The Sooke School District (SD62) unveiled Royal Bay secondary school last week, inviting local politicians, trustees and media for a tour of the soon-to-be completed facility.
While the sawdust and paint fumes are still hanging in the air, the noise is at times overbearing, and there are still armies of tradespeople working on the exposed beams and raw-concrete slabs, it’s already clear the district is doing some things right in the construction of these new facilities.
Long gone are the days where schools were purely educational institutions, standing as bastions of knowledge, standing empty, outside of when classes are in session.
And for good reason.
It doesn’t make sense for the halls of a multi-million dollar building to sit empty, echoing with the occasional footsteps of the custodial staff for two thirds of every weekday and 48 hours every weekend. How was that ever a good idea?
These new facilities are recognizing that fact. They’ve not only integrated what the province is calling “Neighbourhood Learning Centres,” which will bridge the gap between the school and the community, they’re also designed to be used in various ways by the community when classes aren’t in session.
Now it’s up to us – the public who paid for these facilities – to make use of them.
There are already various community groups chomping at the bit to get in once the schools are operational, to use their theatres, gymnasiums, board rooms and workshops. The rest of us should be lining up, as well.
There’s no telling at this point what sort of system the school district will put in place for the rental of rooms, stages or workshops, but as soon as it’s there, we’re hoping these spaces will quickly start to fill up.
Are you part of a theatre troupe that needs a stage? Are you in a sports organization having a tough time finding gym space at opportune times?
Maybe you sit on the board of a not-for-profit organization and you’re getting tired of having your meetings in one of your directors’ living rooms.
Whatever your needs are, see if you can fill them using these shiny new schools.
You paid for them, after all.