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Room to grow: New lockers, refillable water stations among new features at Charlottetown's L.M. Montgomery school

Grade 5 students Dana Warren, left, 10, and Laila Ellis, 10, say new refillable water stations like this one are among the best features of the $5.3-million addition to L.M. Montgomery Elementary School in Charlottetown’s East Royalty neighbourhood.
Grade 5 students Dana Warren, left, 10, and Laila Ellis, 10, say new refillable water stations like this one are among the best features of the $5.3-million addition to L.M. Montgomery Elementary School in Charlottetown’s East Royalty neighbourhood. - Dave Stewart
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

More room to move, bright new colours and “super cool new water fountains’’ were some of the features students at the revamped L.M. Montgomery elementary listed as their favourites on Thursday.

The Charlottetown school officially opened its $5.3-million, 16,500-square foot addition at a ceremony attended by Premier Dennis King, as well as provincial and municipal politicians and parents.

The addition includes 10 new classrooms, student breakout rooms, a teacher planning centre, a large activity room that also acts as a second gymnasium, storage areas and new washrooms, including a gender-free neutral washroom. Some students were also in tight spaces before, including rooms without windows.

But many of the students in the new wing seemed to be having the most fun with the new water fountains that all feature space to insert their water bottles and have them refilled.

“Check this out,’’ one student said to The Guardian.

Alicia Packwood, left, co-chairwoman of the L.M. Montgomery Elementary School Home and School Federation, said the new addition to the building includes these “lubbies’’, what they call the new lockers. Students now have their own individual locker which features three compartments, including the bottom, which can be used for outdoor footwear. Also pictured are Grade 3 students Thomas MacInnis, 8, and Emma Rand, 7. - Dave Stewart
Alicia Packwood, left, co-chairwoman of the L.M. Montgomery Elementary School Home and School Federation, said the new addition to the building includes these “lubbies’’, what they call the new lockers. Students now have their own individual locker which features three compartments, including the bottom, which can be used for outdoor footwear. Also pictured are Grade 3 students Thomas MacInnis, 8, and Emma Rand, 7. - Dave Stewart

Alicia Packwood, co-chairwoman of the local home and school group, said parents are especially happy to see that every student now has his or her own individualized locker, including a slot for outdoor footwear, something they did not have before.

“The new lockers are so good for the kids,’’ Packwood said. “It helps them reduce loss of their items and organize their stuff and feel like they have their own space . . . (but) the first time the kids moved into the new (addition) the first thing that most parents heard about was the new water fountains.’’

The school, which opened in November 1983, was originally built for 350 students. Construction of the new addition began in the summer of 2018 and the building can now accommodate 510 students. But, it’s filling up quickly. There are 467 students currently enrolled at L.M. Montgomery.

New homes continue to pop up across the street from the school, a sign that the growth will only continue.

“With the growth and development in East Royalty . . . I believe we only have three empty classrooms as of right now,’’ Packwood said. “We’re seeing a lot of growth in this area.’’


Did you know?

  • L.M. Montgomery Elementary School was named after legendary P.E.I. author Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The school opened on Nov. 30, 1983. Montgomery’s birthday is Nov. 30
  • The school was meant to serve the students of the former East Royalty elementary, Dunstaffnage elementary, Marshfield elementary and Stanhope/Grand Tracadie elementary schools
  • In 2009, the school opened its new kindergarten addition which included five classrooms
  • As part of the new addition unveiled Thursday, the gymnasium features a new floor, lighting, a sound system and LCD projector
  • The school grounds now include a designated bus parking area and additional staff and visitor parking spaces

A school review undertaken by the previous government initially recommended some students in the area be bused to Sherwood Elementary School.

Heather Cudmore, the school’s principal, said they needed to respond to a growing population.

“We have 23 homerooms right now. Our (old) gym couldn’t accommodate classes every day that we needed to give phys-ed to, so the activity room allows us to put classes in there so we don’t have to divide our gym (classes),’’ Cudmore said. “And we have additional entrances. We had 470 students entering one door into one boot room to store their outdoor bots. Now, we have three (entrances) so that just alleviates a lot of congestion. Operationally, that made a huge difference for us.’’

But, the expansion came at a cost. The school had to remove some of the playground equipment in the new footprint.

Packwood said that’s the next priority — fundraising drives to bring in some new equipment and pay for the installation.

“We think it will be a three-phase project, and it’s kind of our next vision as a home and school (group),’’ she said.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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