A local elementary school built in 1965 saw a complete modernization and renovation over the last year and plans to reopen to students this fall.
Annie L. Gaetz Elementary School was opened to the media last week, in which the principal of the school, Kevin Robertson gave local media a tour of the school.
It was announced in January of 2014 the school would receive a face-lift thanks to funds from the former Conservative government’s Building Alberta Plan, which included plans to build and modernize 120 schools throughout the province.
The renovation and modernization of the elementary school included complete architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical upgrades, as well as major reconfigurations of the school’s existing spaces. The blueprints also saw the creation of a unique courtyard space designed by former Annie L. Gaetz students who currently attend Eastview Middle School.
In addition, a mezzanine was added to create a two-storey library space with a total increase of two classrooms spaces being added.
Robertson stated the 50-year-old building was quite dark prior to the renovations and modernizations, adding he is happy to see the surplus of windows and light in the building.
“The learning spaces we have created are amazing,” he said. “Our library was transformed into what is now a beautiful common area and the courtyard is going to be a great learning opportunity also.”
The school is now a ‘barrier free’ building offering total accessibility to persons of all abilities in addition to a complete system upgrade of fire alarms, security, data, phone and paging systems.
George Berry of Berry Architecture and Associates handled the design of the building, stating the firm’s vision was to open up and brighten the school.
“There were a lot of dark spaces in the school and we wanted to brighten it up and make it a nice space,” explained Berry whose own children attended the school. “We knew we had a couple of classrooms that didn’t have natural light in them so we wanted to fix that and really brighten everything.
“We wanted the colours to really stand out but not be over the top – after all it is an elementary school, so it should be colourful and we wanted to bring new life into it.”
Darren Skrepnyk, director of facilities services for the Red Deer Public School division, explained the building was relatively on budget, adding the project had a $5.8 million budget and was currently around $200,000 over budget.
“When we began the excavation of the building, after we had everything opened up and really got a good look at what was under there, we made the decision to spend the extra money and replace the entire underground plumbing system,” said Skrepnyk. “We weren’t planning on that part but we already had everything torn up so it made sense to do that also to prevent having to do it in the future.”
In addition, he and the team also indentified structural issues with the potential snow load on the roof, which also contributed to budget concerns.
Although not fully complete as of the media tour, Robertson said the school is due to open on schedule for the first day of school.
He added the families of the school have been extremely supportive adding the school really is a ‘community’.
Visit the school’s web site at www. algaetz.rdpsd.ab.ca.