Day one for new Vernon Secondary School

Nothing, not even Tuesday's snow storm, was going to keep the new Vernon Secondary School from opening.

It's taken ten years for the new building to move from drawing board to reality, and the school's principal, Morris Vardabasso, says it was all worth it when the students burst through the doors this morning.

"I've been here with other staff for the last two weeks moving things, and it got a bit tedious," Vardabasso says. "But when the kids arrived today, they were so excited, and it lifted our spirits."

Vardabasso is retiring at the end of January after a 34 year career.

"This was my swan song," he says. "I promised I would see it to completion."

Vardabasso says he was on the original committee that toured other schools to find the best attributes of each.

"I think we used the smartest ideas from the schools," he says. "This building works really well."

Vardabasso says the new school has an incredible amount of natural light compared to the old building, which had far fewer windows. The school also shines in terms of technology; the school has smartboards in every classroom and meeting room. Vardabasso says the they will help conserve paper, because most things can be written directly onto the smartboard.

"A lot of technology comes with new," Vardabasso says.

It will still be another 8-9 months before everything is ironed out and students and staff can fully enjoy their new turf.

Setting up the Home-Ec and Shop classrooms is expected to be finished in the next week, but other areas will take time.

One of those things is the school's alternative energy system. Once the old school is demolished, a series of geothermal pipes will be laid in the ground to provide heating and cooling to the school.

"The system will be buried underneath the new football field," Vardabasso says.

Another matter of unfinished business is the new parking lot.

"It's not ready."

Traffic around the school was extremely congested opening day as parents and buses arrived to pick up students after school. 

"Drop-off and pick-up is challenging at the moment," Vardabasso says, noting the massive snowfall hasn't made things any easier.

"We're asking parents to use the old parking lot on 18th Ave," he says. "It's a bit of a longer walk, but it's much safer for the students."

He says a new parking lot will be built behind the new school in the coming months.

"When it's all done it will work really well."

—Charlotte Helston
chelston@infotelnews.ca
(250)-309-5230

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