Not Just Another Brick in the Wall: Mapleview Elementary School’s Grand Opening Inspires Community

Students in each grade assist with placing cornerstone brick

Caption: Mapleview Elementary School students help put the final brick in place.

The final brick was laid to officially complete Mapleview Elementary School on Friday, and it was a significant one – emblazoned with the year 2018, placed with the assistance of students from each grade, and with a time capsule concealed behind it for future generations to discover.

The day wasn’t just about bricks and mortar, however; the school has been fully functional since November when the doors opened for the first time to welcome students from the former Grandview Central Public School and Fairview Avenue Public School. The site of the latter is now a field which will accommodate soccer games later this year.

“No one wants to close a building; the memories that are tied to a physical place are very significant,” acknowledged Trustee James Richardson, County of Haldimand, of the accommodation review process which began five years ago and resulted in the two school communities coming together last fall. “But this beautiful school is the result of new ways of thinking, new perspectives, and new approaches to problem solving.”

Mapleview Elementary School is the first school to be constructed in the Dunnville area in 50 years, and it is home to 400 students who now have just over 42,000 square feet of state-of-the-art, energy efficient space to learn and grow. Its grand opening welcomed an audience of Trustees, Superintendents, Facilities staff, elected representatives including Member of Provincial Parliament Toby Barrett, students and members of the wider school community.

Senior staff and politicians pose at the unveiling of a plaque

Caption: Grand Erie staff and Trustees, along with elected officials including MPP Toby Barrett, unveil a plaque in the school’s atrium.

“Environment and achievement go hand-in-hand, and this beautiful end result represents a place where students can feel safe taking risks, with the resources and technology in place to support that,” said Superintendent Linda DeVos, who oversees the Haldimand County family of elementary schools, echoing significant features of Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan. “Along the journey of its construction, this building has also sparked positivity, community and the ability to dream.”

It’s hard not to feel a sense of positivity with so much natural light streaming into the building at every turn.

“We have long, cold winters in Canada, so the design is meant to create a sense of warmth during those chilly months, without sacrificing any energy efficiency,” said Gerry Pilon, principal architect on the project, of the huge windows which flood the learning spaces with sunlight. In the spring months, light can be controlled so rooms don’t get too warm. “It was designed to silver LEED standards, with a lot of recycled content and 40 per cent energy consumption saved, while also evolving and refining the designs based on community input.”

A woman wearing a suit plays with Kindergarten students

Caption: Linda De Vos, Superintendent for Haldimand Elementary Family of Schools, spends time in a primary classroom at Mapleview Elementary.

The design also includes clever details that allow students and staff to feel a sense of cohesion and community. A hallway on the upper level, for example, includes a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the gymnasium, and provides a bird’s eye view of the activity below while muffling the sound.

“Any time a student needs to take a moment for themselves, this is where they come,” said Grade 2/3 Teacher Sherry Fleguel, who notes that the activity on the other side of the glass is similar to looking into an aquarium. “There’s a calming feeling you get sitting here that’s really good for well-being.”

Mapleview’s official grand opening on May 10 was the third and final event this year commemorating the school’s completion. Grand Erie Trustees and Senior Administration staff welcomed students to their first official day last November, and a holiday open house invited neighbours and community members to tour the new building, which will be an asset for Dunnville for generations to come.

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