A new $14-million elementary school in Vancouver serving a rich cultural tapestry of students was officially opened on Tuesday by Education Minister Peter Fassbender.
At the new J.W. Sexsmith Elementary school a total of twenty-one different languages are spoken – with Chinese and Punjabi the predominant languages. Also on hand for today’s opening were students, parents, teachers and school board representatives.
J.W. Sexsmith Elementary was originally comprised of a three-storey centre wing built in 1912. A gym and stage wing was added in 1950 and a three-storey classroom wing built in 1954.
A seismic assessment, done in 2004, indicated that the school was a high-risk facility. Under the province’s Seismic Mitigation Program for schools, further study determined that a complete replacement school would be more cost effective than a seismic upgrade of the original building.
The new J.W. Sexsmith is built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold standard and features a geothermal heating and cooling system. Extensive playground areas, a bright, spacious library and an atrium highlight the school’s design.
The school now has capacity for 390 kindergarten to Grade 7 students. Included in the new building is a Neighbourhood Learning Centre. The centre provides community office space, music rooms and an area for pre-schoolers and out-of-school care.
Fassbender said: “This is a bright, new learning facility we can all be proud of and one that is safe, comfortable and ready for modern learners. It is one more project completed under our Seismic Mitigation Program, and I know it will continue to build on the century-old history of the original.”
Dr. Moira Stilwell, MLA for Vancouver-Langara, said: “This is a wonderful new school, and the diverse student population it serves speaks to B.C. educators’ ability to bring students from a wide variety of cultures together and create vibrant, successful learning environments.”
Patti Bacchus, Chair of the Vancouver School Board, said: “The replacement of J.W. Sexsmith school is an important milestone for this community and the Vancouver school board. We have been working hard to ensure all Vancouver schools are seismically upgraded, and we are pleased to see this projected completed. We look forward to continuing to work with government to address the remaining high-risk schools.”