While politicians and dignitaries got a look at West Carleton Secondary School’s new east wing on May 29, the students of ‘West’ have been using it since Feb. 1.
The new wing is part of an expansion that started with construction in the summer of 2017. The roughly $7.8 million project added eight new class rooms, four specialist spaces including a dry shop room, music room, science room and cross-fit training room, three extra open spaces for student use and 300 new full lockers. The school also added several outdoor basketball courts.
The space was desperately needed by the fast-growing school.
In the early 2000s enrolment was around 800 students. This year WCSS hosts 1,260 students and Principal Shannon Adams says that will grow to more than 1,300 next year.
“It’s a breath of fresh air to the school – we needed it,” he told West Carleton Online while giving us the tour of the new wing on May 31. “The students were so excited to come in and see it.”
While not all the furniture is in place in the open spaces yet, it is already filled with students happy to have more room.
“It helps spread the kids out,” Adams said. “You see groups of students in their routines. Music students playing their instruments. It’s a great atmosphere.”
The new wing allowed seven portables to be removed from the school “because the board needed them immediately,” and Shannon hopes a few more will leave later on, “but we still need some.”
During the May 29 ceremony held in the new foyer, many took the opportunity to compliment the east wing.
Following the WCSS Vocal Program’s rendition of O Canada, Ottawa Carleton District School Board Trustee Lynn Scott, OCDSB Superintendent of Education Susan MacDonald and WCSS student Co-Presidents Cameron Davis and Zoe Amyot all spoke of the new wing and what it means to the school and its students.
Trustee Scott agrees with Principal Adams it was time for the school to grow.
“We did need more space,” she told West Carleton Online, Friday, June 1. “We had a key challenge. We had to balance the need for space and the possibility of building a new school in North Kanata. We had to serve the core, but not make it too big.”
Scott said, it wasn’t just about adding capacity at West but the school needed “really good, new spaces.”
The new dedicated-purpose rooms provide more opportunities for students.
“The arts are important,” Scott said. “That’s another way to stretch students’ learning.”
While there wasn’t enough funding for a desired double-gym, Scott says the new fitness room may serve students longer.
“(A workout room) is far more useful to a student throughout their lives which will have more impact than a focus on team sports,” she said. “The outdoor courts will allow students who wish to focus on the advantages and techniques of a team environment.”
Scott says the growth of WCSS gives the opportunity for students to enjoy more programming. While Scott says she knows a new school will eventually come to north Kanata, WCSS has needs as well.
“It’s going to be a long time before that happens, but it’s going to happen,” she said. “But we’ll keep West well populated for a long time.”