The Hobbit, wimpy kids, fairies and even green eggs and ham were topics of conversation at a celebration of the new, $14.4-million James Park Elementary in Port Coquitlam today.
In the bright, spacious learning commons of the new school, Education Minister Don McRae led 40 Grade 4 students in an interactive discussion about books, literacy and the magic of reading. The students talked about their favourite books, what they read today and how reading has opened up new worlds of ideas and imagination.
McRae also was given a tour of James Park's new open-concept library, classrooms and gymnasium. The new school has capacity for 310 kindergarten-to-Grade 5 students and is built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards. The school also supports the B.C. Wood First Initiative by having a wood roof, wood panelling in the hallways and wood trim throughout the school.
A feature of the new construction is the added space for pre-kindergarten, a Neighbourhood Learning Centre and a StrongStart Centre, which will deliver a variety of community-based services. Consultations are currently underway with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Fraser Health and the City of Port Coquitlam as to what programming will be offered.
Today's discussion came on the heels of yesterday's Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) results. PIRLS is an international assessment of reading literacy among young students, specifically targeting Grade 4 students. In 2011, B.C.'s Grade 4's ranked among the world's top age-group readers, achieving an average score significantly above both the international and Canadian averages.
Don McRae, Minister of Education -
"Student success in this major international study is directly related to the time, effort and dedication teachers and parents in this province are spending with our young readers. Brand new schools like James Park Elementary will continue to foster this success by providing students and faculty with modern, 21st-century learning environments."
Melissa Hyndes, Coquitlam school board chair -
"Having Minister McRae lead today's discussion at James Park Elementary was a huge thrill for all students involved. Giving the students a platform to share their experiences and be acknowledged for all their hard work up to this point will only fuel their desire to learn, explore and be inspired through reading."
- The original James Park Elementary was constructed in 1913 with the school undergoing several renovations and additions in the 1960s.
- Since 2001, 24 capital and seismic projects worth more than $97.9 million have been completed in the Coquitlam school district. In addition, the government of B.C. invested more than $9.1 million for additional space for full-day kindergarten.
- Since 2001, the government has spent more than $2.1 billion to complete 93 new and replacement schools, 150 additions, 27 renovations and 22 site acquisitions in B.C.
- The government is currently working to build, replace or upgrade over 70 capital projects throughout B.C. over the next four years. The total cost of these projects is approximately $1.5 billion.
- About 325,000 Grade 4 students in 45 countries and jurisdictions around the globe participated in the PIRLS assessment - including 2,647 B.C. students at 148 B.C. schools.
- This year B.C. assigned a superintendent of reading, who is collaborating with all school districts to improve reading skills among young readers, specifically kindergarten to Grade 3.
- In November, the National Reading Campaign launched their three-year public awareness campaign titled "What did you read today?" The campaign's goal is to make reading a national priority by ensuring all Canadians have access to reading materials.
PIRLS report: http://www.cmec.ca/9/Publications/index.html
PIRLS news release: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2012/12/bcs-grade-4-students-among-worlds-top-readers-1.html
Coquitlam school district: http://www.sd43.bc.ca/Pages/default.aspx
BC's Education Plan: www.bcedplan.ca
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education