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CASA classroom to offer mental health support for students in Bonnyville and Cold Lake

The initiative is a partnership between Northern Lights Public Schools, Alberta Education and CASA Mental Health.

LAKELAND - The creation of a specialized classroom will support students in Bonnyville and Cold Lake who have a mental health diagnosis. 

In September, students in Grade 5 to Grade 8 from the Bonnyville and Cold Lake areas can receive extra help through the CASA (Child and Adolescent Services for All) classroom, located at H.E. Bourgoin Middle School.

The need for a CASA classroom to address the mental health needs of students was discussed during a recent Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) board of trustees meeting in Bonnyville on March 20.

NLPS is working with CASA Mental Health and Alberta Education on this initiative, designed to provide support for up to 12 students at a time.

To enter the program, students must be referred by their school and have support from parents, caregivers, mental health and medical providers. While in the CASA classroom, in addition to academic instruction, students also receive individual therapy, group therapy, and psychiatric care.

According to Nicole Garner, communications and public relations manager for NLPS, some work still needs to be done to ensure the CASA classroom is in operation for the 2024-25 school year.  

Garner explained that those students selected for the program spend half the year in the CASA classroom and the other half in their regular school and classes. She added that support will be in place to help them make the transition.  

Andrea Farrell, who for the past three years has served as principal of Art Smith Aviation Academy in Cold Lake, has been selected by NLPS to be the designated administrator for the CASA classroom program.

According to information from NLPS, the program administrator is responsible for working with schools on the referral process, participating in case coordination, and working with school administrators on transition plans for students who are returning back to their home schools.

Farrell said she is honoured to be leading the CASA Mental Health program.

I am thrilled for students and families in our division to have the opportunity to access this program,” she said.   

Rick Cusson, superintendent for NLPS, said Farrell is recognized throughout the division as a leader in the area of student supports and services.  

During her time as a teacher and administrator she has shown a deep commitment to collaboration, building relationships, and ensuring students have the supports they need to be successful, said Cusson.


Chris McGarry

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