After three years of listening to the sound of hammers and saws, teachers and students at École Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School can enjoy a building that has been transformed to suit the needs of students.
During the modernization, the building, dating back to 1967, was stripped down to the concrete bunker-style frame in order to put in new air and heating systems and update the technology so that SMART boards are available throughout the school. The project started in the fall of 2006 and it finished at the end of October.
“Every classroom and every hallway was stripped right back down to nothing,” said Kevin Frank, assistant principal at the school.
During the three-year process, students and teachers in some cases used portable classrooms set up beside the school or worked in parts of the building that weren’t being renovated.
The $20-million project has brought the school into the 21st century, with more natural light and a brighter feel in the building, with wider hallways and updated colours.
“There is so much better lighting in schools today then there was 40 years ago,” Frank said. “I’m sure in 1967 what they did was top of the line back then, but it was so dark and so grey the last couple of years because not only did we have the ceiling tiles come out, but we had a lot of the floor taken off. We just didn’t have a reflective surface.”
Funding came from the provincial government and surplus funds through Wolf Creek Public Schools.
A new gymnasium, 24 metres by 32 metres in size, was added to the facility, with the old gym now being used partially as a gym and partially as a performing arts area. The only new square footage in the building was the new gym, with the rest of the modernization being an updating and rearranging of the current space.
The former performing arts area now houses the main administration area. Three new classrooms were added within the existing space, which will allow for up to 100 more students at the school. The school currently has around 800 students in Grades 10 to 12.
Many of the career and technology studies courses have been centralized. The domestic foods course used to be on the second floor, but it has been moved to be near the food prep course on the main floor. The two mechanic shops are now side by side, with welding on its own. The cosmetology class has moved from the second floor to the first floor of the school, which is easier for clientele who use it.
What was once the library is now a common area for students, where natural light floods in from huge windows. The library has taken over the space of three former classrooms and the special needs program has double the space it once had.
Frank said there are parts of the school that returning Grade 11 and 12 students had never seen. “For them it was fantastic to walk back in and be able to go everywhere in the school,” he said. “There were hallways that they didn’t even know existed.”