Students at New Westminster Secondary school (NWSS) are one step closer to having a new, seismically safer school.
“Students at New Westminster Secondary have been waiting many years for construction to start on their new school, and we are so pleased to be here today for this milestone,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “This is an exciting new chapter for one of B.C.’s largest and oldest secondary schools, and I can’t wait to see students thriving in a safe, new, state-of-the-art facility.”
Fleming and Judy Darcy, MLA for New Westminster, made the announcement. They were joined by school district officials, students, parents, staff, community members and other key stakeholders to break ground on the $106.5-million project, the largest school capital investment in B.C.’s history.
Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt First Nation offered a welcome to the traditional, unceded territory. A smudge incorporating sage, one of the four sacred medicines used by Indigenous peoples, was undertaken by Lee Laufer of the Kaska Dene Nation, who serves as an Aboriginal youth worker at NWSS. The purification ceremony helped prepare the site for the new school.
“This is a big day for our city,” said Darcy. “Our community has waited a long time for this project, and I can’t wait to watch the new high school take shape. Our students will finally have the opportunity to learn in an environment that is healthy and safe.”
The New Westminster School District has engaged with the community to help inform the design of the new school. The community supported a design that would be sustainable, environmentally friendly and provide flexibility to support B.C.’s new curriculum. The community also wanted to see outdoor spaces, and cycling and pedestrian access around the school, which will benefit students and the community.
“We are thrilled to welcome our new high school as a creative and exciting space that will support student-centred, personalized and innovative learning,” said Mark Gifford, New Westminster school board chair. “Today’s groundbreaking is a major step toward the realization of our vision of New Westminster schools as a place where students love to learn.”
The existing school was built in 1949, and is one of the largest secondary schools in B.C. It is in poor condition and needs to be replaced. The new grade 9-12 school will have space for 1,900 students, and is expected to open in September 2020, after which the old building will be demolished. Graham Design-Builders LP, with KMBR Architects Planners Inc., has been awarded the contract to design and build the new school.
NWSS replacement project: https://newwestschools.ca/nwss-replacement-project/consultation/