Students and staff donned the school’s blue-and-white and filed into Belmont’s new gym for the first pep rally of the year on Friday. It was a special occasion for the Belmont community, marking the first time in almost 20 years the entire student body gathered together in one room.
Principal Ray Miller noted during the rally that none of the students in the bleachers were born the last time Belmont’s student body all gathered.
The main gym at the old building could only seat about 400 at a time, which meant that students were separated into shifts for assemblies and other gatherings. But the new gym has the capacity to hold 1,600.
“We were a great school in an old, tired building,” Miller said. “But we had a great staff and community.” The new building, he added, has created “a recipe for magic.”
In general, he said, the school year is off to a great start and while construction is still ongoing, it’s something everyone simply has to wait out. “Eventually those inconveniences won’t be around.”
Some of those school-finishing issues, such as a shortage of about 350 lockers, will be solved with the completion of the final block of classrooms. That wing was projected to be done by the end of the month, but a new deadline for completion has yet to be released.
Another issue the school is having is a lack of available parking spaces, but that problem will quickly be solved as the final stages of construction progress.
“The spirit at Belmont is just as high as it was in the old school, if not better,” Miller said.
That spirit is infectious. Teacher Charlotte Haley, new to Belmont, said the construction has brought everyone at the school closer together and has really made them all a team.
“The kids have taken a lot of pride in their school,” she said. “They’re looking forward to when it’s done, but they’re still enjoying the facilities.”
Haley teaches the sports performance rugby class, among others, and looks forward to growing the program and eventually making it an academy program. More than 30 students are registered for its first year.
Tyler Hardy, 15 and in Grade 10, is in his first year as a member of the Belmont community. He spent his Grade 9 year at Spencer middle school before the re-configuration this year.
So far he’s found the transition easy. “I just found there was more kids,” he said. He’s excited to take advantage of being on an “open” campus for the first time, meaning students can leave the campus on breaks to use amenities in the area.
He likes how close Glen and Langford lakes are, as well as Goudy Field and the City Centre Park complex.
But Hardy is most excited about breaking in the school’s new gym as a member of the volleyball team. He is also trying out for the basketball team, but expects hoops tryouts to be tough.
As he was talking, rival teams began filing in to compete in a volleyball tournament that afternoon. They couldn’t hide their amazement. Jaws dropped as they took in their surroundings. It seems Belmont students aren’t the only ones impressed.
Funding announced: Oct. 31, 2011
Ground breaking: June 27, 2013
Cost: $50.8 million
Student capacity: 1,200
School colours: Navy and white
Team nickname: Bulldogs
– Three-story classroom block
– Moveable partitions for flexible teaching spaces
– The largest school gym on Vancouver Island
– Stunning learning commons, overlooking Langford Lake
– Use of Rugby Canada turf fields
– Targeting LEED Gold Certification (green building certification)