New era for Oxford students
School is in.
More than 470 students from Grades Primary to 12 began classes at their new school, Oxford Regional Education Centre, on Jan. 7. After a hectic first few days, principal Judy Davis said everything was running smoothly.
"It's been going very well," she said. "The kids are settling into a routine, and finding their way around."
The staff had returned to school a few days prior to the students, giving them an opportunity to unload boxes, set their rooms up and prepare for the students' return.
While making such a transition mid-year is challenging due to winter weather conditions, a short lead-up time and Christmas holidays, Davis said a lot of people worked hard to pull it off well.
The new P-12 school replaces the previous elementary and high schools in the community with a high-tech facility featuring computers and LCD projectors in the majority of the classrooms, microphone headset equipment for the teachers and high quality sound systems.
"The technology is phenomenal, and has been a very high point," said Davis. "They are really appreciative of the mosaic in the front hall, because everyone worked hard on it. When we walk in the building, it symbolizes something very familiar, and I think it's something they really appreciate having there. And the tiles on the walls... it means something when you can walk in and feel at home."
The new gymnasium has also been popular among students and staff alike, she said.
"We're really enjoying that, because we can have two classes going side by side for the elementary and high school at the same time," she said. "The gym teachers tell me it's working great."
The gym has also been a favourite feature for Karen Brookins, students' council co-president.
"It's really nice and big, and the changing rooms have benches... I just like the whole setup of that," said Karen. "It's a change for the better."
Karen and her fellow co-president, Zack Knol, had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the school prior to moving in, and so have tried to help the rest of the students settle in by answering any questions they may have.
Other than the occasional student losing their way in the halls, she said the transition has gone pretty well.
"There have been a couple students just looking for help if they're not sure what classroom to go to," she said. "There have been a couple questions they've been coming ad asking us, and we just tell them."
While the elementary and high school students share the gym and the hallways, they seldom cross paths with each other, as they each have their own wings and schedules are set up so thy have different lunch hours.
"So far, it hasn't been a problem," said Karen. "We don't see them much, other than seeing them outside on the playground. They're pretty isolated from our spots."
Built on a slope and designed for its environment, the unique design of the school allows for a scenic view from every room.
The new school has not just created excitement among the staff and students, but among the community at large, as well. About 200 parents visited Tuesday night for tours of the new facility, and many had favourable comments, according to Davis.
"We were in need of this new school," she said. "With buildings the age of the former schools, you tend to have a lot of settling, and colder hallways. It's hard to maintain a good temperature in older buildings."
While the elementary and high school campuses were considered one school in the past, she said now they are an even tighter group.
"It's kind of neat, we're in a unique position," she said. "It's not like we amalgamated various schools from the district. We brought our whole staff together."