Lax Kw’alaams is pleased to have started construction of the long-awaited new community school. Through the hard work of band leadership and administration, the federal government agreed to invest $19.7 million in the community school, which will be ready to welcome students in the fall of 2015.
“The new school will play an important role in supporting the community’s focus on education and skills investment in youth,” says Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Garry Reece. “It will allow our children to learn and grow within our community, while preparing them for a future where they can make a contribution to our economic development goals.”
The Coast Tsimshian Academy will provide classrooms for 26 kindergarten and 156 Grade 1 – 12 students. The school will be a beautiful, two-storey, 2,005-square-metre building, tailored to the needs of the community. With a large, state-of-the art kitchen, and well-thought-out design and layout, the school will be a great place for large groups of people to gather.
The school will also have designated learning areas for home economics, industrial arts and cultural activities. All classrooms are well laid out, flexible to use, and have taken into account the needs of learners today, including electronic and spatial needs, as well as the relationship between teacher and student. There are also central gathering spaces connected to other common social areas, and quiet spaces to allow for more intimate learning opportunities.
The school is also designed to be expanded to meet long-term projections of 175 – 200 students. If many of the proposed economic development projects in the area get underway, many community members living away from home will have the opportunity to move home – and the new school will be a great place that will welcome their children and youth back to the community.
The community has been in need of a new school for around 30 years, as the old school was built in 1955 when there were no standards for construction. While additions were added to the original building in 1965 and 1975, they did not meet the needs of the community, and a creek ran through the basement. In 2011, the community started serious discussions about the project, including the design planning.
With the high-level design concepts approved in June 2013, the contractor started work in July. Today, the building site is complete, and building construction has begun. Up until now, the community has not seen much more than trees coming down, the site being levelled, and some machine work. This next phase will be full of activity, as work starts to get underway on this historic legacy project that will be a source of pride for the community for at least 75 years.
The school construction will generate many opportunities and activities for community members. The contractor is eager for members to share in as many of these opportunities as possible and encourages community members with skills or entrepreneurial spirit to come to the band office to share their ideas. There will be lots of opportunities for people who have construction skills or services such as providing catering, housekeeping, pressure washing, or shuttle services.
This summer will be very exciting and busy, with many things happening. Once construction is complete in April 2015, the final steps of finishing and fitting the school with computers, textbooks, furniture and equipment will get underway, with students expected to start class in September 2015.