That was the consensus as trustees, senior administration and municipal partners had an opportunity to tour the new Catholic elementary school, currently under construction on McNaughton Avenue, W. in Chatham. St. Angela Merici Catholic School is on target to open to staff and students in September 2020.
"Everything is on schedule and we expect to turn the building over to the school board by next Spring," says Roy Carvalho, Job Superintendent with Norlon Builders.
There is still a great deal to be done inside, but those touring the facility were impressed by the two-storey Learning Commons and atrium at the front entrance, the expansive gym, high ceilings, wide hallways and classrooms with large windows, flooding all interior spaces with natural light.
The building will also feature separate climate control for individual classrooms and a beefed-up electrical system.
"We typically hear from our staff that our older facilities don't have enough power," says Tony Montanino, Manager of Facility Services for St. Clair Catholic. "This building will have plenty of power. That was a high priority recommendation from our educators, as we looked at the importance of technology for a school of the future."
Collaboration on what the school would like like has been key from the very beginning.
"We had input from educators, custodians, secretaries, ECEs, EAs - all employee groups who work in our schools had a say in how this school should be designed," says Deb Crawford, Director of Education. "We said, 'If you could design a school for the future, what would it look like?' ... well, you're looking at it. It's very exciting for all of us!"
Most of the fall will be spent completing all of the outdoor work, including lawn seeding, landscaping, windows and doors. Once the building is closed up for the winter, work on the interior finishes will continue until the project wraps up sometime in the Spring.
"We are very proud of this school and grateful for the funding from the Government of Ontario that's making this project possible," says Mrs. Crawford
"We can't wait to get started on our next two new builds - an elementary school for south Chatham and a new French Immersion school in Sarnia."