The new high school (pictured), which was originally supposed to open in September 2022 but was delayed due to the pandemic, will amalgamate and retire Grimsby Secondary School and Beamsville District Secondary School. If all goes to plan, the school could welcome students before the end of the academic year. Photo credit: Twitter/DSBN
Families in West Niagara will soon receive a special addition to their community. In spite of pandemic-related setbacks, West Niagara Secondary School is preparing to imminently welcome staff and students.
“There is no doubt that Covid delayed the construction of the building”, said Carolyn LoConte, communications officer at District School Board of Niagara (DSBN). “At the same time, we have been making steady progress and look forward to opening the doors soon.”
It remains a possibility that the school could begin serving West Niagara teens before the end of the 2022-23 academic year.
LoConte shared that the project has been in the works, albeit in varying stages, for quite some time. “The need for a new building was identified long ago… we’re looking as far back as 7-8 years.” From initial proposals, to applying for funding, to designing building plans and obtaining permits, to finally undertaking physical construction, it has been quite a journey.
When the school does open, the inaugural principal will be Mat Miller. Miller currently serves as principal at Grimsby Secondary School.
“We can’t wait,” said Miller. “We are so looking forward to serving students and families, and building a diverse community in West Niagara.”
Miller is particularly excited about the innovative and expanded opportunities the school will provide for students, both regarding scholastics and extracurriculars.
“We’ll be offering 30 additional courses/learning programs for our student body”, Miller told The Niagara Independent. “These will include everything from earth and environmental science courses to woodworking practicals to social-justice and Indigenous studies.”
“We’re also thrilled to be building upon our already vibrant extracurricular offerings”, he added. “In sports, we’ve been able to create a full-wrestling team this year… for the first time!”
Miller said the enthusiasm and interest in the new building can be felt throughout the community.
“I live right in the community… when I’m out and about, you know, at the grocery store, local events, etc. people are always asking (positively, of course) about the progress of the project.”
Miller also said that parents, especially, are impressed by what they are seeing. “We’ve had three full-information sessions this fall for Grade 8 students who are looking to enroll… their parents are frequently thrilled to hear about the vast specialized courses and other learning opportunities that there are to choose from.”
When asked what he believes will be the biggest strength of the school, Miller was adamant in pointing back to the student body. “The students are amazing… they are actively engaged, both academically and in the community. They are exceptional in areas of leadership.”
In addition to this, Miller thinks the school can play a key and influential role in the broader West Niagara community. “We’re very involved in local charities, right now particularly, of course, during the holiday season, but in general, as well… these students really do their part to make a difference.”
Once fully open to the public, West Niagara Secondary School will serve the communities of Beamsville, Grimsby, and Smithville.
Those interested in learning more about the school can visit its website or follow along on social media.
Nick completed his Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Labour Studies at Brock University. He has previously served in municipal and federal politics. In his free time, Nick enjoys following sports, taking part in outdoor activities and reading biographies. Nick resides in Niagara Falls.