Summer break may be swiftly approaching, but many of the students attending Stz’uminus Secondary School when it opens this fall already can’t wait to get back into the classroom.
That enthusiasm was evident Thursday night, as well over 250 community members and students gathered to get their first glimpse inside the new facility.
“I’m looking forward to coming here,” said Deanna Seymour, a Grade 9 student. “I’m excited that it’s new and much bigger than the other school.”
Open house attendees were given maps and encouraged to go on self-guided tours of the state-of-the-art building, which includes a half-sized gym, fitness room, library, large kitchen, science lab and a lecture hall that can seat approximately 49.
Kendall Wilson, a Grade 12 student, will be attending the school in the fall to upgrade her sciences and plans to apply to Vancouver Island University for biomedical studies.
“I think it’s awesome … I think by having a new school, it will give us more of a chance to have extracurricular activities, which is nice,” she said.
Wilson said her favourite aspect of the new school is the gym, and she hopes the building’s ample space will one day be host to an after-school drama class.
“I think it will be easier to have more things like school spirit days, drama days, crazy hair day, 80s day, that type of thing,” she said.
Science teacher Darrell Schaan says he is absolutely thrilled about the new lab, which includes a fume hood, Bunsen burners, protective lab coats and safety gear such as a shower station and eyewear.
“With the funding they’ve put into this place … we’ve been able to provide it with everything a top-notch science lab should have,” he said. “The kids can now do science in a more hands-on, real-life, meaningful, situation-based learning style. They’re going to be more enthusiastic, and their motivation level is just going to skyrocket.”
Woodshop instructor and vice-principal Cameron Park showcased the school’s new workshop, which includes state-of-the-art equipment with SawStop technology — a blade that contains electrical sensors which detect saline content in flesh and stop the blade within a quarter of a rotation.
“I’ve been teaching carpentry out of the parking lot on sunny days for the last four years,” he said. “We do a great job with what we have and you can still teach really valid things about safety and proper use of tools, but just being able to take it to the next level in a facility like this is such a good opportunity for the kids.
“For the first time in the eight years I’ve been teaching [here], the kids finally have the kind of school they really deserve.”
Stu”ate Lelum has been the home of high school education for Stz’uminus for many years and provides education to students as far as Nanaimo and Duncan.
While functional, the facility has been in need of upgrading for some time. For the past 11 years, dedicated people like Stz’uminus education director Charlotte Elliot have been working toward the construction of a new high school.
Principal Len Merriman, who has been involved for the last five, said Thursday night’s open house was a real dream for many.
“When you walk inside, you feel it’s a place students can learn,” he said. “We’ve got students who are proud of who they are — now they can be proud of where they are.”