The first of a trio of new schools to open this year in School District 43 was greeted with whoops, a few complaints and a lot of excitement on Monday morning.
Moody middle school Grade 6 to 8 students got their first look at their new school of the arts with tours, a barbecue and an official grand opening.
“We’re excited because so far we have no clue what it looks like inside,” said Daleela Vezzani, a Grade six student as she entered the new $28.7 million building.
Students were greeted by principal Trevor Kolkea who welcomed them to the new facility, with its light and airy architecture, flexible spaces and outdoor play areas.
“We’re letting go of that old building a little bit to make way for new experiences,” said Kolkea during a morning assembly.
Designed by Omicron Architects and Olivit Construction, the new school is a three-storey structure with a full gym, classes for explorations, a learning commons with a technology lab, a large outdoor patio and amphitheater, maple wood details and lots of light.
A catwalk leads to the Neighbourhood Learning Centre which will open when arrangements have been made for the community agencies that will be the tenants.
Devon Ross, principal of facilities initiatives, pointed out details that one might ordinarily miss but that create a comfortable environment: a nearby greenbelt will moderate temperatures, scrubbable linoleum that looks like carpet has been used for soundproofing in the music room, rooms open to make them larger, some with sliding doors that open onto the hallway to promote collaboration, an elevator makes the school fully accessible, wireless portals have been installed so there are no dead zones for the internet and classrooms look out to the mountains or the nearby forest.
“We take best practices in educational design, and do research, to come up with a plan,” Ross said, noting that proximity to a green belt with Dallas Creek will bring the school closer to nature.
Principal Kolkea agreed that the school’s environment will be key to learning and the many outdoor spaces will be used for gatherings and projects.
Four oak trees will also be planted to remind students of their time at Moody middle, while an accessible outdoor playground to be built with a $105,000 provincial grant will keep the students active.
Some students expressed complaints about the size of the lockers, but for the most part appeared to be thrilled about the new building while teacher Tibor Budai said it was like exchanging an old Pinto car for a new Lamborghini.
“It’s like moving into a new house,” Budai commented.
Two other new schools will soon open, the new Smiling Creek elementary in Burke Mountain is scheduled to open in September and Banting middle school on the west side of Coquitlam will open later in the fall.