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Little name change approved as big school changes take place in Cold Lake

Student-led name change approved for Cold Lake middle school after months of planning and consultations to select a new name for a Northern Lights Public School (NLPS).

COLD LAKE - Little name change approved as big school changes take place in Cold Lake  

After months of planning and consultations to select a new name for a Northern Lights Public School (NLPS) in the Cold Lake area, a new name was officially approved for a middle school last week by the board. 

Cold Lake Junior High was officially selected by NLPS trustees last week after months of public consultations and surveys. 

The consultation process included public awareness campaigns targeted through social media and emails to parents and students for engagement in an effort to follow the school board's policy for changes, said Rick Cusson, NLPS Superintendent. 

“We have gone through the month-long consultation process - 30 days process - in conjunction with the  [Administrative Procedure] 546 for naming a new facility or renaming a facility,” he told the trustees at last Wednesday’s public board meeting. 

The process went smoothly, generating interest from the community without any real hurdles, said NLPS Public Relations Manager Nicole Garner. 

“This seems pretty uncontroversial… it’s Cold Lake Junior High, it makes sense,” she said. 

Student-led change 

The name change is just one part of a massive, three-year re-configuration plan in NLPS schools across Cold Lake to address overpopulated schools, and schools that are or will reach capacity in the near future. The transition process for the six schools in the area that are a part of the changes was reached by the Cold Lake Configuration Committee, made up of parents and staff, over the last few years.  

The newly named Cold Lake Junior High becomes a Grade 6-9 school in the new plan for next year, and then a Grade 7-9 school the following year. The former Cold Lake Middle School was previously a Grade 5-8 school. 

The configuration process which will be completed in 2024, will add and remove grades from all six NLPS schools in Cold Lake to support and address a projected enrollment of more than 2,630 students the division expects to have in the Cold Lake area by the 2022/2023 school year. 

The transition planning, as well as the name change was inspired by students who will be attending the school next fall from Cold Lake Middle School, Nelson Heights Middle School and Art Smith Aviation Academy in order to get involved in the changes that will shape their new learning environment. 

Campaign approval 

Students have been kept near the decision-making process. At a school board meeting on Feb 9, students tendered two names for approval after researching and conducting surveys. The two names put forward were Cold Lake Junior high which received 111 votes from the student body and Kinosoo Junior High which garnered 41 votes. 

The board ultimately selected Cold Lake Junior High to put forward for parents and community members in the area to discuss for the 30-day period.  

The most recent consultation period with the public drew 230 visits to an assigned web-page. Visits were made by registered users and Garner said the analysis of the responses showed a few alternative name suggestions, but said the responses were “not necessarily indicating they did not support the name.” 

The response rate is lower than the average for similar engagement efforts, she said, explaining that a recent comment page for the upcoming school calendar drew nearly double the number of responses. 

For Cold Lake trustee, Ron Young, the lack of engagement comes as no surprise due to the small change. He has heard from parents that the name change isn’t a big issue. 

“The feedback I received is that it wasn’t really worth engaging on because it was so obvious that was the choice; that was the best choice. It wasn’t even worth engaging,” he said. 

Following policies 

One additional aspect of the recent consultation were many comments about the efforts of the students through the process. Garner said there were comments applauding their efforts to be involved. 

Cold Lake trustee Mandi Skogen is happy to see students represented in the new transition considering their efforts and enthusiasm. 

“The students, they went through this process and this is the way the students felt and this is their school,” she said. 

The official date for the transition will be implemented in the fall in time for the start of the 2022/23 school year.