The new École La-Belle-Cloche opens to students

The new École La-Belle-Cloche in Rollo Bay has officially opened its doors to students, parents and the Acadian community of eastern P.E.I.

The project has been eight years in the making

The $9.1 million school has been eight years in the making and is now officially open. (Julien Lacacheur/CBC)

The new École La-Belle-Cloche in Rollo Bay has officially opened its doors to students, parents and the Acadian community of eastern P.E.I.

Thursday marked the first day of classes, and the first time many are getting a chance to see the newly renovated school.

The project has been eight years in the making, with plans to build the school dating back to 2010.

It was all smiles and hugs as the new École La-Belle-Cloche opened its doors to parents, teachers and students for the first time. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"It's been such a long time coming, and it's just really important. It's going to provide the kids an awesome place for an education," said parent Melissa MacDonald, who became emotional when she walked into the school.

"My daughter actually told me she might cry happy tears, which is going to make me cry happy tears." 

Delayed opening

The school was originally supposed to open last September but structural issues delayed the opening until now.

Plans for the school began in 2010. Principal Marise Chapman says it was initially supposed to open in September 2017 but was delayed due to structural issues and additional planning. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

In the meantime, students and teachers were stuck in the old École La-Belle-Cloche in Fortune, P.E.I. Before that, they ran the school out of the nearby Department of Fisheries and Oceans office.

"We, let's say, we were extremely creative with our space. We had some offices in closets, such as mine, with no windows," said literacy coach and vice principal Geneviève Ouellette.

New renovations

The new school is made up of about 10 per cent of the original structure, formerly the Rollo Bay Consolidated school building.

The rest of the school has been completely renovated.

Ten per cent of the school remains the former Rollo Bay Consolidated school building. The rest has been completely renovated, with new classrooms, resource rooms, an auditorium, daycare and gymnasium. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The $9.1 million school boasts new classrooms, resource rooms, a new auditorium and a brand new gymnasium. It will also act as a daycare and community centre for the local Acadian community.

Marise Chapman, the principal of the school, has worked on the project since the beginning and said having this new building means being able to give her students the best education possible.

"We really wanted them to have what other students have in the province, access to the variety of courses in the right facility, in the right context," she said.

Almost at capacity

Even though the school just opened, Chapman said their numbers have already grown and that they're close to capacity.

They are also trying to raise money to have a playground built on the property.

Until then, students are spending time exploring their new school and Chapman said she's excited about the possibilities of what this new space has to offer.

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