“I feel happy today,” said Camelot, a Grade 6 student at George Webster (GW) Public School. “The school was just built. The old school was small, so they built a new school and it’s better for the teachers and students.”
Wearing t-shirts with the slogan “Better Together”, students, staff and parent volunteers gathered at the new gym for a final rehearsal, in preparation for the grand opening ceremony of the new school.
“When the school’s grade range changed from JK-5 to JK-8, it became too small. So, the Board rented a space from the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Grades 6, 7 and 8 were there while they built the new school. There were two sites, which was unusual. So, it is so fabulous to have the two sites merged into one, so the staff and students get to be together again,” said Pam Houston, a Special Education teacher.
Although students couldn’t stop talking about all the things they like about their new school, the gym, along with the new outdoor sports field, seemed to be the winners!
The new facility, which is energy efficient, also has new art and science rooms, a pediatric medical clinic, a parent and family literacy centre and a child care centre for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
But technology doesn’t fall behind!
“The built-in projector is an amazing feature,” said Sarah Kurita, one of the two school’s vice-principals. “Every classroom has a projector built into the ceiling that projects onto the white board. Everything on the computer can be projected on the board. You can provide children with visuals and audio and different font sizes with better contrast. This makes communication more effective and suits the needs of more children as many students learn better when information is presented in different ways.”
The construction has also presented a learning opportunity for students and staff.
“It has been a very interesting learning experience for the kids and us to watch the school and our room being built over the last two years and learn about the several construction phases,” said Ms. Houston, while Haider, a student in her class, added that they will be able to see their old classroom being demolished through the class window.
The enthusiasm was clear as guests started to arrive. The school’s Principal Lise Medd delivered remarks, followed by several dignitaries, including Trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher, who welcomed everyone “home”. Weeks of practice translated into synchronized cheers, songs and dances, followed by the unveiling of a time capsule from 1954, when the school opened its doors.
And finally, the ribbon was cut!
The ceremony was over, but it left a long-lasting and powerful message, expressed best in a rap wrote and performed by Fahad, an 8th grade student:
“GW, we’re better together
Like sisters and brothers
Working hard to be the best
Together we can always pass the test
Playing as a team we can never lose
Teamwork, that is what we choose
Different cultures having fun
See them over there
Screaming we are one!”