Windsor secondary principal Adam Baumann and gala organizing committee members Nicole Dent and Jane Tom look over the artist’s rendering of the student common area. Proceeds from a dinner-dance Saturday (October 15, 2016) will go to furnishing the space. Photo by Mike Wakefield, North Shore News
By MARIA SPITALE-LEISK / NORTH SHORE NEWS
Windsor secondary students will step into a seismically safe, state-of-the-art school early in the new year.
Principal Adam Baumann unveiled details of the school’s extensive $5-million facelift to the News last week, explaining how the project’s architect worked within the existing footprint and exercised some creativity.
Construction began in summer 2015 with the renovation of a decommissioned auto body shop that has since been transformed into a new electronics lab.
A 21st-century learning perspective has been applied to the architecture of the school, with a focus on flexible learning spaces. Windsor’s upgrades are being done in tandem with the provincial curriculum overhaul and the concept of students working with bigger ideas and less prescribed learning.
Windsor’s new classroom spaces will be wider, brighter with natural light and reconfigurable to the teacher’s lesson plan, giving students a chance to spread out and digest the material in a more comfortable environment.
For example, the new science lab on the school’s top floor will be outfitted with 21st-century furnishings that are fashionable and functional. It’s out with the 30-year-old asbestos topped desks and in with comfortable and brightly coloured tables and chairs on wheels, explained Baumann. In one classroom, these “cool,” shiny red stools have backrests and a height adjustment feature.
Paramount for the upgrade project is student safety and ensuring the 55-year-old building is structurally sound. In the heart of the school, steel beams have been added in behind a bank of students’ lockers. These reinforcement measures tie into steel beams in the roof and floor of the school creating “a cocoon” or pathway to safety in the event of an earthquake.
It’s been business as usual as the school’s 935 students study in an active construction site. Swing spaces were created to house the students during the renovations, instead of bringing in portables to the school site. Some of the construction work has been timed for after-school hours.
“It’s a challenging project,” said Baumann of learning coexisting with construction. “Even though it’s not really complete, when the kids came back to school they started to see … that it’s starting to pay off.”
Another big component of the project is bringing Windsor online with the North Vancouver School District’s new wireless infrastructure. Part of 21st-century learning, said Baumann, is that technology isn’t a class you go to, but rather is integrated into the learning experience.
“We’ve had Wi-Fi for some time now in the schools, but when a class all logs on the same time, 30 students can overwhelm a digital access point,” Baumann explained, adding the new “robust” system can handle a higher amount of Internet traffic.
Windsor now has a new server room, along with new fibre optic cables spread throughout the school to help keep a consistent Internet connection.
While Windsor’s outside perimeter is all concrete, the interior of the school has new classrooms with glass walls, allowing for “more transparency about the work being done by staff and students,” said Baumann.
Each of Windsor’s three main hallways will have a “cul de sac,” or common area, for students to go to at lunch or during study breaks to work on assignments.
“We want these spaces to be comfortable and inviting but it’s also, we’re a place of business. It’s not a lounge,” said Baumann.
The Windsor parent advisory council, hoping to raise $25,000 to furnish the commons areas with tables, sofas and chairs, is hosting a dinner-dance gala on Oct. 15.
"The PAC was asked if we could help raise funds for these areas as they aren’t technically curriculum delivery areas and therefore outside the scope of the renovation," said Winsdor PAC treasurer Nicole Dent.
Three other North Vancouver schools have been identified as seismic priority projects within the next decade. Argyle has approval to start construction on a new school in 2017.
Handsworth’s project, which hasn’t been given consent yet, will follow some time in the next five years. Mountainside, meanwhile, should undergo seismic renovations in six to 10 years.
© 2016 North Shore News
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View Original Article on the North Shore News website