By Samantha Johnson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
From flights, to firefighting, to expanding the agricultural mind, Prairie Rose Public Schools superintendent Reagan Weeks has plenty to be excited about as students return to class.
The Flight Academy at Eagle Butte High School has evolved and is now a collegiate.
“That will allow us to expand to have a fourth year of the program, which will include the option for students to complete their commercial pilot training,” said Weeks. “We are currently working on developing an AME (aeronautical mechanical engineer) program along with a program that will focus on air traffic control.”
Potentially, the course load would be lighter in that final year, but it would depend on how many flight ratings the student needed to finish and how rapidly they progressed through the various training programs in the previous three years.
The Fire Academy will be launching this year at both Eagle Butte High School in Dunmore and at Senator Gershaw in Bow Island.
“Fires across the world have been a major issue and ensuring we have more people who are trained, not only to fight the grass fires we sometimes face right here in our rural communities, but to more broadly expose students to this potential career path and the option to contribute to some of the challenges we are facing,” Weeks said.
PRPS is grateful for the partnership with the Town of Bow Island and Cypress County to provide the training, mentorship and learning.
The Irvine School Agriculture Discovery Centre had a visit from Premier Danielle Smith on Aug. 31.
“It’s just so exciting that the work these students are doing is being recognized and we’re able to leverage their expertise in agriculture and rural life and share that more broadly,” said Weeks. “We are so fortunate to have so many staff members that are engaged in this project and the students are thrilled to be able to show what they are learning.”
PRPS has already hired 25 new teachers and more positions are posted. Additionally, there are numerous positions for additional support staff available.
“Our numbers are increasing and because of that growth we are responding with increased staffing, which is great news for our schools and our rural communities,” said Weeks. “It indicates these communities are thriving.”
The project for Parkside School received design funding and the work will begin in the early fall. PRPS is working with the Town of Redcliff and residents to ensure the school is designed to meet the needs of the community. The school will be redesigned to include a shop and a new gym along with other enhancements.
The service dog program has been rolling out for the last several years and an additional dog has been added to the program. Luka, who is still in training, Timber, a graduate, and now they have Iain, also a graduate.
The new curriculum rollout has been going well, Weeks says. There has also been a focus to address learning loss that occurred during the pandemic. Positive results have been seen with the evaluation tests for numeracy and literacy for students up to Grade 4.
“That growth is really encouraging and we are looking forward to continuing that work and are pleased with the progress,” said Weeks. “Students are making significant gains.”