Pitt River middle staff and students move into brand new school

"I was just kidding about the slippers."

Pitt River principal Todd ClerksonPitt River middle studentsWith his tongue somewhat in cheek, principal Todd Clerkson urged his Pitt River students to take care of their brand new middle school while also cherishing the history of their former school in a ceremony held Monday to mark the opening of the $20 million seismic rebuild.

"This should be a real memorable day for you guys," Clerkson said, as he welcomed staff, guests and 450 students into the large new gym with its shiny floor, Voyageurs logo and mural , iPod plug ins and a bank of windows letting in the natural light.

In an earlier leaving ceremony at the old building Clerkson promised students would get slippers with their name on them to wear to avoid scratching the gym floor. As he prepared them for the move, Clerkson reminded students that generations of people have attended the school, including hometown hero Terry Fox.

Lorne Lambert, who has taught music at the Port Coquitlam school for 34 years, played Auld Lang Syne on his sax for students and shared with The News his mixed feelings about leaving the old school.

"I think I had my tears at Christmas concerts," Lambert said while also acknowledging that he is looking forward to getting his new room in order and welcoming students in to the high-ceilinged acoustically-designed space that opens onto an outdoor plaza and amphitheater.

"Here, I am focused and excited," Lambert said.

Students Josh Caldwell, Taylor Kristmanson and Michael Wikinson said they were pleased with the new building with its polished concrete floors, high ceilings, wood details, flexible spaces and high-tech equipment.

After they found their classroom on the second floor, Kristmanson and Wilkinson said they liked the open feeling of the building and the technology, including a projector in their room that is linked to the internet. "It feels like a high school or university," Kristmanson said.

Carrying her baby in her arms, French Immersion Grade 6-7 teacher Stephanie Kurylow said she was delighted to visit the school during her maternity leave and was impressed with what she saw. "To finally have a building for these amazing kids is spectacular."

Clerkson was given a gold hardhat for his work planning the new building and said some work was still needed to finish some trim details. Overall he thought the move was successful and students were proud of the building that accommodated many of their needs and desires into the design.

In addition to the large gym, woodworking room, band room and community spaces, the new Pitt River middle school has moveable walls and brightly-coloured open spaces where teachers and students can collaborate.


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