Kindergarten student Levi is walking into Mapleview Elementary School in Dunnville for the first time, and his eyes are like saucers. He’s looking at the shiny floors, the new coat hooks, the large,expansive windows with light flowing in. Every few seconds, a new detail catches his attention.
“I like the gym the best because the balls won’t get stuck in the ceiling anymore,” he says.
The ceiling of the gym at Fairview Avenue Public School, which accommodated students while they awaited the completion of construction of Grand Erie’s newest school, was known for not always returning balls.
There’s plenty of space to throw a ball in the new gym at Mapleview – 1,515 square feet more than there was at Fairview, to be exact. And that’s not all that’s noteworthy about the new 45,230-sqaure-foot building, which brings together students and staff from both Fairview Avenue and Grandview Central Public School.
“This is a state-of-the-art facility that was built mirroring LEED standards, making it very energy efficient, and with plenty of natural light no matter where you go in the school,” said Tom Oldham, Manager of Facility Services. “I can’t wait to hear what the students have to say.”
Monday, November 12 was a day of positive first impressions as classes officially began in the new school. Joining Oldham in welcoming students were senior administrators including Director of Education Brenda Blancher, Superintendents Raf Wyszynski and Wayne Baker, Trustees James Richardson, Rita Collver, David Dean, Carol Ann Sloat and Chair Greg Anderson.
“This is a wonderful thing for the Dunnville community after a lot of anticipation, and seeing the excitement on the faces of students and teachers today is fantastic,” said James Richardson, Trustee, for Haldimand County. “This is going to a be a space that allows students to thrive for many years to come.”
The overall design follows guidelines within the Board’s Green School policy, with daylight sensors to reduce electrical consumption, occupancy sensors for rooms, highly efficient boilers and ventilation systems, reflective roof to reduce solar heat gain, low VOC materials and finishes, and maximized recycled content in products and materials.
The project is the result of the Haldimand East Pupil Accommodation Review, and is funded through a Capital Priorities grant of approximately $10 million from the Ministry of Education. It features 14 regular classrooms, three Kindergarten rooms, a Special Education room including a Snoezelen Room, an Early Years centre, and Learning Commons with a media room. The double gym includes a separate outside entrance to encourage community use. The parking lot was planned with a bus loop and drop-off area to alleviate congestion on the street. There’s an elevator, and the whole building is accessible.
“It’s really cool that we have the privilege of being one of the first classes in this school,” says Shylloh, a student in Grade 5. “I’m most excited about… everything!”
Students played a big part in getting ready for the move. Together, they chose Mapleview’s team name (the Mustangs), named their new mascot (Mighty Mustang), and helped fill approximately 900 boxes that came with them to the new building.
“Our staff is wonderfully dynamic and collaborative, and they’ve really come together around this common goal,” remarked Charlotte Morphet, Principal at Mapleview. “I’m so proud of our students for how they’ve handled the changes, and none of this would have been possible without all of the hard work from Facility Services and Information Technology Services.”
Morphet says students have enjoyed monitoring the progress from their vantage at Fairview over the last year as the building took shape.
“The construction team has become our extended family,” Morphet said. “Crew members were always happy to answer students’ questions.”
The construction of Mapleview reflects Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan and its Environment indicator, making sure the site boasted learning spaces that reflect current teaching and learning needs, as well as improving energy and conservation. The staff already know how to build cultures of care and respect, so now they’ll be recreating that welcoming environment in their new digs.
“Throughout the transition to Mapleview, we’ve been smiling and taking it one step at a time,” said Darlene Moody, an Educational Assistant who’s worked at Fairview since 1992. “Any time a decision was made, we knew it was with the kids in mind.”