The Kitchissippi Times went on a special tour of a brand new Broadview when school started on September 6. There is a special open house event planned for Broadview alumni and the wider community in the fall. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek!
By Andrea Tomkins –
If you haven’t driven by the site lately you may be surprised to learn that Broadview School has a new address and now faces Dovercourt Avenue.
One of the most eye-catching parts of the building is near the corner of Dovercourt and Broadview. The second floor is the library, which will be ready by the end of the month. The first floor is for special ed classes.
“Someone asked me what we are most excited about in the new building,” says Principal Catherine Deschambault. “Obviously it’s the quality of the classroom space but it’s also the quality of the common spaces. And the common spaces are striking. There is a lot of light – there are skylights everywhere.”
With 950 students and 80 staff, wider hallways make for better flow.
The layout of the school lends itself well to staff working and collaborating together. The design is meant to facilitate 21st-century learning and foster a collaborative learning environment. For example, separate classes can easily combine by removing dividing walls.
“The other interesting thing that evolved when we decided where to put classrooms is that we’re doing a bit more mixing of grade levels,” says Catherine.
Although most of the intermediates are naturally grouped together because of the location of the lockers, Catherine is looking forward to cross-grade mentoring and buddy systems.
As the staff was moving into the building there was a concern the classrooms might be too small, but once the furniture was put in place and kids filled up the classrooms, the worries dissipated.
As an extension of the classroom, benches will be built outside some rooms, with easily accessible outlets and data drops. Large windows allow teachers to keep tabs on students and see what’s happening in the hallway.
The floor plan also includes new quiet work areas for teachers in addition to the traditional staff room.
The new gymnasium is to be completed in mid-October.
Until that time, students will be using the Nepean HS field and possibly the Nepean gym.
Another notable aspect of the new building: utilitarian areas such as the server and boiler rooms are now part of the main layout. They’re behind closed doors, but can be seen through large windows.
There is some confusion in the community about Broadview’s nine portables, with many wondering how a new school can be designed that still requires them.
“They built [the new school] based on projected enrollment over the next 25 years,” explains Catherine. “They don’t build for current capacity.”
Special education programs also have a tendency to cause a flux in the enrollment numbers.
“Demographics are always so tricky to predict and there are so many factors that change them,” says Claire Todd, a Broadview parent who was part of the group who lobbied for a new school.
“I totally understand the rationale. I see them as a necessary evil, but it bothers me because the board says they use them to address temporary population explosions but really, the reality is that these portables get set up and they tend to stay.”
During the tour, Catherine asks a classroom of students to name “the coolest thing about the new school.”
One student offers an opinion: “Air conditioning.”
It certainly is the “coolest” aspect of the new school. Climate control was one of the biggest challenges with the old building, no matter the temperature outside.
Claire noticed a big difference in her kids this year, even before she’d seen the new school herself.
“My kids were different people when they came home [this year]. Even just watching the kids streaming out. Normally they’d have these red faces and they’d just drag themselves out – it was so hot in the school,” she says. “My kids had a lot of energy after school. I didn’t get the same after school symptoms I normally get – where they’re starving or hot.”
So how are the children transitioning to the new school?
“My kids didn’t want this new school. They were upset during the summer,” says Broadview parent, Jaye Hooper. “But by the end of the first day, they already felt comfortable.”
Jaye describes how her kids were worried about getting lost because the school seemed so big on the outside. It didn’t take long to feel comfortable in the new space.
“It was an easy transition,” says Jaye. “The teachers have gone well above and beyond to get this setup.”
“Change is always a challenge for kids, but immediately, we’re seeing the difference in kids,” adds Broadview parent Ashley Brasfield. “They’re happy, the teachers are happy. Kids are commenting on the lights, on the fresh air, on the space.”
Claire, Ashley, and Jaye all agree the project was a huge community effort.
“Not just our group, but the entire school community,” says Ashley. “The OCDSB and [MPP] Yasir Naqvi really championed this for us and helped make it a reality.
“This is wonderful… not only for our students but for our community. We’re grateful to everyone who has made this happen.”