The Village of Stewart Valley was out in force for the unveiling of their new school building plans.
These plans were unveiled at the RM of Sask Landing Valley Rural Fire Hall. Being displayed on three printouts, folks were packed tight around the images showing the new building layout, the planned exterior, and a mock-up of what the interior could look like after being finished and furnished.
After speaking about the plans at the unveiling, folks headed over to the site of the old school, which will hopefully host the new building by fall 2024.
There, the ground was broken as the sod was turned by a pair of children from the school, Ashlyn and Ethan. Kim Pridmore, board chair for the Chinook School Division, helped them out as they officially began the work.
"This is it," said Pridmore. "It feels like it's been a long time coming. The fire was several months ago and kids have been going to school in different places. They're all just excited to know that the building is going to take place soon."
The ceremony of the sod turning was marked by speeches from multiple representatives from the local government and Chinook School Division.
Also in attendance were members of Regina's Quorex Construction and Leanne Croft, principal architect with 1080 Architecture. She was able to do a deeper dive into the new school's plans.
"It started with the idea that this is a prairie school," said Croft. "We wanted to highlight sort of the landscape and do something with a lot of strong horizontal lines and trying to be efficient with the budget."
The school will feature a compact layout, with four classrooms, a gymnasium, and some shared spaces, like the mezzanine and a "learning commons" area.
The school is being built to facilitate roughly 40-50 students. The plans were drawn up to accommodate what surveys confirmed would be the returning student body, plus some room to grow.
"We played with the idea quite a bit to get the right form," said Croft. "So that we had a balance for the tall gymnasium space, and then the classroom space, which is naturally a lower area."
The biggest challenge with designing this school was cramming everything into the small footprint. Thanks to some additional funding of nearly $100,000 from the community, they were able to increase the size of the kitchen, but there was still very little room for everything being planned. One compromise found was to add a mezzanine over the changing rooms, offering parents and families a place to safely watch sporting events at the school.
This facility will be serving as a community centre at times, allowing Stewart Valley to rally around the Stingers, as well as possibly host other events in the facility.
It is expected that the school will last 50 years, with that time potentially being stretched further by good maintenance and care.
A final total cost of these plans was not made available. The insurance that is covering the bulk cost of the build has yet to wrap up. There may yet still come changes once insurance does finish.
For now, everyone is very excited that the ground is broken, starting construction. Marking the official start of the building phase, the ground will be excavated, piles will be installed, and the school will be back in, hopefully, a little under a year's time.
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