The most important meal of the day


With just 22 students between kindergarten and Grade 6, the Wandering River School is one of the smallest facilities in Alberta’s Northern Lights School District. Students from the 400-member community midway between Edmonton and Fort McMurray are spilt between two classrooms and taught by one of the school’s two full-time staff members, which includes principal Dan Coonan.

Coonan, who was raised in Wandering River and taught at the school for 12 years before taking over as principal, says the small class sizes and the mixing of students of different ages significantly augments the educational experience. “I love this school. You create a real family atmosphere between students of different ages and you will see the older children looking out for and mentoring the younger students, which is very refreshing,” he says. “Because our community is so small, we are able to really have our students play a part in it with field trips and learning opportunities. Today, we had one of the classes visit the local seniors complex to meet the residents and learn how to sew and crochet. That’s a learning opportunity you don’t get in a big city.”

The school recently received a morning boost when TransCanada began work on a construction camp near Wandering River to build the Grand Rapids Pipeline, a 460-kilometre (287 mile) oil and diluent pipeline system connecting the producing area northwest of Fort McMurray, Alta., to terminals in the Edmonton/Heartland region.

“Giving back to the communities where we operate is part of our everyday culture and has been for over 60 years. Whether it’s partnering with community groups, supporting local initiatives or encouraging our employees to be involved in their neighbourhoods, our involvement contributes to the development of strong and vibrant communities where we operate,” said Greg Bridgewater, director of the Grand Rapids Pipeline Project at TransCanada. “So when we began establishing our camp near Wandering River, as part of our work with local county officials we reached out to the community to see how we could provide assistance.”

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