(At the official May 18th opening of the Shingwàkons Public School on Cope Road in Stittsville, the youngest and the oldest students from the new school joined Principal Todd Thompson for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photos: Stittsville Central)
A grand celebration took place on May 18, 2023 to officially mark the opening of the Shingwàkons Public School located on Cope Drive in Stittsville. The school has an attendance of over 600 students from kindergarten to grade 6. Principal Todd Thompson said, “our school will have a strong focus on social emotional learning and student well-being combined with innovative instruction around literacy and numeracy.” While the school was being constructed, the students travelled to the former D. Aubrey Moodie Public School. With long hours and hard work from Principal Todd Thompson, along with his administrative and teacher brigade over the Christmas break, the school was finally ready to open in January.
Students, teachers, officials, along with the architects, engineers and project managers (instrumental in the building of the school), gathered in the gym on May 18th for the ceremony. Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont was an honoured guest and via his video message, he explained the meaning of Shingwàkons (Little Pine) to the audience and welcomed the addition of the new school to Stittsville. Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce provided his message of congratulations via video, while MPP Goldie Ghamari, Councillor Glen Gower, Ottawa Carleton School Board trustee Lynn Scott and the Director of Education, Michele Giroux, were in attendance to join the fanfare of afternoon entertainment and share their messages of best wishes to the students and staff.
Between the official speeches, the Shingwàkons News Crew introduced each guest and the various performances from the students.
Principal, Todd Thompson remarked that,“the school had started out at the former D. Aubrey Moodie public school with a lot of preparation to define new ways to reach our students and we did. We made a conscience effort to keep engagement as high as possible in everything that we do. I am proud of what we have created and what we have become. We are honoured to be called Shingwàkons and what this means. We are honoured to carry this name and it not only helps to shape our identity in connecting us to the land while teaching us what we are, it demonstrates the role that we must all play in reconciliation. We still have so much to learn, but carrying an Algonquin name for our schools keeps ‘our why this name’ at the forefront.” Thompson went on to thank Elder Dumont for his assistance in naming the school, along with parents and community members.
Minister Lecce in his video message stated, “that fact that we started this school just a few years ago and it’s done today demonstrates the strong collaboration of the school board, this community and the city, the advocacy of parents and our government. Congratulations to the parents of this community for advocating for this necessary school and I know our local MPP, Goldie Ghamari, is elated to see this done and the kids in this school today. So felicitation, congratulations and best wishes for an amazing graduation as we hit June in a few weeks“.
“Thank you so much for inviting me to be here on this very special occasion. I want to sincerely acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional unsurrendered and unceded territory of the Anishinaabe people. As the MPP for Carleton I am proud that the name Shingwàkons Public School is a reflection of the land where this magnificent school that is now standing. May the name always be an inspiration for the children of this community to learn about the traditions and culture of the Algonquin people. One of the things that I am most proud of as your MPP in Carleton, it is successfully fighting for funding for nine schools in the Carleton riding. I am a proud product of the public school system and just like you I also went to a public school and remember sitting in an assembly to learn about the community,” said a joyful Goldie Ghamari.
Councillor Gower happily shared, “I really excited about this newest elementary school. Schools are really important to healthy communities. With this school here in Fernbank, we finally have a school that families can walk to in the Fernbank community. In the near future we’ll have this gym and sports fields that people can use from our community. This school is already becoming a point of pride, a gathering place for community. It will be the home school for thousands of students in the years ahead. When you think about that, you guys are the first 600 or so students who are setting up the traditions, activities and all of the clubs. You are the leaders for all of the students who will be coming through here over the next decade and that’s really special. I think you are doing a great job at it so far. On behalf of Mayor Sutcliffe and Ottawa city council congratulations on your grand opening. Bienvenue à Stittsville.”
“I’ve received so many emails from parents before the school was planned asking when are we going to have a school in our neighbourhood? It was then that we began working on the plan for a new school. Here at the Shingwàkons Public School you have roots and I don’t want any of you to forget the roots that you have. They are the love and caring of your family and the teachers helping you learn in school. The trunk of a tree teaches values. The important part of the tree are the branches. The pinecone is the fruit of a tree and here at Shingwàkons, you are the seeds of learning. Congratulations to all of you,” shared Lynn Scott.
Michele Giroux thanked the guests for coming and all of the people involved in the building of and opening of Shingwàkons Public School.
It was time for the ribbon cutting and the unveiling of a plaque to honour the school opening. A permanent plaque will be placed at the school at a later date.
For the grand opening ceremony, the students of each class created artwork that decorated the walls of the gym. The artwork reflected the meaning of Shingwàkons to each student in the school when they created their artworks.
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