Youngstown Greenhouse School of Excellence shows promise

Youngstown School is proposing their School of Excellence be a Greenhouse. ECA Review/Submitted
Written by Terri Huxley

Although they haven’t sealed the deal just yet as more deliberations and business plans are followed through, the Youngstown School of Excellence is showing promise in its scope both locally and internationally.

Principal Ron Davies and Kent Spath presented the newly proposed school of excellence theme to Prairie Land School Division trustees on Tues. March 23.

Community has been a central theme involved in the innovation and investigation of this entrepreneurial, hands-on learning experience.

Weekly meetings for the past eight weeks have helped steer the conversation between parents, community members, students and staff at Youngstown School.

A multitude of ideas were introduced to trustees including micro-businesses (selling flowers and vegetables for example), hydroponics, aquaponics, horticulture, solar power, soil testing, beekeeping, tree campaigns, composting, partnerships with local experts including CARA research facility in Oyen, and creating a local curriculum specifically for the greenhouses.

On the international front, the idea of having 100 students from around the world has been said to be realistic in providing first-class ‘cutting edge’ education and bringing more people to the prairies.

With five million acres of grasslands within Special Areas, it was felt the idea of making room for science experiments possibly partnered with the government on quantifying carbon and carbon sequestration was something to look at as well.

Davies envisions this program as one that should be leading in research and engagement with students while being sustainable and growing economically.

His goals, in alignment with the community conversations, aim to have students be engaged thinkers, ethical citizens and hold an entrepreneurial spirit as learning is often best done by hands-on experience.

The idea of a greenhouse as their school of excellence came after thinking of ways that would bring the community and school together on something important to them through a shared vision; a vision of economic growth and student involvement.

Davies said that the school is lacking in terms of complimentary classes so this program of studies will hold so many more opportunities for all age groups.

In Grade 1 students begin learning about bees and their contributions to the ecosystem.

A price tag of $370,405 is estimated to install the greenhouse with all needed utility services.

Davies asked the board to consider entering into an agreement with the greenhouse committee to provide 50 per cent of the cost while the remaining 50 would be up to the committee and grant funding.

It would take 24 days to install the aluminum structure at 8,400 square feet.

Volunteers will most likely be utilized to install the frame but a technical consultant would also be on site to ensure it is done properly.

The principal shared that out of the two options they looked at in Calgary and Okotoks, the greenhouse by Sprung Structures was ideal for what they wanted and aesthetically pleasing that people travelling along Highway 9 might stop in to see what the place is all about.

If the project is approved by Prairie Land, Principal Davies expects the greenhouse to be up and running by July 5 and have its grand opening by Sept. 6.

A full business plan will be introduced at the trustee’s next meeting to dive further into specifics before giving a yay or nay on moving forward with this project.

The Neutral Hills Baseball Academy based in Veteran and Consort was the first of these ‘school of excellence’ initiatives.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.