Up until now, everyone entering the new Riverside Public School building had to put on a hard hat and steel-toe boots. Now, it will be students in backpacks filled with school supplies rushing through the door.
School officially starts next Tuesday, and Matt Gerard, the superintendent of business services and treasurer at the Waterloo Region District School Board, says the building will be ready and waiting for students eager to get started with a new school year.
“We are at where we anticipated we would be at this point,” he said. “Next week, we will be good to go. It has been a journey.”
This isn’t just a renovation, or a technology upgrade. The new school was built from the ground up, customizing all aspects to industry standards, meeting the needs of staff and students.
“I think that there is a lot of effort that has gone into this school and it represents a good partnership between the region and the school board itself,” said Girard. “There are some fantastic design features in the school. Aesthetically, I think teachers and students will be very pleased with what they see. Looking at the design of the space itself, our facilities team takes a great amount of care in working with teachers and principals to make sure that they have a space that meets their needs in the classroom when they are teaching their students.”Some of the technology that is featured in the new building includes wireless Internet, offering better connectivity to devices. The furniture and fixtures are also getting a boost.
“We are using whiteboards in the classrooms, and we are using desks that are a bit more collaborative in natures. It represents some upgrades in not only the furniture, but just how we use the space,” said Girard.
While students may still be in summer vacation mode, Girard says the building represents a new beginning and all of the hard work from the board, staff and construction crews.
“It has been a journey. It is long process of acquiring the land, making plans for the space, going through the approval process, so ultimately, when we have the grand opening and when we have students walk through the doors next week, it represents that conclusion and that push forward,” he said, adding that it was all for the kids. “That is one of the most rewarding aspects for the board itself, not just from a building perspective, but just in general is being able to see the positive impact that you have on our students and looking at what has been created and constructed. We recognize that there will be a positive impact on the students and their education.”
The old Riverside Public School building is still sitting empty on William Street in Elmira, and soon, students will be walking right past its doors, west on Church Street to their new home.