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New year, new schools for Catholic students in Simcoe County


The first day of school for Catholic students Wednesday included an added first for those attending St. Charles in Bradford and St. Cecilia in Alliston.

"We love it. I actually got a tour yesterday. It's really beautiful inside, [with] a lot of natural light. We're very happy about it. And we're so close, within walking distance," said mom Christina Knowlton.

The Catholic school board hasn't had two schools open in the same time frame since the early 2000s.

St. Cecilia's principal, May Boucher, said everyone was delighted to start the school year at the new facility.

"It was wonderful to have the energy of the staff and students in our building today and all the smiling faces that joined us this morning. Parents were thrilled, and so were our staff and students."

Construction on the schools began in June 2021 after both locations were approved.

St. Charles' school principal noted the shift from a school with seven portables "to right now, all of our students are in the building," said Cassandra Medve-Racine.

The Bradford elementary school has seen a 40 per cent increase in enrolment since June, with 120 new students. Seven additional classroom teachers were hired, plus extra support staff.

"We are able to actually accommodate the need right now and will continue to grow," Medve-Racine added.

Crews are demolishing the former school building for a new field to be put in its place.

Meanwhile, as students settle into classrooms for what is anticipated to be a return to a normal school year, the Catholic board is offering help to families in need amid a reported rise in children's mental health issues.

The increase comes after years of instability and the cancellations of extracurricular activities spurred by the pandemic.

The Catholic board offers several programs to support students, including videos, podcasts, and consultations.

Complete information and access to these services, are available online.

With files from CTV's Kraig Krause Top Stories

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