Students were back to school last week as classes resumed for the 2019-20 school year. Above, Mrs. McMullen at MacLeod Elementary School in Moosomin teaches Kindergarten students Marjela and Liam how to draw a picture of themselves and write their names on their first day of school.

McNaughton High continuing to grow

Enrolment was 288 a few years back, is at 350 this fall, should top 400 by 2021

September 9, 2019 7:46 am
Kevin Weedmark

McNaughton High School enrolment has hit a plateau this year, with initial enrolment up just five from last fall, but it is expected to continue growing rapidly next year.

“It’s not final yet, there are some kids who we were thinking were going to be here who haven’t showed up yet—we don’t count them until we see the whites of their eyes—and there is some question about some students—if they make a hockey team they might not be here, but right now we are at about 350 students this fall,” says McNaughton Principal Jeff St. Onge.

“We have been climbing steadily, with the numbers going up every year, sometimes big increases, sometimes small. This year is a plateau. There were 345 in the school last June.

“We’re up from June but we’re not where the projection was, at 358 because we did have some families move away last school year.”

He said the projections show enrolment growth should ramp up again starting next year, with 60 kids coming in and about 30 graduating each year for the next couple of years.

“We’re in the low 30s graduating this year, and we have 60 coming in,” he said. “The next year is in that range as well. We have 50-60 kids coming in every year from now on.”

“We were at 288 just a few years ago. It’s been steady growth over the last few years. With more coming in and smaller graduating classes, the projected enrolment is 392 in 2020 and 401 in 2021. It should continue to grow after that, but not at the same rate.”

He said larger student numbers mean the classrooms are always full, and the gym has had to have a divider curtain installed to allow two gym classes to take place at the same time.

“We are platooning when scheduling, meaning when you are in the gym, someone is in your room,” St. Onge said. “Every room is being used all the time.”

He said the curtain, which was installed during the last school year, has helped by allowing two classes at once in the gym.

“We need 42 gymnasium periods and we have 30 periods in our cycle,” said St. Onge.

“We got the curtain in February. It works well. The sound obviously travels from one side to another, but you can’t do anything about that.”

He said McNaughton High has been using MacLeod Elementary School and plans to use the Conexus MCC Centre this fall to help accommodate sports programming that can’t be accommodated in the high school gym.

“One of the places it does hit us is on our sports teams,” he said. “Our gym runs from 3:10 right after school till 9:30 at night.

“This summer we did some work in the MCC Centre so we can have volleyball nets in there, and we’re hoping to come up with the agreement with the town to do some practising there, hoping to use it for a tournament. We have used the elementary school gym as well.”

He said other programs that need a specific room are a struggle to schedule as well.

“There’s not enough home ec time or industrial arts time,” he said.

And the growing student numbers and lack of space restrict the school’s options.

“It does add to what we have to do,” St. Onge said. “We’re losing our breakout spaces, which you could use to break out part of a class.

“If I had a class of 20 kids and some have mastered the concept and some are still working on it, I could take those eight who have really mastered it and and put them in another room to work on augmented tasks.

“Now there are times when we have no spaces available, so we have to keep everyone in the same room, and distraction can be a problem.”