G.W. Graham principal says school expansion provides new learning opportunities

A 450-seat add-on will let the school run innovative programs that require more space

G.W. Graham principal Chuck Lawson is a happy man this week.

The just-announced expansion at his high school is targeted to open in September of 2022, and he said more educational doors will be opened when the new space is available.

“We’re going to have up to 10 portables next year (2020-21), and the challenge with those is that they really dictate the type of learning that happens,” he said. “That’s good for certain types of learning. I can put a French class in there. But while we have space for kids, but it’s not purposeful for specialty programs.

“Our crunch comes with hands-on learning. As an example, I have two food rooms and I easily have enough requests to have three going full time.”

Another example is the Trade Sampler program, which is done in partnership with the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) and industry and allows students to gain skills and experience in construction, welding, plumbing and electrical.

“We’re really excited about that, but what I need as a learning space for that is a big open shop where kids can do their framing and other things, and build sort of a mini home if you will. Our current shops have table saws and other equipment throughout.”

READ MORE: Expansion announced for G.W. Graham secondary

READ MORE: GW Graham celebrates athletic excellence with annual awards

Lawson said the plan is to build two shops being added. While one is being built with the Trade Sampler in mind, the other might be used for a Mechatronics program. Mechatronics is a branch of engineering that involves robotics.

“We’ve been going to Burnaby, Mission and New Westminster to check out other programs, and now that we have the space allocated we’re putting together a vision for that,” Lawson said. “Now we can marry the science experience with the shop experience in electronics and machining. There are a lot of elements that can be combined in that one.”

With all the development happening around G.W. Graham, expansion was a must, if only to alleviate overcrowding.

Lawson sees the school eventually having 1,400 to 1,500 students. The population for September 2020 is projected at 1,275.

“Having close to 1,300 kids in the school, you definitely feel it,” Lawson observed. “There are bottlenecks. We have different spots that aren’t built for that many people, and the flow through the hallways comes to a halt.”

The G.W. Graham expansion comes with a price tag of $23.9 million, and as Lawson indicated it checks off a lot of boxes on his administrative wish list.

“You can always look at more, I guess, but it does put us in a very good place for some exciting learning opportunities,” he said. “We have been planning for this, putting money aside for equipment so that once we have that space available we’ll be able to maximize its use.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

chilliwackChilliwack School District

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack-Kent Liberal riding association president resigns

Sandy Mathies resignation follows MLA Laurie Throness LGBTQ controversies

Vedder River gets reprieve from gravel removal this summer

Applications withdrawn by river management committee and process concluded for 2020

Missing blood python named Nexxus returns home

‘He was just chillin’ like the villain he is,’ says owner after snake went on adventure in Chilliwack

Chilliwack FC hires Mark Lillicrap to oversee COVID return-to-play guidelines

Lillicrap will serve as CFC’s first-ever Health and Safety Officer

Huge month for Chilliwack real estate in July

Average selling price up 12 per cent with sales numbers not seen since boom of 2017

STANDING TALL: For some, B.C.’s forest industry is the best office in the world

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Royal B.C. Museum wants B.C.’s COVID-19 nature observations

COVID-19 Collecting For Our Time: ongoing project cataloguing province’s pandemic experience

Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

For every dollar the province spends the federal government will match

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Oh baby, what a birthday gift: $2.8M raised to help B.C. boy with rare disease

‘We are very thankful to everybody,’ Aryan Deol’s father says

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Police investigating after insults, expletives yelled at federal minister’s staff

A 90-second video circulating on social media appears to have been shot by the person who was yelling

Most Read