St. Andrew’s Regional High School principal Glen Palahicky, in the foreground, snaps a photo of the new fine arts wing under construction at the school. The Building for Success fundraising campaign is underway to help pay for the upgrades to the school. (Facebook/St. Andrew’s Regional High School)

St. Andrew’s Regional High School principal Glen Palahicky, in the foreground, snaps a photo of the new fine arts wing under construction at the school. The Building for Success fundraising campaign is underway to help pay for the upgrades to the school. (Facebook/St. Andrew’s Regional High School)

School builds for fine arts programs at Saanich school

New wing part of ongoing improvements at St. Andrew’s Regional High School

Assembling the full student body remains a no-no at St. Andrew’s Regional High School, but construction continues in a bid to bring students closer together, at least in the same building.

The project adding a two-storey fine arts wing adjacent to the school gym is projected to finish in November. St. Andrew’s principal Glen Palahicky half-joked that it’s high time music director Phil O’Reilly moved his programs into the main school, having operated out of a portable for the past 16 years.

“We value the arts,” Palahicky said. “It brings life and creativity to the larger student body.”

While the Catholic high school’s music, choir and theatre programs have thrived over the years in their temporary spaces, the new wing includes purpose-built drama and music areas, as well as a fitness room and new change rooms for the athletics department.

Band and choir students will enjoy a soundproof and spacious new classroom that includes two smaller practice rooms, and a nearby loading bay will facilitate easier moving in and out of instruments and equipment. Drama students moved into the main school early from their portable, but their new dedicated classroom has been designed as an authentic performance space to give students a sense of being on stage.

A dedicated multi-purpose performance venue is not part of the project. But Palahicky said the creative utilization of space will see the gym provide a seating area, from which people will look upon open doors to a stage area.

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Moves to modernize the 37-year-old school are part of planned capital improvements under the Catholic Schools Plan developed by Island Catholic Schools (ICS) in 2009 and most recently updated in 2016.

The Building on Success fundraising campaign now underway has a goal of $5 million to pay for the building upgrades and eventually, a new sports field.

The previous stage of improvements saw the completion in 2019-20 of a new visual arts studio, student commons area, foods lab, chapel and nine new classrooms to expand the student capacity to 500.

Student council president Megan Lawson, in her final year at the Grade 8-12 school, spoke via video about the changes.

“I can honestly say there has been a tangible change in energy from not only the student body, but the staff,” she said, adding the presence of the commons area has helped boost school spirit. “I believe building the fine arts wing and finishing the renovations will lift students’ spirits and our school community even higher.”

ALSO READ: Saanich girls school’s 50th reunion promises an inspiring celebration

To learn more about the fundraiser, visit


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