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Expanded space at Valleyview secondary has students, staff feeling connected

The completed $35-million expansion will house 1,200 students and will open fully in September. A portion of the new building this week welcomed some staff and students

Valleyview secondary's east wing expansion has opened to students and portables have been removed from the school site, following years of overcrowding.

KTW joined a tour of the expanded space on Monday (April 4) as a portion of the new building has welcomed some staff and students.

The opening is a welcome change to Roger Turner, a physics and math teacher who has taught at the school for 16 years, with many of those years in a portable classroom.

Turner said learning and teaching in a portable was isolating for students and teachers alike. He said moving into the expanded space has everyone feeling much more connected with the school.

"I don't think you can understate just how isolating it is to be out in a portable, both for kids and for teachers. So, to finally be a part of Valleyview again, it's really cool," he said, emphasizing how much he has enjoyed being visited by staff and students now that they are all under one roof.

The school was designed to be used by 675 students, but there are currently 960 students and 80 staff. In its 2020-2021 facilities report, School District 73 indicated its utilization was at 140 per cent, with 32 per cent of students dispersed across the site in 12 portables.

The completed $35-million expansion will house 1,200 students and will open fully in September.

"It was packed in here," Turner said. "Just to get from class to class, it was taking kids five to six minutes. With the lockers open, it was just so claustrophobic."

Valleyview secondary principal Barb Hamblett said the new space will also allow the school to become more functional, with zones for humanities, science and fine art.

Included in the expansion is an art mural created by students.