On September 9, 2020, Junior School students and their parents had the opportunity to enter their new Main Building for the very first time. The 28,000 square foot building with an oceanfront view was completed well ahead of schedule allowing us to welcome back our students in the new facilities for the start of the 2020/2021 school year.
“It’s just so nice,” said Mrs. Jean Bigelow, Junior School Principal. “The building reflects the quality of teaching at the school. The classrooms are bigger, kids can spread out more and we can do more in the space with kids.”
The building features many amenities that will enhance learning for Grades 1 to 5. It was designed to create a school atmosphere that centres around inquiry-based learning and collaboration. GNS is an International Baccalaureate World Continuum School, and at the school, they focus on the development of the whole child as an inquirer in the classroom and the world outside.
The Main Building includes large classroom spaces and each pair of rooms shares a bathroom. These features have proved even more valuable this year with the current requirements for physical distancing. Each classroom also has floor to ceiling windows and a view of the ocean. The new Learning Commons is located on the second floor where it can become the hub of the school with lots of space for students to spread out and with classrooms opening up into it.
When completed, the students will also have access to a new Innovation Lab, a space that will enhance the IB Primary Years Programme by allowing students to demonstrate their learning in interesting and creative ways. The large art room is a bright space with windows looking out over the water that will provide ample scope for artistic innovation.
“The art room is gigantic,” said Mrs. Bigelow. “Kids can spread out and do bigger pieces of art. We were limited before on what the kids can do because of the size. Nevermind the gorgeous views that people can look out and be completely inspired.”
The Mountain Assembly area will act as a gathering space for assemblies, presentations and community building once larger gatherings are allowed. The gym, which is 1.5 times bigger than our old one, will provide ample room for students to enjoy their Physical Education and activity blocks.
Students are very excited to be in the new building. After months of watching the construction, they are enjoying all the spaces, the views and seeing how it all came together.
“I like the new building because there are a lot of new workspaces I can use to read and write,” said Ophira, Grade 1.
“My favourite part about the new building is that it’s clean and there is a lot more room,” added Julia, Grade 5.
“My favourite part of the new building is the Mountain Assembly area because it looks really cool,” said Clara, Grade 5.
Getting the building ready for the start of the 2020/20221 school year was no easy task. Knight Contracting Ltd. (KCL) and their crews worked incredibly hard to get the new building ready for staff and students.
"Our work with KCL has been a partnership in the truest sense of the word. Wayne Knight doesn’t wait for things to happen, he makes them happen, and this approach was fundamental to us reaching the September 9 completion date,” said Chrissy Rainseth, Chief Financial Officer at GNS.
“Paul Heron, the project manager, understood every detail that led up to the finished project. The efficiency with which he works and his professionalism made him a pleasure for us to deal with, and frankly, for my role, made this enormous project manageable."
The District of Oak Bay also played an important role in making the September 9 opening for students possible. Their willingness to work with the school and KCL is commendable.
The Advancement Team is planning some grand opening events for later in November that will include the opportunity for all members of the community to have a tour of the wonderful new facilities. Watch for more information to come out later in October and we hope many of you will join us in celebrating this historic accomplishment for the school.
Thank you to all the heroes in our community who have worked so hard to make this transformation possible.