The school year is nearly over, and for Riverside Public School students and staff, their time in the William Street building is coming to an end.
A new school building is currently under construction in a subdivision to the west.
Brent Hatcher, the principal at the elementary school, says the halls are filled with mixed emotions.
“There is absolutely some anticipation. It is sort of an interesting feeling. With everything at this point, people are looking forward to the end and thinking about everything that needs to come before that,” he said. “They can see the end in sight, and are excited about it, but this year, there is an added sense of us moving away from something that we have known for a long time. We are excited, but also a little bit sad. For some teachers, this is the only school they have ever taught in. End of an era.”
The new school, currently under construction in the Lunor subdivision, is on schedule, and Hatcher attends bi-weekly meetings with stakeholders and the construction company to get updates on the new building and the facilities that will soon be home to Riverside students and staff. He says it has the shiny and new feel to it, along with some technology upgrades.
“I went inside, and now that the roof is all on, they are starting to paint things and we are really starting to get a feel for what it is going to look like when it is done,” he said. “The space will be nice. Everything is pretty cramped here now, but on the flipside, it is kind of nice to stand in the hall outside of the office, and be able to look down the hall and see everything. We are definitely looking forward to the space, and everything is new. There are lots of bells and whistles that are going to be added to the classrooms. They are things that we use now, but they will be built into the classroom, like projectors and things like that, as opposed to having to be rolled in on carts like they are now.”
Some of the classes have used the construction process as a teaching tool to show students how a new building is constructed and the steps involved to get to a final product. Hatcher says the students pick up on some amusing aspects of the building when they report back in their classrooms.
“One student in kindergarten said that he was looking forward to having an elevator. And while there will be an elevator in the school, they are never going to use it. Unless you break your leg or something,” he laughed. “One of the kindergarten children, after they came back from their walk and the second storey had been put on, I asked how things went, and the one boy says, ‘yeah, you know, today, it is two books.’ And I had no idea what they were talking about when it was out of context. Then I realized, he meant stories. It was two stories high. Another student said they would be excited for a new water fountain. Some of the older kids have commented on the space – having a big gym, a big field, which we still don’t know what that is going to look like, but they think it is very exciting.”
He says that there are certain items that teachers and other staff have to tick off their to-do lists at the end of every school year, but this year, with the big move ahead, there are a few extra things to add to the bottom of those lists.
“There is more involved. We have to pack up everything. That is something that we are working on, but we still have to teach. We certainly can’t pack up our classrooms and not have what we need available. There is a PD day at the end of the year that we will use for some packing. I think that teachers have known that we are going to be moving. There are some teachers who are changing schools, so they have to pack up their personal things, but for us this year, it is a whole school thing.”
With construction on schedule, the plan as of now is to have furniture moving into the new building in mid-August, with teachers being able to get into their classrooms before Labour Day. But first, they need to take inventory of what they have, and what they are going to be bringing with them.
“There is a lot to work out, but it is an opportunity for us to look at things in the school and ask if we are using them. If we are not, maybe there are schools that could,” said Hatcher. “Are there resources that I am no longer using, that I could pass along to a different school that may not have as much as we have? Some things we will take, but most of it will be new. There are items that are in good shape, and things that we have purchased with our own school fund, as opposed to things that the school board has given us.”
The student body already has a plan for the last day of school, as a sort of ceremonial transition to the new location in the subdivision just up the road.
“As we are heading towards the end of June and the last day, how are we going to really honour this school and say goodbye to it, knowing that we are not going to come back,” shared Hatcher. “We are planning some things for here, but trying not to make it a sad thing, but make it upbeat. On the last day, we are going to walk to the new school as a school, then we are going to come back here.”
Part of those plans include a Walk Down Memory Lane during the school’s annual Fun Fair on June 1. There will be displays honouring the history of the school, its students and its staff.
The last day of school is on June 29.