The francophone school board is raising funds to upgrade the gymnasium at Ecole Allain St-Cyr, which is currently being built, into a fully-equipped performance space for Yellowknife’s French-speaking community.Since January, the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest has raised about $71,000, and is nearly half-way to reaching its ultimate goal of $150,000, superintendent Yvonne Careen said recently.

Nearly 30 years after being built, Ecole Allain St-Cyr is finally getting its own gymnasium. photo courtesy of Comission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest

The gym’s construction budget is not enough to cover stage lights, a sound system and an electronic projector screen and other special features.

Those are needed to elevate the new gym into a cutting-edge theater space and community hub – hence the fund-rasing campaign.

The commission’s efforts are paying off.

Yellowknife Motors has donated $20,000, which will pay for a new scoreboard; a private donor has given $5,000 and has promised to match that donation with a second gift of the same amount if the commission reaches its funding goal; and Sombe K’e Dental and Overlander Sports have each donated $1,000.

“We know that a lot of parents and family members and staff members and friends of the francophone community have contributed through the GoFundMe page, so that’s great,” said Careen.

Ecole Allain St-Cyr opened in 1989 but has never had its own gymnasium, said Careen.

Most recently, she said, students have been doing physical education at the gym at William McDonald Middle School, the gymnastics club, the Multiplex and other spaces around town.

The school’s first-ever gym will be 475 square metres with a slanted ceiling that will be seven metres at one end and nine metres at the other.

The addition to the building on Taylor Road will also come with a stage area.

 

‘A community space’

“Why the lighting and the sound system is very important is that it will become a community space for the francophone community mostly, but for the community at large,” said Careen.

“Besides the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, NACC, to do major productions in a theater, there’s very few venues in town. (NACC) is the only one, really, where you can host a sizable crowd.”

The school is also getting three new kitchens that will be available for use outside of school hours and for classes, weddings or other events.

Careen said the commission has been working on the expansion of Ecole Allain St-Cyr for 13 years.

“The students and the parents have been more than patient,” she said.

The gym’s grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 7.

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