King George Secondary Grade 11 student Jonal Hall wants to be an architect one day. Judging from two massive models created in the lead up to King George Secondary's recent 100 Year Anniversary, he's well on his way to accomplishing this dream.
It all started back in March of 2014. Hall, always interested in design and engineering, decided that for his MYP IB project he would build a scaled model of his high school. The first step was to get floor plans for the school. Then Hall took a range of photos from outside. Next, he set about converting the blueprints to a more manageable size. Relying on some significant math skills, he scaled down all the dimensions in the blue prints and proceeded to measure out and cut dozens of small pieces of cardboard to use to assemble his mini-King George. The whole project took over a month to complete, but when he brought it in to show Youth and Family Worker Jess Coomes, the reaction he got was astounding.
"I brought it in and the look on Jess' face was just shock," says Hall. "He was just blown away."
Coomes admits he was impressed.
"I have a friend who is an architect and the guy said the scaling that Jonal was able to pull off was just incredible," he says.
Coomes had a new challenge for the young builder. With the school's 100th anniversary coming up fast, he gave Hall two pictures of the old King George (which was once located on Burrard St), a $100 and a mission to design a model of the old high school from scratch - this time without blueprints.
Armed with an imagination and just a couple of old pictures, Hall set about bringing the old school back to life. Days and weeks went by as he juggled his academic assignments, the modelling project and his responsibilities on the King George track and field team. Then, with just a day left before the big alumni event, Hall finished his second model. The next day when Coomes and Principal Roger Wiebe triumphantly walked the model into a cafeteria jammed with alumni who had once attended the old school at the centennial's pancake breakfast event, there was a huge cheer.
"It was a total hit," says Wiebe. "Alumni were totally engaging with it, pointing to parts of the building where they got caught smoking or where their old classrooms were."
Wiebe says part of the power of Hall's models were how effective they were at connecting the students with the alumni and the history of the school.
"These kids are so invested in the history of their school and they want to give back," he says. "Now the kids can see the history and the archives and they are connected."
That's something Coomes has taken to heart. Buried beneath the school's stairwell, he administers to the Grotto - an amalgamation of all sorts to King George memorabilia ranging from old 1950s band uniforms to artifacts you would have found on a historical teacher's desk in the early 1930s. King George crests, annuals and other treasures are packed everywhere. The room could be in any national museum display and immediately brings the history of the school community alive.
Coomes says in coming years he hopes to convert the room into a space where history can come alive for students. Judging from the reception Hall's models have gotten among students passing-by, they're already there.