School remains open with ag at its centre

ROUND HILL, Alta. — A central Alberta school will now revolve around agriculture after school trustees voted to keep the school open.

Battle River School Division trustees voted five to three to keep the Round Hill School open and allow the Round Hill Renaissance Agriculture Program group to develop an agriculture-based program at the school.

“We are ecstatic that we managed to get a yes vote,” said Nicola Irviing, a community member involved in the program.

Irving said their win was bittersweet after the school division voted to close nearby schools in Hardisty and Holden during the March 19 meeting.

“We’re happy and sad at the same time.”

The coronavirus COVID19 has created some uncertainty in the group’s plans. Originally, the group planned to begin the community garden this spring to ensure vegetables for the community and school in the fall.

“That is a bit of an unknown,” Irving said.

Once the exact location of the farm is finalized, possibly on school property, they will begin working with the community, teachers and the school board to develop the program.

Because the new agriculture program falls under alternative programming all decisions must be approved by the school board.

The group proposed having a 4-H type calf program with students in charge of feeding the animals each day, planting a community garden, hatching chicks and raising the chickens and a variety of other agriculture-focused programs at their school.

Kyle Nahirniak, a local farmer and program organizer said community members and agriculture enthusiasts have contacted him to offer their support.

“I think there will be a lot of people gravitating to what we are doing,” he said.

Nahirniak said while the vote was not unanimous, the trustees recognized their unique proposal and gave them a chance to keep their school open.

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