offer English and French Immersion programs for grade 9 to 12 students.

Stittsville is currently the fastest growing development area in the City of Ottawa. Over the past three years, building permits have been issued for an average of approximately 1,500 new residential units per year for this part of the OCDSB district. The OCDSB acquired the land for the new school in May 2019 when the funding was secured. The site is 6.54 hectares in size or just over 16 acres. The Stittsville Secondary School is located at the southwest corner of Robert Grant Avenue and Cope Drive, in the Fernbank lands community.

The OCDSB released a video of the ceremony that is available for viewing at this link on YouTube.


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