It may seem like just another muddy field, but with the official kickoff to construction of the new Royal Bay secondary school, it’s being touted as the lynchpin for the next generation of West Shore youth.
Community leaders and a group of the first students who will be attending the new Colwood-based high school visited the site Friday to celebrate.
“Today we’re standing on a dirt plot, but in less than two years we’ll be standing here on the grounds of a beautiful new high school,” said School District 62 board chair Wendy Hobbs.
The new school will be three stories and will showcase state-of-the-art features for a high school, said district superintendent Jim Cambridge. It will be home to a new 350-set theatre in the centre of the building, two gymnasiums and the only full-size rubberized asphalt track in the district.
One of the most unique features will be a basketball court on the roof of the building. Due to the grading of the site, neighbouring residents will see mainly the roof of the school, so having a basketball court is an improvement over the usual vents and air conditioners.
“(I’m) super proud and excited,” Cambridge said. “It’s great, for me, to see the kids here that are going to be going to it. You sometimes lose touch of it with long meetings about mechanical aspects or whatever … so to see the Grade 9s here today is really special.”
After a blessing on the site by local First Nations representatives, dignitaries from the ministry of education, the City of Colwood and School District 62 said a few words about the importance of the occasion.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Peter Fassbender, minister of education. “It’s about the future of our young people, it’s about opening new doors of opportunity and providing facilities that will help them on their education journey.”
The total cost for the school is $40.8 million and it will house 800 students from grades 9 to 12.
The site has been cleared and levelled and Cambridge said the foundation work has all of its permits ready, so excavation work will be starting up in the next couple of weeks. The concrete work will follow.
Along with celebrating the beginning of construction for the new school, the event also recognized the official naming of Ryder Hesjedal Way, the yet-nonexistent road which will lead to the school.
The namesake himself, a former student of Belmont secondary and Spencer middle schools, attended the ceremony and believes in the importance of a good start in life to achieving success.
“I’m pretty biased to the West Shore, I think it’s a great place, a perfect place, for people to grow up and find out what they want to do,” Hesjedal said. “It’s a huge honour to be here and have a designation like this.”
The school is slated to open in Sept. 2015.