Students enjoy a puppet show on behaviour Friday morning at Hyde Park School, where two state-of-the-art kindergarten classrooms have been added over the summer, as well as a new gynmasium.
Put a little SPRING in your Step!Take off the boots and take comfort in colour! Running shoes, pumps, sandals. Foot Fashion that feels good! Take Another Look at Stride!click here
Accommodating full-day kindergarten in Thunder Bay is an expensive task.
Both the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and Lakehead Public Schools have spent millions of dollars to equip schools to handle the influx of four- and five-year olds, in order to ensure they meet provincial requirements to offer the classes at all of their schools.
This past summer Lakehead Public Schools retrofitted Hyde Park School to the tune of $1.6 million, one of three schools they added to the full-day kindergarten mix.
The work included new state-of-the-art junior and senior kindergarten classes, exterior landscaping improvements and the addition of a new gymnasium, which will also serve as a multi-purpose room and lunchroom.
St. Bernard School, under the TBCDSB umbrella, is in the midst of a $2-million-plus renovation that will see four new classrooms added to the River Street structure.
St. Bernard principal Nadia Marson said her school's full-day kindergarten program, first introduced in Ontario in 2008, will be open for business in time for the 2013-14 school year.
“We’re going to get four additional, new kindergarten classrooms set up and right now that’s under construction,” Marson said on Friday.
“The new classrooms are going to be an addition to the school, extending from our kindergarten area already.”
With slightly less than 100 kindergarten students attending school now, the only way they can be accommodated is though the use of split classes and having them attend on opposite days.
The new space, though costly – and paid for with provincial funds – is a must if St. Bernard is to join five other TBCDSB facilities who plan to start offering full-day kindergarten next fall, bringing the board's total to 14.
“We really need the proper space for these kids to be coming to school full-day. So it’s really, really important. And new classrooms, with new resources, should be very exciting, not only for your first year coming to school, but for us having this wonderful expansion for September 2013,” Marson said.
She added the school board allowed teachers to work closely with the architect to design spaces that were right for them.
“They’ve sat down and asked for exactly what they wanted so we know the proper spacing for the centres, the proper spacing for the resources to be stored, all of that has been worked very closely (together),” she said.
Across town, at Walsh Street’s Hyde Park School, the excitement is equally high, where students and teachers are delighted with their new-look building, where designers even included bathrooms in the junior and senior kindergarten classrooms.
Vice-principal Elaine Oades said the work will benefit all students at the school, which houses students from junior kindergarten to Grade 3.
“We have three state-of-the-art classrooms with built-in water tables. We have a natural play environment setting that promotes … learning for our students. We’re super excited about our gym,” Oades said.
“We have painted lines on our floor that our kids and teachers are excited about, which will improve our programs. We have basketball nets, so our kids are really feeling like we have a new gym.”
There’s also a new kitchen that allows the school to not only expand its breakfast program, but also provide a day-care space.
“This is also allowing us to have a program for our students from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.," she said.
Randy Haber, manager of maintenance and capital for Lakehead Public Schools, said the construction was fast-paced, completed in about eight weeks.
Haber said full-day kindergarten at Hyde Park School, one of 9 Lakehead Public Schools facilities to offer the provincially mandated program, made the renovations a necessity.
It took plenty of planning, but he thinks students are better off with the finished product.
“What we’ve done is taken two existing classrooms and the playroom and lunch room and created three new state-of-the-art kindergarten rooms,” Haber said.
Both the TBCDSB and LPS were asked to provide cost figures required to ensure schools providing full-day kindergarten adequately met their needs, but those numbers were not immediately available.
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.