Final events have been held in three elementary schools, which between them, have more than 320 years of history. As part of the Seismic Mitigation Program, Lord Nelson, Sir Sanford Fleming and Bayview Community elementary schools are being replaced with new buildings which meet today's standards for modern learning, safety and accessibility.
To say farewell to the oldest of the three schools, Lord Nelson Elementary (opened in 1911) held an open house on June 20, so current and former students, teachers and community members could have another look at the decades of memorabilia. "I came here in grade 2 and it just feels very welcoming and it has a good vibe," said student Ceili, who is going into grade 6 this fall. "We're going to miss it." But she's excited about the new building. "I heard we are having pods with four classrooms in one pod. It will give us more of a chance to meet new people." The new Lord Nelson building will be ready for occupancy in September.
More than 800 people had their last look inside the halls and classrooms of Bayview Community Elementary (opened in 1913) at the school's open house on June 19. Along with archival displays, a theatre group called Live History conducted an interactive experience based on the history of the school and historical figures from the area. "There was an amazing energy as people wandered through the school and saw old friends and teachers," described Birgitte Biorn, principal of Bayview. "Everyone was smiling and enjoying themselves immensely. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience and the amount of people who came exceeded our expectations." Students will go to nearby schools for the next two years during construction of the Bayview replacement.
The focus of the final event at Sir Sanford Fleming Elementary (opened in 1912) was a silent auction fundraiser and social on June 14. "This event was a chance for people to walk down the halls of the old building and connect with people they haven't seen in many years," said Parent Advisory Council Chair Sandie Sidhu. "It was also a chance for alumni to donate to help support our new school. My phone was ringing off the hook the following day! I had so many people email me, call me to tell me how much they enjoyed themselves." The money raised will help support the new school and playground.
A key priority of the Vancouver School District is to ensure all students attend seismically safe schools as quickly as possible in order to protect students and minimize potential damages in the unfortunate event of an earthquake.