The motto of c̓əsqənelə elementary is “Walk Together as One, Learn Together as One.”
So, for the opening day at the brand-new Albion-area school, that’s exactly what they did.
On Wednesday morning, more than 400 students and their parents and guardians gathered at Albion Sports Complex so they could walk together with teachers and staff to the school for its official opening.
“Our students are coming from many different schools,” explained principal Jonathan Wheatley.
“It was about us symbolically taking that first journey together and beginning our new life of learning together as a school community. ‘Walk Together as One, Learn Together as One’ came from the elders’ table in our school district. It was very fitting that on the very first day we got to live that motto and walk up to our new home together as a whole school.”
When students excitedly entered the new school for the first time, big smiles and enthusiastic chatter filled the hallways.
Primary student Ella quickly discovered one of the colourful, hexagon-shaped reading nooks inside the high-ceilinged learning commons and took a seat.
In just a few minutes she already had two favourite spaces in the new school. “The library and the gym.”
“It’s been an absolutely amazing day,” added Wheatley. “To see the excitement and joy on the kids and parents’ faces.”
Catherine Mitchell was one of the parents in attendance. “I’m overwhelmed with excitement for the kids. It’s fantastic,” she said. “It’s so open – I’m loving the longhouse feeling, and the beams are fantastic. My kids are ecstatic. We’ve been talking about this for a long time, so this is very exciting. The windows and the light are amazing.”
c̓əsqənelə is a one-story design that incorporates organized learning “pods” – sets of three classrooms and a large common area with direct access to covered exterior learning spaces – throughout the school.
“The idea is that we want to create small learning communities in the bigger school. It’s a way for the kids to work together more closely and build a vibrant learning space. We know that when kids are working together and learning from each other, they learn better. And this configuration will allow us to bring that to life,” said Wheatley.
“The thing that really stands out for me is how the school feels like it is part of the natural environment. There is so much light, and the spaces feel bright and warm with the natural wood colours of the pods in the hallways. It’s just a wonderful place for kids to learn and settle and laugh every day.”