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Students enjoy more elbow room

The boxes are unpacked, the books are on the shelves and students have settled in to the shiny new wing on Wellesley Public School.

The school officially opened its $3.2-million addition this week. Renovations that started last April saw the entire front side of the school redone and 10 new classrooms added. The students moved into the new classrooms in November and six portables will be removed this summer.

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Avery Haid, left, Jada Huiser, Noah Gedcke, Carson Lichty, Natalie Wellman and Maya Finlay give the thumbs up to the spacious new kindergarten classrooms at Wellesley Public School.

The addition includes space for a mini computer lab and a literacy room, with reading materials sorted by reading level and available to every teacher. A central supply room has replaced the paper closet and art closet, and brought photocopiers and equipment into one place.

The front office was also redone, bringing all the administrative staff into one area. Previously, the secretary was in a glass cubicle in the front entrance, the principal and head secretary were in another office, and the vice-principal was at the other end of the hall.

Two Grade 7/8 classrooms have been converted into kindergarten rooms, with lots of space and washrooms right in the corner, so the smallest children don’t have to wander around the school. The kindergarten students will also be getting a separate playground area, called the discovery forest, with the help of community groups. An L-shaped fence will set a boundary around a separate space with trees, benches, sand boxes and play tables.

“Most schools have a designated area,” said principal Lee Anne Andriessen. “We wanted a place where they would feel comfortable and have something to do.”

The school council and the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival pitched in to enable the school to buy 12 smart boards. Now half of the classes have the interactive screens for students to use.

The additions and renovations incorporated environmentally-friendly measures like motion-controlled lighting, non-toxic paint and new flooring in the office that is quiet, fibreless and hypoallergenic.

The funding for the work is based on reducing class sizes. Primary classes are now capped at 20 students, necessitating the additional classrooms. Wellesley Public School has grown by about 250 students over the past seven years, and the student population will reach 630 by the fall.

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