More than a facelift
Three Oaks construction continues with $7.3-million budget increase
Staff and students at Three Oaks Senior High School may not recognize the building the next time they step inside the Summerside facility.
Construction to revamp the 41-year-old school began in March with a $15-million budget that was set in 2010.
Since then, the budget has ballooned by $7.3 million due to changes in the value of the Canadian dollar, the need for asbestos abatement, a competitive construction season and technological advancements.
“This isn’t simply a paint job,” said Tyler Richardson, Prince Edward Island’s manager of building design and construction.
Three Oaks opened in 1976 and was originally designed for 1,000 students. Currently there are about 750.
With the construction, students were relocated into different sections of the school as work was being completed in each block.
“We’re basically moving from the east to the west,” explained Richardson.
Construction started at the bus depot entrance, the MacEwen Road side, and is progressing to the main entrance.
“The locker rooms were these big blocks of space, and they weren’t great for supervision and other things like that, so we’re taking the lockers out of there and putting them in the corridors now. Now those spaces will be used for break-out rooms and meeting rooms with windows to the corridors to really try to incorporate natural light.” Tyler Richardson
The first areas for re-construction were the 100s block, which mainly housed the English department as well as the former English Language School board offices and woodworking area.
“It’s about 24,000 square feet. That’s one-eighth of the school. And we’re trying to have this area ready by early September.”
Right now, the asbestos from the library is being removed before work begins to change the layout, spacing and corridors of the area.
Richardson said the project is about repurposing space.
“The locker rooms were these big blocks of space, and they weren’t great for supervision and other things like that, so we’re taking the lockers out of there and putting them in the corridors now. Now those spaces will be used for breakout rooms and meeting rooms with windows to the corridors to really try to incorporate natural light.”
The areas that are nearly complete include a new black box theatre, foods and culinary labs, as well as a number of break-out rooms, small offices for visiting Public Schools Branch officials and staff from other schools and a meeting room.
“A black box theatre is this nice ambient feeling space where drama students or people who want to work in theatre but not necessarily on the stage will get their chance to experience it firsthand. It will seat around 100 people and there’ll be change rooms for the cast, a storage area for props and access to a set of washrooms,” explained Gerald MacCormack, a viceprincipal at the school and site liaison for the school and the workers.
Another addition is the new foods and culinary labs, which will contain five kitchenette stations, a main instructors station with an overhead mirror allowing students to see what is being done, automated dishwashers, convection ovens and walk-in cold, frozen and dry food storage areas.
Some other changes include a levelled lecture hall, removing the small desk chairs and multiple stairs, allowing for more accessibility as well as a new elevator that will meet the required size to fit a stretcher inside.
There will also be new layout for chemistry, biology and physics labs as well as new inclusive education rooms and independent study areas.
An outdoor running track is also being refurbished.
Construction is expected to be complete for January 2019.
“It’s kind of like you’re moving house. We’re living in boxes right now. But we know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we’re really excited about what this means for the students at the school,” said MacCormack.
Gerald MacCormack looks over the plan for the Three Oaks Senior High School. MacCormack is one of the school’s vice-principals.
Jason Matthew, left, and Robert Melo prepare a section of Three Oaks Senior High School for a new window to be installed.