For Jeff Hanson, it seems like just yesterday he was standing on a mound of gravel trying to picture what his new school would look like.
“Honestly, at the time, I thought I could picture it, but I did not picture this,” the vice principal of Rosedale community traditional school said as he looked out one of the upper level classroom windows to a bird’s eye view of the community.
“It’s more incredible than I could have possibly imagined.”
The new kindergarten to Grade 9 school, which is located on the old middle school grounds, officially opens to its students on Jan. 3.
The Progress was invited in for an advanced tour.
“Our teachers have been itching to get in here and you can’t blame them,” said Hanson.
The new facility is 7,500 square metres, with two levels, and has a capacity for 510 students. That’s almost double the square metres of the two old schools combined, and space for approximately 70 more students than the school currently has registered.
While the new classrooms are smaller than the old ones, the storage space is more abundant with built-in cubby holes, shelves, and additional space behind the whiteboards. Most also have a wall of windows that are equipped with electronic steel shutters to cut down on glare, or darken the room if needed.
Specialty teachers were allowed input into the design of their classrooms. The art teacher requested additional windows for natural light in her room, the librarian determined where the book stacks would be built, and the music room was designed to accommodate both music and academic courses with insulated walls, floors made of specialized rubber, and 25 large baffles hanging from the ceiling to manage the acoustics in the room – just the way the music teacher had wanted.
“These teachers now have a space they have ownership of,” said outgoing principal Todd McLean.
Being true to B.C. roots, the new school is a wood lover’s dream. Some rooms have massive, exposed wood beams; nearly every wall is detailed with slats of wood accents; and many of the ceilings also have hanging wood slats.
In the hallways, ceilings are detailed with bulkheads that follow the pattern of the curved, red lines in the polished cement floor.
“You could resemble [the lines] to a river flowing, the only thing is, it’s not a blue river, it’s red, our school colour,” said Hanson.
But it’s the space in the hallways that most are talking about.
“It’s one of the first things people notice, look at the room, look at how wide the hallways are,” said Hanson. “They’re shocked at how wide they are. Even upstairs, in the middle school classroom wing, where there’s lockers, there’s still a lot of space.”
The school facility isn’t the only thing sparkling new. The athletic fields have also been upgraded.
The field used to be “almost like a swamp land,” said Hanson. “It was an awful, slushy, muddy, hole-infested field,” that most times couldn’t be used from November to April.
But now, there are two official-sized soccer pitches; one that is sand-based, which will allow for better drainage, and the other that has been risen above the flood plain.
The basketball courts have also been resurfaced, and three official sized tennis courts have been built.
“I’ve heard so many things about how Rosedale used to be a booming community, hustling and bustling,” said Hanson. But over the years, the community has grown tired.
Hanson believes the new community school could change that.
“This place could really become a community hub,” said Hanson. “I just think when people really understand what’s here, that they’ve got so much right here at their fingertips, they’re going to come.”
Demolition of the old Rosedale middle school will commence in January, and demolition of the two-storey section of the old elementary school will also take place sometime in the new year.See related story: Rosedale elementary, a walk down memory lane