Cardinal Thomas Collins blesses the Cardinal Collins High School Academic Centre. Photo by Ramon Gonzalez

Edmonton school named after Collins

By  Ramon Gonzalez, Canadian Catholic News
  • October 4, 2014

EDMONTON - With a wide smile on his face, Cardinal Thomas Collins cut the red ribbon declaring the new Cardinal Collins High School Academic Centre officially open. 

Dignitaries from the Church, Edmonton Catholic schools, the city and provincial government accompanied Edmonton’s former archbishop in the task Sept. 24. 

The Collins Academic Centre was built in partnership with the City of Edmonton and offers students an alternative way to complete high school or upgrade courses. 

“I’m very honoured that they named a school after me,” said Collins, who served as archbishop of Edmonton from 1999 until he was named archbishop of Toronto in 2007. “This is the first time it happened, and I am very grateful. 

“I’m also delighted to be back here in Edmonton. I spent many happy years here and the thought that there is a school named after me here in this city and diocese that I love so much is a joy.” 

Collins said he will pray for the students and staff at the academic centre bearing his name and hopes they will do the same for him. 

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith congratulated Edmonton Catholic Schools for the centre, which he said reaches out in mission to those who would appreciate and benefit from a second chance. 

The centre will give an opportunity to students to find new worth, a mission which is at the heart of the Gospel, Smith said. 

School board chair Cindy Olsen said the idea of a Catholic school attached to a recreation centre began to take shape about seven years ago when the city wanted land to build a recreation centre and the only land available in the area was school land. The Edmonton Catholic school board would not sell its land but agreed to have a school attached to the massive new building. 

The idea made sense, Olsen said, because the district had a number of schools in malls or shopping centres that were expensive to run. Those schools are all being consolidated at the Cardinal Collins Academic Centre. 

“The coming together of a school, a recreation centre, a multicultural centre, a public library and a daycare in one building will allow the people of this community to have comprehensive access to the services essential for families,” Joan Carr, superintendent of Catholic schools, said at the ceremony. 

“Students here will have their needs met from pre-school to adulthood in this centre,” Carr said. “The beauty of this centre is that it presents our students with a real world context for learning.” 

Bill Moreau, principal of Cardinal Collins, said the academic centre offers an opportunity for high school students to work at their own pace in a non-traditional high school setting. 

“This is a school of hope and opportunity,” the principal said, noting it will also provide students aged 18 to 20 opportunities to upgrade or complete their high school diploma and enter into post-secondary studies and or the work world. 

Currently, about 450 students are taking classes at the Collins Academic Centre. Students from any part of the city can attend the school as it is located on an LRT line. 

The two-storey academic centre does not have a gym or library, so it has formed partnerships with the Clareview Recreation Centre and the Edmonton Public library to use their facilities. On the main floor, two large Fresh Start classrooms support modular self-paced learning for high school students aged 15 to 17. There is also a foods lab, two computer labs and a chapel/student centre. There is also a classroom for Our Lady of Grace students, parenting teens who are completing high school diplomas while learning life skills to support themselves as mothers.

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