Fire crews work the Fort McMurray fire in Alberta.

Fort Mac students join EMCS

The students, both brothers, will resume their studies in grades nine and 11, while staying with their grandmother in Sooke.

Edward Milne Community School will have more students join their ranks soon, as two students from the fire-battered city of Fort McMurray make their way to Sooke.

The students, both brothers, will resume their studies in grades nine and 11, respectively, while staying with their grandmother in Sooke, said EMCS principal Patrick Swinburnson.

“The grandmother phoned me, and said, ‘Can you make room for my two grandsons?’ I said, ‘We sure can.’”

Not that this kind of thing happens very often.

Swinburnson said mid-May is an unusual time of the year to take students in, particularly in a semester system, though there are exceptions.

“If circumstances were normal, we’d be saying, ‘No, this isn’t a good idea to come to high school at this time of year,’ but in this circumstance, we welcome them with open arms, for sure,” he said.

The students will meet with EMCS councillors for a debriefing and to figure out the best way to continue their studies.

“We don’t have their [school] records, so we’ll just have to go by the word of mouth as best we can to schedule them into some classes that will keep them engaged and go from there,” Swinburnson said.

“We’re assuming they’ll finish the year off with us, but it’s hard to tell at this point.”

Following her tour of Fort McMurray, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said despite the loss of 2,400 structures, major infrastructure, such as the hospital, municipal buildings and all the schools have been saved.

Still, the city is not deemed safe. Not yet, anyway.

Efforts to support the recovery of thousands of displaced Alberta residents continue at EMCS, noted Swinburnson.

“We have two of our leadership students doing a bake sale on Friday, with all proceeds going to Fort Mac,” he said, adding that the way it’s set up, everything the students make from the sales will be tripled, thanks to the District of Sooke’s decision to match donations up to $5,000. On top of that, those funds will be equally matched by federal and provincial governments, so triple the donation.

“It’s nice to be able to help,” Swinburnson said.