For the past year and more Trevor Kolkea, the principal at Moody middle, has met with teachers Jane Ono and Karen Ferguson to work on the look for the new Port Moody school.
When School District 43 picked Moody to be its first School of the Arts, in 2013, it was hoped the shovels would be in the ground by the following year.
But because of fiscal restraints, that didn’t happen; however, the extra time did allow the Moody team — along with the city and Omicron, the architects — to dream big and to work on the smaller details for the new school on St. Johns Street.
The committee envisioned the building at the back of the campus, close to the riparian area, that would fit into the forest with West Coast elements.
They conceptualized a wave wood roof with a garden on top for students to grow plants and flowers for, perhaps, science experiments. And they also looked at constructing the school into the slope so, when viewed from St. Johns — the main drag through Moody Centre — the three-storey glass structure would appear to have just one level despite being nearly 5,500 square metres in total size.
Inside, they came up with uniquely shaped hallways that would lead the 450 students in grades 6 to 8 into the classrooms on each floor for pod and flex learning. They also designed it so there was room to grow, too, to accommodate up to 600 children.
But key to the $24-million school was the inclusion of a Neighbourhood Learning Centre, a space where the community could practise the arts.
Kolkea said the school and city have been brainstorming about what that area will look like when the school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017, when the current Grade 6 class starts Grade 8.
Staff have been working with the Port Moody Arts Centre and other arts leaders to find out what kind of studios would be best suited for the space. “It’ll come down to interest and availability,” Kolkea said.
In the meantime, Kolkea, who was the first principal of the rebranded EMMSOTA — an acronym for École Moody Middle School of the Arts — has begged patience from the 291 students and their parents since construction started two months ago after trustees awarded the building tender to Olivit Construction.
On the school’s website, he’s posted weekly updates for the public to follow along the progress. The fence went up Oct. 13 while “D” Building came down Nov. 5. A truck tire washing bay was installed last week. Parking has become a challenge.
“The landscaped has changed,” he said, gazing at the site last week, “but we are really happy at how the students are adapting…. Any inconvenience is welcome if we are moving forward.”
And moving on they are. After Phase 1 went into effect last year (a move that saw three-quarters of the student population immigrate to the newly built Eagle Mountain middle in Anmore), Phase 2 has become almost a relief (the current building doesn’t meet earthquake standards).
Still, there is a Phase 3 that’s at least three years away from being realized.
School trustees voted last year to place the new Moody elementary at the northern portion of the campus, along St. Johns Street, using revenue from surplus land sales.
That $15-million building for 450 kids, along with the addition this year of the Strong Start program at Moody middle, will mean a child would be able to complete his or her elementary years on one site.
“It’s a dream come true for an educator to see such an easy transition for the student,” Kolkea said.
As for the new School of the Arts, Kolkea hopes to be in the line to cut the ceremonial red ribbon in September 2017. “I plan to be around to open the doors,” he said with a smile.
Moody middle first opened as a high school in 1952 as a replacement for Port Moody Central School; however, it burned down in 1969 and rebuilt the following year.
Three years later, in 1973, it transformed into a junior high school and, in 1997, was renamed to Moody middle.
To follow the construction progress for the new School of the Arts, use the Twitter handle @43moody.