As Langley students prepare to head back to class next week, school district staff are getting ready to unveil details about several major projects that will help alleviate the pressures of a growing student population.
NEW HIGH SCHOOL FOR WILLOUGHBY
This month, Langley School District, along with the Ministry of Education, expect to formally announce details about a new high school to be built in Willoughby. The new secondary school was announced in June, when funds for seismic upgrades to Langley Secondary were formalized.
District acting superintendent Gord Stewart said details about the high school’s location, how much it will cost and when ground will be broken should be brought to the public soon.
In June, Aldergrove-Fort Langley MLA Rich Coleman said the new high school will be built near the Langley Events Centre.
“I’m very confident that we’ll be moving on that one once we’ve got the business plan,” he said.
Coleman said that most high schools cost between $50 million and $60 million.
As for when students will start attending classes at the new school, Coleman said it would be a few years.
“The financing will take a year, or less. Once that’s done, now you’re into designing the building and then you start breaking the ground probably within a couple years, maybe less.”
In the meantime, Mountain Secondary is bursting at the seams with 16 portables currently on school grounds. But there is room for a few more of the temporary classrooms to address the future needs of the school until the new high school opens, said Stewart.
NEW LANGLEY SECONDARY COMING
The district also plans to unveil details about what the upgraded Langley Secondary school will look like.
“We will soon be unveiling a design of what the Langley Secondary rebuild will look like,” said Stewart. “We are really excited about it. It’s a $26.2 million project.
“We will be tearing down a substantial portion of the school and creating a new learning environment for kids there.”
Langley Secondary is the district’s oldest high school.
SECOND STOREY FOR RC GARNETT
The district also hopes to announce that it will be expanding R.C. Garnett Elementary, which is currently way over capacity, with numerous portables on the school grounds.
“We want to move on it quickly,” said Stewart.
“When the school was built for 230 students, it opened over capacity so there have been portables from the beginning days. But the school was designed to accommodate a second floor and that is exactly what we want to do, maybe even by next September.”
Another announcement the district hopes to make soon relates to an outdoor school in Langley.
“We are hoping to have an outdoor school in about a year from now. This is something a number of parents have wanted us to do for some time, and we have been working really hard, looking at what other districts have done,” he said.
“We can see that Langley is set up well to do an outdoor school.”
This year also marks the first semester of the new Equestrian Academy based out of Brookswood Secondary.
“We are positioned as the horse capital of B.C., so we can see that this academy has real potential,” Stewart remarked.
While much of the concentration has been on the expanding Willoughby slope, Stewart said the district isn’t ignoring the rest of the schools in the district.
“It’s nice to pump up Willoughby, but the rest of the schools may be asking, ‘What about the rest of us?’ We are using surplus money to better shape classrooms and spaces to closely match 21st century learning.”
CLASSROOMS GET NEW LOOK
Stewart said the district has been in talks with administration and teachers, asking what they need to match the new curriculum and new way of teaching.
This can mean new furnishings or creating work stations, different outdoor equipment or use of space, to a simple coat of paint or a new white board. One teacher asked for new furnishing to create a safe space for primary students who are having a hard time self-regulating.
“A teacher may want a station where a student can go and take some time to refocus.
Self regulation is a big component to the learning environment this year,” he said.
So is collaborative learning.
Slowly the look of the traditional classroom, the sight of rows of desks and a teacher lecturing at the front of the room will be eliminated, said Stewart. Now classroom spaces are set up in pods, with work stations, allowing students to work in group projects and collaboratively.
That can mean getting chairs on wheels and tables that can be pushed together or set aside for open learning.