February 07, 2014 - 1:21 PM
OLIVER - It's been two years since a fire destroyed a large portion of South Okanagan Secondary School and the community joined together yesterday to celebrate the offical reopening of the school.
The new school isn't just functional, it's beautiful, with large wood beams visible throughout, high ceilings, coloured floors and a large skylight. It was also built with the future in mind, incorporating the latest technology. It has a capacity for 550 students from Grade 8-12 and at 7,475 total square metres, has enough room to house an auditorium and the Neighbourhood Learning Centre.
"It was a fire that tragically destroyed most of South Okanagan Secondary School but it didn't destroy the community spirit. Today we celebrate a new home, a new beginning and a new legacy," Minister of Education Peter Fassbender said.
Before the fire, the original school was undergoing a $29 million renovation. The fire destroyed about 60 per cent of the building, Sept. 12, 2011. In response to the loss, $5.9 million was allotted for the fire loss with an additional $20.8 million to complete the building.
Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larsen also attended the ceremony. She said it was important for the new school to be built to meet the needs of today, and also for students who will attend in years to come.
"While it might be a school of the future, it will again honour the work of community steward Frank Venables through the name of the school's auditorium," Larsen said.
The new school was built compliant to B.C.'s Wood First Act and designed to LEED Gold Standards.
* South Okanagan Secondary school was originally constructed in 1948 with additions in 1966, 1977 and 1982.
* The September 2011 fire impacted mostly renovated areas with only some remediation and clean up required of the new portion. For nearly two years, students studied in 16 portables on-site.
* South Okanagan Secondary school re-opened in September 2013 and has a current enrolment of 470 students.
* The new Neighbourhood Learning Centre includes a Daycare Centre, Community Counselling Centre, Community Performance Space and Adult Learning Centre.
* Since 2001, the Province has invested more than $4.8 million for the replacement of Osoyoos Elementary and an addition to Okanagan Falls Elementary.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014