Sioux North High School on track, and on budget, for January opening
Tim Brody - Editor
Sioux North High School is a building which has been designed to deliver nothing but the best according to its principal, Wayne Mercer.
Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) trustees and senior administration, along with members of the media, toured the building last month and, throughout the tour, could be heard remarking on all of the features the state of the art building boasts.
The $30 million project, which remains on budget according to the KPDSB, is anticipated to be ready for students and staff to move into in January.
The school board expects to take occupancy of the building in November.
The new school will accommodate more than 500 students with 23 classrooms and a building footprint of 6,003m2.
Features of the building the KPDSB highlighted include:
Large windows and glass features allowing for plenty of natural light and an openness throughout the building, including rooftop solar tubes that allow light into areas of the school without exterior windows.
A large multi-purpose cafeteria/auditorium with full dramatic arts capabilities, including telescopic seating, integrated lighting, an elevated stage, and a sophisticated sound system. The cafetorium is located in an arts program cluster to allow close proximity for music program delivery, food services, visual arts and other events/activities.
New equipment for shop classes, science labs, communication labs and food and nutrition programs
Spaces for partners right in the new building, including Confederation College and FIREFLY. The new school is also next door to Sioux Mountain Public School, creating a community hub for education and support services.
Tunable LED lighting throughout the building that matches the suns colour temperature changes throughout the day.
In-floor radiant heating throughout the building (one of the most energy efficient methods of heating a facility in colder climates) which allows for displacement ventilation methods that provide constant fresh air supplies to all areas of the building.
New landscaping, roadways and parking.
KPDSB Director of Education Sean Monteith commented following the tour, “Bringing the senior administrative team, media and trustees through on a tour of the brand new facility is a sense of a significant achievement, but I don’t think we’re going to feel the true sense of accomplishment until we’re in there for business, but it was a real good insight into where we are. It’s hard not to feel proud. Some of us have been part of this conversation way back when it was just a figment of imagination and a bit of a dream and it is now almost reality.”
He added, “We’re about 95 per cent of the way there. We’ve got a little more to go and we’ve always maintained from the beginning, I certainly have, with the staff, that we are in it for the long haul and we are going to see this project right through to the end.”
This was Mercer’s third time touring the building.
“You really get the sense of the building now. The walls are up. The drywall is going on, there’s fresh paint going on the walls. You get the sense this is becoming more and more real and closer to completion, which generates excitement,” he shared.
“What I’m most excited about is the fact that we have a very modern facility. There are things when you’re in a modern facility that you can take for granted. We will learn to really appreciate having these modern conveniences,” he added.
Mercer further commented, “There’s a very strong growing interest in esthetics and we were able to get one of our rooms converted into an esthetics classroom. Our science labs will definitely see a significant tech upgrade to where they are right now…. The modern facility just improves the capacity for instruction for kids.”
Mercer said tunable lighting will complement the large number of windows the new high school has.
“In addition to all of the glass and the windows that bring natural light into the school, we also have something new that’s being installed into a number of schools in our board and it will be incorporated into this new building, which is tunable lighting. Tunable lighting is programmable and can actually change hues with the day so that it creates a better environment for learning. Florescent lights, there’s not too much you can do with them… you find teachers sometimes shutting them off because kids get headaches with them, so the ambiance of the learning environment, our board has spared no expense in terms of making our learning environment more comfortable for our students and our staff.”
The school will feature a larger gym than Queen Elizabeth District High School.
Another major feature of the new high school is the cafetorium, a room which can be converted to, or from, a cafeteria or an auditorium.
With the telescopic seating extended, and a few rows of chairs placed in the front row, Mercer said the space will be able to offer seating for 220 to 240 people.
The stage area is located at ground level and doors open right onto it, making for easy set up and tear down of music equipment and sets.
“The shop programs will have a significant upgrade in terms of the equipment they have access to. For example we’re putting in 3D printing systems. We’ve acquired a four foot plasma cutting table,” Mercer said.
Another feature of the school which had people talking was the new library space.
“The libraries of 20 years ago are not the libraries of today. They’re changing… the availability of information is not always on the stacks anymore, it is available online. Part of our job is to help kids acquire information online and be able to determine the validity of the information,” Mercer shared.
“Our vision around this library is that it would be more a learning commons… books will still be a component of it… We have the Connected North system there. Students can do virtual field trips all over the world through that, whether it be a field trip to the International Space Station or a field trip to an art museum… we can go beyond our walls for learning, using technology.”
Mercer summed up his thoughts about the new building, stating, “Our kids are absolutely set up for success.”