The Twin Rivers Education Centre (TREC) has re-opened ahead of schedule at the former Happyvale elementary in Brocklehurst.
While the sight and sound of a circular saw outside the school’s entrance on Monday showed finishing touches are still being made, within the building students and staff are enjoying their new home.
Students from the TREC programs — the Bridges program, Four Directions secondary and the Alternate Education program — are now all attending class in the Holt Street school, having been displaced from George Hilliard elementary in September when students from nearby Parkcrest elementary lost their school to fire.
Students now reunited at Happyvale were initially moved to various locations around the city when Parkcrest students were relocated to George Hilliard.
Grade 11 alternate education student Aiden George is impressed with his new surroundings.
The 16-year-old spent the last two months attending NorKam senior secondary, where the school district had set up space for him and his classmates.
“Honestly, it’s really nice,” Aiden said of Happyvale. “Classroom size is amazing. It’s nice and refurbished.”
George said he is looking forward to seeing how everyone adapts to their new setting, noting space at NorKam was cramped.
Grade 10 student Alexis Hatch is also enjoying her new campus, saying the new space will enable her classmates to be reunited.
“A lot of them had to change to the TREC downtown because they couldn’t handle being in NorKam,” Alexis said. “A lot of us are here because we don’t like big schools, so now that we’ve moved, they’ll be able to come back because we have more space, less kids.”
Aiden said for him, attending NorKam wasn’t an issue, but noted that was not the case for everyone.
“I know a lot of kids have anxiety in bigger classrooms and more cramped spaces,” he said, adding some TREC students don’t get along with others at NorKam.
Touring KTW through the newly renovated school, TREC principal Cory Carmichael said having all three programs together again is important.
In addition to making it easier for administration to support all teachers and students, having a new, central location again gives the youth, who often come from marginalized backgrounds, a sense of community, noting some learners have siblings in other programs.
Following the Sept. 5 fire that destroyed Parkcrest, students there were moved to George Hilliard, which housed TREC students. Kids in the Bridges program were sent to the John Tod Centre, the Four Directions program operated out of the United Way’s new Xchange building on Tranquille Road, while some Alternate Education program students were sent to renovated space at NorKam.
The Kamloops-Thompson school district had estimated the new TREC location wouldn’t be ready until Christmas, but it is now open more than a month ahead of schedule.
Carmichael credited the hard work of maintenance staff for the early opening.
The majority of renovations to the building have been completed, including the refurbishing of the gymnasium, reconfigured spaces, new flooring and a fresh coat of paint. There are still some renovations to do, including carpentry work, installing the bell system, adding a food service station and renovating the front entrance, which should all be completed within a few weeks.
Classes were cancelled last Thursday and Friday while the move into Happyvale took place. Four sea cans (large shipping containers) worth of equipment and supplies were moved to Happyvale, Carmichael said, noting there are still boxes left to unpack.
TREC’s new school is about 17,000 square feet, compared to the 34,000 square feet students had at George Hilliard, necessitating the use of five portables to make up for lost space. Compared to their former George Hilliard location, students have four fewer classrooms at Happyvale, which has impacted some of the arts programming, Carmichael said.
There are 189 students registered in the three programs at TREC.
The temporary walls set up at NorKam for TREC have been disassembled and the space is ready for NorKam students to re-occupy.