FMPSD Celebrates Christina Gordon and Dave McNeilly Public School Grand Openings

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October 2, 2017 was a big day for the Fort McMurray Public School District (FMPSD)! We celebrated the grand openings of Christina Gordon Public School, and Dave McNeilly Public School.

Dave McNeilly Public School, located in Parsons Creek North - Timberlea, was named after well-known community leader Dave McNeilly. He was the first principal of Dr. K.A. Clark Elementary School in 1968. An active volunteer in the community, Mr. McNeilly was awarded the Golden Years Society “Male Senior of the Year Award,” and championed the region on many fronts.

Mrs. Vivian McNeilly, along with her family members was in attendance for the celebration. MLA Tany Yao, FMPSD Trustees as well as leaders were also on hand. Gary McNeilly, brought greetings on behalf of his family.

“Our dad loved Fort McMurray fiercely. He saw a leader in every student, and would have loved this school with its focus on the “Leader in Me,” program cultivating student leaders. He was a passionate advocate for education. Thank you for this honour. We know this will be a great school,” McNeilly said.

Roxanne Fudge, Principal, Dave McNeilly Public was jubilant at the event.

“This is a culmination of a lot of hard work and excitement from our staff, students and community. We are so proud to open this beautiful facility, which is so well-received,” said Fudge about the school, which has 110 students, and growing.

Outgoing FMPSD Board Chair, Jeff Thompson, congratulated students, parents and staff on both grand openings.

“I want to thank the Ministry for making the grand openings possible. Schools get promised to communities long before they are built. Our schools are here to serve students, parents, and the needs of the community. Thank you everyone involved in making this great day happen for our District,” Chair Thompson said.

Both elementary schools were delayed due to the wildfires last year. Christina Gordon, however, operated at Timberlea Public as a school within a school. The grand opening was then a long-awaited milestone, as shared by Principal Rick Thorne.

“We are so happy to host all of you today. This June we had 155 students, and now we have 343. There is so much to celebrate. Our students are amazing. They are spirited, kind, and caring towards each other, the community, and the world through the global education they receive. We are excited to finally be in our building.”

Christina Gordon Public School was named after the first non-Aboriginal woman in Fort McMurray. She moved here from Scotland in 1906, and operated a trading post with her brother, while championing education.

Superintendent Doug Nicholls was delighted with both grand opening celebrations.

“These two new schools set up our District for the future.  With over 40% of the District’s student population in Early Childhood programs and in grades one through three, we are well positioned for future growth. The buildings are amazing and will serve our community for decades.”

Both schools were built by Bird Construction. Dave McNeilly cost $22.1-million and Christina Gordon $20.3-million.


Doing What’s Best for Kids at the Fort McMurray Public School District. For more information on any of our 16 schools, visit: For real time updates: follow us on Twitter: @FMPSD @DougNicholls2 and like us on Facebook: Fort McMurray Public School District. We are also on Instagram @FMPSD.


Christina Gordon Public School ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Mrs. Vivian McNeilly (middle) wife of the late Dave McNeilly was in attendance for the ribbon-cutting.


Kiran Malik-Khan is the Communications Manager for the Fort McMurray Public School District, and national award-winning communications professional. She is a freelance journalist, a communications professional, and a poet. She loves sharing stories about unique people, events, and organizations. Kiran is the co-founder and volunteer public relations director for NorthWord magazine, Fort McMurray's first and only literary magazine. She is also the President/Co-founder of World Hijab Day Fort McMurray. A proud Pakistani-Canadian who grew up in New Jersey, she is a fierce advocate of Fort McMurray, multiculturalism, women's rights, and equality for all. Got a story nobody is telling? Send her ideas: DM and follow on Twitter @KiranMK0822.