Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) celebrated the grand opening of Ardrossan’s newest elementary school on Friday.
Ardrossan Elementary opened its doors to students for the first time back on September 4, the new structure replacing an older school located on the same site.
Some of the school’s Grade 6 students acted as MCs for the event, sharing the spotlight with a number of local officials including EIPS board chair Trina Boymook, Elder Wilson Bearhead, Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas and Strathcona County mayor Rod Frank.
Funding for the K- 6 replacement school was announced in 2014. The original school, a blend of newer and older structures, was partly demolished to make way for the new building.
“We used to have sort of this weird Frankenbuilding we would call it lovingly,” joked acting principal Helene Hewitt.
The new school is anything but monstrous.
“It was designed in consultation with our community,” Hewitt said. “And one of the things that we focused on as a theme was looking at nature.”
The rural school has a faux wood exterior meant to bring to mind the forest; colours on the learning commons floor resemble a forest floor covered in leaves.
“All of the window wells of the school are the colours of the leaves as they change in the seasons. And then that pattern is echoed on the inside of the school so that you when you're inside you get a sense of being on the outside,” Hewitt said.
The school also has a number of large windows that bring in a lot of natural light, Hewitt added, a feature she said staff and students particularly enjoy.
Ardrossan Elementary can hold up to 700 students. Its 5,664 square metres of space include 10 modular classrooms, a music room, hot lunch kitchen, breakout rooms and a learning commons. Some of the classrooms have shared walls that can be removed to combine two classes in one larger space.
The school, designed to meet the needs of different types of learners, also gives kids a few options when it comes to seating.
“There's also lots of opportunity for movement. We have rocking chairs and cantilever chairs and stools that wiggle and regular chairs,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt added that she was impressed with the way the grade 6 students handled their MC duties on Friday.
“Speaking in a room full of MLAs and politicians and media and all of that, the grade 6s were cool and calm under pressure. They did an amazing job."