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The Valhalla Community School was started by a group of parents and local residents when adjustments were made to the local school boundaries in early 2008. The opportunity to start a public charter school was presented to the community. The parents and supporters in this small community northwest of Grande Prairie, Alberta, appointed a steering committee to explore and develop initiatives. This committee began a series of meetings with the stake holders in the local education system.
Three school buses were purchased and delivered to Valhalla Centre by volunteer community members. Resource materials were obtained and teachers and bus drivers hired. All this was accomplished in the space of a few months. With the help of Alberta Education, the charter process was completed and the first day of classes was September 2nd, 2008.
The Valhalla Heritage Society purchased the current school building from Peace Wapiti Public School Division. The building was renovated and a new library and community centre was added as an annex to the school.
We are now into our ninth year of operation as a rural public charter school. Since we experienced an increase in student population for the 2009/2010 year, a new bus was purchased and following that, a fifth bus, used as a spare, was bought from Peace Wapiti School Division. During the summer of 2017, we sold our spare 64-passenger bus and purchased a 24-passenger bus to better serve our students. These buses cover a wide area around Valhalla Centre during the school year and also transport students to school-sponsored events.
Public charter schools teach the regular Alberta Program of Studies, and more. They are given the task of pioneering research and innovation in education. They must have a unique and innovative idea that isn’t widely available in larger school districts. By exploring new avenues in teaching in a charter school it is anticipated that larger school districts may make use of the ideas and experiences that arise through their efforts.
Ideally, a public charter school is like an ongoing pilot project designed to improve education in our province. For more information, visit The Association Of Alberta Public Charter Schools at http://www.taacps.ca/