Connor Fitzpatrick has been given plenty of space to learn.
The Grade 6 student at Stratford Elementary says the major addition to his school is a welcome – and very noticeable – change.
“It is like you went from a dense city to the middle of nowhere in Labrador,’’ he says.
“It definitely feels more open and airy – and not as congested.’’
Fitzpatrick was given the nod to help welcome guests Tuesday during the official opening ceremony of the school’s much needed addition.
The two-storey space, which opened to students and staff in September, includes 14 classrooms, an auxiliary gym, breakout rooms, spaces to provide individualized supports and teacher planning centres.
The addition could not have come soon enough for students and teachers.
There were teachers working in closets and students learning in the hallways. Teachers carted material from one room to another, displacing fellow educators.
“You could just feel it in the building,’’ Grade 6 teacher Jenna Connolly said of the former cramped, confined building that was bursting at the seams.
“It was almost vibrating at all moments of time with the kids in the hallways and workspaces. Trying to find a quiet space was tricky.’’
The greatly expanded school, says Connolly, feels more relaxed. She welcomes having her own space and no longer needing to cart material from one room to another is a pleasant change of pace.
“It creates a nice kind of calm learning environment where you can really make enriching lessons and make sure that all the new technology that we have is engaging for the kids,’’ she says.
“It just makes everything flow a little more.’’
Premier Dennis King lauded the previous Liberal government for responding to public input by providing the much-sought after addition to the school.
“Schools are at the heart of our communities and we are very pleased to join with the community to celebrate the opening of this much needed space,” King said during Tuesday’s ceremony.
Grade 3 students at Glen Stewart Primary have moved to the elementary school, making Glen Stewart a K-2 school while Stratford Elementary now serves grades 3 to 6 students.
“The new wing is adding greatly to the student experience at both Glen Stewart and Primary Elementary,” said Education and Lifelong Learning Minister Brad Trivers.
“This is a much healthier space for students and one that allows teachers to deliver today’s curriculum in a modern and spacious learning environment.”
Construction of the new addition began in the summer of 2018. Since then, parents and community members have been fundraising for a new natural playground that will support both schools and the Stratford community.
Home and School President Jodi Zver said the first phase of the playground construction is nearing completion.
“We are very appreciative of the local business community and the many parents who stepped up to help,” she said.
“Through this terrific community effort, we were able to raise more than $250,000 for this natural playground which was designed based on the children’s input using local natural products.”
Stratford Elementary, which opened in 2010, is a dual track school which offers English and French Immersion programs to approximately 640 students. It also offers arts, music and athletics.