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The Mount Academy opening second Island campus next year in new facility in North Rustico

Kenny MacDougall, headmaster at The Mount Academy, explains plans for a new campus in North Rustico for its grades 9-12 students to Keefe Marshall and Meg Aiken Thursday in Charlottetown.
Kenny MacDougall, headmaster at The Mount Academy, explains plans for a new campus in North Rustico for its grades 9-12 students to Keefe Marshall and Meg Aiken Thursday in Charlottetown. - Jason Malloy • The Guardian

The Mount Academy is expanding to North Rustico.

The Charlottetown-based private university-preparatory school, which also has athletic teams, will move its grades 9-12 programs to the new North Star Arena and Wellness Facility in 2022 through a 10-year lease agreement. The academy will have access to an Olympic-size ice surface as well as dedicated classrooms, dressing rooms, administration, cafeteria and fitness facilities to support its programs.

The academy’s grades 6-8 programs will remain at the current location at the Mount Continuing Care property on Mount Edward Road.

“We’re at capacity here,” headmaster Kenny MacDougall said from the Charlottetown school on Thursday.

Moving the older students to North Rustico will provide more space, seats and enhanced program opportunities for future growth and diversity for the academy’s middle school population. It could also see the academy someday expand to elementary school grades in Charlottetown.

“You’re trying to develop a continuous educational path for kids so when they come in, they can see their educational experiences right through,” MacDougall said.

The federal, provincial and municipal governments announced a $9.8-million Olympic-size ice surface and wellness centre in July to replace the 50-year-old North Star Arena. The academy reached out to the town to see if they were interested in working together.

North Rustico Mayor Heather McKenna calls the partnership a “win-win situation” with the academy finding its needed space while providing a revenue source for the new complex.

“This will result in the facility being used during a time that it would normally be inactive, (which) will create new and consistent revenue streams for the new facility and will lead to the creation of several meaningful employment opportunities,” she said in a release. “The Town of North Rustico and the North Star Arena board of directors are very excited to embark down this new journey in collaboration with the Mount Academy. The addition of the Mount Academy’s program will create a more economically sustainable facility and we are thrilled and eager to work with one another to make this a success for everyone involved.”

The partnership means the new facility will be expanded by 6,000 square feet to 53,000 square feet and the project cost will increase by about $1 million. Construction is expected to begin in early March and be complete in December. The arena, which serves 13 communities including North Rustico, is expected to earn just shy of $2 million in revenue during the life of the 10-year agreement with the academy.

Did you know?

• The Mount Academy is also an accredited Hockey Canada Sports School and strong advocate for the Duke of Edinburgh program.
• It offers skill development programs in soccer and golf, as well as flexible training programs for students involved in individual sports and activities.
• It has a wellness program for academic-minded students who see the benefit of daily physical activity but are not necessarily elite athletes or drawn to one specific sport.
• This year, wellness students will experience a variety of sporting and non-sporting activities including hiking, biking, yoga, soccer, fencing, football, horseback riding, kayaking, meditation and nutrition.

Currently, the academy has work trailers outside Cody Banks Arena in Charlottetown to store some of its equipment.

“The ability to move into a brand-new facility with dedicated dressing rooms, dedicated teaching space, dedicated office space, full-service cafeteria all under one roof is extremely beneficial for our programming,” MacDougall said.

Meg Aiken, a Grade 11 student from Charlottetown, has been at the Mount since it opened four years ago and said it will be nice to have everything together.

“We’ve had a lot of homes over the years and it will be nice to have a permanent one that we can just kind of relax in and know that we’re there for good,” she said.

The academy started in 2017 with 21 Island students and now has more than 100 students from Canada, the United States, Europe and China plus 15 staff. MacDougall called it “controlled growth” and noted Thursday’s announcement is the next step in its growth plan.

“I think it speaks to offering quality education and then being able to provide high-quality hockey-related, athletic experiences for kids,” he said. “We're beginning to become a destination.”

The academy has received more interest in January than in any previous year.

“It’s unprecedented the number of inquiries, applications and people reaching out,” he said. “I think families are looking at P.E.I. as a safe location.”


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