By LAUREN THOMSON Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 3, 2021.
Monsignor McCoy is the only high school in Medicine Hat without a theatre, but the stage is being set to make sure that doesn’t stay true for long.
David Leahy, Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education trustee, spoke with the News recently outlining plans for the facility. Leahy is also the president of the Friends of McCoy Society, which is working with the Catholic board on the project.
“The project is titled ‘The Sisters of Charity of St. Louis Centre’; we shorten that to the SCSL Centre,” said Leahy. “The project involves the construction of a 280-seat theatre, along with a number of ancillary spaces, such as dressing rooms, a workshop, a classroom, a green room and also a 4,000 square-foot physical literacy space that would be used for weight training, flexibility and mobility.”
The site is adjacent to the high school, where there are tennis courts now.
Each of the other high schools in the city have theatres and “outstanding theatre and drama programs,” something Leahy believes has led to the loss of students within the Catholic system.
“The administration has done a wonderful job in the last year or so in hiring very strong teachers in the fine arts at McCoy, so we feel with those teachers and a facility like this, we’ll really be able to provide our students with the kind of programming they need.”
Another aspect of the project is a physical literacy space, which Leahy hopes will help support good mental health.
“The aim of that space is to provide our students a space where they can go during the day and work out, or exercise, or move their bodies,” said Leahy.
“The science is quite clear, that moving your body and physical literacy helps deal with mental health challenges and issues … We do know that COVID is having a mental health impact on students and it’s going to be a longitudinal impact. We want to integrate physical literacy and movement into our high school program to enable our students to have another tool in their toolbox.”
Leahy says the space isn’t just meant for athletes.
“We want it to be a bright, colourful space where students can go and move their bodies no matter what their body type or their skill level, so they realize this is one way they can deal with their stress and some of the mental health challenges they face.”
As a result of the faith and religion within the Catholic school system, Leahy says they are called to build community. The theatre and physical literacy space is meant to be a valuable asset to the City of Medicine Hat.
“If we build this building, and it’s dark at 4 p.m. everyday, we will have failed,” said Leahy. “We want the lights on with kids and adults using this facility until 10 at night, and we want people of all ages to be able to use this facility. That’s very important to us.”
The project is in the planning and development stage with upcoming plans for fundraising.
“We’ll be appealing to the entire community of Medicine Hat to help us with this, because once again, we want athletes, performers of all levels to be able to use this facility,” Leahy explained. “We feel especially in the physical area, and the tie in with mental health, this initiative is very important to the community.”
Construction would take about 18 months to two years to complete. Plans are for the facility to be completed within the next four years.