GRANDE PRAIRE, B.C. – The Whispering Ridge Community School (WRCS) has welcomed back approximately 120 playschool and Grade 1 students displaced by fire last spring.

The students were relocated to Grande Prairie Alliance Church in April 2021 after a fire destroyed two modular classrooms and damaged three more. This Monday, the students returned.

Abby Stilwell, assistant principal at WRCS, said that she is thankful to the Grande Prairie Alliance Church who “welcomed students with open arms and made them feel like family”.

“Their facility has allowed us to utilize beautiful learning spaces right here in our own community, which has meant the world to us and our families,” said Stilwell.

She also sent her thanks, “to the county fire departments who responded to the fire and donated thousands of dollars’ worth of replacement toys and items, and to the Clairmont Community School for lending us furniture to set up temporary classrooms at the church and for offering to provide classrooms if we needed them.”

The school noted parents rallied together as well to collect donations.

New modular units were installed and attached to the school late last year.

Kayla Klava, of Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) communications department, told the News the cause of fire is still under investigation. She said the cost of damages has yet to be determined.

The school said WINMAR helped with the restoration of the damaged classrooms, aided by  PWPSD staff who ensured students were returning to like-new conditions this week, said Klava.

Whispering Ridge was built in 2018 and houses 649 students from preschool to Grade 8.